Born: Tacoma, Washington, on May 3, 1903
Died: October 14, 1977, Madrid, Spain
Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby was an American singer and actor. Crosby's trademark bass-baritone voice made him one of the
best-selling recording artists of the 20th century, with over half a billion records in circulation.
A multimedia star, from 1934 to 1954 Bing Crosby was a leader in record sales, radio ratings and motion picture grosses.
His early career coincided with technical recording innovations; this allowed him to develop a laid-back, intimate
singing style that influenced many of the popular male singers who followed him, including Perry Como, Frank Sinatra,
and Dean Martin. Yank magazine recognized Crosby as the person who had done the most for American G.I. morale during
World War II and, during his peak years, around 1948, polls declared him the "most admired man alive," ahead of
Jackie Robinson and Pope Pius XII. Also in 1948, the Music Digest estimated that Crosby recordings filled more than
half of the 80,000 weekly hours allocated to recorded radio music.
Crosby exerted an important influence on the development of the postwar recording industry. He worked for NBC at the
time and wanted to record his shows; however, most broadcast networks did not allow recording. This was primarily
because the quality of recording at the time was not as good as live broadcast sound quality. While in Europe
performing during the war, Crosby had witnessed tape recording, on which The Crosby Research Foundation would come
to have many patents. The company also developed equipment and recording techniques such as the Laugh Track which
are still in use today. In 1947, he invested $50,000 in the Ampex company, which built North America's first commercial
reel-to-reel tape recorder. He left NBC to work for ABC because NBC was not interested in recording at the time. This
proved beneficial because ABC accepted him and his new ideas. Crosby then became the first performer to pre-record his
radio shows and master his commercial recordings onto magnetic tape. He gave one of the first Ampex Model 200 recorders
to his friend, musician Les Paul, which led directly to Paul's invention of multitrack recording. Along with Frank
Sinatra, Crosby was one of the principal backers behind the famous United Western Recorders recording studio complex
in Los Angeles.
During the "Golden Age of Radio," performers often had to recreate their live shows a second time for the west coast
time zone. Through the medium of recording, Crosby constructed his radio programs with the same directorial tools and
craftsmanship (editing, retaking, rehearsal, time shifting) being used in motion picture production. This became the
Crosby won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Father Chuck O'Malley in the 1944 motion picture
"Going My Way", and was nominated for his reprise of the role in "The Bells of St. Mary's" the next year,
becoming the first of four actors to be nominated twice for playing the same character. In 1963, Crosby received the
first Grammy Global Achievement Award. Crosby is one of the 22 people to have three stars on the Hollywood Walk of
Fame (a star for Motion Pictures, Radio, and Audio Recording).
Crosby was born in Tacoma, Washington, on May 3, 1903, in a house his father built at 1112 North J Street. In 1906,
Crosby's family moved to Spokane, Washington. In 1913, Crosby's father built a house at 508 E. Sharp Ave. The house
now sits on the campus of Bing's alma mater Gonzaga University and formerly housed the Alumni Association.
He was the fourth of seven children: brothers Larry (18951975), Everett (18961966), Ted (19001973), and Bob
(19131993); and two sisters, Catherine (19041974) and Mary Rose (19061990). His parents were Harry Lincoln Crosby
(18701950), a bookkeeper, and Catherine Helen (known as Kate) (nιe Harrigan; 18731964). Crosby's mother was a second
generation Irish-American. His father was of English descent; some of his ancestors had emigrated to what would become
the U.S. in the 17th century, and included Mayflower passenger William Brewster (c. 1567 April 10, 1644).
In 1910, six-year-old Harry Crosby was forever renamed. The Sunday edition of the Spokesman-Review published a feature
called "The Bingville Bugle". Written by humorist Newton Newkirk, The Bingville Bugle was a parody of
a hillbilly newsletter filled with gossipy tidbits, minstrel quips, creative spelling, and mock ads. A neighbor,
15-year-old Valentine Hobart, shared Crosby's enthusiasm for "The Bugle" and noting Crosby's laugh, took a
liking to him and called him "Bingo from Bingville". Eventually the last vowel was dropped and the nickname stuck.
In 1917, Crosby took a summer job as property boy at Spokane's "Auditorium," where he witnessed some of the finest
acts of the day, including Al Jolson, who held Crosby spellbound with his ad libbing and spoofs of Hawaiian songs.
Crosby later described Jolson's delivery as "electric".
In 1923, Bing Crosby was invited to join a new band composed of high school students much younger than himself.
Al Rinker, Miles Rinker, James Heaton, Claire Pritchard and Robert Pritchard, along with drummer Bing Crosby,
formed the Musicaladers, who performed at dances both for high school students and club-goers. The group
disbanded after two years.
By 1925, Crosby had formed a vocal duo with partner Al Rinker, brother of singer Mildred Bailey. Mildred introduced
Al and Bing to Paul Whiteman, who was at that time America's most famous bandleader. Hired for $150 a week, they made
their debut on December 6, 1926 at the Tivoli Theatre (Chicago, IL). Their first recording was "I've Got The Girl,"
with Don Clark's Orchestra, but the Columbia-issued record did them no vocal favors, as it was inadvertently recorded
at a speed slower than it should have been, which increased the singers' pitch when played at 78 rpm. Throughout his
career, Bing Crosby often credited Mildred Bailey for getting him his first important job in the entertainment business.
Even as the Crosby and Rinker duo was increasing in popularity, Whiteman added a third member to the group.
The threesome, now including pianist and aspiring songwriter Harry Barris, were dubbed "The Rhythm Boys".
They joined the Whiteman touring act, performing and recording with musicians Bix Beiderbecke, Jack Teagarden,
Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, and Eddie Lang and Hoagy Carmichael, and appeared together in a Whiteman movie.
Crosby soon became the star attraction of "The Rhythm Boys", and in 1928 he had his first number one hit with
the Whiteman orchestra, a jazz-influenced rendition of "Ol' Man River". However, Crosby's reported taste for
alcohol and his growing dissatisfaction with Whiteman led to his quitting "The Rhythm Boys" to join the
Gus Arnheim Orchestra. During his time with Arnheim, the other two Rhythm Boys were increasingly pushed to the
background as the emphasis was on Crosby. Harry Barris wrote several of Crosby's subsequent hits including "At Your
Command," "I Surrender Dear," and "Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams." But the members of the band had a
falling out and split, setting the stage for Crosby's solo career.
On September 2, 1931, Crosby made his solo radio debut. Before the end of the year, he signed with both Brunswick
Records and CBS Radio. Doing a weekly 15-minute radio broadcast, Crosby quickly became a huge hit. His songs
"Out of Nowhere," "Just One More Chance," "At Your Command," and "I Found a Million Dollar Baby
(in a Five and Ten Cent Store)" were all among the best selling songs of 1931.
As the 1930s unfolded, Crosby became the leading singer in America. Ten of the top 50 songs for 1931 featured Crosby,
either solo or with others. A so-called "Battle of the Baritones" with singing star Russ Columbo proved short-lived,
replaced with the slogan "Bing Was King." Crosby played the lead in a series of sound era musical comedy short films
for Mack Sennett, signed with Paramount and starred in his first full-length feature, 1932's The Big Broadcast,
the first of 55 films in which he received top billing. He would appear in 79 pictures, and signed a long-term deal
with Jack Kapp's new record company Decca in late 1934.
Around this time, Crosby co-starred on radio with The Carl Fenton Orchestra on a popular CBS radio show. By 1936, he'd
replaced his former boss, Paul Whiteman, as the host of NBC's Kraft Music Hall, the weekly radio program where he
remained for the next ten years. "Where the Blue of the Night (Meets the Gold of the Day)", which showcased
one of his then-trademark whistling interludes, became his theme song and signature tune.
Crosby's much-imitated style helped take popular singing beyond the kind of "belting" associated with boisterous
performers like Al Jolson, who had been obliged to reach the back seats in New York theatres without the aid of the
microphone. As Henry Pleasants noted in "The Great American Popular Singers", something new had entered
American music, a style that might be called "singing in American" with conversational ease. This new sound led to the
popular epithet "crooner".
Crosby made numerous live appearances before American troops fighting in the European Theater. He also learned how to
pronounce German from written scripts and would read propaganda broadcasts intended for the German forces.
The nickname "Der Bingle" was common among Crosby's German listeners and came to be used by his English-speaking fans.
In a poll of U.S. troops at the close of World War II, Crosby topped the list as the person who had done the most
for G.I. morale, ahead of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, General Dwight Eisenhower, and Bob Hope. Crosby made
numerous live appearances before American troops fighting in the European Theater. He also learned how to pronounce
German from written scripts and would read propaganda broadcasts intended for the German forces. The nickname
"Der Bingle" was common among Crosby's German listeners and came to be used by his English-speaking fans. In a poll
of U.S. troops at the close of World War II, Crosby topped the list as the person who had done the most for G.I.
morale, ahead of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, General Dwight Eisenhower, and Bob Hope.
The biggest hit song of Crosby's career was his recording of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas", which he first
introduced on a Christmas Day radio broadcast in 1941 (of which no extant copy is known), and soon thereafter in
his 1942 movie Holiday Inn. Crosby's recording hit the charts on October 3, 1942, and rose to No. 1 on
October 31, where it stayed for 11 weeks. A holiday perennial, the song was repeatedly re-released by Decca, charting
another 16 times. It topped the charts again in 1945, and for a third time in January 1947. The song remains the
best-selling single of all time. According to Guinness World Records, Crosby's recording of "White Christmas"
has "sold over 100 million copies around the world, with at least 50 million sales as singles." Crosby's recording was
so popular that he was obliged to re-record it in 1947 using the same musicians and backup singers; the original 1942
master had become damaged due to its frequent use in pressing additional singles. Though the two versions are very
similar, it is the 1947 recording which is most familiar today. Crosby was dismissive of his role in the song's success,
saying later that "a jackdaw with a cleft palate could have sung it successfully."
With 1,077,900,000 movie tickets sold, Crosby is by that measure the third most popular actor of all time, behind
Clark Gable and John Wayne. The Quigley Publishing Company's International Motion Picture Almanac lists Crosby in
a tie for second on the "All Time Number One Stars List" with Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks, and Burt Reynolds.
Crosby's most popular film, White Christmas, grossed $30 million in 1954 ($260 million in current value).
Crosby won an Academy Award for Best Actor for Going My Way in 1944, and was nominated for the 1945
sequel, The Bells of Saint Mary's. He received critical acclaim for his performance as an alcoholic
entertainer in The Country Girl, and received his third Academy Award nomination.
Crosby starred with Bob Hope in seven Road to musical comedies between 1940 and 1962, cementing the two entertainers
as an on-and-off duo, despite never officially declaring themselves a "team" in the sense that Laurel and Hardy or
Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were teams. The series consists of Road to Singapore (1940),
Road to Zanzibar (1941), Road to Morocco (1942), Road to Utopia (1946),
Road to Rio (1947), Road to Bali (1952), and The Road to Hong Kong (1962),
and Crosby and Hope were planning another entry called The Road to the Fountain of Youth in 1977, which
was dropped upon Crosby's death. Appearing solo, Crosby and Hope frequently made note of the other during their
various appearances, typically in a comically insulting fashion, and they appeared together countless times on stage,
radio, and television over the decades as well as cameos in several additional films.
By the late 1950s, Crosby's singing career had evolved into that of an avuncular elder statesman, and his albums
Bing Sings Whilst Bregman Swings and Bing With A Beat sold reasonably well, even in the rock 'n roll era.
In 1960, Crosby starred in High Time, a collegiate comedy with Fabian and Tuesday Weld that foretold the
emerging gap between older Crosby fans and a new generation of films and music.
Warner Bros. cartoons occasionally caricatured Crosby, alternately as an animal and as himself. His recognizable
appearance popped up in I've Got to Sing a Torch Song, Hollywood Steps Out and What's Up, Doc?,
while bird versions appeared in The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos, Swooner Crooner and Curtain Razor.
Bingo Crosbyana had an insect version of him.
The Fireside Theater (1950) was Crosby's first television production. The series of 26-minute shows was filmed at
Hal Roach Studios rather than performed live on the air. The "telefilms" were syndicated to individual television
Crosby was a frequent guest on the musical variety shows of the 1950s and 1960s. He was especially closely associated
with ABC's variety show The Hollywood Palace. He was the show's first and most frequent guest host, and appeared
annually on its Christmas edition with his wife Kathryn and his younger children. In the early 1970s he made two
famous late appearances on the Flip Wilson Show, singing duets with the comedian. Crosby's last TV appearance
was a Christmas special filmed in London in September 1977 and aired just weeks after his death. It was on this
special that Crosby recorded a duet of "The Little Drummer Boy" and "Peace on Earth" with the flamboyant
rock star David Bowie. It was rush-released as a single 45-rpm record, and has since become a staple of holiday radio,
and the final popular hit of Crosby's career. At the end of the century, TV Guide listed the Crosby-Bowie duet
as one of the 25 most memorable musical moments of 20th-century television.
Bing Crosby Productions, affiliated with Desilu Studios and later CBS Television Studios, produced a number of
television series, including Crosby's own unsuccessful ABC sitcom The Bing Crosby Show in the 19641965
season (with co-stars Beverly Garland and Frank McHugh). The company produced two ABC medical dramas,
Ben Casey (19611966) and Breaking Point (19631964), the popular
Hogan's Heroes (19651971) military comedy on CBS, as well as the lesser-known show
Slattery's People (19641965). Another show that Crosby Productions produced was the game show
Beat the Odds.
Singing style and vocal characteristics
Crosby was one of the first singers to exploit the intimacy of the microphone, rather than using the deep, loud
"vaudeville style" associated with Al Jolson and others. Crosby's love and appreciation of jazz music helped bring
the genre to a wider mainstream audience. Within the framework of the novelty singing style of The Rhythm Boys,
Crosby bent notes and added off-tune phrasing, an approach that was firmly rooted in jazz. He had already been
introduced to Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith prior to his first appearance on record. Crosby and Armstrong would
remain professionally friendly for decades, notably in the 1956 film High Society, where they sang the duet
"Now You Has Jazz."
During the early portion of his solo career (about 19311934), Crosby's emotional, often pleading style of crooning was
popular. But Jack Kapp (manager of Brunswick and later Decca) talked Crosby into dropping many of his jazzier
mannerisms, in favor of a straight-ahead clear vocal style.
Crosby also elaborated on a further idea of Al Jolson's: phrasing, or the art of making a song's lyric ring true.
His success in doing so was influential. "I used to tell Sinatra over and over," said Tommy Dorsey,
"there's only one singer you ought to listen to and his name is Crosby. All that matters to him is the words, and
that's the only thing that ought to for you, too."
Vocal critic Henry Pleasants wrote:
"[While] the octave B flat to B flat in Bing's voice at that time [1930s] is, to my ears, one of the loveliest I
have heard in forty-five years of listening to baritones, both classical and popular, it dropped conspicuously in
later years. From the mid-1950s, Bing was more comfortable in a bass range while maintaining a baritone quality,
with the best octave being G to G, or even F to F. In a recording he made of 'Dardanella' with Louis Armstrong in
1960, he attacks lightly and easily on a low E flat. This is lower than most opera basses care to venture, and they
tend to sound as if they were in the cellar when they get there."
Crosby's was among the most popular and successful musical acts of the 20th century. Although Billboard Magazine
operated under different methodologies for the bulk of Crosby's career, his chart numbers remain astonishing: 383
chart singles, including 41 No. 1 hits. Crosby had separate charting singles in every calendar year between 1931 and
1954; the annual re-release of "White Christmas" extended that streak to 1957. He had 24 separate popular
singles in 1939 alone. Billboard's statistician Joel Whitburn determined Crosby to be America's most successful
recording act of the 1930s, and again in the 1940s.
For 15 years (1934, 1937, 1940, 19431954), Crosby was among the top 10 in box office drawing power, and for five
of those years (19441948) he was tops in the world. He sang four Academy Award-winning songs "Sweet Leilani"
(1937), "White Christmas" (1942), "Swinging on a Star" (1944), "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening"
(1951) and won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Going My Way (1944).
He collected 23 gold and platinum records, according to the book Million Selling Records. The Recording Industry
Association of America did not institute its gold record certification program until 1958, by which point Crosby's
record sales were barely a blip; prior to that point, gold records are awarded by an artist's own record company.
Universal Music, current owner of Crosby's Decca catalog, has never requested RIAA certification for any of his
Although often overlooked in many Crosby biographies, Bing charted an impressive 23 Billboard hits from 47 recorded
songs with the immensely popular Andrews Sisters, whose Decca record sales were second only to Bing's throughout the
1940s. Patty, Maxene, and LaVerne were his most frequent collaborators on disc from 19391952, a partnership which
produced four million-selling singles: "Pistol Packin' Mama," "Jingle Bells," "Don't Fence Me In,"
and "South America, Take it Away." They made one film appearance together in "Road to Rio" singing
"You Don't Have to Know the Language," and they sang together countless times on radio shows throughout the
1940s and 1950s (appearing as guests on each other's shows quite often, as well as on many shows for the Armed
Forces Radio Service during World War Two and beyond). The quartet's Top-10 Billboard hits from 19431945 (including
"The Vict'ry Polka," "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Town of Berlin (When the Yanks Go Marching In)," and
"Is You Is or Is You Ain't (Ma' Baby?)") helped provide the musical soundtrack for America's greatest generation
during the dark war years.
In 1962, Crosby was given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He has been inducted into the halls of fame for both
radio and popular music. In 2007 Crosby was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame, and in 2008 into the Western
Music Hall of Fame.
Crosby's radio career took a significant turn in 1945, when he clashed with NBC over his insistence that he be
allowed to pre-record his radio shows. (The live production of radio shows was also reinforced by the musicians'
union and ASCAP, which wanted to ensure continued work for their members.) In On the Air: The Encyclopedia of
Old-Time Radio, historian John Dunning wrote about German engineers having developed a tape recorder with a
near-professional broadcast quality standard:
'[Crosby saw] an enormous advantage in prerecording his radio shows. The scheduling could now be done at the star's
convenience. He could do four shows a week, if he chose, and then take a month off. But the networks and sponsors
were adamantly opposed. The public wouldn't stand for 'canned' radio, the networks argued. There was something
magic for listeners in the fact that what they were hearing was being performed, and heard everywhere, at that
precise instant. Some of the best moments in comedy came when a line was blown and the star had to rely on wit to
rescue a bad situation. Fred Allen, Jack Benny, Phil Harris, and, yes, Crosby were masters at this, and the networks
weren't about to give it up easily.'
Crosby's insistence eventually factored into the further development of magnetic tape sound recording and the radio
industry's widespread adoption of it. He used his clout, both professional and financial, to innovate new methods
of reproducing audio of his performances. But NBC (and competitor CBS) were also insistent, refusing to air
prerecorded radio programs. Crosby walked away from the network and stayed off the air for seven months, creating
a legal battle with Kraft, his sponsor, that was settled out of court. Crosby returned to the air for the last 13
weeks of the 19451946 season.
The Mutual network, on the other hand, had pre-recorded some of its programs as early as the 1938 run of
The Shadow with Orson Welles. And the new ABC network, which had been formed out of the sale of the old NBC
Blue network in 1943 following a federal anti-trust action, was willing to join Mutual in breaking the tradition.
ABC offered Crosby $30,000 per week to produce a recorded show every Wednesday that would be sponsored by Philco.
He would also get an additional $40,000 from 400 independent stations for the rights to broadcast the 30-minute show,
which was sent to them every Monday on three 16-inch lacquer/aluminum discs that played ten minutes per side at 33? rpm.
Crosby wanted to change to recorded production for several reasons. The legend that has been most often told is that
it would give him more time for his golf game. And he did record his first Philco program in August 1947 so he
could enter the Jasper National Park Invitational Golf Tournament in September, just when the new radio season
was to start. But golf was not the most important reason.
Though Crosby did want more time to tend his other business and leisure activities, he also sought better quality
through recording, including being able to eliminate mistakes and control the timing of his show performances.
Because his own Bing Crosby Enterprises produced the show, he could purchase the latest and best sound equipment
and arrange the microphones his way; the logistics of mic placement had long been a hotly debated issue in every
recording studio since the beginning of the electrical era. No longer would he have to wear the hated toupee on
his head previously required by CBS and NBC for his live audience shows (he preferred a hat). He could also record
short promotions for his latest investment, the world's first frozen orange juice, sold under the brand name
Minute Maid. This investment allowed Crosby to make more money by finding a loophole whereby the IRS
couldn't tax him at a 77% rate.
The transcription method posed problems, however. The acetate surface coating of the aluminum discs was little
better than the wax that Edison had used at the turn of the 19th to 20th century, with the same limited dynamic
range and frequency response.
But Murdo MacKenzie of Bing Crosby Enterprises had seen a demonstration of the German Magnetophon in June 1947the
same device that Jack Mullin had brought back from Radio Frankfurt, along with 50 reels of tape, at the end of the war.
It was one of the magnetic tape recorders that BASF and AEG had built in Germany starting in 1935. The 6.5mm
ferric-oxide-coated tape could record 20 minutes per reel of high-quality sound. Alexander M. Poniatoff ordered
his Ampex company, which he'd founded in 1944, to manufacture an improved version of the Magnetophone.
Crosby hired Mullin to start recording his Philco Radio Time show on his German-made machine in August 1947,
using the same 50 reels of I.G. Farben magnetic tape that Mullin had found at a radio station at Bad Nauheim near
Frankfurt while working for the U.S. Army Signal Corps. The crucial advantage was editing. As Crosby wrote in his
autobiography: By using tape, I could do a thirty-five or forty-minute show, then edit it down to the twenty-six or twenty-seven
minutes the program ran. In that way, we could take out jokes, gags, or situations that didn't play well and finish
with only the prime meat of the show; the solid stuff that played big. We could also take out the songs that didn't
sound good. It gave us a chance to first try a recording of the songs in the afternoon without an audience, then
another one in front of a studio audience. We'd dub the one that came off best into the final transcription.
It gave us a chance to ad lib as much as we wanted, knowing that excess ad libbing could be sliced from the final
product. If I made a mistake in singing a song or in the script, I could have some fun with it, then retain any of
the fun that sounded amusing.
Mullin's 1976 memoir of these early days of experimental recording agrees with Crosby's account: In the evening, Crosby did the whole show before an audience. If he muffed a song then, the audience loved it thought
it was very funny but we would have to take out the show version and put in one of the rehearsal takes. Sometimes,
if Crosby was having fun with a song and not really working at it, we had to make it up out of two or three parts.
This ad lib way of working is commonplace in the recording studios today, but it was all new to us.
Crosby invested US$50,000 in Ampex with an eye towards producing more machines. In 1948, the second season of Philco
shows was taped with the new Ampex Model 200 tape recorder using the new Scotch 111 tape from the Minnesota Mining
and Manufacturing (3M) company. Mullin explained how one new broadcasting technique was invented on the Crosby show
with these machines: One time Bob Burns, the hillbilly comic, was on the show, and he threw in a few of his folksy farm stories, which
of course were not in Bill Morrow's script. Today they wouldn't seem very off-color, but things were different on
radio then. They got enormous laughs, which just went on and on. We couldn't use the jokes, but Bill asked us to
save the laughs. A couple of weeks later he had a show that wasn't very funny, and he insisted that we put in the
salvaged laughs. Thus the laugh-track was born.
Crosby had launched the tape recorder revolution in America. In his 1950 film Mr. Music, Bing Crosby is
seen singing into one of the new Ampex tape recorders that reproduced his voice better than anything else. Also quick
to adopt tape recording was his friend Bob Hope.
Mullin continued to work for Crosby to develop a videotape recorder (VTR). Television production was mostly live
television in its early years, but Crosby wanted the same ability to record that he had achieved in radio.
1950's The Fireside Theater, sponsored by Procter and Gamble, was his first television production. Mullin had
not yet succeeded with video tape, so Crosby filmed the series of 26-minute shows at the Hal Roach Studios, and the
"telefilms" were syndicated to individual television stations.
Crosby did not remain a television producer, but continued to finance the development of videotape. Bing Crosby
Enterprises (BCE), gave the world's first demonstration of videotape recording in Los Angeles on November 11, 1951.
Developed by John T. Mullin and Wayne R. Johnson since 1950, the device aired what were described as "blurred and
indistinct" images, using a modified Ampex 200 tape recorder and standard quarter-inch (6.3 mm) audio tape moving at
360 inches (9.1 m) per second.
A Bing Crosby-led group purchased KCOP-TV station in 1954. NAFI Corporation and Bing Crosby purchase together the
television station, KPTV, for $4 million on September 1, 1959. In 1960, NAFI purchased KCOP from Crosby's group.
Thoroughbred horse racing
Crosby was a fan of thoroughbred horse racing and bought his first racehorse in 1935. In 1937, he became a founding
partner of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and a member of its Board of Directors. Operating from the Del Mar Racetrack
at Del Mar, California, the group included millionaire businessman Charles S. Howard, who owned a successful racing
stable that included Seabiscuit. His son, Lindsay Howard, became one of Crosby's closest friends; Crosby named his
son Lindsay after him, and would purchase his 40-room Hillsborough estate from Lindsay in 1965.
Crosby and Lindsay Howard formed Binglin Stable to race and breed thoroughbred horses at a ranch in Moorpark in
Ventura County, California. They also established the Binglin stock farm in Argentina, where they raced horses at
Hipσdromo de Palermo in Palermo, Buenos Aires. A number of Argentine-bred horses were purchased and shipped to race
in the United States. On August 12, 1938, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club hosted a $25,000 winner-take-all match race
won by Charles S. Howard's Seabiscuit over Binglin's horse Ligaroti. In 1943, Binglin's horse Don Bingo won the
Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York.
The Binglin Stable partnership came to an end in 1953 as a result of a liquidation of assets by Crosby, who needed
to raise enough funds to pay the hefty federal and state inheritance taxes on his deceased wife's estate. The Bing
Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap at Del Mar Racetrack is named in his honor.
Crosby was also a co-owner of the British colt Meadow Court, with jockey Johnny Longden's friend Max Bell. Meadow
Court won the 1965 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and the Irish Derby. In the Irish Derby's winner's
circle at the Curragh, Crosby sang "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling."
Though Crosby's stables had some success, he often joked about his horseracing failures as part of his radio
appearances. "Crosby's horse finally came in" became a running gag.
Crosby the sportsman
Crosby had an interest in sports. In the 1930s, his friend and former college classmate, Gonzaga head coach Mike
Pecarovich appointed Crosby as an assistant football coach. From 1946 until the end of his life, he was part-owner
of baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates. Although he was passionate about his team, he was too nervous to watch the
deciding Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, choosing to go to Paris with Kathryn and listen to the game on the radio.
Crosby had the NBC telecast of the game recorded on kinescope. The game was one of the most famous in baseball history,
capped off by Bill Mazeroski's walk-off home run. He apparently viewed the complete film just once, and then stored it
in his wine cellar, where it remained undisturbed until it was discovered in December 2009. The restored broadcast
was shown on MLB Network in December 2010.
Crosby was also an avid golfer, and in 1978, he and Bob Hope were voted the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor given
by the United States Golf Association in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship. He is a member of the World Golf
Hall of Fame. In 1937, Bing Crosby hosted the first National Pro-Am Golf Championship, the 'Crosby Clambake' as it was
popularly known, at Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe, California, the event's location prior to World War
II. Sam Snead won the first tournament, in which the first place check was for $500. After the war, the event resumed
play in 1947 on golf courses in Pebble Beach, where it has been played ever since. Now the AT&T Pebble Beach National
Pro-Am, it has been a leading event in the world of professional golf.
Crosby first took up golf at 12 as a caddy, dropped it, and started again in 1930 with some fellow cast members in
Hollywood during the filming of The King of Jazz. Crosby was accomplished at the sport, with a two handicap.
He competed in both the British and U.S. Amateur championships, was a five-time club champion at Lakeside Golf Club
in Hollywood, and once made a hole-in-one on the 16th at Cypress Point.
Crosby was married twice, first to actress/nightclub singer Dixie Lee from 1930 until her death from ovarian cancer
in 1952. They had four sons: Gary, twins Dennis and Phillip, and Lindsay. The 1947 film Smash-Up: The Story of a
Woman is indirectly based on her life. After Dixie's death, Crosby had relationships with model-Goldwyn Girl Pat
Sheehan (who married Dennis Crosby in 1958), actresses Inger Stevens and Grace Kelly before marrying the actress
Kathryn Grant in 1957. They had three children: Harry (who played Bill in Friday the 13th), Mary (best known
for portraying Kristin Shepard, the woman who shot J. R. Ewing on TV's Dallas), and Nathaniel.
Kathryn converted to Catholicism in order to marry the singer. Crosby was also a registered Republican, and actively
campaigned for Wendell Willkie in 1940 against President Roosevelt, arguing that no man should serve more than two
terms in the White House. After Willkie lost, Crosby decreed that he would never again make any open political
Crosby reportedly had an alcohol problem in his youth, and may have been dismissed from Paul Whiteman's orchestra
because of it, but he later got a handle on his drinking. Village Voice jazz critic and Crosby
biographer Gary Giddins says that Louis Armstrong's influence on Crosby "extended to his love of marijuana."
Crosby smoked it during his early career when it was still legal, and "surprised interviewers" in the 1960s and
1970s by advocating its decriminalization. According to Giddins, Crosby told his son Gary to stay away from alcohol
("It killed your mother" and suggested he smoke marijuana instead. Gary said, "There were other times when
marijuana was mentioned and he'd get a smile on his face." Gary thought his father's marijuana smoking had
influenced his easygoing style in his films.
After Crosby's death, his eldest son, Gary, wrote a highly critical memoir, Going My Own Way,
depicting his father as cruel, cold, remote, and both physically and psychologically abusive. Dennis also stated
that Crosby would abuse Gary the most often.
Gary Crosby wrote: We had to keep a close watch on our actions... When one of us left a sneaker or pair of underpants lying around,
he had to tie the offending object on a string and wear it around his neck until he went off to bed that night.
Dad called it "the Crosby lavalier." At the time the humor of the name escaped me... "Satchel Ass" or "Bucket Butt"
or "My Fat-assed Kid." That's how he introduced me to his cronies when he dragged me along to the studio or
racetrack... By the time I was ten or eleven he had stepped up his campaign by adding lickings to the regimen.
Each Tuesday afternoon he weighed me in, and if the scale read more than it should have, he ordered me into his
office and had me drop my trousers... I dropped my pants, pulled down my undershorts and bent over. Then he went at
it with the belt dotted with metal studs he kept reserved for the occasion. Quite dispassionately, without the
least display of emotion or loss of self-control, he whacked away until he drew the first drop of blood, and then
he stopped. It normally took between twelve and fifteen strokes. As they came down I counted them off one by one
and hoped I would bleed early... When I saw Going My Way I was as moved as they were by the character
he played. Father O'Malley handled that gang of young hooligans in his parish with such kindness and wisdom that I
thought he was wonderful too. Instead of coming down hard on the kids and withdrawing his affection, he forgave
them their misdeeds, took them to the ball game and picture show, taught them how to sing. By the last reel, the
sheer persistence of his goodness had transformed even the worst of them into solid citizens. Then the lights came
on and the movie was over. All the way back to the house I thought about the difference between the person up there
on the screen and the one I knew at home.
It was revealed that Crosby's will had established a blind trust, with none of the sons receiving an inheritance until
they reached the age of 65.
However, younger son Phillip vociferously disputed his brother Gary's claims about their father. Around the time Gary
made his claim, Phillip stated to the press that "Gary is a whining...crybaby, walking around with a 2-by-4 and just
daring people to nudge it off." However, Phillip did not deny that Crosby believed in corporal punishment. In an
interview with People, Phillip stated that "we never got an extra whack or a cuff we didn't deserve."
During a later interview conducted in 1999 by the Globe, Phillip said: My dad was not the monster my lying brother said he was; he was strict, but my father never beat us black and blue,
and my brother Gary was a vicious, no-good liar for saying so. I have nothing but fond memories of Dad, going to
studios with him, family vacations at our cabin in Idaho, boating and fishing with him. To my dying day, I'll hate
Gary for dragging Dad's name through the mud. He wrote Going My Own Way out of greed. He wanted to make
money and knew that humiliating our father and blackening his name was the only way he could do it. He knew it would
generate a lot of publicity. That was the only way he could get his ugly, no-talent face on television and in the
newspapers. My dad was my hero. I loved him very much. He loved all of us too, including Gary. He was a great father.
Gary Crosby died in 1995 at the age of 62, and 69-year-old Phillip Crosby died in 2004.
Nathaniel Crosby, Crosby's youngest son from his second marriage, was a high-level golfer who won the U.S. Amateur at
age 19 in 1981, at the time the youngest-ever winner of that event. Harry Crosby is an investment banker who
occasionally makes singing appearances.
Widow Kathryn Crosby dabbled in local theater productions intermittently, and appeared in television tributes to her
late husband. Denise Crosby, Dennis Crosby's daughter, is also an actress and is known for her role as Tasha Yar on
Star Trek: The Next Generation, and for the recurring role of the Romulan Sela (daughter of Tasha Yar) after
her withdrawal from the series as a regular cast member. She also appeared in the film adaptation of Stephen King's
novel Pet Sematary. In 2006, Crosby's niece, Carolyn Schneider, published the laudatory book
"Me and Uncle Bing."
Failing health and death
Following his recovery from a life-threatening fungal infection of his right lung in 1974, Crosby emerged from
semi-retirement to start a new spate of albums and concerts. In March 1977, after videotaping a concert for CBS to
commemorate his 50th anniversary in show business and with Bob Hope looking on, Crosby backed off the stage and fell
into an orchestra pit, rupturing a disc in his back and requiring a month in the hospital. His first performance after
the accident was his last American concert, on August 16, 1977; when the power went out, he continued singing without
amplification. In September, Crosby, his family, and singer Rosemary Clooney began a concert tour of England that
included two weeks at the London Palladium. While in England, Crosby recorded his final album, Seasons, and
his final TV Christmas special with guest David Bowie (which aired several months after Crosby's death). His last
concert was in The Brighton Centre four days before his death, with British entertainer Dame Gracie Fields in
attendance. Although it has been reported that Crosby's last photograph was taken with Fields, he was photographed
playing golf on the day he died.
At the conclusion of his work in England, Crosby flew alone to Spain to hunt and play golf. Shortly after 6 pm on
October 14, Crosby collapsed and died of a massive heart attack on the green after a round of 18 holes of golf near
Madrid where he and his Spanish golfing partner had just defeated their opponents. It is widely written that his last
words were "That was a great game of golf, fellas." In Bob Hope's Confessions of a Hooker: My Lifelong Love
Affair With Golf, the comedian recounts hearing that Crosby had been advised by a physician in England to play
only nine holes of golf because of his heart condition.
He is a member of the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in the radio division. The family launched an
official website on October 14, 2007, the 30th anniversary of Crosby's death. In his autobiography
Don't Shoot, It's Only Me! (1990), Bob Hope wrote, "Dear old Bing. As we called him, the Economy-sized
Sinatra. And what a voice. God I miss that voice. I can't even turn on the radio around Christmas time without crying
Calypso musician Roaring Lion wrote a tribute song in 1939 entitled "Bing Crosby", in which he wrote: "Bing
has a way of singing with his very heart and soul / Which captivates the world / His millions of listeners never
fail to rejoice / At his golden voice..."
Crosby wrote or co-wrote lyrics to 17 songs. His composition "At Your Command" was no.1 for three weeks on
the U.S. pop singles chart beginning on August 8, 1931. "I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You" was
his most successful composition, recorded by Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday, and
Mildred Bailey, among others. Songs co-written by Crosby include:
"That's Grandma" (1927), with Harry Barris and James Cavanaugh
"From Monday On" (1928), with Harry Barris and recorded with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra featuring
Bix Beiderbecke on cornet, no. 14 on US pop singles charts
"What Price Lyrics?" (1928), with Harry Barris and Matty Malneck
"At Your Command" (1931), with Harry Barris and Harry Tobias, US, no. 1 (3 weeks)
"Where the Blue of the Night (Meets the Gold of the Day)" (1931), with Roy Turk and Fred Ahlert, US, no. 4;
US, 1940 re-recording, no. 27
"I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You" (1932), with Victor Young and Ned Washington, US, no. 5
"My Woman" (1932), with Irving Wallman and Max Wartell
"Love Me Tonight" (1932), with Victor Young and Ned Washington, US, no. 4
"Waltzing in a Dream" (1932), with Victor Young and Ned Washington, US, no.6
"You're Just a Beautiful Melody of Love" (1932), lyrics by Bing Crosby, music by Babe Goldberg
"Where Are You, Girl of My Dreams?" (1932), written by Bing Crosby, Irving Bibo, and Paul McVey, featured in
the 1932 Universal film The Cohens and Kellys in Hollywood
"I Would If I Could But I Can't" (1933), with Mitchell Parish and Alan Grey
"Where the Turf Meets the Surf" (1941) with Johnny Burke and James V. Monaco
"Tenderfoot" (1953) with Bob Bowen and Perry Botkin, originally issued using the pseudonym of "Bill Brill" for
"That's What Life is All About" (1975), with Ken Barnes, Peter Dacre, and Les Reed, US, AC chart, no. 35; UK,
"Sail Away to Norway" (1977)
Grammy Hall of Fame
Bing Crosby was posthumously inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, which is a special Grammy award established in
1973 to honor recordings that are at least 25 years old and that have "qualitative or historical significance."
1942 - "White Christmas" Traditional Pop (single) Decca 1974 With the Ken Darby Singers
1944 - "Swinging on a Star" Traditional Pop (single) Decca 2002
1936 - "Pennies from Heaven" Traditional Pop (single) Decca 2004
1944 - "Don't Fence Me In" Traditional Pop (single) Decca 1998 With the Andrews Sisters
Link to Wikipedia
Main article: Bing Crosby discography
The discography below has 'audio' links
The Radio Singers (1931, CBS), sponsored by Warner Brothers, 6 nights a week, 15 minutes.
The Cremo Singer (19311932, CBS), 6 nights a week, 15 minutes.
Unsponsored (1932, CBS), initially 3 nights a week, then twice a week, 15 minutes.
Chesterfield's Music that Satisfies (1933, CBS), broadcast two nights, 15 minutes.
Bing Crosby Entertains for Woodbury Soap (19331935, CBS), weekly, 30 minutes.
Kraft Music Hall (19351946, NBC), Thursday nights, 60 minutes until January 1943, then 30 minutes.
Armed Forces Radio (19411945; World War II).
Philco Radio Time (19461949, ABC), 30 minutes weekly.
The Bing Crosby Chesterfield Show (19491952, CBS), 30 minutes weekly.
The Minute Maid Show (19491950, CBS), 15 minutes each weekday morning; Bing as disc jockey.
The General Electric Show (19521954, CBS), 30 minutes weekly.
The Bing Crosby Show (19541956, CBS), 15 minutes, 5 nights a week.
A Christmas Sing with Bing (19551962, CBS, VOA and AFRS), 1 hour each year, sponsored by the Insurance Company of North America.
The Ford Road Show (19571958, CBS), 5 minutes, 5 days a week.
The Bing Crosby Rosemary Clooney Show (19581962, CBS), 20 minutes, 5 mornings a week, with Rosemary Clooney.
320 with Dorsey Brothers Orchestra - Blame It On My Youth (Levant/Hayman) - 39022=A - New York, NY - November 15, 1934 -
321A with Dorsey Brothers Orchestra - I'd Like To Dunk You In My Coffee (Akst-Brown) from: "Calling All Stars" - 39117=A - New York, NY - November 30, 1934 -
321B with Dorsey Brothers Orchestra -
If It's Love (Harry Akst/Lew Brown) from: "Calling All Stars" - 39120=A - New York, NY - November 30, 1934 - 2:48
335A with Dorsey Brothers Orchestra -
I Believe In Miracles (Wendling/Meyer/Lewis) - 39181=A - New York, NY - December 21, 1934 - 3:02
348B with Dorsey Brothers Orchestra - New Deal In Love (Robinson/Livingston) - 39226=A - New York, NY - January 4, 1935 -
357A with Dorsey Brothers Orchestra - Au Revoir L'Amour (Stern/Meskill) from "Folies Bergere" - 39210=A - New York, NY - December 28, 1934 -
358B with Dorsey Brothers Orchestra - I Was Lucky (Stern/Meskill) from: "Folies Bergere" - 39212=A - New York, NY - December 28, 1934 -
367B with Dorsey Brothers Orchestra - I'm Facing The Music (Pollack/Golden/Webster) - 39265 - New York, NY - January 18, 1935 -
368B with Dorsey Brothers Orchestra - I Threw A Bean Bag At The Moon (Ager/Adams) - 39266=A - New York, NY - January 18, 1935 -
371A with Dorsey Brothers Orchestra - I'm Goin' Shoppin' With You (Tomlin/Poe/Greer) - 39282=A - New York, NY - January 26, 1935 -
371B with Dorsey Brothers Orchestra - Don't Be Afraid To Tell Your Mother (Tomlin/Poe/Greer) - 39278 - New York, NY - January 25, 1935 -
391A with George Stoll and His Orchestra - It's Easy To Remember (Richard Rodgers/Lorenzo Hart) - DLA-95 - Los Angeles, CA - February 21, 1935 -
391B with George Stoll and His Orchestra - Swanee River ( Stephen Collins Foster) - DLA-96 - Los Angeles, CA - February 21, 1935 -
392A with George Stoll and His Orchestra -
Down By The River (Richard Rodgers/Lorenzo Hart) - DLA-94 - C-221 - A-221 - Los Angeles, CA - February 21, 1935 - 2:49
392B with George Stoll and His Orchestra - Soon (Richard Rodgers/Lerenzo Hart) from: "Mississippi" - DLA-93 - C-221 - A-221 - Los Angeles, CA - February 21, 1935 -
543A Bing Crosby - I Wished On The Moon (Not Given) - 39857 - A-221 - August 14, 1935 -
543B with the Dorsey Brothers -
Two For Tonight (Mack Gordon/Harry Revel) from: "Two For Tonight" - 39855 - A-221 - August 14, 1935 - 2:55
547A with the Dorsey Brothers -
I Wish I Were Aladdinfrom: "Two For Tonight" (Mack Gordon/Harry Revel) - 39853 - A-221 - August 14, 1935 - 2:58
547B with the Dorsey Brothers -
From The Top Of Your Head (Mack Gordon/Harry Revel) from: "Two For Tonight" - 39852 - A-221 - August 14, 1935 - 3:01
548A with the Dorsey Brothers -
Without A Word Of Warning (Mack Gordon/Harry Revel) from: "Two For Tonight" - 39856 - A-221 - August 14, 1935 - 3:05
548B with the Dorsey Brothers - Takes Two To Make A Bargain () - 39854 - A-221 - August 14, 1935 -
616A with Victor Young Orchestra - Red Sails In The Sunset (Hugh Williams/Jimmy Kennedy) - DLA-253=A - Los Angeles, CA - November 12, 1935 -
616B with Victor Young Orchestra - Boots And Saddle (Not Given) - DLA-254=A - Los Angeles, CA - November 12, 1935 -
617A with Victor Young Orchestra - On Treasure Island (Joe Burke/Edgar Leslie) - DLA-255=B - Los Angeles, CA - November 12, 1935 -
617B with George Stoll - Moonburns (Not Given) - DLA-262=B - Los Angeles, CA - November 13, 1935 -
621A with George Stoll - Silent Night, Holy Night (Not Given) - DLA-261=A - Also on Decca set A-159 - Los Angeles, CA - November 13, 1935 -
621B with Victor Young Orchestra - Adeste Fidelis (Not Given) - DLA-256=A - Also on Decca set A-159 - Los Angeles, CA - November 12, 1935 -
631A with George Stoll - My Heart And I (Not Given) - DLA-260=A - Los Angeles, CA - November 13, 1935 -
631B with George Stoll - Sailor Beware (Not Given) - DLA-259 - Los Angeles, CA - November 13, 1935 -
756A with Victor Young Orchestra -
Lovely Lady () - DLA-309 - Los Angeles, CA - March 24, 1936 - 3:06
756B with Victor Young Orchestra - Would You? () - DLA-322=A - Los Angeles, CA - March 29, 1936 -
757A with Victor Young Orchestra - The Touch Of Your Lips (Ray Noble) - DLA-308A - Los Angeles, CA - March 24, 1936 -
757B with Victor Young Orchestra - Twilight On The Trailfrom: "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine" (Sidney D. Mitchell - Louis Alter) - DLA-307B - Los Angeles, CA - March 24, 1936 -
791A with Victor Young Orchestra - Robins And Roses (Not Given) - DLA-323=A - Los Angeles, CA - March 29, 1936 -
791B with Victor Young Orchestra - We'll Rest At The End Of The Trail (Not Given) - DLA-306=A - Los Angeles, CA - March 24, 1936 -
806A with Victor Young Orchestra - It Ain't Necessarily So (Not Given) - DLA-325 - Los Angeles, CA - March 29, 1936 -
806B with Victor Young Orchestra - I Got Plenty Of Nuttin' (Not Given) - DLA-324 - Los Angeles, CA - March 29, 1936 -
870A Empty Saddles (Not Given) - DLA-436=A - A-250 - Los Angeles, CA - July 14, 1936 -
870B Round Up Lullaby (Not Given) - DLA-437=A - A-250 - Los Angeles, CA - July 14, 1936 -
871A with Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra -
I'm An Old Cowhand (Johnny Mercer) from: "Rhythm on the Range" - DLA-442=A - Los Angeles, CA - July 17, 1936 - 2:39
871B with Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra - I Can't Escape From You (Not Given) - DLA-440=A - Los Angeles, CA - July 17, 1936 -
880A with Dick McIntyre - Song Of The Islands (Charles King) - DLA-452=A - A-10 - Los Angeles, CA - July 23, 1936 -
880B with Dick McIntyre - Aloha Oe (Queen LilioKalani) - DLA-453=A - A-10 - Los Angeles, CA - July 23, 1936 -
886A with Dick McIntyre and His Harmony Hawaiians -
Hawaiian Paradise (Harry Owens) - DLA-523=A - Also on Decca 19017; 25010; Decca Set A-140; A-460-3 - Los Angeles, CA - August 4, 1936 - 2:36
886B with Dick McIntyre and His Harmony Hawaiians -
South Sea Island Magic (Andy Iona Long/Lysle Tomerlin) - DLA-522=A - Also on Decca 19017; 25010; Decca Set A-140; A-460-3 - Los Angeles, CA - August 4, 1936 -
905A with Jimmy Dorsey's Orchestra - Shoe Shine Boy (Not Given) - DLA-521=A - Los Angeles, CA - August 4, 1936 -
905B with Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra - The House That Jack Build (Not Given) - DLA-441=A - Los Angeles, CA - July 17, 1936 -
907A with Victor Young Orchestra - Orchestra A Fine Romance (Jerome Kern/Dorothy Fields) - DLA-588=A - Los Angeles, CA - August 19, 1936 -
907B with Victor Young Orchestra - Orchestra The Way You Look Tonight (Jerome Kern/Dorothy Fields) - DLA-587=A - Los Angeles, CA - August 19, 1936 -
912A with Victor Young Orchestra - Me And The Moon (Not Given) - DLA-589 - Los Angeles, CA - August 19, 1936 -
912B with Victor Young Orchestra - Beyond Compare (Not Given) - DLA-552 - Los Angeles, CA - August 10, 1936 -
947A with George Stoll and His Orchestra - Let's Call A Heart A Heart (Not Given) - DLA-478=A - Los Angeles, CA - July 29, 1936 -
947B with George Stoll and His Orchestra - Pennies From Heaven (Not Given) - DLA-463=A - Los Angeles, CA - July 24, 1936 -
948A with George Stoll and His Orchestra - So Do Ifrom: "Pennies from Heaven" (Arthur Johnson/Johnny Burke) - DLA-462=A - Los Angeles, CA - July 24, 1936 -
948B with George Stoll and His Orchestra -
One, Two, Button Your Shoe (Arthur Johnson/Johnny Burke) from: "Pennies from Heaven" - DLA-479=A - Los Angeles, CA - July 29, 1936 - 2:47
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