Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Birthday Of Der Bingle, Bing Crosby

Here's a short note this evening on Bing Crosby, born on this day in 1903 in Spokane, Washington. His death in 1977 ended a remarkable entertainment career covering more than fifty years. I remember him for four reasons. First is his recording of Irving Berlin's White Christmas. As long as people think about the security and warmth of home and family - and when will that stop - they will appreciate Crosby's recording. His version has sold the most copies - over 100,000,000 - of any song ever recorded (Guinness World Records). Second is the series of "Road picture" comedies he made with co-stars Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour between 1940 and 1962. Third is his role in two films, Holiday Inn (1942) and its remake, White Christmas (1954). Crosby premiered the song, "White Christmas," in 1942 to a receptive public already weary from the early months of World War II. [Holiday Inn is a better film than its lavish, colorful remake but it's still a fine film.] Fourth is his series of Christmas specials for television.

Crosby and family in a still from his 1974 Christmas special

Crosby's career peaked about 50 years ago, but his impact on the entertainment industry, as both a star and entrepreneur, is still with us. For the full story, I suggest readers visit his official site after reading the Wikipedia link above.

Can't end this article without a link or two to Bing in song. Here he is with the Andrews Sisters in 1944 singing a Grammy Hall of Fame entry, Don't Fence Me In

And here's Bing singing upbeat, comedic and conversational with Jane Wyman in the 1951 film, Here Comes the Groom. The song, "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" (Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer) won the Oscar that year for best music, original song.

Bing Crosby used his baritone voice in combination with new recording technology to develop a personal singing style that made him the nation's top entertainer for a generation beginning in the mid-1930s. Young people probably know little if anything about Crosby. He died in 1977 but I think he sits at the pinnacle of the 20th century American entertainment industry--along with his close friend, Bob Hope--and is well worth learning about if you enjoy popular culture. If you enjoy the Great American Songbook, Bing is an essential.


Photos and Illustrations:
public domain photograph, Bell System, eBay item

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