The Most Famous Man in the World, 1940–1945
As the forties got underway, Bing remained as the top recording star and also as master of ceremonies of the very popular Kraft Music Hall on radio. The first Road film with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour had been a great success and it was quickly followed by several more. Also, Bing was developing well as an actor and satisfying popular demand for pleasant entertaining films featuring an apparently “regular guy.”
Bing gave relatively few in-depth interviews during these years, but one with Patty De Roulf (under the heading “No Phonies for Bing”) in an unidentified newspaper in 1942 discussed a couple of issues on which he revealed his true feelings, which were to become more evident and pronounced as the years passed.
“Sometimes I’m afraid I’m a little mean to the fans. I don’t want to be, but I can’t help it. I guess I’m still self-conscious. I don’t like to be recognized when I’m out in public. While I don’t mind signing a few autograph books, I get panicky if they start crowding in on me, and worst of all, I can’t stand it if a fan starts getting gushy. If I see that coming, I duck!”
Charity shows are the hardest for Bing to do. He wants to give them, of course, but he doesn’t find it so easy to get up and perform before a big audience. “Few people,” Crosby states, “outside of the theatrical profession realize what a tremendous task it is for an entertainer, accustomed only to a motion picture set, a recording studio, or a small broadcasting studio, to get up on a stage and face ten thousand sober faces staring at you from out of the darkness.” But if it’s for charity, Bing will grit his teeth and do it.
He had no need to reproach himself as regards his treatment of his fans, but the outbreak of war led Bing to really “grit his teeth” and throw himself into war bond tours, troop entertainments, and armed forces broadcasts. His workload was excessive and as the decade progressed it was said that his voice was being heard somewhere in the world every minute of every day. He was virtually the “Voice of America” as he articulated the feelings of Americans everywhere in his war-time broadcasts. Films such as Holiday Inn were huge commercial triumphs and then Bing was tempted into playing a priest, Father O’Malley, in the film Going My Way. The success of that film was incredible, with Bing, to his surprise, receiving the Oscar as the best actor of the year for 1944. He was nominated again for an Oscar (this time unsuccessfully) when he reprised the role of Father O’Malley in The Bells of St. Mary’s in 1945. Meanwhile his record sales reached unprecedented levels with hit following hit and the song “White Christmas” reaching the top of the charts year after year.
If anyone had to select the year when Bing reached the peak of his popularity, it would have to be 1944 because he not only won the Oscar as best actor and was the top star at the cinema box office, but he had no less than six number one records during the twelve months. His Kraft Music Hall radio show was also one of the top rated programs on the air. The extent of Bing’s fame during this period cannot be understated and he was undoubtedly the biggest name in show business, despite the competition from some of the “newer fellas” such as Frank Sinatra. However, behind these magnificent achievements lurked a more somber side to Bing’s life.
Bing came to war-torn Europe in 1944 and undertook a very demanding tour to entertain the armed forces. There were signs that the heavy usage was having an adverse effect on his voice and there seemed to be problems at home with Dixie being critically ill in hospital in 1945 following what might have been a drug overdose. It was alleged that Dixie had a drinking problem and as a result of this, Bing had very seriously considered divorce in 1940. He spent more and more time away from home without Dixie, including an extended visit to New York in late 1945. His name was linked with the actress Joan Caulfield and his health may have started to deteriorate too as he had a spell in the hospital in September 1945.
Bing’s emerging problems with his voice, his health, and surprisingly, his finances were going to get worse before they got better.
A dollar in 1945 was equivalent to $9.55 in the year 2000.
January 4, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show is broadcast from NBC Studio B in Hollywood. Guests include Joan Brodel, Lucy Monroe, and Humphrey Bogart.
January 6, Saturday. (7:00–7:30 p.m.) On a linkup from Hollywood, Bing contributes the song “South of the Border” and dialogue to Caravan - a Bob Crosby NBC radio show - in New York starring Mildred Bailey.
Bob Crosby Orchestra with Mildred Bailey. Production attempted to create a homey and intimate atmosphere by explaining that Mildred Bailey was a childhood friend of the Crosby’s. The angle was furthered by dialogue from brother Bing piped in from the coast. Bing socked over ‘South of the Border’.
(Variety, January 10, 1940)
During the weekend, Bing and Dixie attend a party at Ken Murray’s new home at Santa Monica. The gathering is informal and guests appear in slacks and sports clothing. After dinner prepared by Dave Chasen and served at small tables on the lower floor of the home, the company breaks up into several groups and plays Chinese checkers, backgammon, and ping-pong. Other guests include Johnny Mack Brown, Jimmy Fidler, Tyrone Power, Jon Hall, Frances Langford, Bob Hope, Shirley Ross, Eleanor Powell, Lew Ayres, and Edgar Bergen.
January 10, Wednesday. Press reports indicate that Bing and Dixie have returned to their Camarillo Street home after several days at El Mirador in Palm Springs. They were in a party at the desert resort with Mr. and Mrs. Dana Fuller, Mr. and Mrs. John Burke, Miss Judith Barrett and Lin Howard.
January 11, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Alan Hale and Maureen O’Hara.
January 13, Saturday. Bing and Dixie hold a celebration gala dinner party at the Cafe LaMaze after their horse “Don Mike” wins the $10,000 San Pasqual Handicap at Santa Anita.
January 15, Monday. Los Angeles radio station KMPC goes on the air full time with power increased to 5000 watts daytime. The press release about this indicates that Bing has been appointed to the KMPC board of directors and that his codirectors include Paul Whiteman, Harold Lloyd, Freeman Gosden, and Charles Correll (the latter two being “Amos ‘n’ Andy”). Meanwhile, Bing spends most of the day rehearsing for the evening Lux Radio Theater broadcast. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) In a radio version of Sing You Sinners for Lux Radio Theater on CBS with Ralph Bellamy and Elizabeth Patterson. Louis Silvers leads the orchestra.
January 18, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Ida Lupino and Frank McHugh.
January 20, Saturday. Bing takes part in “The March of Dimes” program. This is radio’s contribution to the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis campaign. Eddie Cantor is again the host and others appearing are Burns & Allen, Jack Benny, Rudy Vallee, Fannie Brice and Mickey Rooney.
January 22, Monday. The U.S. Treasury releases figures for the highest film salaries of 1938 and Bing’s figure for that year is given as $260,000.
January 23, Tuesday. Bing and Dixie thought to have been at the Victor Hugo for a farewell dinner dance for various old silent film stars who were about to undertake a tour as “Hollywood Cavalcade of Stars.”
January 25, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Bing’s guests include Gloria Jean, Madeleine Carroll, and Lon Chaney Jr.
January 26–28, Friday–Sunday. Bing’s fourth pro–am golf tournament takes place at Rancho Santa Fe and while this is underway, he films Swing with Bing, a two-reel golfing item featuring the tournament. The professional winner is Ed (Porky) Oliver with a 36-hole card of 68-67—135. He is nine strokes under par for the regulation 72 at Rancho Santa Fe. Oliver’s score is the lowest in the four-year history of the Crosby tournament. It nets him $500 first money. A record field of nearly 350 pros and amateurs competes, the weather is ideal, and the gallery exceeds any previous tourney.
Special is ‘Swing With Bing,’ based on footage shot around Bing Crosby and his annual golf tourney at Rancho Santa Fe, with added scenes and songs to give it a story thread and music, and narration by Andy Devine.
(Variety, September 10, 1940)
January 30, Tuesday. Bing is in St. Vincent’s Hospital, Hollywood, for observation regarding a possible appendectomy. No operation is performed and he leaves the hospital on February 1st and goes to Santa Anita to look over the horses.
Figuring that trip to the hosp would be a quickie, no sooner did Bing Crosby land at St. Vincent’s than he called J. Walter Thompson agency for his script of today’s Kraft show.
(Daily Variety, February 1, 1940)
February 1, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Randolph Scott and Jean Parker.
February (undated). Forms the Crosby Research Foundation, Inc. This is set up by Bing and his brother Larry at 170 East California Street in Pasadena to test, develop, and market inventions. It becomes a clearing house for inventors.
February–April. Films If I Had My Way with Gloria Jean, Charles Winninger, and El Brendel. The director is David Butler with musical direction by Charles Previn. This is another independent production in which Bing has a financial interest and the film is released through Universal.
“I’ll never forget the first time Bing turned down one of my songs,” [Johnny] Burke says. “It happened when he was making If I Had My Way at Universal. The director felt the score needed another ballad, a typical ballad. I took a ballad named ‘Only Forever’ over to the studio and played it for Bing, the script writer, the director, the head of the studio, and several others. When I finished, they all looked at Bing. Someone asked him, ‘What do you think?’ ‘I don’t know,’ he said, looking unhappy. ‘We don’t really need a song like that.’
‘That’s what I thought,’ said the studio head. ‘Let’s forget it.’ I felt horrible. It was the first time in four years Bing had turned down a song of ours. Then, on the way out, Bing stopped me and, lowering his voice, said, ‘That song’s terrific, but they don’t need it. Let’s save it for the next show.’ So it went into Rhythm on the River and was a big hit.”
(From an article in Modern Screen magazine, April, 1951)
February 8, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) Another Kraft Music Hall show and Bing’s guests are Mischa Levitski, Ralph Bellamy, and Walt Disney.
February 9, Friday. Records four songs in Hollywood with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra, including “Tumbling Tumbleweeds.”
February 15, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Frank Albertson and Marlene Dietrich.
…But not every guest was precisely ecstatic about appearing on KMH. Mr. Carroll in his bright and breezy autobiography speaks of some of them: Marlene Dietrich froze when he attempted to instruct her in her part and when he added insult to injury by announcing to her that a small but loud part of the public doubted she sang the songs from the new picture she was plugging, “Destry Rides Again”, since her delivery was so different from the accustomed super-sultry vocals, the lady turned blue. Carroll, caught in the middle because the J. Walter Thompson Agency held the advertising contract for her film studio, Universal Pictures, as well as for Kraft Cheese, struggled disconsolately with the temperamental German actress to get her to change her mind. She continued to pout until the last hours before airtime. By then, having enough of it, he telephoned her agent that they were going to get someone else to read her lines and he called Joan Bennett, another popular star. In time’s nick, Marlene swept into the studio as if nothing had happened, sang her hit song from “Destry”, “See What the Boys in the Backroom Will Have”. She was the only guest star for the whole sixty minutes, did other songs with Bing and - where possible - without him. She was flawless.
(Vernon Wesley Taylor, Hail KMH!, The Crosby Voice, February 1985)
February 18, Sunday. Bing guests on a radio program called “Nobody’s Children”.
February 20, Tuesday. The film Road to Singapore is previewed at the Los Angeles Paramount and goes on to real success with rentals of $1.6M from its initial release.
As a pair of rolling stones in Road to Singapore, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope contribute some of the most spontaneous clowning of the year and turn what might have been just another South Sea musical into a very funny picture. . . . With Crosby and Dorothy Lamour in the cast, the picture naturally has songs but there is less emphasis on them than usual. Truth to tell, the songs are not as good as usual, either. The pick of them is “Too Romantic,” composed by James V. Monaco and Johnny Burke, and sung by Crosby.
Director Victor Schertzinger sensibly has given Crosby and Hope much of a free rein to kid their way through the picture. You’ll get a lot of laughs out of Road to Singapore. Paramount ought to costar Crosby and Hope in more comedies along the same line.
(Los Angeles Evening Herald Express, March 15, 1940)
As Bing Crosby remarks in the course of it, never guessing
the phrase some day would be turned against him, the Paramount’s “Road to
Singapore” deserves at least an E for effort. And C for crooning, B for Bob
Hope, D for Dorothy Lamour and
Odd, in a way, the things Miss Lamour can do to a comedy, the reason being—we suppose—that Miss Lamour is no comedienne. Probably no one can be a comedienne, or a comedian, and wear a sarong, except Messrs. Hope and Crosby, who prove they can do it, and Mae West, who could if she had to. But here, in “Road to Singapore,” the comedy is going along swimmingly until boys meet sarong. Mr. Crosby, the shipping tycoon’s son, and Mr. Hope, his buddy, have been getting into cheerful scrapes, fighting gendarmes, evading matrimony, landing monstrous rubber marlins, doing boisterous imitations of Roxy ushers and Paramount newsreel men. And then they reach Kaigoon, just ‘cross from Bali, where Miss Lamour’s inevitable native girl is dancing in the inevitable sarong in the inevitable cabaret. Deflation sets in immediately.
Having taken everything else lightly, Messrs. Hope and Crosby take Miss Lamour seriously. She sings in the moonlight, she seems so unconscious of her deshabille you just know her director and camera man were not—not for a minute—and she speaks with the studied native-girlishness of Tarzan’s mate: “She is ver-ree prit-tee, no?” By the time the great renunciation scene has come around, when sad-eyed Mima sends Mr. Crosby back to Judith Barrett and elects to keep house for Mr. Hope, the comedy has gone aground. There’s nothing any one can do for it, although Mr. Hope manfully fights on, jaw set and gag-lines flying; although Mr. Crosby stares wistfully over the taffrail and croons his laryngeal best.
(Frank S. Nugent, New York Times, March 14, 1940)
Initial teaming of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in Road to Singapore provides foundation for continuous round of good substantial comedy that will click up and down the line. Paramount should carry the team through a series of pictures as Singapore will prove a most profitable attraction in all runs, with good chances for holdovers in many key spots.
Comedy is of rapid-fire order, swinging along at a zippy pace. Contrast is provided in Crosby’s leisurely presentation of situations and dialog, in comparison to the lightning-like thrusts and parries of Hope. Neat blending of the two brands accentuates the comedy values for laugh purposes.
…Sprinkled liberally throughout the running, and deftly spotted, are four songs and a choral theme number. ‘Too Romantic’ (Monaco - Burke) is a sentimental tune sung by Crosby and Miss Lamour that has a good chance to reach hit status.
(Variety, February 28, 1940)
February 22, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Robert Viroval, Sabu, and Joan Bennett.
Robert Viroval, in Hollywood for a recital date, guested last Thursday (22nd) on the Bing Crosby show for Kraft cheese. The young violinist who quickly became a box office smash in a single New York concert appearance, after his arrival from Prague, last year, demonstrated the mellow tone and sensitive touch that recital audiences have praised. His two numbers were shrewdly selected for a radio ‘briefy’ of this kind, although they were limited in interpretative scope.
Sabu, the young elephant driver from India who has appeared in several pictures also guested on the program, giving the answers in a lively interview about elephant driving as compared to horseback riding, his headband as compared to a hat etc. Like the Viroval appearance it was skillfully scripted to highlight the youngster and incidentally, continue the flavor that makes the Crosby series one of the week’s standouts.
(Variety, February 28, 1940)
February 25, Sunday. (5:10–7:30 p.m.) Records three songs in Hollywood with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra, including “Devil May Care.”
February 29, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Vronsky and Babin, Patricia Morrison, and Brian Donlevy. Elsewhere, Bing is awarded the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Key for the man under thirty-five years of age who contributed most to his community during 1939. The presentation takes place at a banquet at the University Club in Los Angeles but Bing is unable to attend in person.
March 1, Friday. Bing and Dixie attend the Henry Armstrong versus Ceferino Garcia fight at Gilmore Stadium in Los Angeles. Armstrong wins on points.
March 2, Saturday. Bing and Dixie are at the Santa Anita track to watch his horse ‘Don Mike’ and they see the legendary horse ‘Seabiscuit’ win the Santa Anita Handicap. At night, Bing and Dixie attend the Santa Anita Handicap Ball in the Fiesta Room of the Ambassador Hotel.
March 7, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Bing’s guests include Rudolph Ganz and Priscilla Lane.
Bing Crosby’s Music Hall show was better than it has been for weeks. Bob Burns got off a nifty when he said: “Parents have a great influence on their children. When Bing’s youngest was born, he looked up and apologized for coming in fourth.”
(Sidney Skolsky, Hollywood Citizen News, March 9, 1940)
March 9, Saturday. Bing rehearses songs from If I Had My Way with John Scott Trotter on piano at Universal Studios.
March 10, Sunday. Rehearses songs for the If I Had My Way soundtrack. (3:00–6:15 p.m.) Records two songs for the soundtrack with Charles Previn conducting the orchestra.
March 13, Wednesday. Bing is thought to have been part of the Lakeside team golfing against Hillcrest at Lakeside.
March 14, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Lotte Lehmann, John Erskine, and Pat O’Brien.
Heretical observation—is it not possible that too much of a good thing is as bad for the ears as it is for the stomach? Specifically, the Kraft program is now so loaded with overdone Bing Crosby vocabulary stuff that the whole program threatens to become the same. The sentences are now as long as the twine on a make-believe gift box. Simple, routine thoughts are dressed up as literary sunbursts. The program has lost part of its sparkle and any respect it ever possessed for brevity. This was so, even in the brogue-bandying routine (St. Patrick’s Day) among Crosby, Pat O’Brien, and Bob Burns which was amusing half as long as it lasted. The poem recitation by O’Brien was, similarly, allowed to run its wordy course. Granting that the Kraft program has been a big success and that it has contributed more than its mite to radio technique, the time may be approaching for the introduction of a new idea. There are suggestions of self-enchantment with the mere sound of polysyllabics.
(Variety, March 20, 1940)
March 15, Friday. Bing rehearses songs from If I Had My Way with John Scott Trotter on piano at Universal Studios.
March 17, Sunday. (3:00–6:00 p.m.) Records three more songs for the If I Had My Way soundtrack with Charles Previn again conducting the orchestra. It is possible that Bing is part of the Lakeside team golfing against Flintridge at Lakeside.
March 18, Monday. Bing had been subpoenaed to appear in San Francisco on this day before the State Senate Committee investigating horse racing. It is not known whether he did actually appear.
March 20, Wednesday. Bing is thought to have been part of the Lakeside team golfing against Midwick at Midwick.
March 21, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include the Kraft Choral Society, Victor Schertzinger, and Humphrey Bogart.
March 22, Friday. Recording session in Hollywood with John Scott Trotter, when four songs are recorded, including “Sierra Sue” and “Yours Is My Heart Alone”. “Sierra Sue” enters the charts on July 6, spending 14 weeks there including four weeks at No. 1.
…He sings a new American lyric to the hardy standby of all male warblers—You Are My Heart’s Delight. The American lyric is titled Yours Is My Heart Alone, and although the words sometimes fall a little oddly on the beats, Bing’s rendering of it is superb. Embryo vocalists— note his phrasing; how he feels what he is singing; how his interpretation is sympathetic and moving throughout. On the other side is a quaint little ballad by Stephen (Swanee River) Foster. It is called Beautiful Dreamer and the words are sloppily Victorian, with plenty of “thee’s” and “thou’s” floating about. But the tune, and the way that Bing puts it over, are romantic enough to move the heart of a Hitler, and at the risk of being told that I am crazy by some of you tough readers, I announce this as my favourite recent vocal record.
(Melody Maker, August 17, 1940)
March 23, Saturday. Bing and Dixie take part in another meeting of the Westwood Marching and Chowder Club. Others taking part in the entertainment are Andy Devine, Bob Hope, Pat O’Brien, Perry Botkin, Johnny Mercer, John Scott Trotter, Harry Warren, Hoagy Carmichael, Jerry Colonna and Ken Murray.
March 24, Sunday. It is possible that Bing is part of the Lakeside team golfing against Montacio at Montacio.
March 27, Wednesday. Bing is thought to have been part of the Lakeside team golfing against Annandale at Annandale.
March (undated). Bing and Dixie are seen at Perino’s Sky Room. John Kirby’s band plays songs from Bing’s pictures.
March 28, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) Another Kraft Music Hall show and Bing’s guests are Oscar Levant, Brenda Marshall, and Errol Flynn.
March 31, Sunday. It is possible that Bing is part of the Lakeside team golfing against Riviera at Riviera.
April 2, Tuesday. Bing entertains the Le Grande, Oregon high school band at Universal and has to buy 97 ice cream sodas for them.
April 3, Wednesday. Bing is thought to have been part of the Lakeside team golfing against Annandale at Lakeside.
April 4, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Bing’s guests include Virginia Bruce and Donald Budge.
April 6, Saturday. Bing golfs at Del Monte. Dixie is at Palm Springs.
April 7, Sunday. It is possible that Bing is part of the Lakeside team golfing against Flintridge at Flintridge Country Club.
April 10, Wednesday. Bing is thought to have been part of the Lakeside team golfing against Midwick at Lakeside.
April 11, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show and the guests include Jeffrey Lynn and Lucille Ball.
April 12, Friday. Records four songs from the film If I Had My Way with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra in Hollywood. “April Played the Fiddle” enjoys seven weeks in the charts, peaking at No. 10. “Meet the Sun Half Way” reaches the No. 15 mark during 4 weeks in the charts.
I should say that Bing Crosby has never made better records than these of “Meet the Sun Half Way,” “The Pessimistic Character,” “I Haven’t Time to be a Millionaire,” and “April Played the Fiddle” on Bruns. 03031/2.
(The Gramophone, October 1940)
April 13, Saturday. Bing and Dave Butler attend a preview screening of If I Had My Way in Oakland.
April 14, Sunday. It is possible that Bing is part of the Lakeside team golfing against Montacio at Lakeside.
April 15, Monday. Starting at 3:15 p.m., Bing records “Mister Meadowlark” and “On Behalf of the Visiting Firemen” with Johnny Mercer and the Victor Young Orchestra in Hollywood. “Mister Meadowlark” charts briefly in the No. 18 position.
April 17, Wednesday. Bing is thought to have been part of the Lakeside team golfing against Hillcrest at Hillcrest.
April 18, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Janice Porter, Donald Crisp, and Anna Neagle.
Anna Neagle, Donald Crisp and Janice Porter guested Thursday night (18th) on the Kraft cheese program with Bing Crosby and Bob Burns. Although the fact wasn’t brought out clearly, Miss Neagle’s first stint was, apparently, from her forthcoming RKO picture Irene. Part of the sketch she spieled in French, the rest in a thick brogue, winding up with a duet with Crosby—all but the latter kind of inconclusive. Carrying the accent theme further, Crisp next did a Jewish characterization, occasionally tossing in a couple of lines of his natural Scottish burr. Miss Porter of the Chicago Opera, sang a couple of light classic numbers, agreeably. In general, the program was up to its standard.
(Variety, April 24, 1940)
April 20. Saturday. Bing is thought to have spent the weekend with Johnny Weissmuller and Humphrey Bogart at Catalina Island attending the Bobby Jones golf tournament.
April 24, Wednesday. Bing is part of the Lakeside Movie Colony golf team which loses to the Los Angeles Country Club team.
April 25, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Carole Landis, Spring Byington, and Basil Rathbone.
May 2, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Another Kraft Music Hall show and Bing’s guests include Jose Iturbi and Annabella. The regulars continue to be Ken Carpenter, Bob Burns, and the Music Maids with John Scott Trotter and the Orchestra.
Gene Towne and Graham Baker, the Hollywood scripting team and professional cut-ups, guested on the Kraft program, last week, with Bing Crosby. As usual, on this series, there was no attempt at a formal appearance in a sketch or an interview. The noted screwballers tossed a few gags back and forth with Crosby and Bob Burns and then did more of the same with Annabella when she joined the quip-fest. It wasn’t exactly punchy but not bad, either. Jose Iturbi played a couple of pieces in sock fashion and also contributed a few laugh lines.
(Variety, May 8, 1940)
May 3, Friday. The opening of “The Pirate’s Den,” a night club at La Brea, near Beverly Hills. Bing has invested $1000 in it together with thirteen other stars including Rudy Vallee, Bob Hope, Fred MacMurray, and Errol Flynn. Many Hollywood stars attend but Bing fails to turn up and is said to be at the dentist.
May 5, Sunday. The film If I Had My Way has its New York premiere at the Rivoli Theater.
There is one fiction frequently foisted in musical films like “If I Had My Way,” now showing at the Rivoli, which a certain familiarity with New York night life has always compelled us to distrust. It is the off-hand assumption that all one has to do to make a sensational success of a broken-down beanery is to splash it with a fresh coat of paint, ring in a couple of old-time vaudeville acts and a band, spot the star (or stars) of the picture in whatever their specialty is (usually singing) and then put up the ropes.
Somehow, that seems too simple—too much like a musical comedy trick. But maybe it could happen. Maybe, in fact, it would, provided the old-time entertainers were Eddie Leonard singing “Ida” and Blanche Ring singing “Rings on My Fingers,” and provided further that the proprietary stars were Bing Crosby and 12-year-old Gloria Jean, singing nothing particularly exciting.
Such is the case, anyhow, in “If I Had My Way.” For such is the array of talent which Mr. Crosby a crooning steel worker, and Miss Jean, his orphaned charge, assemble to appear in the night spot they freakishly acquire when they come to New York in quest of Miss Jean’s nearest of kin. . .But we still have the feeling that the whole thing is open to doubt. . . And Mr. Crosby and little Miss Jean, who has gained considerable poise since her last (and first) picture, “The Under-Pup” have only middling material with which to work throughout. The sum total is but a moderately amusing musical, more often flat than sharp—and this we say in spite of the fellow sitting next to us who kept telling his girl-friend solemnly, “This is very entertaining, indeed.”
(Bosley Crowther, New York Times, May 6, 1940)
Bing Crosby will likely want to forget this cinematic adventure just as quickly as possible. Way below par as compared with his releases for both Universal and Paramount during the past two years, If I Had My Way will need all of his draw strength to get it through the key runs for nominal grosses.
Crosby works hard all through assisted materially by little Gloria Jean and El Brendel, but the trio cannot carry the burden of static direction and a boresome story that never catches on. Neither can a finale, in which many oldtime names of the legit and vaudeville appear briefly in a night club sequence, generate more than a ho-hum audience attitude…
Crosby and Gloria Jean sing solo and duet in presenting four new tunes by James V. Monaco and Johnny Burke—‘Meet the Sun Halfway,’ ‘I Haven’t Time to Be a Millionaire,’ ‘Pessimistic Character,’ and ‘April Played the Fiddle.’ All are typically Crosbyian and will get moderate radio attention. He also reprises the oldie, ‘If I Had My Way,’ used as title number…
(Variety, May 1, 1940)
Fifteen-year-old Gloria Jean was teamed with star Bing Crosby in a boring and fatuous musical called If I Had My Way. Most of the blame rested with David Butler who dreamed up the story (with William Conselman and James V. Kern, who scripted it), as well as directed and produced it. . . . The stars, including little Miss Jean, did their best, but it wasn’t good enough.
(The Universal Story, page 117)
May 6–July. Films Rhythm on the River (the original title was Ghost Music) with Mary Martin, Basil Rathbone, Wingy Manone, and Oscar Levant. Harry Barris also has a small part. The director is Victor Schertzinger and the musical director is Victor Young with orchestrations done by John Scott Trotter.
Making movies with Bing almost made Hollywood worthwhile. He is the most relaxed, comfortable, comforting man. No matter what happens he can ad-lib, cover up, carry on. He can even sing with gum in his mouth, he just parks it over on one side. While we were making films we also sang together on the Kraft Music Hall on radio. I’ve seen him a hundred times drop his entire script in midshow and go right on singing. He’d just lean over, grope around with his hand to find the script, pick it up, and find his place instantly. He never missed a note.
(Mary Martin, My Heart Belongs)
In 1940, when Bing made Rhythm on the River, he prevailed upon Wingy Manone, a New Orleans trumpet player of his acquaintance, to play several jazz numbers in the picture. Wingy, who idolizes Bing, presented a problem when it was discovered that he couldn’t read the elaborate orchestration. For two and a half hours, Wingy tried to pick it up by ear, and when it was finally suggested to Bing that maybe another musician should play the part, he replied. “No, he’s a real musician. It would break his heart”. Finally, lunch time came and, as the last musician filed out, he looked back and saw Bing behind some scenery working with Wingy. “Now, try this break,” Bing was saying, and proceeded to sing it. When the band came back from lunch, Wingy had the number down pat, with a few tricky riffs thrown in.
(From an article in Modern Screen magazine, April, 1951)
May 9, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Kay Francis and William Boyd.
May 11/12, Saturday/Sunday. Bing and Dixie are reported to be at Arrowhead Springs with Mr. and Mrs. Lindsay Howard.
May 14, Tuesday. Irving Berlin signs a contract with Paramount to write the songs for a film to be called Holiday Inn.
May 16, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall show is broadcast. Bing’s guests include Dave Butler, Jarmila Novotná, and Brian Aherne.
May (undated). Bing and Larry Crosby drop into the Hollywood Tropics to hear Andy Iona sing his latest composition “A Million Moons over Hawaii.” Bing is said to be planning to sing the song himself but does not eventually do so.
May 23, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Gloria Jean, Frank McHugh, and Robert Preston. Bing and Dixie are said to have gone on to “The Pirate’s Den” for a dinner dance sponsored by the Hollywood Guild.
May 30, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Another Kraft Music Hall show and Bing’s guests are Elisabeth Rethberg, Chester Morris, and Edna Best.
Mountainous Maestro Has Ambition
Hollywood, Calif. —John Scott Trotter, Bing Crosby’s two ton musical director, has as many ideas as pounds, which explains why his arrangements for the “Music Hall” have attracted such wide attention among dance fans. But among these ideas, he has none which might take him and his band out across the country on tour.
“Unless I have to,” he says, “I’ll make no tours—one nighters or long engagements with my orchestra. In the first place, it’s the most disorganized organized band in the country. Altogether, we’re together only about seven hours a week—about one day’s work for the average dance band. And we play together on just one program—for 60 minutes. The other six hours are spent in rehearsals.
“You see, most of the men in my band are star solo men who free lance in Hollywood, doubling on radio programs and movie sets. It gives me the cream of the musical crop, but if I left Hollywood and went on tour, not a one would want to travel with me. They earn too much staying right here and jobbing around.”
Trotter, whose struggle to lose weight has brought him down from 280 to 239 pounds, credits Hal Kemp for giving his background in arranging. “I worked with style music so long while I was with Kemp that I still carry the idea of trying to give my orchestration style and still not make it Mickey Mouse music. When I work on arranging a number I merely try to express myself in music. And I’m tickled to death so many people can understand what I’m saying and like what they hear.
The mountainous maestro believes that the day of screaming solos by “take-off” swing bands is ended but that rhythm and melody as expressed in swing always will stay.
“People have become more discriminating,” he says, “They know the difference between bands and arrangements played by those bands. They may not be able to put their ideas into words but still they know what they want. As a result we all have to work harder than ever to attract attention.”
Trotter is looking forward to a future in which he’ll be recognized as a composer of American classics. “I know it’s silly to say I want to write the ‘great American music,’” he says, “but that hackneyed term fits exactly what I want to do. Of course I wouldn’t be so foolish as to say that I hope to be the American Brahms or the Yankee Chopin, because only time—and the people 50 years in the future—would be able to decide that, but I sincerely hope to be able to give music something lasting.”
He has an unusual method of getting his work done. After a Thursday broadcast Trotter gathers pencils and score sheets and travels to Palm Springs or one of the beaches—depending on the season—and works while be plays. Because of this system he doesn’t bother with a regular vacation but gets his lifts from musicale ruts from week to week. “It’s the only way I could keep my arrangements from getting stale and lifeless.”
(Edgar A. Thompson, Riding the Airwaves, The Journal, Milwaukee, May 31, 1940)
June 4, Tuesday. The evacuation of over 300,000 troops of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk in France is completed.
June 6, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include John Payne and Suzanne Fisher.
June 8, Saturday. Bing and Dixie seen at the Hollywood ballpark rooting for the Hollywood Stars with Ray Milland and his wife. Also, Bing is thought to have reserved a box at a big military ball put on at the Los Angeles Breakfast Club during the evening but whether he actually attended is not known.
June 13, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Marcel Hubert, Wendy Barrie, and Ralph Bellamy.
June 18, Tuesday. Bing plays in the qualifying round of the Southern California Amateur Championship at Lakeside and has a 72.
Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) The Kraft
Music Hall broadcast on NBC. Bing’s guests include Garson Kanin, Kirsten
Flagstad, and Roland Young.
June 22, Saturday. (9:00–11:00 p.m.) Takes part in a two-hour nationwide radio benefit for the American Red Cross Mercy Fund. More than 50 celebrities, including Shirley Temple and Mickey Rooney, helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to help war refugees in Europe. The Los Angeles Times reports: “During the show, Western Union messengers — working for nothing — picked up 2,500 donations…. Los Angeles motorcycle police also made scores of trips to pick up checks.” A Howard Hughes check for $25,000 was delivered by police car. The Times also reported that although the sound stage at KFWB held 6,000, an overflow crowd of 2,000 were seated at another stage. An additional 2,000 were turned away from the broadcast.
June 23, Sunday. The Merry Macs open at Victor Hugo’s and Bing is there with Dixie and a large party. Bing introduces the vocal group from the stage saying that he thinks that “they’re the greatest singing organization of their kind.”
June 27, Thursday. Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show does not take place due to the Republican Convention being broadcast instead.
June 30, Sunday. Bing, Dick Arlen and Smiley Quick, Southern California amateur champion, play against professionals, Olin Dutra and Ralph Guldahl at Lakeside in a Red Cross benefit contest. The match is tied with a best ball score of 65. Bing has a 73. Maurie Luxford referees the match.
July 1, Monday. Makes three more records with Dick McIntyre and his Harmony Hawaiians, including “Trade Winds.” This song enters the charts on September 7 and tops the hit parade for four weeks during a 17-week stay.
July 3, Wednesday. Records four songs from the film Rhythm on the River (including “Only Forever”) with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra. Two of the songs are rejected. “Only Forever” enters the charts on September 28 and stays there for 20 weeks with nine weeks in the No. 1 spot.
July 4, Thursday. (5:00–6:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Johnny Mercer, Nigel Bruce, and John Garfield.
July 6, Saturday. Records “The Ballad for Americans” with Victor Young and his Orchestra and the Ken Darby Singers. The song is issued on a special Decca 78 rpm album.
Bing did not approach the project lightly. He studied the work before the session, and his concentration in the studio was painstaking; everything had to be right. In contrast to his usual speed (five tunes in two hours, rarely more than two takes), he devoted an hour to each of the four segments. If the reviews were not overtly political, political righteousness fueled the cheers of latecomers to the world of popular music. “Bing Crosby came of age, musically speaking, in his last week’s album, Ballad for Americans,” wrote New York Post critic Michael Levin. ‘This is the finest recorded performance Bing had done to date and shows that in the last few years he has gone beyond binging and has really learned how to sing.” When he finished patronizing Bing, Levin chanced a risky comparison with Paul Robeson’s Victor set that undoubtedly gladdened the hearts of Kapp’s team: “For all of Robeson’s magnificent voice, we prefer the Crosby version. The recording is better, the orchestration is better, and the chorus is better trained.”
(Gary Giddins, Bing Crosby, A Pocketful of Dreams, The Early Years, 1903-1940, page 554)
July 10, Wednesday. Bing records four songs with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra including the two songs from the film Rhythm on the River which had been rejected the previous week. “That’s for Me” spends seven weeks in the charts, peaking at No. 9. Another song from the session—“Can’t Get Indiana off My Mind”— reaches the No. 8 spot during its 7 weeks in the charts.
July 11, Thursday. (5:00–6:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Bing’s guests include Carol MacFarlane, Virginia Bruce, Lynne Overman, and Eddie Albert.
July 18, Thursday. (5:00–6:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Oscar Levant, Lou Holtz, Olivia De Havilland, and Alan Hale. After the show, a number of Bing’s friends, including Oscar Levant, Lennie Hayton, the Merry Macs, Jerry Colonna, Bob Hope, who played the trombone, and Manny Klein, hold a jam session at Bing’s home. Bing plays the recording he has made of “Ballad for Americans” which is soon to be released.
July 20, Saturday. Further recording date in Hollywood. Bing sings five songs with the Paradise Island Trio, including “Where the Blue of the Night.” Bing’s theme song touches the charts at No. 27 in November and another song—“Paradise Isle”— charts briefly in July 1941 in the No. 23 spot.
July 22, Monday. The Paramount newsreel issued today includes footage of Bing and Mary Martin at Del Mar.
July 23, Tuesday. Bing records “Do You Ever Think of Me” and “You Made Me Love You” with the Merry Macs in Hollywood. Victor Young directs the instrumental accompaniment. “You Made Me Love You” charts briefly at No. 25.
July 25, Thursday. (5:00–6:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Shirley Ross, Allen Jenkins, and Raymond Massey.
July 27, Saturday. Records four songs (including “Please”) with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra. This updated version of “Please” briefly enters the charts at No. 24.
July (undated). Sings three songs on a special NBC-GE broadcast to Admiral Byrd’s Antarctic expedition and receives a check for $16.50, the union minimum.
August 1, Thursday. (5:00–6:00 p.m.) Bing hosts the Kraft Music Hall show with guests Lou Holtz and Pat O’Brien.
August 7, Wednesday. The Del Mar season commences and runs through September 2. After two disappointing seasons, the Del Mar track enjoys a better year with the daily handle rising to an average of $192,075.
August 8, Thursday. (5:00–6:00 p.m.) Bing’s last Kraft Music Hall show until November 14. Charles Laughton, Lillian Cornell, and Jose Iturbi are the guests.
August 14, Wednesday.
Variety carries an article about the ASCAP row. ASCAP has tried to double its license fees and radio
broadcasters have formed a boycott of it and founded a competing royalty agency, Broadcast Music Incorporated (
GIVES VIEWS ON
Radio will have to get along without Bing Crosby unless he is permitted to sing tunes turned out by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. That is the decision announced by the warbler in the war between ASCAP and the National Association of Broadcasters.
Crosby is serving notice that his new contract with the J. Walter Thompson agency, which handles the Kraft Music Hall air programs, will be renewed in December only with an inserted clause allowing his withdrawal if or when ASCAP songs are no longer available for his broadcast.
that neither himself nor his fellow air songsters are taking sides in the
Larry Crosby, the star’s brother and personal business manager, explained that neither side in the controversy has had any consideration for the name singers on the air. He said:
“There are 1,109 authors, writing ASCAP numbers, and their works are being made available through 137 publishers. Bing and other singers need this flow of songs. Bing, himself, eats up around five tunes a week and the only place he can get them is through ASCAP.”
(Variety, August 14, 1940)
August 16, Friday. Bing rehearses for a radio show to emanate from Del Mar later in the day. The Motion Picture Handicap is run during the afternoon. Later, a press preview of the film Rhythm on the River takes place on the racetrack at Del Mar. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) A live radio show on the Blue Network of NBC comes from the Del Mar Turf Club with many guest stars including Mary Martin, Pat O’Brien, and Lillian Cornell. Bing and Mary Martin feature the songs from the film and are accompanied by John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra.
August 17, Saturday. During the morning, Bing golfs with a friend, Dr. George W. Foelschow, a well-known Southern California sportsman and race track veterinarian of San Diego, who, sadly, collapses on the Rancho Santa Fe golf links and dies in Bing’s arms.
August 23, Friday. The New York premiere of the film Rhythm on the River at the Paramount Theater.
It’s a very funny thing about this picture business—or this musical picture business, we should say. One producer may come along with a supercolossal whopper, all dressed up in fancy pants and boasting a high-class score and folks will find themselves sitting watch on a dull and pretentious fizzle. And then along will come Paramount, say, with an entry such as “Rhythm on the River.” which opened at the Paramount yesterday—an after-you sort of entry which gives the odd impression of having been casually shot “off the cuff”—and, behold, it turns out to be one of the most like-able musical pictures of the season.
. . . What’s there to it? Well, there’s Bing, whose frank and guileless indifference, whose apparent dexterity with ad libs is, in this case, beautiful to behold. There is Miss Martin, who is ever so comfortable to look at and who sells a very nice song. There is also Oscar Levant, slumming from “Information, Please,” who makes up in bashless impudence what he lacks in looks, charm, poise and ability to act. There are Mr. Rathbone, Charley Grapewin and Wingy Manone, who plays a hot trumpet, and there are several tuneful numbers, especially “Rhythm on the River” and “Ain’t It a Shame about Mame.” Add them all up and they total a progressively ingratiating picture—one that just slowly creeps up and sort of makes itself at home. It’s a funny business, all right.
(Bosley Crowther, New York Times, August 29, 1940)
Some may tab this as the best picture Crosby has appeared in for several years. It’s certainly one of his toppers . . . Bing Crosby continues his policy of splitting co-starring credits and performance importance with others in the cast. . .Crosby tackles his acting assignment with the nonchalance that has proven effective in past releases and on the air. He also provides much of the musical portion of the film in singing tunes in solo and with Miss Martin…
Total of seven songs are presented by Crosby and Miss Martin, any one of which has potentialities for swinging into the hit class. Although ‘Only Forever’ gets strong plugging in the picture, there’s a good chance that the title tune, ‘Rhythm on the River,’ sung by Crosby will catch strongest pop favor…
(Variety, August 21, 1940)
In the same informal mood as Road to Singapore though not quite so effective, Bing Crosby’s new picture, Rhythm on the River comes to the Paramount Theater this week to bring laughs, a pleasant romance and some No. 1 tunes to make movie audiences forget their troubles.
(Los Angeles Evening Herald Express, August 22, 1940)
August (undated). Bing plays in the sectional qualifying round for the U.S. Amateur Open Golf Championship at the Bel Air Country Club but comes in sixth. Only the first four are to qualify and it seems that Bing has missed out. However, two of the qualifiers drop out and he is able to proceed to the next qualifying round to be held at Winged Foot in September.
August 27, Tuesday. Bing is thought to have been at a race meeting at Hollywood Park.
September 4, Wednesday. The film short Swing with Bing is released.
This is a very cute little short which will be of interest to golf fans because of the glimpses of some of the game’s biggest names in action, and to picture fans because of the tuneful warbling and merry antics of Bing Crosby as he is without benefit of grease paint and a script. There is little effort put forth to tell a story. Arthur Q. Bryan, of the radio, playing a comedy role, a dub golfer, helps carry the audience through the maze of big names, assisted by clever narration by Roger Keene. The whole picture has the charm and informality of a day on the greens with good friends. . . . An original song, “The Little White Pill on the Little Green Hill,” by John Burke and James Monaco, as rendered twice by Bing in the picture, should become very popular. It’s a natural Crosby number with lots of swing. The short was made at Crosby’s Rancho Santa Fe course with the cooperation of The Professional Golfers Association of America.
(Film Daily, April 3, 1940)
September (undated). The Battle of Britain takes place in the skies over southern England.
September (undated). Bing and Dixie (plus young son Lindsay) travel East where Bing is to compete in the final qualifying round for the U.S. Amateur Open Golf Championship at Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, Westchester County, New York.
September 7, Saturday. Bing practices at Winged Foot Golf Club.
September 8, Sunday. Has a practice round at Winged Foot with Bud Ward, Craig Wood, and Bob Coffey. A large gallery of spectators follows them around the course.
September 9, Monday. Playing in front of large crowds, Bing shoots an eighty-three in the opening qualifying round of the National Amateur Golf Championship.
Virtually all of the 150 morning “rail birds” who had gathered around the first tee tromped off down the fairway in pursuit of Bing Crosby. The California crooner hooked his first tee shot, but just missed serious trouble when the ball ricocheted off the top of a trap. He was playing with Billy Bob Coffey of Fort Worth, Texas, and Pat Mucci of West Orange, N. J. Asked if he was nervous at starting in his first national championship, Bing said: “Naw, I’m just goin’ along for the buggy ride.” .… Crosby, whose gallery was growing constantly, faced the fourth mental hazard of having to stop each time between green and tee to autograph programs, scoreboards and old Panama hats.
(Associated Press, September 9, 1940)
September 10, Tuesday. Bing has a seventy-seven in the second qualifying round of the National Amateur Golf Championship. He misses qualifying for the actual tournament by five strokes. During the evening, Bing is interviewed on NBC by John B. Kennedy and Lawson Little about his performance and admits to taking four putts on one hole.
Tuesday, Sept. 10, 1940: Bing plays in a golf tournament in Brooklyn, NY. Day started out rainy. Bing was found seated at a table with Fred Waring. Bing autographed a copy of BINGANG for a fan. He shot a 77 in the match, better than he did on Monday. He was dressed in a light colored hat, green sweater with a blue and yellow sweater beneath, brown trousers, brown shoes and blue socks.
News that Crosby was at Winged Foot created a sensation. His fans, mostly women, swarmed all over the course, straining to catch sight of him. The crowd grew so large and so unruly the club called in New York State troopers to protect him and his partners.
Crosby shot 83 in the first round. The next day even larger and even more unmanageable crowds turned out. Trying to help the golfers move through the gallery, marshals grabbed the long bamboo poles normally used to sweep early morning dew from greens to create a box around them.
Crosby played better, but late in the day it became obvious that he wouldn’t qualify. On the last hole, a 415-yard par 4 then, Crosby played a good drive, but as he walked towards his ball the crowd broke through the cordon and swarmed around him. It took the troopers fifteen minutes to clear the fairway so they could finish. Crosby made 7 on the eighteenth and shot 77 for the round. He missed qualifying by five strokes.
(Golf Anecdotes: From the Links of Scotland to Tiger Woods by Robert T. Sommers, page 147)
September 14, Saturday. Bing’s recording of “Sierra Sue” is at number one in the charts for the next four weeks.
September 15, Sunday. At the Philadelphia Country Club, Bing golfs with Ed Dudley (the home professional) against Jim Thomson and Horton Smith to raise funds for the British War Relief Society. Bing and Ed Dudley lose two down. The 5,000 spectators help raise $2,500 for the cause. Bing has an eighty-one and leaves immediately after the golf as he has an 8:00 p.m. appointment in New York.
Monday. Bing partners Toney Penna
(the pro from Dayton, Ohio) in the pro-am of the Long Island
September 29, Sunday. Bing golfs in a charity match for the committee for placement of refugee children in Belmont homes at the Belmont Country Club in Boston. He plays with Toney Penna against Harold (Jug) McSpaden and Fred J. Wright in front of a crowd of 5,000. Bing has a seventy-seven. That night he dines at the Ritz-Carlton before catching a train for West Virginia.
Sept. 29, 1940 (a beautiful sunny day): a sun-tanned Bing played in a charity golf match for the benefit of refugee children at Belmont Country Club in Massachusetts. Playing with him was Toney Penna. They were paired against Harold “Jug” McSpaden & Fred Wright. There was a gallery of around 5000 people. Bing was asked to sing, but gallantly refused, saying “You will pardon me, but I am on vacation, let’s play golf.” Bing was dressed in a green cashmere sweater, light doeskin trousers, brown sports hat adorned with a feathered band, a navy blue sport shirt with a light blue collar, black & orange socks and brown spiked golf shoes. Every time Bing took a swing with his club, he would fling his ever-present pipe down onto the green from his mouth. After Toney scored a few points, Bing ran over to him, flung his arms around Toney’s neck and kissed him. Later, he laid down on the green and exchanged repartee with Toney while he shot.
October 1, Tuesday. Bing is guest of a honor at a dinner at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Guest on the Clarke County Estate, near White Post, Virginia. He joins in the spirituals sung at the party. Bing stays at the Guests’ home for several nights.
October 5, Saturday. Bing golfs at the Greenbrier Hotel, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
October 6, Sunday. After playing eight practice holes with Toney Penna, Roy Pickford and Fred Corcoran, Bing takes part in a Red Cross Exhibition Match during the afternoon at Columbia Country Club in Washington DC. Bing and Toney Penna are beaten 1 down by Roland MacKenzie and Fred McLeod. After the golf, Bing attends a cocktail party given by Roland MacKenzie before leaving for Cincinnati and the World Series.
They came to watch Bing Crosby the crooner but stayed to watch Bing Crosby the golfer in the Red Cross exhibition match yesterday at Columbia Country Club, witnessed by a somewhat disappointing crowd of less than 2000.
...Crosby, known for his rather gaudy sports attire, was rather conventionally dressed yesterday, in a blue shirt, green sweater, tan slacks and brown shoes. His gray hat was trimmed with a blue band that matched his shirt. His only unorthodox procedure was smoking his pipe while hitting a shot, something that’s hard on the concentration. However, with autograph seekers hounding him all afternoon, there was little room for concentration.
Bing surprised the crowd with his golf shots...With his tailor-made swing, Crosby hit the ball like lots of good amateurs, and left the impression that he would be tough in local tournaments if he stayed around.
(The Washington Post, October 7, 1940)
October 6-8, Sunday-Tuesday. Bing attends one of the World Series games between the Cincinnati Reds and the Detroit Tigers at Crosley Field, Cincinnati. The Reds win the Series 4-3.
October 12, Saturday. During the morning, Bing meets Charles Francis Adams, owner of the Boston Bees, and a chain store magnate, at the home of Elmer Ward, a prominent Boston businessman. Ward was to be associated with Bing in a deal to buy the Bees. A price is agreed, but later it is reported that the transaction is not allowed to proceed by the Baseball Commissioner because of Bing’s connections with horse racing although the office of the Baseball Commissioner subsequently denies any knowledge of the matter.
October 19, Saturday. Bing’s recording of “Only Forever” is at number one in the charts where it remains for ten weeks.
October 29, Tuesday. Takes part in a broadcast for the Community Mobilization for Human Needs.
October 30, Wednesday. Variety carries an article about the Kraft Music Hall.
Gabbiest Show On Air (Kraft) Due To Have More Music, Less Verbiage
Less gab and more music, along with other changes, have been decreed for Kraft Music Hall. Change in formula is understood to have been made in anticipation of Bing Crosby’s return to the show Nov. 21. Crooner quoted from New York sources as saying he is pretty well fed up with long speeches and wants more music in the program. Although the latest option pickup is hanging fire pending Crosby’s signature on the insertion of war clauses in the contract, it is said all differences have been composed following talks with Danny Danker, Coast head of the Thompson agency. Crosby’s option contract with Kraft still has five years to go.
Connie Boswell joins the Kraft program Nov. 14, putting a topflight feminine radio singer into the program along with the male star, Bing Crosby. This further emphasizes the changes due in the program.
… In the trade Kraft has been pegged the gabbiest show on the air, with Carroll Carroll turning out an average of 15,000 words for each program. Also contributing to the show’s revamp is the spotting opposite Major Bowes’ amateurs and the attendant falling off in the listener survey. On the last C. A. B. the major was leading Kraft by nine points. It is pointed out that the show always dips during Crosby’s layoff and that Major Bowes will have a fight on his hands when King Croon gets back.
(Variety, October 30, 1940)
November 2, Saturday. Bing is in Palm Springs for the opening of The Dunes, marking the start of the Palm Springs season.
November 4, Monday. Bing speaks briefly in a radio broadcast starting at midnight in which Wendell Willkie makes his final appeal to the nation in his Presidential campaign. Willkie broadcasts from the Ritz Theatre in New York and Bing is beamed in from Hollywood. The Associated Press quotes Bing as saying, “I personally am against the third term and plenty of other people out here (in California) are too - Clark Gable, Frank & Ralph Morgan, Otto Kruger, Lionel Barrymore, Edward Arnold, Jimmy Stewart.” Others taking part in the broadcast in support of Willkie are Thomas Dewey, Robert Taft, Joe Louis and Mary Pickford. Bing is said to have wagered $1000 on Willkie with a New York bookie. The Philadelphia Record newspaper later criticizes Bing in its editorial for supporting Willkie after “having enriched himself under Roosevelt.” Bing subsequently writes to the newspaper defending his stance.
November 5, Tuesday. Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt is reelected as president of the United States again.
Bing Crosby, who made an air bid for Willkie votes Monday night, yesterday was reported to have reduced the radio set in his Paramount dressing room to kindling wood
(Daily Variety, November 6, 1940)
November–December. Bing, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour film Road to Zanzibar at Paramount. The director is Victor Schertzinger with Victor Young acting as music director. On the Paramount lot at the same time as the ‘Road’ crew, Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra are filming “Las Vegas Nights”, so Bing persuades them to accompany him on his opening song “You Lucky People, You”.
“And I played piano for Bing as far back as 1940 on the Road to Morocco (sic) soundtrack. That’s when Dorsey’s band was on the West Coast, and we played at the Palladium in Hollywood. Bing wanted Tommy’s band to be on the main title track of the picture, which had Victor Young’s orchestra, so it was really quite a scene. This was an immense studio with a big symphony orchestra, Victor Young’s, and the Tommy Dorsey band, and man there were some sounds going on. Anyway, Bing dug my playing. He picked up on it right away; I guess it reminded him of whatever piano playing he liked to hear. So I got to know him real well around that time.”
(Joe Bushkin, as quoted in the book, Talking Jazz, p216)
Nobody thought, however, that the first Road picture would develop into a series. It became a series when a writer named Sy Bartlett brought in a story about two fellows who were trekking through the Madagascar jungles. The catch was that a movie named Stanley and Livingstone had just been released and it was so similar to Bartlett’s that it ruined it. Bartlett’s story was a highly dramatic one, and Don Hartman took it, gagged it up, and named it The Road to Zanzibar.
Bing is the greatest singer of popular songs who ever lived. Ask anybody. But not everyone knows how shrewd he is when it comes to the entertainment business. He instantly recognized the value of the Road pictures as a way of getting a spontaneous, ad-libby type of humour. There were doubters in the studio who shook their heads and said, “Well ... I don’t know.” But Bing was an important star. They listened to him. He was right.
Every Road picture has made large juicy chunks of money.
(Bob Hope, writing in This Is On Me, page 121)
November (undated). Larry Crosby throws a real “clambake” and Bing and Dixie attend.
November 14, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing returns to the Kraft Music Hall show and appears weekly until February 6, 1941. The audience share for the season is 18.6 which places the show in eleventh position. The Jack Benny show is in first place in the Hooper ratings with 36.2. The guests on the opening show are William Frawley, Joel McCrea, and Wingy Manone. Connie Boswell becomes the resident female singer with the other regulars being Bob Burns, the Music Maids, announcer Ken Carpenter, and John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra.
Preceded by the usual half-truth, half-publicity reports that the show was going to be “different,” Bing Crosby returned last week to the Kraft Music Hall, restoring it to the slickness which in times past, if not in the last months, has been exemplary.
More music and more singing there may have been but it would take a stop-watch to tell the difference as between music and dialogue, so far as an ear that has not heard the show for a long time was concerned. Instead of stressing that the show was “different,” it might be truer to describe it as “better.” It gave every evidence of being thoughtfully put together entertainment, wherein a master stylist of song was visited by sundry personalities and all of them talked like Carroll Carroll—Connie Boswell talked that way, Wingy Manone talked that way, Bill Frawley was thoroughly Carrollesque.
There were “bits” and “fade-ins” and “gags” and Bob Burns losing his place in the script. So maybe Bing Crosby did sing a bit more (he should) and Connie Boswell was added to the program for the series (she’s good) and the press department made the most of it (they would) but actually, the Kraft formula was little changed in basic components.
The show may have been pretty gabby last year and those responsible may be well advised to guard against this. The Carroll patter is often sharply witty, usually colorful, Americana that H. L. Mencken should incorporate in his classic works on American “slanguage” but anything so brittle and inventive carries risks, as in fast handball—if you hit and miss you can break your wrist. A dull stretch of polysyllabic drive would be bad even in a mid-morning “sustainer.” However, this “getaway” broadcast was a model of finesse in script, performance and directorial tempo—it was strictly wonderful—the authority of the star, the embellishments implicit in Miss Boswell’s presence, the adroit bringing in and exploitation of several guest personages, all spelled big time radio. Especially worth of recognition and commendation were the easygoing bridges from “bit” to “bit,” the effortless introductions of people and ideas, the skillful manipulation of the familiar quick glance values, as between Crosby and Burns, for example, the feathered bird of light persiflage in this nimble game of kilocycle badminton never once hit the boards. Praise was double merited in this case because it is well-known that the full hour variety show is radio’s toughest production assignment and only a hardy few can still stand the pace. This program is the unfoldment, the build, the accumulative values of the steady remembrance of the fact that, “easy does it” puts a premium on talent. No aeroplanes, no diamond rings, no thousand dollar banknotes, not even a free sample of Philadelphia Cream Cheese were given away. Let all who love entertainment and deplore “dish night” uncover, in reverence, virtuosity in the realm of song and spoof.
(Variety, November 20, 1940)
November 21, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Ogden Nash, Robert Young, and the Brewer Kids.
November 28, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall broadcast and Bing’s guests include Charles Boyer and Tommy Dorsey.
November 30, Saturday. The number one record is Bing’s recording of “Trade Winds.”
December 3, Tuesday. (7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.) Recording session with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra, when four songs are committed to wax, including “It’s Always You.” Two cowboy songs—“Along the Santa Fe Trail” and “Lone Star Trail” —are recorded too and the former reaches the No. 4 spot in the Billboard charts.
December 5, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Errol Flynn, Benny Rubin, and Cliff Nazarro.
December 9, Monday. (5:00 p.m. to 7:20 p.m.) Records with Victor Young and his Orchestra, including Bing’s first Irish songs “Did Your Mother Come from Ireland” and “Where the River Shannon Flows.” The former song charts briefly at No. 22.
December 11, Wednesday. Variety carries an item about Bing’s backing of presidential candidate Wendell Willkie.
Bing Crosby, in a letter to the Philly Record last week, answered an attack in a pre-election editorial in the daily taking him to task for his endorsement of Wendell Willkie “while being enriched under the Roosevelt administration”.
Wrote Crosby: “It would seem that all the differences of opinion concerning the two presidential candidates were pretty conclusively settled on Nov. 5. I feel if 26,000,000 voters esteem Mr. Roosevelt as the man for the job, it’s surely good enough for me.
“I do think, though, that whether the two Roosevelt administrations played an important part in the remarkably good fortune which has attended my career seems trivial in consideration of the traditional issues that were involved.”
The crooner then went into a defense of the use of WPA money on his Santa Anita (sic) racing plant which the Record said “raised an unhappy odor in Congress”.
(Variety, December 11, 1940)
December 12, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests advertised to take part include Richard Bonelli, Lynne Overman, Charles LaVere and Preston Sturges. It is thought that Preston Sturges may have pulled out at the last moment.
December 13, Friday. Bing records “Tea for Two” and “Yes Indeed” with Connie Boswell supported by Bob Crosby’s Bob Cats. At the end of the session, a special Christmas greeting to the Decca staff in New York is recorded.
Bing Crosby-Connie Boswell ‘Tea for Two’-‘Yes Indeed’ (Decca 3689). Crosby and Miss Boswell duo to solid returns on these, pairing on “Yes Indeed” making it stand out strong. It’s a sort of a spiritual that packs a punch. ‘Tea’ is also neat, but it doesn’t rate wilh companion piece.
(Variety, April 23, 1941)
December 15, Sunday. Golfs in the annual Southland Scotch mixed foursomes tournament with Babe Didrikson at Rancho Country Club.
December 16, Monday. Another recording date in Hollywood with Bob Crosby and his Orchestra, including the songs “San Antonio Rose” and “It Makes No Difference Now”. The former song spends 11 weeks in the Billboard charts and peaks at No. 7, whilst the latter tune charts briefly at No. 23.
Crosby interpreted “New San Antonio Rose” exactly as Wills had done in his recording. There was not one sound on Crosby’s 78 to suggest that he thought the song was country or hillbilly. His arrangement was no different from any other popular song he was recording at the time. Crosby – like Wills – performed ‘New San Antonio Rose’ for what it was, pop music.
Crosby was always grateful to Wills for this song but Wills was even more appreciative of Crosby. Bob Wills believed that Crosby’s recording of “New San Antonio Rose” was the turning point in his own career. Whether Wills over-emphasized the importance of the Crosby recording and under-emphasized his own is debatable. One thing is certain, both Wills and Crosby profited from the song.
(San Antonio Rose – The Life & Music of Bob Wills)
I almost failed to recognise Bing Crosby in ‘It Makes No Difference Now’, only the slight throb served to distinguish him from any one of a hundred crooners. ‘I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes’ was more characteristic but poor material. (Brunswick 03456).
(The Gramophone, August, 1943)
December (undated). Bing signs a fresh contract with Paramount which is thought to require him to make nine films in three years at $175,000 per film. Also, he signs a contract with Decca for five years at $60,000 per annum plus a percentage.
December 19, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Allen Jenkins and Donald Crisp.
December 20, Friday. (5:45 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.) Makes records of songs from the film Road to Zanzibar with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra. Also records “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square”.
Every time this column hears “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” it thinks of Bing Crosby, even when he isn’t singing it. We heard him record it.
Larry Crosby picked us up over there on Melrose and led us through a labyrinth of passages into one of several little rooms which adjoined a big room. In the big room, where Decca has made hundreds of recordings for years, were Bing and an orchestra. In the little rooms a small knot of nervous men puffed on cigars and fidgeted with gadgets and waxes.
Everybody except Bing was in shirtsleeves. We could see him through the pane of glass separating the big room from ours. He wore a blue sweater with white stripes, tan trousers and the inevitable jaunty hat. I was reminded of the calypso singer who sang:
“He has a queer ec-cen-tric-ee-tee
Takes off his hat ver-ee in-frequent-lee
But the crooning prod-dee-gee
Is Bing Cros-bee.”
Prodigy or no, he didn’t look like a man worth $16,000,000 as someone told us he must be. But then, what is a man worth $16,000,000 supposed to look like?
Jack Kapp, head of Decca, was in charge of operations. Bing had just finished recording three numbers from “The Road to Zanzibar” and this nightingale thing was to be No. 4. We stood in the monitor room with the man who was doing the waxing. At a given signal he dropped a weight attached to a rope and the rope began to unwind the turntable. This method is old-fashioned but is supposed to insure an even pickup. The record was a hunk of wax inches thick.
And, through the window, we saw John Scott Trotter, the conductor, raise his baton and the 15 shirtsleeved men their instruments. Trotter wore earphones. He listened as the men played and Bing sang.
Bing squared off at the mike with elaborate unconcern and started. No gestures, just the voice, which came to us from a loudspeaker in the room where we stood. Once its owner glanced at us and we saw that his face was without expression of any kind.
When it was over Kapp came in and said “Three minutes and 10 seconds.” Nothing about the millions of girls being made glad all over for three minutes and 10 seconds; just the cold statistic itself.
On the way back through the labyrinth we asked Mrs. S. what she thought was the secret of Bing’s fascination for those girls. “Let me put it like this,” said Mrs. S. “You know when you sip a drink and begin to feel kind of a-a-a-a-a-ah? Well, that’s it.”
“You, too!” I said
(Philip K. Scheuer, Los Angeles Times, January 19, 1941)
Jack Kapp’s closest friend, probably, is Bing Crosby. Years ago, when Crosby was recording for Brunswick, Bing got his kicks whistling and boo-boo-booing when he recorded. Late in 1933, after proving his loyalty to the Brunswick firm, but at the same time, showing his impatience with that organization’s methods, Kapp resigned and organized his own record company. The day he organized Decca, Bing Crosby and Guy Lombardo left Brunswick and joined him. Within a few weeks Ted Lewis, Ethel Waters, the Dorsey Brothers, the Mills Brothers, the Casa Lama band and several other hot attractions also were signed up with the baby Decca company.
To charges that Kapp had “raided” his rivals, Jack answered that he was paying less money than the rival concerns and that the artists had followed him “simply purely” out of loyalty, and faith in his new firm. One of the first things Kapp did, with Bing Crosby, was argue the good-natured “Groaner” into forsaking the whistling and corny boo-boo-booing. He also persuaded Bing that it would be smart to make a series, “of old standards, things 1ike “Home on the Range,” “I Love You Truly” and “Silent Night.” Those 1934 Crosby discs are still selling day in and day out. In 1939 Bing’s discs alone counted for 2,000,000 of Decca’s sales. And Crosby, by dropping his jazzy whistling and boo-booing, has held his tremendous following down through the years. Every year since he started for Decca, Bing’s records have shown an increase in sales. Bing credits Jack Kapp with putting him on the right road and pulling him out of what might have been a “flash-in-the-pan career.”
(Dave Dexter, Jr., writing in Downbeat, 1941)
December 23, Monday. Bing, supported by Bob Crosby’s Bob Cats and the Merry Macs, records “Dolores” and “Pale Moon” in Hollywood. “Dolores” enters the Billboard charts on April 5, 1941 peaking at No. 2 during a 15-week stay.
…The titles are “Dolores,” from the film “The Gay City,” and Stephen Foster’s well-known, characteristic piece “Camptown Races”. (Brunswick 03190). To add to the attractions, the studio has supported Bing in the latter number with a vocal group, The King’s Men. In “Dolores,” they have given him the backing, not only of another vocal combination, the famous Merry Mac’s Quartet, but also of the even more famous Bob Crosby’s Bob Cats. In such a “commercial” number as “Dolores” especially as treated by Mr. C., the Bob Cats are quite wasted. Even Eddie Miller’s tenor solo, to which the label draws attention, is no more than a few musicianly bars of straight melody. But the choirs do mean something. In both what they do and the way they do it, they add a new character to the records which is a very definite asset. In fact, all round, I recommend these two sides as among the most pleasing Crosby offerings we have had.
(Melody Maker, August 16, 1941)
On the other side, he is ably supported by Bob Crosby and the Merry Macs in the best vocal version of “Dolores” I have heard so far (Brunswick 03190).
(The Gramophone, September, 1941)
December (undated). Bing is thought to have taken part in a Christmas party for twelve hundred colored children at Ascot School together with other artists including the King Cole Trio, Dorothy Dandridge, and Frankie Darro.
December 26, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Jose Iturbi, Thomas Mitchell, and the Ken Darby Singers. Dispensation is given by NBC to include ‘Ballad for Americans’ on the show despite a ban against all American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers music which became effective December 22.
The best show of the week was the Bing Crosby program this week. First, there was Bing and Connie Boswell singing “Tea for Two” and it was really something. Then there was Bing Crosby doing “Ballad for Americans” which is enough to make any program. Finally, and this was a surprise, Bob Burns did a routine that I thought was good and I don’t go for Burns. He did a monologue on Christmas and among other things, said, “I’m giving Bing a pair of two-way binoculars. He can watch his horse and the winner at the same time.”
(Sidney Skolsky, Hollywood Citizen News, December 28, 1940)
December 27, Friday. Bing is said to have attended the unveiling of a memorial plaque for Mabel Normand at Republic Studios with Mack Sennett and many other stars. Later Bing and Dixie are reported to be at a party at Ciro’s with Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Hedy Lamarr, Judy Garland, Eleanor Powell, Dorothy Lamour, Ann Sothern, Linda Darnell, Tony Martin, Mickey Rooney, James Stewart, Jackie Cooper, Dan Dailey and Lana Turner amongst others.
December 31, Tuesday. Records four songs with Victor Young and his Orchestra.
Bing’s royalties on records in 1940 are $77,000 and he is placed seventh in the annual U.S.A. film box office stars list for 1940. Mickey Rooney is first.
Bing has had seventeen songs that became chart hits in 1940 and he wins the Movie-Radio Guide Star of Stars award for best male singer of popular songs for the year. He goes on to win the same award each year for the next three years. Also Down Beat magazine names Bing and Helen O’Connell as the top vocalists of 1940.
January 1, Wednesday. A dispute by the National
Broadcasters’ Association with ASCAP over royalties is underway. (In 1940, when ASCAP tried to double its license fees again, radio
broadcasters formed a boycott of ASCAP and founded a competing royalty agency, Broadcast Music Incorporated (
January 2, Thursday. (11:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Frank McHugh, James Hilton, and Tommy Harmon. The latter is Michigan’s all-American halfback and press reports indicate that he is to go into a radio and screen career under Bing’s sponsorship. Later in the week, Harmon is photographed with Bing and golfer Horton Smith watching play at the Los Angeles Open at Riviera Country Club.
January 6, Monday. Bing is beaten on the last green by Roger Kelly in the semi-final of the Lakeside Golf Club championships. Bing had defeated defending champion Pete Watts and was heavily favored.
January 9, Thursday. (11:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall show. Bing’s guests include Henry Stephenson and Roland Young.
Bing Crosby goes into public domain for the second week for selection of numbers he’ll sing Thursday night. They are ‘Rancho Grande,’ ‘Song of the Islands,’ ‘Ballin’ the Jack,’ ‘Love Turns Winter to Spring’ and ‘Beautiful Dreamer.’ Connie Boswell sings ‘Home on the Range,’ ‘Frenesi’ and ‘Perfidia.
(Daily Variety, January 6, 1941)
January 16, Thursday. (11:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B.(6:00–7:00 p.m.) Another Kraft Music Hall broadcast and Bing’s guests are Benny Rubin, Walter Pidgeon, and Duke Ellington.
January 19, Sunday. (1:30 p.m.) Bing and Bob Hope team up against Babe Didrikson and Patty Berg for a four ball better-ball golf exhibition prior to the Frank Condon Memorial Tournament at the San Gabriel Country Club. The men lose.
January 21, Tuesday. Correspondence of this date from Todd Johnson of Johnson and Johnson to Bing commences as follows:
Jack O’Melveny informed me this morning that you had adjusted your domestic affairs so that you no longer contemplate a separation and property settlement with Dixie.
(As reproduced in BINGANG, December 2000)
Bing had apparently asked Dixie for a divorce because of her drinking and Dixie and Kitty Lang had been to Sun Valley, Idaho, to establish residency. The letter from Todd Johnson sets out the adverse effects a separation would have had on Bing’s financial situation. He estimates Bing’s 1940 net income at $526,000 and taxes would be $377,000 as against $433,000 if there had been a divorce. The letter also states that Bing has cash in the bank outside of his personal account of $167,000 with a tax bill due of $377,000! A letter to Bing from Dixie’s father, Evan Wyatt, written around this time, is supportive of Bing and urges him to have Dixie committed to a sanitarium. Wyatt’s advice is to wait until “she is good and drunk” one night, then have her taken off, and to then put the necessary legal steps in place afterwards. The deal he offers Bing is that he will testify on Bing’s behalf in any court hearing, providing Bing does not seek a custody order that would deny Dixie all access to the children. Wyatt seems resigned to having Dixie legally determined as incapable of looking after herself. However, Bing decides to help Dixie through her problems.
January 23, Thursday. (11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall show is broadcast by NBC. Bing’s guests include James Hilton and Edward Everett Horton.
January 24–26, Friday–Sunday. The Bing Crosby Pro-Am Golf Tournament at Rancho Santa Fe is won by Sam Snead for the third time. Bing misses the first day as he is delayed by bad weather in Los Angeles. Ed Oliver partners Bing in the pro-am commencing on January 25.
January 30, Thursday. (11:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m., 4:00–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Leo Diamond, Ogden Nash, and Virginia Bruce. (8:15–9:15 p.m.) Bing is thought to have joined in a nationwide all-network radio hookup to celebrate President Roosevelt’s birthday.
pleas of his ASCAP friends, Bing
Crosby is said to be ready to
(Variety, February 5, 1941)
February 6, Thursday. (11:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m., 4:00–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing hosts the Kraft Music Hall with guests Paul Robeson and Lew Ayres. Bing then leaves by train with his son Gary for Sun Valley where they are to join the rest of the family.
On Jan. 2, 1943, an article examining the role of the “Negro” in show business revealed that black performers were being represented with more dignity, their employment opportunities had increased, and their race was being portrayed more sympathetically in films, over radio, and on stage than in previous years. However, radio continued to perpetuate a longstanding policy that no black performer could be introduced on any commercial network show with the appellation of Mr., Mrs., or Miss preceding his or her name. That rule applied even to performers of Marian Anderson’s stature. There was, however, some evidence that the rule was beginning to break down, for example, when Bing Crosby introduced Paul Robeson as “Mr.” on his program.
(Phyllis Stark, Billboard, A History of Radio Broadcasting November 1, 1994)
February (undated). Voted most popular male singer in a New York World-Telegram poll of radio editors.
February 13, Thursday. Misses the Kraft Music Hall show as he is on a short vacation at the Sun Valley Inn, Idaho, with his family.
February 20, Thursday. (11:00 a.m.–2:30 p.m., 4:00–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing returns to the Kraft Music Hall with guests Sabu, George Raft, and Vincente Gomez.
February 23, Sunday (4:30–5:00 p.m.) Takes part in the Gulf Screen Guild radio production of Altar Bound with Bob Hope, Betty Grable, Hans Conried and Howard Duff on CBS. Oscar Bradley leads the orchestra.
Last week Bob Hope and Bing Crosby did a turn on radio for the Screen Guild. Their vehicle was a farce called “Altar Bound” by M. M. Musselman and Kenneth Earle and told of two well meaning pals aboard a boat to South America. Their plan upon landing is to rescue a friend from marriage. The sketch proved a smash hit. So much so that the stars are anxious to have Paramount base a picture on the plot. With Hope scheduled for three films and Crosby down for the same, the intended movie can’t go into action for some months.
(Harry Mines, Los Angeles Daily News, March 1, 1941)
February 25, Tuesday. Bing arranges to appear in a benefit performance for Greek War Relief at the Shrine Auditorium, and while he is present backstage, he cannot be given a spot in the early part of the show and he leaves without singing.
February 27, Thursday. (10:30 a.m.–2:00 p.m., 4:00–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B.(6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing hosts another Kraft Music Hall show. The guests include Fay Bainter. Later, Bing’s song “Only Forever” loses to “When You Wish Upon a Star” from Pinocchio as best film song of 1940 in the annual Academy Awards show held at the Biltmore Bowl.
March 1, Saturday. Bing is at the Santa Anita racetrack with 47,000 others to see 90 to 1 long shot ‘Bay View’ win the Santa Anita Handicap in very wet conditions. His presence is captured by newsreels as is that of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard.
March 5, Wednesday. Bing is at Santa Anita racetrack again.
March 6, Thursday. (11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m., 4:00–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Lionel Barrymore and Eddie Bracken.
March 8, Saturday. Bing and Dixie are said to have attended the Diamond Horseshoe Ball at the Mocambo having been at Santa Anita racetrack in the afternoon.
March 10, Monday. Bing’s film Road to Zanzibar is previewed at the Paramount Studio for the press.
Paramount, which made a lot of money with Road to Singapore, ought to double the take with Road to Zanzibar, for the new film is just about twice as good as the old one. Crosby and Hope were never better in their comedy interchanges.
(James Francis Crow, Hollywood Citizen News March 11, 1941)
‘Zanzibar’ is Paramount’s second coupling of Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour following their successful teaming in ‘Road to Singapore’. Although picture has sufficient comedy situations and dialog between its male stars to get over with general audiences in regular runs, it lacks the compactness and spontaneity of its predecessor. But with the starring trio of Crosby, Hope and Miss Lamour, there’s plenty of marquee lighting to catch profitable biz generally.
The story framework is pretty flimsy foundation for hanging the series of comedy and thrill situations concocted for the pair. It’s a fluffy and inconsequential tale, with Crosby-Hope combo, through their individual and collective efforts, doing valiant work to keep up interest.
Pair are stranded in South Africa, with Crosby the creator of freak sideshow acts for Hope to perform. With his saved passage money back to the States, Crosby buys a diamond mine, which is quickly sold by Hope for profit. Then pair start out on strange Safari with Lamour and Una Merkel, pair of Brooklyn entertainers, pursuing a millionaire hunter…
Comedy episodes generally lack sparkle and tempo of ‘Singapore’, and musical numbers are also below par for a Crosby picture. Bing sings two, ‘It’s Always You’ the best candidate…
(Variety, March 12, 1941)
March 12, Wednesday. Variety announces that in January, “Decca sold 446,700 copies of Bing Crosby recordings, a new high for all time, not only for Crosby but any disk artist. While figures for February are not available as yet, the same total or more seems likely, which can give the singer a sale of 5,000,000 records for the year as against a 3,500,000 sales last year.”
March 13, Thursday. (11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m., 4:00–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Jackie Cooper and Lou Novikoff.
March 18, Tuesday. (7:00–7:30 p.m.) Guests on Bob Hope’s radio show on NBC.
March 20, Thursday. (11:00 a.m.–2:30 p.m., 4:00–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall broadcast on NBC. Bing’s guests are Cliff Nazarro, Edward Arnold, and J. Carrol Naish.
March 27, Thursday. Bing misses the Kraft Music Hall show. Don Ameche acts as host.
April 3, Thursday. (10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m., 4:00–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Rudolph Ganz, Roland Young, and Russ Morgan. Bob Burns, Ken Carpenter, Connie Boswell, and the Music Maids continue as regulars with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra furnishing the musical support.
April 4, Friday. Bing and Dixie are thought to have attended the Jack Teagarden opening at Casa Manana.
April 5, Saturday. Bing and Dixie attend a party at Ken Murray’s home. Ken wishes to introduce his new girl friend, Kay Harris. Others attending are the Bob Hopes, Lew Ayres, Frances Langford, Jon Hall, Edgar Bergen and Carol Landis.
April–June. Films Birth of the Blues with Mary Martin, Brian Donlevy, and Jack Teagarden. Harry Barris also has a small part. The movie has a budget of $857,283. The director is Victor Schertzinger with musical supervision and direction by Robert Emmett Dolan. Dolan is subsequently nominated for an Oscar for “Best Scoring of a Musical Picture” but he loses out to Frank Churchill and Oliver Wallace for Dumbo.
April 7, Monday. Bing appears on the cover of Time magazine.
April 9, Wednesday. The film Road to Zanzibar has its New York premiere at the Paramount and is a bigger hit than the first Road film.
Pity the poor motion picture which ever again sets forth on a perilous (?) African safari, now that Bing Crosby and Bob Hope have traversed the course! For the cheerful report this morning is that the Messrs. Crosby and Hope, with an able left-handed assist from a denatured Dorothy Lamour, have thoroughly ruined the Dark Continent for any future cinematic pursuits. Never again will be hear those jungle drums throbbing menacingly but what we envision Bing and Bob beating a gleeful tattoo upon them. And never again will we behold a file of natives snaking solemnly through the trees without seeing in our mind’s eye the gangling Crosby-Hope expedition as it ambles in and along the Paramount’s “Road to Zanzibar,” which arrived at that house yesterday. Yessir, the heart of darkest Africa has been pierced by a couple of wags.
Or perhaps we should really say it is pierced by a steady barrage of gags, for the quantity and quality of these account for the principal joy in this footloose film. Maybe Director Victor Schertzinger had a map of sorts when he started out, but the travelers on the “Road to Zanzibar” make little use of it. Taking as a mere point of departure the assumption that Bing and Bob are a couple of carnival performers cast adrift in a land far from home, they and the picture seem to follow the line of least resistance and most fun. Somewhere along the way they pick up Una Merkel and Miss Lamour, also a couple of shysters whose “pitch” is selling Miss Lamour as a slave. And together the four set out on a tour of the hinterland, running afoul of romance and trouble, which are indistinguishable. The limitations of time rather than ingenuity finally call a halt.
And all along things happen with the most casual and refreshing spontaneity. Miss Lamour and Bing go boat-riding on a jungle pond. They laughingly remark how motion pictures put an orchestra in the middle of the woods when occasion calls for a song. An orchestra forthwith plays, and Bing goes into his act. Or again, when a group of painted cannibals begin debating the gastronomic potentialities of Bing and Bob, the chattered dialogue is translated by amusing subtitles. And both of the boys are ever ready with a fast quip to keep the farce going.
Needless to say, Mr. Crosby and Mr. Hope are most, if not all, of the show—with a slight edge in favor of the latter, in case any one wants to know. Miss Lamour, who is passingly amusing in her frequent attempts to be, assists in the complications and sings a couple of songs. And Miss Merkel and Eric Blore do well in minor roles. Farce of this sort very seldom comes off with complete effect, but this time it does, and we promise that there’s fun on the “Road to Zanzibar.” This time, as Mr. Hope puts it in one of his pungent phrases, they’re cooking with gas.
(Bosley Crowther, New York Times, April 10, 1941)
April 10, Thursday. (11:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m., 4:00–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include John O’Hara and Bob Hope.
April 17, Thursday. (10:00 a.m.–2:30 p.m., 4:00–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Another Kraft Music Hall show on NBC and Bing’s guests are Jack Teagarden, Rosemary Lane, and Brian Aherne.
April 18, Friday. (7:30–8:00 p.m.) Bing guests on “Alec Templeton Time” on the NBC Red wavelength. The show is sponsored by Alka-Seltzer.
April 24, Thursday. (11:30 a.m.–2:00 p.m., 3:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Virginia Bruce and Don Ameche.
May 1, Thursday. (11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m., 2:30–5:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing hosts the Kraft Music Hall broadcast and his guests include Pat O’Brien and Josephine Tuminia.
May 2, Friday. Decca Records buys the name of Brunswick Radio Corporation and all masters made before November 17, 1931, from Warner Brothers Pictures. This gives Decca control of Bing’s early records for the Brunswick label.
May 3, Saturday. Attends the Hollywood Guild’s “Red, White and Blue Party” in the Fiesta Room of the Ambassador Hotel and sings "Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland".
The film colony has many glorious parties to its credit, but with the Hollywood Guild’s “Red, White and Blue Burlycue” at the Ambassador Hotel, it hit a new high in royal reveling, both as regards the program and stellar attendance. In fact, the slightly modernized, old-time burlesque show may be truly categorized as “the greatest show on earth.”
For instead of the usual synthetic benefit bill, during which the m.c. does all the work and a few artists come on in time-worn acts, this all-star opus was not only colossal in scope, but was also ingeniously planned and actually rehearsed!... Immediately following the overture, $1,000,000 worth of peanut butchers, including George Burns, Jack Benny, Mecca Graham, Henry Fonda, Frank McHugh, Johnny Burke, Lynne Overman, George Meeker, Dewey Robinson and Ward Bond, raised their ear-shattering voices to sell their wares with short-change methods that would have put the slickest carnival slicker to shame—all in Charity’s sweet name, of course.
... Bing Crosby was billed with, “EXTRA!! THE GROANER SHOWS UP!” And looking very handsome, gave beautiful rendition to “Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland,” with stereopticon slides that had practically nothing to do with the subject.
(Ella Wickersham, Los Angeles Examiner, May 6, 1941)
May 7, Wednesday. Gary Crosby (aged 7) writes to his father from the Camarillo Street address.
Thank you for the nice Mexican hat and shoes. How are you feeling. On Thursday I went to boys club and caught six big trout. We each took turns sleeping with mother. On Sunday Grandpa took us to the show and took us on the merry-go-round Tuesday. We each got paid for all the ‘a’s we got on our report card. We are having a lot of fun and we hope you are having fun too. I hope you have a nice trip. I am being fair and will try to do better.
It would appear that Bing was not at home at the time.
May 8, Thursday. (11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m., 2:30–5:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Alec Templeton, William Frawley, and Walter Pidgeon.
May 15, Thursday. (11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m., 2:30–5:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall show is broadcast. Bing’s guests include Dolly Lehr and Priscilla Lane.
…He came out wearing henna slacks (he insisted they were henna!) topped by a loose-fitting blouse of blue and beige stripes, with flowers scattered over the whole. Either he IS color-blind, or he has a supreme sense of showmanship; for it was the Bing we’d come to expect, from the way they rib him about his clothes. During the program you have to take your choice—watch the performers, or watch Bing. He’s in action from the moment he arrives on the stage ‘til he leaves. Don’t get me wrong—he doesn’t “hog” the whole show—it’s just that he gets a huge kick out of everything and acts up to it. He has a tremendous amount of personality and you just love watching him—he pantomimes all the time! That first week Priscilla Lane and Jerry Lester were on with him, so Bing was the whole show for me. At the close of the program they announced that the next Thursday would see Kay Kyser, Humphrey Bogart, and a naval hero at KMH. I nearly cried to think I’d miss it…
(Helen Stevens, writing in BINGANG magazine in 1941)
May 22, Thursday. (11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m., 2:30–5:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show and his guests are Kay Kyser and Humphrey Bogart.
…This week Bing wore solid color slacks and shirt, but his antics were in direct contrast to his sober (for him) raiment. Need I say that with that array of stars the station nearly exploded? Humphrey Bogart was awed at the idea of meeting the naval hero, and Kay Kyser and John Scott Trotter have the same alma mater— all of which gave the program a personal touch. Highlight of the evening was when everyone on the stage except the orchestra congaed to a little number John Scott and Kay had tossed off, called I think, “Carolina Conga”. At any rate, it was a tricky number and the whole show just broke up at that point.
Bing wanders ‘round the stage when he’s not at the mike, and tosses his script to the floor, page by page, as he finishes with it. After the program there is a mad scramble by the audience to retrieve these pages and perhaps have them autographed. Bing always manages to disappear before anyone can nail him down, however.
(Helen Stevens, writing in BINGANG magazine in 1941)
May 23, Friday. (6:30–9:45 p.m.) Makes his first recordings of the year, including “Be Honest with Me” and “Brahms Lullaby.” John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra furnish the musical accompaniment. Both songs hit the charts fleetingly, “Be Honest with Me” at No. 19 and “Brahms Lullaby” at No. 20. Another song “You and I” reaches the No. 5 position and spends 12 weeks in the hit parade. A dispute by the National Broadcasters’ Association with ASCAP over royalties, which began on January 1, has removed the incentive for recording as radio networks are not licensed to play ASCAP material.
By 1940, however, ASCAP had become a Hollywood-dominated conglomerate. The best music was going into films, which was where the best songwriters were anxious to put it. It was still the songs from the movies that were played on the radio. But there were changes in the wind. The gigantic rise in box office receipts that had come with the Depression and seemed to be established as the norm for all time, had halted, and there were signs that they might be slackening off and moving into a downward trend that would never recover. Radio, on the other hand, was attracting wider audiences than ever—and in America the staple diet of those audiences was popular music. ASCAP decided that its members were losing out. The only way to check the drift in their profits would be to demand a doubling of the licensing fee.
But it was not as easy as the Tin Pan Alley-Hollywood music men
imagined. When ASCAP announced it was going to hold back on a new license for
1941, the radio networks simply announced the formation of their own
After the meeting, he bumped into his young friend who was still trying to rescue Very Warm for May. ‘You, Cummings,’ he said. ‘What do you think of this ASCAP thing?’
‘Oh,’ Cummings replied. ‘Mr. Kern, I don’t think you can win.’
‘Why not?’ asked Jerry. ‘How long do you think people will be able to listen to “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair”?’
It seemed a reasonable question because ‘Jeanie’ and the other
Stephen Foster ballads seemed to be played on the radio more than any other old
songs. But Cummings predicted correctly—
(Jerome Kern, A Biography, pages 151/152)
May 26, Monday. Records two songs from the film Birth of the Blues with Mary Martin and Jack Teagarden and his Orchestra. “The Waiter and the Porter and the Upstairs Maid” charts briefly at No. 23.
May 29, Thursday. (10:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m., 2:30–5:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Frank McHugh, James Hilton, and Duke Ellington.
June 5, Thursday. (10:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m., 2:30–5:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Another Kraft Music Hall broadcast and Bing’s guests are Jerry Lester and William Boyd.
June (undated). Bing and Mary Martin star in a radio program “Man in the Street” as part of a popular series of dramatized up-market stories.
June 10, Tuesday. Mary Rose Miller (Bing’s sister who has divorced Albert Peterson and married William Miller) gives birth to a son, William.
June 12, Thursday. Golfs at the Oakmont Country Club in Glendale in the Southern California Amateur Championship and loses 4 and 3 to Ray Hanes. (2:30–5:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Ethel Waters, Donald Crisp, and Chester Morris.
June 14, Saturday. (6:30–8:45 p.m.) Recording date in Hollywood with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra when four songs are recorded, including “Clementine.” This song charts briefly in the No. 20 spot, whilst “’Til Reveille” reaches the No. 6 position during an 11 week spell in the Billboard lists.
Bing Crosby has dollied up the ancient melody “Clementine” with the help of John Scott Trotter. He adds some different and humorous lyrics and produces a record which surely will be one of the big favorites of the year.
(The Daily Iowan, November 25, 1941)
June 16, Monday. (9:00–11:45 a.m.) Records five songs with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra, including “I Wonder What’s Become of Sally?” and two songs by Stephen Foster.
BING CROSBY (Decca 18531) I Wonder What’s Become of Sally — W; V. Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup — FT; V. CROSBY goes way back in the song folios for one of the best sentimental girl songs of the century in bringing up Milton Ager and Jack Yellen’s classic that concerns itself with the whereabouts of Sally. And Crosby makes that age-old question a lively issue all over again. Still set in the waltz frame, but taking all the liberties with the tempo, Crosby dips into his sentimental song mood for the singing. Takes the chorus from the starting windings. John Scott Trotter’s accompanying orchestra has the soft strings and brasses bringing up the second stanza, with Crosby taking it over again for the last half to complete the side. Plattermate is Anna Sosenko’s standard song classic that uses the Francois terms of endearment to such lyrical advantage. Unfortunately, the public temper at this time is hardly in the mood to accept such a French chanson, unless Hildegarde is out in front singing her manager’s song. Crosby is a bit out of character in singing this type of love song. While in good voice as ever, the warmth and understanding are lacking. With Victor Young wielding the wand over the supporting orchestra, Crosby takes full liberty with the tempo in singing the verse to start the side, taking the chorus at a moderately slow tempo. The strings start the second stanza, with Crosby taking over for the last half to complete the side. Combination of Bing Crosby’s grand singing with the sentiment expressed in the ever popular “I Wonder What’s Become of Sally” is a natural to start a fresh flow of nickels into the coin boxes.
(Billboard, February 20, 1943)
June 18, Wednesday. Press reports indicate that Bing and many other stars have been to see Cabin in the Sky at the Philharmonic Auditorium in Los Angeles. The show stars Ethel Waters, Katherine Dunham, Dooley Wilson and Rex Ingram.
June 19, Thursday. (10:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m., 3:00–5:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Jimmy O’Brien, Gail Patrick, and Bert Lahr.
June 22, Saturday. (9:00 –11:00 p.m.) Bing is one of the many screen and radio celebrities taking part in the Red Cross Mercy radio program broadcast from a sound stage at 5833 Fernwood Avenue, Los Angeles.
June 26, Thursday. Does not appear on the Kraft Music Hall as he is in Spokane playing in the Pacific North West Amateur Golf Tournament. Bing is defeated by Marsh Hammon, city champion, in the opening match, two and one.
July 3, Thursday. (10:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m., 2:30–5:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Bing’s guests include Raymond Massey. This is the last show for Bob Burns after five years as a regular as he leaves to head his own show for Campbell’s Soup. Later, Bing and Dixie are understood to have attended the opening night for Harry Owens and his Royal Hawaiian Orchestra at the Miramar Hotel.
July 4, Friday. Sings at Ken Murray’s wedding at Lew Ayres’ home.
One time when we were playing golf, he said he had heard I was getting married. In the typical off-hand Crosby style, he asked “Who you got singing at the wedding?”
I said, kidding, “You, Bing, if you’ll come.”
“I’ll be there.”
Sure enough, he showed up on July 4, 1941, at the home of Lew Ayres for my marriage to Miss Cleatus Caldwell. Edgar Bergen was best man and Bing sang “I Love You Truly” through a window, accompanied by Lew Ayres on the organ. To my knowledge, this was the first and only time Bing ever sang at a wedding. Unfortunately, the union was dissolved a few years later.
(Ken Murray, writing in his book, Life on a Pogo Stick)
July 5, Saturday. (6:00–9:45 p.m.) Bing records five songs with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra, including “Danny Boy”, “Dear Little Boy of Mine” and “Oh! How I Miss You Tonight”. At the end of the session, Bing records “Where the Turf Meets the Surf” for use at the Del Mar racetrack.
Bing Crosby (Decca 4152)
Oh! How I Miss You Tonight - Dear Little Boy of Mine
For this item Bing Crosby has found two oldies that not only drip with sentiment but take on an added meaning in Crosby’s interpretation. He takes the Benny Davis-Joe Burke song on the A side in slow waltz tempo. The lush fiddling provided by John Scott Trotter’s accompanying orchestra strings a beautiful background. Crosby sings a chorus, lets the orchestra play another half and then sings it out. For Ernest R. Ball classic on the B side, Crosby provides identical treatment, singing both choruses. The Boy of Mine lyrics sound even more timely today, referring to the boy going off to war. Crosby tugs at the heartstrings for both songs. It’s sure-fire for both sides. With the name of Bing Crosby to attract attention, neither side can miss for music-box play. Moreover, both songs have lived on thru the years, with added meaning in this year of war.
(Billboard, February 21, 1942)
July 6, Sunday. Bing and Bob Hope participate in a benefit golf match at the Potrero Club. Bob’s doctor had ordered him to bed because of a bad case of sunburn but he ignored the advice.
July 7, Monday. President Roosevelt informs Congress that U.S. forces have landed in Iceland to prevent it being occupied by the Germans.
July 8, Tuesday. (6:30–10:15 p.m.) Bing records four songs with Victor Young and his Orchestra including “You Are My Sunshine.” This song charts briefly in the No. 19 spot as does another tune, “The Anniversary Waltz”, which hits the No. 24 mark.
If you fancy Bing Crosby as a cowboy singing hillbillies to the accompaniment of a strumming guitar, you’ll enjoy “You Are My Sunshine.” On turning this disc over, we find “Day Dreaming” which to my mind was, frankly, disappointing. Perhaps I expected too much even from Bing, but it seems that he somehow misses the spirit of the song in this. (Brunswick 03300)
(The Gramophone, May 1942)
July 9, Wednesday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour appear on Millions for Defense, a weekly war bond variety hour on CBS sponsored by the Treasury Department. Lowell Thomas, Dorothy Maynor, and Paul Muni complete the lineup.
July 10, Thursday. (10:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m., 2:30–5:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Wingy Manone and Rita Hayworth. Jerry Lester comes in as the replacement for Bob Burns.
July 14, Monday. (7:00–10:00 p.m.) Another recording session with Victor Young and his Orchestra at which four songs, including “Ol’ Man River” and “Day Dreaming” are waxed.
July 17, Thursday. (10:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m., 2:30–5:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Warner Baxter, Maureen O’Sullivan, and Vronsky and Babin.
July 19, Saturday. (5:30 p.m.) Bing joins NBC’s Buddy Twiss on a radio broadcast to describe the scene as the Hollywood Gold Cup is run at Hollywood Park.
July 24, Thursday. (10:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m., 2:30–5:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall broadcast. Bing’s guests include Florence George, boxer Billy Conn, and John Garfield.
July 30, Wednesday. Bing records four songs with Woody Herman and his Orchestra in Hollywood, including “I Ain’t Got Nobody.” Muriel Lane shares the vocals on two of the tracks and one of them—“The Whistler’s Mother-in-Law”—enjoys some success reaching the No. 9 mark during its 14 weeks in the Billboard Best-Sellers list.
Bing Crosby has made the best version among the few available recordings of “Whistler’s Mother-in-Law”. Helped by Woody Herman’s Woodchoppers and Muriel Lane, it’s a contagious sort of novelty song.
(The Daily Iowan, November 25, 1941)
July 31, Thursday. (10:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m., 2:30–5:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s last Kraft Music Hall show of the season and Mary Martin makes her first appearance as guest. Don Ameche takes over the show for the next few weeks.
August 1, Friday. The Del Mar racing season starts and continues until September 1. This proves to be the track’s most successful year to date with the average daily handle rising to $245,393.
August 2, Saturday. (12:00 noon) In a radio show on NBC from Del Mar where he leads a quiz with the winner having a song performed specially by Bing.
August 9, Saturday. Bing again broadcasts a quiz and interviews from Del Mar.
August 14, Thursday. Attends the Comedians versus Leading Men charity baseball game at Wrigley Field.
August 23, Saturday. Bing attends the racing at Del Mar and broadcasts a quiz and interviews from Del Mar.
August 29, Friday. (Midnight) Sails from the Canal Street dock in New York on the Moore McCormack liner S. S. Argentina en route to South America.
September 3, Wednesday. The S. S. Argentina docks at Barbados for a brief stay.
September 7, Sunday. Dixie writes to Bing as follows:
As usual this is about the third letter I’ve attempted and torn up but this one goes regardless.
We had a very gay weekend what with David and his clowning. We went to the track party. Pat [O’Brien] put on the show as if he were broadcasting to the S. S. Argentina. Everyone really missed you. Sunday nite they started playing your records. That was the last straw. I don’t know why but I miss you more this time than I ever have before. When I wake up at nite and realize how far away you are my heart goes right to my toes. You better have a good time ‘cause this is the last time you go without me even if I have to walk around golf courses from morning ‘til nite.
The house looks so pretty. I know you will love it. The bedroom isn’t finished yet so Bess and I are living down in the guest room as I still don’t feel settled.
Irma took the children yesterday and I fired Miss Waters (the old witch). She said she was leaving anyway. I have Georgie (the girl who has been with Bill’s family all her life) taking care of the children until I can find someone. They all went to Pat Ross’s for luncheon today and a picture show this afternoon so they’re being entertained royally.
I went to the baseball game last nite with David Elsie, Johnny and Bess and then we went to see Phil Silvers for a little while. Tonite they and Judy and Lin are all coming for dinner. Les called and asked if he could come so I’ll be nice to Judy if it kills me. They went down to the ranch yesterday. You probably already know that Preceptor did nothing. La Zonga ran second.
You see what happens - Marge and Charles came in right in the middle of my letter. Got all of yours this morning and was I happy. It just makes me more lonesome for you.
I’m glad you’re getting a nice rest. I didn’t realize you weren’t feeling well - you never let anyone know, you brat. I’ll write more often to make up for not having this at Rio.
I love you Darling with all my heart.
September 10, Wednesday. Bing arrives on the S. S. Argentina in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where he visits the Casino Copacabana and meets Ethel Smith, the organist with whom he later records. Gives a benefit show for the British in Rio de Janeiro and is said to have played golf there too.
The owner of the Casino, with the help of the Brazilian first lady (Mrs. Getulio Vargas), asked him to go to Rio by car and perform there one night for some kind of social benefit. Bing came, drank, gambled, and “somewhat drunk” sang ‘It’s Easy to Remember’, ‘Please’ and ‘Pennies from Heaven’.
(Ruy Castro, writing in Carmen: Uma Biografia, a biography written in Portuguese about Carmen Miranda)
September 12, Friday. The S. S. Argentina puts in at Santos, Brazil with Bing still on board. He disembarks and visits Sao Paulo.
September 15, Monday. Montevideo in Uruguay is the next port of call for the S. S. Argentina. Bing writes to Dixie.
September 16, Tuesday. In the early afternoon, Bing arrives at Buenos Aires in Argentina on the S. S. Argentina. Buys a part interest in a horse farm while in the country. Sometime during his stay, goes to the Cafe de Los Inmortales whilst in Buenos Aires. Also he visits a cattle ranch at Corrientes (about 1000 miles inland) which he is said to own jointly with three others.
September 18, Thursday. Is scheduled to attend the local premiere of Road to Zanzibar at the Opera, Buenos Aires, but apparently does not do so.
September 21, Sunday. (3:30 p.m.) Sees the horse “Blackie” from his Binglin stock farm in Argentina win the Premio Selecction race at Palermo, Buenos Aires.
September 23, Tuesday. Dixie receives a letter from Bing and writes a reply.
Angel, just received your letter from Montevideo. Those clippings have me thrown - guess I will call Ramon.
The ‘awfulest’ things are happening to me. I have to go to the Pamona fair with Corrine and Jack and Lee and Lucy Batson tonite. I think I run around with too young a crowd don’t you. I’m supposed to play tennis with Don Budge and his wife this afternoon but will have to call it off to get my hair and nails done for the old folks. Nothing like making character. I also had an invite to Judy & Lin’s tonight - some popular.
Now I’m really mad. Bob just came down with a note that is so much better than mine. But I love you more than anyone else does anyhow.
September 28, Sunday. Bing telephones Dixie but the phone connection is poor. Dixie writes to Bing again.
You wanted a note at Rio so here it is. I can’t begin to tell you what’s in my heart but I will when you get home. I was so glad you didn’t laugh at me when I told you about the wedding ring. I don’t care if you ever wear it as long as you carry it around. It was the only thing I could think of that you didn’t have and besides I’m feeling very sentimental these days. I just received the most gorgeous flowers from Julie and an invitation from Mercer to go to Ciro’s which I refused. I’ve decided it’s no fun having an anniversary without you.
I’m sorry our connection was so bad this morning but I love you with all my heart and you must know it
October 2, Thursday. (9:00–9:30 p.m.) Broadcasts from Buenos Aires for Radio El Mundo. Speaks in Spanish on the show. Bing’s fee goes to a children’s charity.
One shot of Bing Crosby over Radio El Mundo on the Red, White and Blue network here, with singer’s fee going to the Patronato Nacional de Infantcia children’s charity drew much favorable comment as goodwill builder. Crosby down to vacash and look at horses refrained entirely from personal appearances, refused to attend the opening of Road to Zanzibar and fought all official greeting. Sponsor was Kraft Argentina. J. W. Thompson local office handled arrangements for one-time broadcast. Script cleverly handled with singer piecing out enough Spanish to play straight man to film star, Nini Marshall and others. Eduardo Armani orchestra gave out jive which Crosby rated a best “yanqui” beat. Fee not disclosed. Agency say while high for here, like peanuts in US.
(Variety, October 15, 1941)
October 3, Friday. (11:00 p.m.) Bing sails on the America Republics liner “S. S. Brazil.” The ship is scheduled to take sixteen days to get to New York sailing via Santos, Rio de Janeiro, and Trinidad. Bing sings for the Brazilian Red Cross in Rio de Janeiro on the return trip.
October 15, Wednesday. Press comment states that “Dixie Crosby’s flight to New York to meet Bing should finally squelch the separation rumors.”
October 20, Monday. Arrives back in New York from South America aboard the liner S.S. Brazil. Says that during his trip he did two shows on the ship for the crew. The passenger list includes a large party of Deputies from the Argentine National Congress.
October 21, Tuesday. (8:00–9:00 p.m.) Takes part in The Treasury Hour on station WJZ on the NBC Blue Network in New York. Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, is the speaker and entertainment is provided by Bing, Charles Boyer, Carmen Miranda and the US Navy Band. Noel Coward is cut into the program from London.
October 24, Friday. In New York, Bing makes records of two songs he had never heard before (“Shepherd Serenade” and “Do You Care?”) with Harry Sosnik and his Orchestra. Enters the studio at 9:00 a.m. and leaves at 9:45 a.m. “Shepherd Serenade” reaches the No. 4 spot in the Billboard list and spends nine weeks in the charts.
At 9 o’clock on a recent morning a taxicab pulled up in front of a Manhattan office building and out of it stepped a brisk, cheerful fellow with a pipe clamped in his teeth. His name was Bing Crosby.
He entered an elevator and went to the Decca recording studios where a couple of officials and a dozen musicians were waiting. They handed him some sheets of music and he retired to a corner.
Mr. Crosby sat there a while, looking over the words and music. The songs were “Do You Care?” and “Shepherd’s Serenade”. He had never heard either of them because he had been away in South America. He sat and hummed and waggled his head around a little, then walked over to the musicians and announced himself ready.
The band played and Bing sang through one number, and then the other. There followed two and a half minutes or technical discussion, after which he announced: “Okay, my lads! Let’s roll. I gotta golf date.”
Again they played and again he sang, and this time the record was cut. It was 9:45 by the clock when Mr. Crosby walked out of the place to keep his engagement with a mashie.
This was an astounding performance. Ordinarily it takes all day and sometimes two days to cut a record, even after the singer has done some rehearsing at home. But Bingston doesn’t work that way. Everything in life comes as easy to him as that 45-minute session at Decca.
Record sales, boxoffice statistics and radio surveys indicate that a great many people like Bing Crosby. Nevertheless, I consider myself to be in the running for the title of No. 1 Bing Crosby fan.
While he was in New York this time I made an effort to see him. He sent word that he had quit giving interviews. He said he had been interviewed blue in the face and that the business had reached its saturation point.
Normally a newspaper man will get hopping mad at a celebrity, particularly a celebrity in the entertainment world, who refuses to be interviewed. I didn’t get a bit mad at Crosby. That’s how much I like him.
He does everything so smoothly, so effortlessly. And he is a superb comedian. He has been known to stand before a microphone singing a tender ballad that stirs the emotions of untold million, while he sings it he nonchalantly goes about the business of picking his teeth.
The movie people require him to wear a toupee to cover a baldness which doesn’t worry him personally at all. Sometimes he wears the toupee to his broadcasts and standing at the mike before the studio audience singing a song that has the females of a nation on the edge of their chairs, he’ll casually reach up, lift the forward part of the toupee, scratch under it, and then pat it back into place.
I don’t know about you, but I like that sort of daffiness.
(H. Allen Smith, The Totem Pole, United Features Syndicate, November 6, 1941)
October 26, Sunday. Victor Schertzinger, who had directed several of Bing’s films, dies from a heart attack at the age of 53.
October 27, Monday. During the evening, Bing is received by the Duke and Duchess of Windsor who are visiting New York.
October 29, Wednesday. The dispute by the National Broadcasters’ Association with ASCAP ends when ASCAP agrees to much lower fees.
October 30, Thursday. Bing and Dixie arrive at Pasadena on the Santa Fe Super Chief and are met by their four children. (11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m., 3:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B in Hollywood. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing returns to the Kraft Music Hall and appears weekly until February 5, 1942. The guests on the opening show are Rise Stevens, William Frawley, and Warner Baxter. Audience share for the season is 21.1, which puts the show in twelfth place in the Hooper ratings. Edgar Bergen is top with 35.2. Ken Carpenter, the Music Maids, Jerry Lester, and Connie Boswell continue as regulars with John Scott Trotter and the Orchestra furnishing musical support. It was the first time that Bing had been free to do his original theme song. ‘Blue of the Night,” since December 28, 1940 because of the ASCAP dispute.
Bing Crosby, returning to the Kraft Music Hall program on NBC Red WEAF, last Thursday night (30th), immediately spotlighted a flaw in the show’s present set-up—that is, there isn’t enough use of Crosby. One of the greatest pop singers of this era, he sang too infrequently on the stanza—particularly as ASCAP tunes have just returned to the networks. He set the kilocycles pulsating with such ballads as, “The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi” but the dearth of his vocalizing was especially, disappointing. Otherwise, the show was, unmistakably, improved by his return. The continuity was uneven, however, particularly regarding some labored puns and gags, as well as that threadbare by-play about the half-hour chain-break, signal chime. John Scott Trotter’s orchestral contribution was lush and varied.
(Variety, November 5, 1941)
October 31, Friday. Bing’s film Birth of the Blues has its premiere in Memphis, Tennessee.
November 1, Saturday. (12:00 to 3:00 p.m., 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.) Rehearses at Paramount Studios for his evening radio broadcast. (6:00 to 6:30 p.m.) Appears in a sponsored broadcast Silver Anniversary of the Blues on the Mutual Broadcasting System originating from the Don Lee Studios to promote his film Birth of the Blues. Johnny Mercer, Betty Jane Rhodes, Rochester and Buddy DeSylva also take part. Music is provided by John Scott Trotter and The Frying Pan Eight.
November (undated). Sings the title song of the newsreel short Angels of Mercy to honor the American Red Cross.
November 18–February 1942. Films Holiday Inn with Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds, and Virginia Dale. Harry Barris has a small part. The film’s budget is $3.2 million. The director is Mark Sandrich and Robert Emmett Dolan is the musical director. All of the songs have been written by Irving Berlin. Bob Crosby’s Orchestra provides some of the musical accompaniment and Joseph J. Lilley handles the vocal arrangements. Bing sings the perennial “White Christmas” for the first time.
Holiday Inn was one of the biggest musical setups of those times and it proved a top grossing picture. (Well, natch, with the great Crosby in it.) I had a lot of numbers and several interesting dance bits with “Cros.” He surprised me. Having heard that he didn’t like to rehearse much, I was amazed when he showed up in practice clothes to rehearse our first song and dance, “I’ll Capture Her Heart.”
Mark Sandrich wanted two comparatively unknown girls to work opposite Cros and me. We were fortunate in getting Marjorie Reynolds and Virginia Dale.
(Fred Astaire, writing in his book Steps in Time, page 249)
returned to Hollywood for the making of Holiday Inn. At this stage in
his career, he had amassed sufficient clout to assemble the creative team he
wanted. He recruited Mark Sandrich, who knew better than any other director how
to stage Berlin’s songs for the camera; Bing Crosby, to play the charmingly
befuddled innkeeper; and Fred Astaire (this time without Ginger Rogers), as Crosby’s rival in love.
Driven by his ever-present desire for control, Berlin had won the right to approve every note recorded for the film’s score, but that responsibility entailed his prolonged presence on the West Coast. The music director for Holiday Inn, the man whose orchestrations were contractually obligated to please Berlin, was Walter Scharf. Like the songwriter’s other musical collaborators, Scharf was impressed by the amount of energy and anxiety Irving expended during the final stages of preparation, especially for “White Christmas.” “It was as if he were going to have a baby when he was working on that song,” Scharf remembered. “I never saw a man so wrapped up in himself. It was all a tremendously traumatic experience for him.” The phone would ring, Irving didn’t hear it. The sun would rise and set, and Irving didn’t notice time passing. Nor did he break for meals, preferring to sustain himself on chewing gum and cigarettes.
Berlin then went over the song with Crosby. “Of course, he’s not the one to throw his arms about and get excited,” Berlin said later. “When he read the song he just took his pipe out of his mouth and said to me: ‘You don’t have to worry about this one, Irving.’”
The morning Crosby was scheduled to sing “White Christmas” before the camera, Sandrich and Scharf, aware that their composer had exhausted himself, advised him to get some rest. No need to be on the set until the cameras were ready to roll, they told him. Irving agreed, but he couldn’t make himself stay away. “Irving,” Scharf said, “don’t bother to stick around. We won’t be ready for quite some time.”
“I won’t get in the way,” he promised.
The playback started, and Crosby began to produce the silvery tones for which he was famed. As Crosby sang, Scharf happened to notice that one or two of the flats in the background seemed a little out of place. He stole around the back of the set to investigate, and who should he find, crouching low, trying to conceal himself, but Irving Berlin, unable to let go of his creation—his precious song.
“I’m sorry,” he said to Scharf, who realized he had no choice but to yield to Berlin’s desire to involve himself with every aspect of the film, from writing the songs to sitting in on the story conferences to discussing choreography with Astaire.
(As Thousands Cheer: The Life Story of Irving Berlin, pages 388-9)
By the 1940s, Berlin had enough power in Hollywood to dictate the cast and crew he wanted around Crosby and he intended to have the best. He asked Paramount to get Fred Astaire and Mary Martin.
To direct, he insisted on Mark Sandrich, the alcoholic extrovert who staged the immensely popular Astaire-Ginger Rogers dance numbers for RKO. Musical director would be Robert Emmett Dolan, foremost in his field, and costumes would be by Edith Claire Posener who, as Edith Head, was the leader in hers. The sets, critical to the mood Berlin envisioned, would be by Hans Drier, a creative genius who had worked on some panoramic DeMille epics and with Crosby and Martin on “Rhythm on the River.”
Martin’s pregnancy prevented her from accepting the role, which might have changed her fortunes in Hollywood, and Paramount dickered with Columbia over possible loan out of Rita Hayworth before deciding Astaire and Crosby were sufficient star power.
Several little known actresses, including Dale Evans who would go on to fame as the wife and co-star of Roy Rogers, were tested before a $250 per week contract player named Marjorie Reynolds, whose experience had been largely in second-rate Westerns, was chosen. Reynolds was a slim, lovely blonde born Marjorie Goodspeed in Idaho and rushed into films by an ambitious mother. She was no Mary Martin and her songs had to be dubbed in by another singer, Martha Mears, but she did well with Astaire in the grueling dance numbers which he would not rehearse with her until she had spent weeks learning the routines from stand-in partners.
Astaire spent so much time and physical energy developing his dance numbers that his weight dropped from 140 to 126 pounds. By the conclusion of shooting, he was literally emaciated. “I could spit through him,” Crosby said.
The finished film accurately represents Berlin, Astaire and Crosby at the zenith of their powers and is, at least arguably, precisely what Berlin intended it to be.
(Troubadour, page 276)
November 6, Thursday. (11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m., 3:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Brian Donlevy, Salvatore Baccaloni, and Michelle Morgan.
November 7, Friday. Birth of the Blues is released nationwide but not in New York City.
‘Birth of the Blues’ is Bing Crosby’s best filmusical to date. It’ll sing plenty of black ink at the b. o… Cofeatured in the band that ultimately proves his point are Jack Teagarden—the Jackson T., who not only slips his slide-horn but handles lines like a legit—plus Harry Barris (of the original Rhythm Boys: Al Rinker, now a CBS producer, was the third in the actual combo). . . . Carolyn Lee [is] a cute kidlet who, for once, may make good the show biz hope for ‘another Shirley Temple.’ . . . Crosby bings personally with solo vocals, ensemble clowning and kidding-on-the-square crooning, the most legit being ‘Melancholy Baby’ (with Carolyn Lee): ‘By the Light of the Silvery Moon’ in a tiptop illustrated song slide routine in one of those early picture-houses: and thematically does ‘Birth of the Blues’ as the credits unreel. . . The detail is as faithful as Lindy’s, excepting of course those 1941 arrangements in early 1900 background…
(Variety, September 3, 1941)
Birth of the Blues is entertainment plus and it affords Crosby a nice change of pace from the goofy comedies he made with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour.
(Los Angeles Evening Herald Express, November 7, 1941)
November 13, Thursday. (11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m., 3:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall broadcast. Bing’s guests include Ruth Hussey and Joe DiMaggio.
November 15, Saturday. (8:15–11:00 p.m.) NBC celebrates its fifteenth anniversary with a long show called “NBC’s Fifteenth Anniversary Free for All.” Bing guests from Hollywood and sings “Shepherd Serenade” accompanied by Gordon Jenkins and His Orchestra. Many other stars contribute from various locations around the country.
Wednesday. Bing is one of several golf tournament sponsors appointed to a
November 20, Thursday. (11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m., 3:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Jinx Falkenburg and Donald Crisp.
November 27, Thursday. During the day, Miss Spokane presents Bing with a book signed by many of the residents of Spokane entitled “Thanks Bing”. (11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m., 3:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Another Kraft Music Hall broadcast and Bing’s guests are Wendy Barrie, Humphrey Bogart, and Wingy Manone.
Humphrey Bogart, Wendy Barrie and Wingy Manone guested on Thursday night (27th) at the Kraft Music Hall. They all seemed to have fun but most of the entertainment remained in the studio. Bogart first teamed with Bing Crosby and Jerry Lester in a rather labored comedy skit and then Miss Barrie and Ken Carpenter joined them for another sketch that had them all giggling but failed to project laughs across the ozone. Manone played one sizzling trumpet “bit” but became badly tangled, trying to read lines. John Scott Trotter’s Orchestra supplied excellent musical accompaniment and of course, Crosby’s vocals were “sock” though too infrequent.
(Variety, December 3, 1941)
December 4, Thursday. (11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m., 3:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Carole Landis and Walter Huston. Victor Borge joins the show as a regular.
One Wednesday Cal Kuhl got a call from Rudy Vallee, who was doing a show for Sealtest on which he was costarred with, of all people, John Barrymore. It was an embarrassing half hour, Barrymore’s swan song, in which he capitalized on his drunkenness. Rudy called to ask Cal to come over and see a comedian who was going to do a warm-up for his show.
Cal tried to back out of this little courtesy chore, but Rudy said, “You’ve just got to sec this man. You’ll want to book him with Bing.”
“If he’s that great why don’t you book him?”
“We don’t use guests.”
“If he’s that great, make an exception.”
“Okay.” Cal hung up and reported the full conversation to me. “Comedy’s your business,” he finished. “You go.”
“You got invited.”
“I’ve got a cocktail party.”
We boxed around and finally made a decent compromise. We both went. If Rudy had ever been right in his whole life he was right about this guy. For about half an hour the man kept the audience, assembled to see a broadcast, in such a state of laughter it was quite obvious that nothing the show could do would top him.
All the man did was read a little story. But to make it clear, he included all the punctuation marks, to each of which he had assigned a sound. It was, to my knowledge, the first time Victor Borge, the Great Dane, had ever done his famous punctuation routine in public in America.
We immediately booked Borge for our next show. Victor was scheduled to go on after the station break. That meant there’d be a song by Bing, the Victor Borge spot, a commercial, a song by Bing, another guest spot, a song by Bing, a commercial, theme, sign-off.
I shortened the other guest shot because I knew Victor needed time. We took a chorus out of one of Bing’s songs. Victor agreed that he could do the spot in twelve minutes.
That is, we thought he agreed. He spoke almost no English and only understood, if anything, what he chose to. Bing’s intro said he’d seen Victor Borge warming up an audience for Rudy Vallee and anybody who’s good enough to warm up a Vallee audience has got to be good enough to heat up an audience in the old Kraft Music Hall.
Victor came on and repeated the punctuation routine and got the same earthquakelike reaction. After twelve minutes he was still going. We lost a commercial. He kept right on going. We lost a Crosby song. Then we lost a guest spot and another Crosby song and another commercial and the closing theme and we went off the air with people howling and applauding Borge. A telephone call came from Reber in New York telling us to sign the guy for as long as possible.
The problem then became not only one of communication but one of creation. Victor did not know enough about radio or the United States to write new pieces of material with any great speed or success. So Ed Rice, who was working with me on other things, was assigned to Borge and did a baseball routine for his second appearance. It was based on Victor’s newness in America, his limited knowledge of our language, his need to understand our national game, his attendance at one and what he saw. It was a magnificent piece of material and Victor scored very strongly with it in spite of the fact that he certainly didn’t understand one-tenth of what he was saying. This was because, as I soon found out, it was impossible for Victor not to be funny.
(Carroll Carroll, My Life With…)
“At the time, I didn’t speak much English. I had my genes from Denmark translated into the English language which was quite strange to me. I was actually reading script in a language I didn’t understand. Of course, I hoped it was translated correctly, but had no way of proving it except for reaction from the audience. As far as Bing’s attitude was concerned, I didn’t speak much with him because I couldn’t understand English. That didn’t change even when I began to speak it because Bing’s attitude was always the same. One of kindness and friendliness, whether he spoke to me in an understandable or misunderstandable language. When we came to rehearsals, he just sat at the table with those involved. There was always laughter from one week to the other. I was there for fifty-four weeks and can’t ever remember having difference of opinions at those meetings. Actually the agency of Kaywood & Thompson got me on the “Bing Crosby Show.” I was supposed to be on the Rudy Vallée Show. They used me as a warm-up to test my ability to make the audience laugh. But there was no room for me on the Rudy Vallée program. It was a family situation affair with John Barrymore and whoever else was on and there was no room for anybody to do at least a five or eight minute spot, so the agency put me on the “Bing Crosby Show” which was a week later, because it was a variety program. From then on, the rest is, at least for me, history. . . . But that was my beginning in the United States and so to that I owe everything to Bing Crosby.”
(Victor Borge, speaking in an exclusive interview with Gord Atkinson, subsequently broadcast in Gord Atkinson’s The Crosby Years, www.whenfm.com)
Friday. The Hearst Metrotone newsreel short Angels
of Mercy which honors the American Red Cross is released by Paramount,
December 7, Sunday. Japanese planes attack Pearl Harbor.
December 9, Tuesday. Bing’s film Birth of the Blues premieres in New York.
The College of Musical Knowledge may not grant the historical accuracy of Paramount’s “Birth of the Blues,” which started its Christmas-hopping early at the Paramount Theatre yesterday. But the learned and literal students of this or any other school will have to concede, at least, that here is a film straight down the groove--a blend of jump-and-jive music that should make the ‘hep cats’ howl with some sweet bits of romantic chaunting that should tickle the ‘ickies,’ too. The Paramount has got a nice picture to greet the holidays.
Apparently the purpose of the story, without saying it in so many words, is to pay a belated tribute to the Original Dixieland Jazz Band to that quintet of raffish musicians who first brought “darky music” up-river from the South. If so, the tribute is just adequate and not a great deal more, for the tale which Is told in this instance is really no story at all; it is just a random fable about a footloose clarinet player in New Orleans who assembles an assortment of primitive jive-artists, including a hot horn-blower and a lady who sings and then rambles around a bit while love casually intrudes. On the basis of story alone, “Birth of the Blues” rates a less-than-passing grade.
But as a series of illustrated jam sessions and nifty presentations of songs and jokes it is as pleasant an hour-and-a-half killer as the musically inclined could wish. Not only does feckless Bing Crosby play the clarinetist in his best unpremeditated vein, but he also has Mary Martin, Brian Donlevy, Eddie (Rochester) Anderson and Jack Teagarden with his orchestra to abet him. And although they give the impression of improvising, more or less, as they go, Director Victor Schertzinger has given to their sauntering a very smooth, easy-going pace.
. . . For sweet and fancy singing that makes your muscles twitch, there is Mr. Crosby and Miss Martin doing truly delightful things with “Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie” and a new number, “The Waiter, the Porter and the Upstairs Maid.” And for dipping deep on the low chords, you can’t ask for anything more than Mr. Crosby’s ‘Melancholy Baby’ and those mournful ‘St. Louis Blues,’ sung by one Ruby Elzy, with the Teagarden band moaning behind.
Obviously, this little picture is not the ultimate saga of early jazz. But it begins to perceive the possibilities. As the “cats” say, it takes more than it leaves.
(Bosley Crowther, New York Times, December 11, 1941)
December 11, Thursday. (11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m., 3:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. The guests are Veronica Lake, Robert Coote, and Paul Robeson. The start of the broadcast is delayed due to war bulletins.
December 18, Thursday. (11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m., 3:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Another Kraft Music Hall broadcast and Bing’s guests include The Kraft Choral Club and George Murphy.
Bing Crosby and his sons were a sensation selling war bonds at Defense House in Pershing Square.
(Daily Variety, December 23, 1941)
December 24, Wednesday. (3:00–7:00 p.m.) Rehearsal of the Kraft Music Hall show for the following day. Bing may not have taken part.
December 25, Thursday. (2:00–6:00 p.m.) Further rehearsals of the Kraft Music Hall. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) The actual Kraft Music Hall broadcast from the NBC “B” studio. Frank McHugh and Fay Bainter are the guests. Bing sings “White Christmas” on the Kraft show before its release in the film Holiday Inn. This is Connie Boswell’s last appearance on the show. The program goes off the air with 20 seconds of “Silent Night” to go.
With radio plugging for two of the tunes from Paramount’s Holiday Inn already inaugurated it appears likely that the recording companies will follow suit. Bing Crosby featured White Christmas, one of the many Irving Berlin compositions he sings in the film, on his radio show December 25 and will present another Let’s Start the New Year Right on his next air show. Look for Decca releases of these and probably other Crosby vocals.
(Billboard, January 3, 1942)
December 30, Tuesday. The Paramount newsreel issued today includes footage of Bing’s sons buying war bonds.
December 31, Wednesday. Bing sees in the New Year at a party at Jack Benny’s home in Roxbury Drive in Beverly Hills.
During the year, Bing has had nineteen songs that became chart hits.
January 1, Thursday. (9:30 a.m.) Bing golfs with Jimmy Demaret, Bud Oakley, and Jimmy Fidler in a benefit for the war chest of the Salvation Army at the Lakeside Club. (3:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his evening Kraft broadcast in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Wingy Manone. Mary Martin takes over from Connie Boswell as resident female vocalist. Connie later says that she “was fired because they wanted Mary Martin.” In March, she announces that she will henceforth be known as Connee.
Victor Borge and Mary Martin, newcomers to the Kraft Music Hall show, already mesh well with Bing Crosby, Jerry Lester and John Trotter. Presumably, the team play will become even smoother with more broadcasts. Debuting on the series, last week (1st), Miss Martin paired admirably with Crosby in several dialogue comedy “bits” but wasn’t too becomingly presented in her musical numbers. For instance, her vocal of Irving Berlin’s, “Tomorrow Is a Lovely Day” [sic] failed to take advantage of one of the best tunes of the past couple of seasons. It was given only a single chorus and that too slow for Miss Martin’s style of singing or for the song’s best effect. In a single, lengthy comedy spot, Borge had clicked with some highly original, colorful material. It consisted of his explanation and demonstration of his audible punctuation.
(Variety, January 7, 1942)
Kraft show has undergone some fairly extensive talent changes: Mary Martin has replaced Connie Boswell, who left for a tour of personal appearances; in addition, comedy side has been hypoed by the addition of Victor Borge, Danish comic. It is a tribute to Bing Crosby, program’s highlight, that the Music Hall seems to survive all talent changes—these changes simply pointing up the fact that the show is completely dependent on Crosby.
Debut of Mary Martin was not particularly auspicious. She engaged in comedy sketches and warbled a few tunes. Delivered fairly well—but she is no Connie Boswell and is not likely to fill the gap. Miss Martin did her warbling both solo and in duo with Crosby, her best tune being the oldie Ta-Ra-Ra Boom De-Ay. Even this was somewhat spoiled by an over-elaborate arrangement, part of the tune being done in conga rhythm.
Borge, a regular after a couple of auspicious guest shots, presents a style of comedy new to American listeners. It’s rather intellectual, a bit on the screwball side, and definitely worthwhile. Borge has been in the country only 10 months, still speaks with an accent, but is very easily understood. His best bit on Thursday’s show was his delivery of “phonetic pronunciation,” a hot rendition preceded by a pseudo-scholastic explanation.
Rest of the show was par—which is good. Crosby in usual good voice and manner, John Scott Trotter superbly handles the musical direction, and Jerry Lester okay with the gags. Guests were Wingy Manone, who has been a frequent visitor on Kraft lately, and Dusolina Giannini, opera star. They gave out with their diverse talents, Miss Giannini warbling beautifully and Wingy blowing his horn. Best use of the guests, however, was a sketch allegedly tracing the life of Manone. Crosby was narrator for this piece, with Manone chiming in with jive talk. A very clever script.
(Paul Ackerman, The Billboard, January 10, 1942)
I Was Fired, So Why All The Bunk? Asks Miss Boswell
Connie Boswell’s frankness in newspaper interviews during her current theatre tour has disconcerted the advertising executives of the Kraft Cheese Company. When interviewed on her various stands, Miss Boswell has tagged as ‘silly’, announcements put out by the account that she was on leave of absence from its Bing Crosby programme. ‘I don’t know’, she has retorted, ‘why they put out such stuff. To put it plainly, I was fired. They wanted Mary Martin in my place, so they hired her.’
(Variety, 18th March 1942)
January (undated). The military requisitions the Del Mar property as a training base for the U.S. Marines.
January 5, Monday. Bing and Bob Hope lunch at Paramount with Jimmy Demaret and Fred Corcoran. Later, Bing holds a party for his golfing friends.
Bing Gives Stag Fete for Golfing Pals
Since many of his golf enthusiastic friends will probably have to abandon their favorite sport in deference to national defense, Bing Crosby decided that one big get together would be very much in order. Hence the crooner’s stage dinner party at the “It” Café, where he entertained for Bob Hope, Fred Corcoran, Tommy Penny, Jimmy Demaret, “Jug” McSpaden, Jimmy Hines, Barney Clark, Jack Burke, Joe Turnessa, Jim Turnessa, Jack Clark and Pat Cici. Tall tales of the golf links and wisecracks naturally high spotted the dinner dialogue. At the request of several servicemen who were present, Bing raised his celebrated voice in song, dedicating his tunes to Lieutenant Commander Gillett’s winsome daughter, Mary Donna, who was sharing a ringside table with agent Joe Hyatt.
(Los Angeles Examiner, January 11, 1942)
January 8, Thursday. (3:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his evening Kraft broadcast in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall broadcast. Bing’s guests include Cesar Romero.
January 11, Sunday. Bing and Dixie are at St. Ambrose Church, Fairfax Avenue, Hollywood, for the christening of Johnny Burke’s twins, Rory and Regan. Bing acts as godfather to Rory while David Butler is godfather to Regan. Others in attendance are Bob and Dolores Hope, Pat and Eloise O’Brien, Dr. Arnold Stevens, Sammy Cahn, Jack Mass, Barney Dean, John Scott Trotter, Phil Silvers, and Skitch Henderson.
January 15, Thursday. (2:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his evening Kraft broadcast in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Robert Young.
January 16, Friday. The film actress Carole Lombard is killed in a plane crash.
January 18, Sunday. Bing records three songs with Woody Herman and his Woodchoppers in Hollywood, including “Deep in the Heart of Texas.” This song reaches the No. 3 spot in the charts, spending a total of nine weeks in the Billboard Best-Seller lists. (3:00–3:30 p.m.) Bing appears in the Silver Theater production of “Weekend in Havana” on CBS. The program is sponsored by the International Silver Company.
Bing Crosby (Decca 4162)
“Deep in the Heart of Texas” - “Let’s All Meet at My House”
Like a prairie fire, the clap-hands ritual for the Texas tune has made it catch on with a blaze. Now that Bing Crosby has added his vocal stamp, it looms even bigger on the waxes. However, Bing does not monopolize the side; he limits himself to two short choruses at the beginning and end. Bridging the vocals is some exciting jamming by Woody Herman and His Woodchoppers, with the biggest kicks rolling out of the trumpet’s hot bell. For the flipover Bing takes out a gang song by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke. Basically, however, it’s a dull song, and even giving a chorus to Woody Herman and Muriel Lane doesn’t make it any brighter. Full Herman band supports, pacing it at a moderate tempo after Crosby takes an ad lib verse at the edge. There are big phono possibilities in “Deep in the Heart of Texas.” The clap-hands ditty has already begun to catch on, and Crosby’s entry is a cinch to corner much of the play.
(Billboard, February 28, 1942)
Bing Crosby (Decca 18316)
I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes—FT; V.
With the hillbilly classics clicking in circles usually reserved for the Tin Pan Alley outpourings, Pistol Packin’ Mama being the most recent case in point, a major effort is being made to sell the general public on the popular appeal qualities of A. P. Carter’s I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes. Originally released last year, with recordings made then by popular artists as well as by such Western stars as Jimmie Davis and Denver Darling, the Decca label has recently reissued an early Bing Crosby interpretation of the song. Instead of the outdoor setting, Crosby has Woody Herman and his Woodchoppers, a small jam band, to provide the rhythmic background in heavy swing style. A sentimental song of blighted love, Crosby gives sympathetic vocal treatment to the lyrics. Save for a single band interlude, Crosby carries the entire side to sing of the gal who broke his heart and left him. Side is set in a bright and lively tempo which should widen its appeal for the youngsters as well, not forgetting that Woody Herman’s rhythmic urge gives it an attractive modern setting.
(Billboard, August 7, 1943)
January 19, Monday. Bing records four songs with Dick McIntyre and his Harmony Hawaiians. “Sing Me a Song of the Islands” charts briefly in the No. 22 spot.
Sing Me a Song of the Islands—Remember Hawaii
Not since Crosby gave out with Sweet Leilani has he waxed so sentimental over the Pacific paradise. The A side is the title song of the Song of the Islands movie, while the flipover stems from the Pearl Harbor incident without departing from the tradition of steel guitars and soft moonlight. To heighten the songs, Crosby is accompanied by Dick Mclntire and His Hawaiians, both instrumentally and vocally. Crosby sings them both in a soft and dreamy fashion, taking each in a slow tempo. Hawaii has a deep nostalgic note, Meredith Willson fashioning the tune as a counter-melody to the traditional theme of the Hawaiian guitar. Harry (Sweet Leilani) Owens and Mack Gordon provide a melody that is equally soothing for the picture song. Crosby, of course, is equally potent in making both sides stand out. While neither side packs the appeal of “Sweet Leilani”, both stack up high. “Song of the Islands” has the advantage of its picture identification, but with Crosby in top form for both sides, music machine operators will play safe by offering both sides for the play.
(Billboard, March 7, 1942)
January 22, Thursday. (3:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his evening Kraft broadcast in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Lucille Ball.
January 24, Saturday. Records four songs with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra. “Miss You” peaks at No. 9 in the charts during its 8 week stay. (8:15–9:15 p.m.) Bing guests with many other stars in a radio show “Hollywood March of Dimes of the Air,” which is broadcast on all networks coast-to-coast. Bing sings ‘Song of Freedom’. (The “March of Dimes” campaign was originated by Eddie Cantor who told people that if they would send ten cents to the President, it would help find a cure for polio).
January 25, Sunday. (12:30 p.m.) Bing, Bob Hope, George Raft, Bill Frawley, and Ray Milland play in a Red Cross benefit softball game at the Paramount Cubs field, Pico and Overland Boulevards, against the Beverly Stadium girls. Later, Bing and his sons entertain troops at Inglewood.
Before an enthusiastic soldier audience, Lindsay Crosby, 3-year-old son of film star Bing Crosby made his public debut as a crooner last Sunday and got just as much applause as his famous dad. The little boy, youngest of the Crosby tribe, stepped out unabashed upon the platform of an Inglewood auditorium and went straight into the words of “Popeye, the Sailor Man”. When he finished, the soldiers practically brought down the house, with applause and Lindsay, usually called ‘Lin’, had to respond with two encores. Prior to that, the Army boys had been entertained by Crosby senior and song writers Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen for almost two hours. The Paramount star sang all the numbers from his new picture, Holiday Inn, and then continued on almost to exhaust his repertoire. Another of Crosby’s sons, Gary, was a proud onlooker, but he left the singing to his dad and to his younger brother.
(Harrison Carroll, Los Angeles Evening Herald Express, January 27, 1942)
January 26, Monday. (8:00–10:30 a.m.) Bing records four songs with Victor Young and his Orchestra, including “The Lamplighter’s Serenade.” This song charts briefly at the No. 23 mark.
Mandy Is Two (Brunswick 03312)
Treating it with the simple tunefulness for which it calls, Bing makes a most fascinating little job of the song. And the disc is none the less desirable for being coupled with Mr. C’s version of the slow, sentimental “Miss You,” another American success, which is also doing quite nicely here.
(Melody Maker, May 30, 1942)
BING CROSBY (Decca 4249)
Lamplighter’s Serenade — FT; V. Mandy Is Two — FT;
These Crosby sides bring plenty of vocal enjoyment. Lamplighters Serenade (4349) is sung as a slow ballad but in rollicking fashion that adds to its brightness. Victor Young conducts. Flipover, Mandy Is Two is one of the better kiddie songs of current vintage, and Bing’s singing may bring it the boost it needs for the recognition it deserves. John Scott Trotter matches the song mood instrumentally. Bing Crosby is always a good bet for phono operators, and these sides afford much material for the boxes. “Lamplighter’s Serenade” is climbing in song favor and Crosby’s record rates as a favored disk. If “Mandy Is Two” takes hold with the public, Crosby’s record will go far.
(Billboard, March 28, 1942)
BING CROSBY (Decca 18391)
When the White Azaleas Start Blooming — FT; V. Nobody’s Darlin’ But Mine — W; V.
Donning vocal spurs and saddle, Bing gets into a Gene Autry groove for these two sides and again proves as potent with the ditties of the tall-grass country as with the June-Moon melodies. Songs are hillbilly all the way and so is his singing. And while popular appeal is of necessity limited, fact remains that such American folk songs are finding increasing favor. With Crosby emphasizing such song characters, and with the public already weaned on “You Are My Sunshine” and “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” these cowboy yodeling classics may yet come into their own. “White Azaleas,” by Bob Miller, is a cowboy sweetheart song with the romantic setting in the wide open spaces. Set in the slow ballad tempo, Crosby sings the opening stanza. Solo trombone, sliding sweetly, starts a second chorus, fading at the half-way mark in favor of Bing to sing it out. Even more steeped in the style of some whistle-stop grange hall is Jimmie Davis’s “Nobody’s Darlin’,” with a patter of love and devotion even to death. In the fast waltz tempo, Crosby sings the verse and chorus from scratch, continuing the verse and chorus to complete the story to complete the side. Sandwiched in between are two delightful musical interludes. First, there is a hot trumpet chorus in the three-quarter time, and then to set the stage for Crosby’s return, the piano and guitar beat out another chorus in Western style.
For the hill districts, both disks are dynamite. And in the big cities, where they like songs with sentiment, Bing is bound to corral a flock of coins with “When the White Azaleas Start Blooming.”
(Billboard, July 4, 1942)
January 27, Tuesday. (7:00–9:15 p.m.) Bing records “Blues in the Night,” “Moonlight Cocktail,” and “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You” with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra. The latter song enjoys hit parade success reaching the No. 9 spot.
BING CROSBY (Decca 4183)
Miss You — FT; V. Blues in the Night — FT; V.
Here is a strong pairing for Crosby, sure to gain attention. The Miss You revival is tailor-made for the Crosby pipes, slow, melodious and properly schmaltzy. Almost the whole side is Crosby, taking plenty of time to sell the words and selling them perfectly, with, expert aid from John Scott Trotter’s violins. Only instrumental break is a few bars of fine trombone, after which Bing comes back to wind up the second chorus. A real winner. Crosby’s entry in the Blues in the Night sweepstakes is important because it is Crosby. The parts handled by him are characteristically fine, but portions are weakened by switching the vocalizing to the Music Maids.
“Miss You” is on its way to hit status on the boxes. The Crosby side will hasten its rise. Hard to figure how it can miss.
(Billboard, March 21, 1942)
Coming back to popular ballads, two more new ones which have been hits in America—and this time there is some real justification for it—are “Moonlight Cocktail” and Hoagy (“Star Dust”) Carmichael’s latest effort, “Skylark”. Bing Crosby does these respectively on Brunswick 03321 and 03326, coupled respectively with the already well-known “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You, Baby” and “Humpty-Dumpty Heart”. All four sides are good examples of the greatest crooner since the voice of Adam first knocked Eve horizontal.
(Melody Maker, July 4, 1942)
January 28, Wednesday. Bing golfs at Lakeside and has a 73. A number of the professionals due to play in Bing’s tournament at Rancho Santa Fe, including Sam Snead and Jimmy Demaret, also play at Lakeside.
January 29, Thursday. (3:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his evening Kraft broadcast in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) In response to a request from General MacArthur in behalf of his soldiers, Bing sends the Kraft Music Hall radio show by shortwave to the American forces besieged in the Philippines at Corregidor. He dedicates “The Caissons Go Rolling Along” to the Philippine defenders. Bing’s guests include Sam Snead, Igor Gorin, and Madeleine Carroll.
Bing Crosby got a telegram from the office of the Coordinator of Information (Colonel William J. Donovan): “General MacArthur and Brig. Gen. Akin over private circuit have wired us specifically asking for you to broadcast to the men in the Philippines at Bataan Peninsula”—by short wave—“embracing, if possible, in the script that you hope the boys gallantly fighting are listening. . . . You might, if the policy O.K., the sponsor and agency permit, dedicate one of your songs to the soldiers.”
So last Thursday at 9 p.m. the crooner with the deceptively loafing air and unsinkable savvy put on the first request show for the U.S. Front. He walked through it as usual, easing around the Hollywood studio in a blue slack suit, looking, without his movie toupee, like a rapid-fire kewpie. For MacArthur’s artillerymen he sang ‘Those Caissons Go Rolling Along’—and added “those 155s keep dishing it out.”
“Here in the Kraft Music Hall” said Bing, a little short of breath, “we consider ourselves honored to be able to get through to you men in the Philippines with a few tunes, a few wheezes and maybe the general feeling of what’s going on here in the States.” Madeleine Carroll contributed the sweet (but on Bataan, rather unavailing) information that she was reserving all her dates for service men.
The Crosby find of the season, Danish Comedian Victor Borge, produced some delayed-action gags at the piano. Bing got back in the big American groove with a smoky rendering of ‘Blues in the Night’ (“From Natchez to Mobile, from Memphis to St. Joe, wherever the four winds blow, etc.”). It was a pretty good hour and it worked up to “I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag” sung by Igor Gorin. Transcribed, the whole thing went over on KGEI’s short wave next morning early. Most homelike part of the program for MacArthur’s men were the Kraft commercials, which the sponsors left unchanged. Sample:
“These are days when good nutrition takes on a new importance. It’s downright patriotic to know your vitamin alphabet . . . and to see that your three meals . . . are well balanced. America must be strong —Americans must be strong!”
(Time magazine, February 9, 1942)
January 30–February 1, Friday–Sunday. Holds his last golf tournament at Rancho Santa Fe and about
250 pros and amateurs take part. Bing films
Don’t Hook Now (a thirty-two-minute short on golf) during the tournament. In
this, he is seen singing “Tomorrow’s My Lucky Day” and many of the top golfers
are also featured. At 3:45 p.m. on the first day, Bing, Bob Hope, Sam Snead and
Ben Hogan take part in a broadcast interview over station
February 2, Monday. Films a guest spot in My Favorite Blonde with Bob Hope at Paramount.
[Bing Crosby and Bob Hope] were playing golf one Sunday. Bing mentioned he was free the next afternoon. Bob Hope mentioned that he had to be on hand at the studio for a big scene, involving extras for “My Favorite Blonde.” Result: Crosby, in a Puckish mood, showed up among the extras.
(Variety, February 11, 1942)
February 5, Thursday. (3:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his evening Kraft broadcast in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Wingy Manone and John Garfield. He then goes off on a tour to raise funds for the American Red Cross and Mickey Rooney deputizes for him on the Kraft show.
February 6, Friday. Bing arrives in Phoenix, Arizona. Starting at 1:40 p.m., he takes part in the first round of the Western Open Golf Championship at the Phoenix Country Club where he tears his trousers during play. Playing with Jimmy Demaret and Ed Dudley, Bing has an eighty-three. Bob Hope is supposed to play with them but is absent ill with tonsillitis.
February 7, Saturday. (starting at 10:50 a.m.) Bing plays in the second round of the championship and this time Bob Hope is able to play with Bing, Demaret, and Dudley.
February 8, Sunday. (starting at 10:20 a.m.) The final round of the championship. Bing plays with Sam Snead, Bob Goldwater, and Robert Walker.
February 9, Monday. At a Phoenix night club, Bing is appointed as Honorary Director of the World’s Championship Rodeo Committee by the Junior Chamber of Commerce.
February 10, Tuesday. ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’ by the Glenn Miller Orchestra has become the first million selling record for 15 years and to commemorate this, Glenn Miller is presented with the first ever gold record on his CBS radio program by RCA Victor.
February 11, Wednesday. Bing and Bob Hope are in Dallas, Texas where they take part in a golf exhibition at the Brook Hollow Club with other celebrities (including Johnny Weissmuller) and thirteen professional golfers to raise funds for the American Red Cross. Starting at 2:00 p.m., a crowd of 7,000 watches Bing (who shoots a seventy-four) and Howard Creel beat Jimmy Demaret and Mrs. Merryl Israel two and one. It is said that the crowd “was so unruly it was a miracle Crosby, Hope, and Weissmuller weren’t hurt.” Bing and Bob entertain the crowd after the golf and Bing sings “Home on the Range” and “Deep in the Heart of Texas.” Bing and Bob go on to a club called the Log Cabin which is owned by their friend, Jack Pepper, where they both entertain. Hope and Weissmuller then fly to Houston while Bing elects to travel there by train.
Thursday. Bing arrives in Houston by train during the early morning and checks
in at the Rice Hotel. At 1:30 p.m. Bing, Bob Hope, and Johnny Weissmuller play
in a golf match at the Brae Burn Country Club in Houston, Texas, before a crowd
of 10,000 and raise $2,250 for the
February 13, Friday. Bing and Bob Hope play in a foursome with Byron Nelson and Jimmy Demaret at the Willow Springs course in San Antonio, Texas, to raise funds for the American Red Cross. Bing has a seventy-seven. The Texas Open is also taking place at the course and the match attracts a crowd of 8,000.
February 16, Monday. Press reports indicate that Bing has duly registered for conscription to the armed forces as have many other Hollywood stars.
A consensus of biographers holds he was turned down by Henry L. Stimson, an influential figure in American politics. He had served in the cabinets of Presidents Taft, Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover and, in 1940, FDR asked him to come out of retirement to be Secretary of War. A formidable figure, Stimson was the classic “old curmudgeon,” a hard-line lawyer who later would influence President Truman to use the atomic bomb. He was 75 and unimpressed by celebrities. Stimson apparently advised The Singer his enlistment would be chaotic and there were ways in which he might better serve. He suggested propaganda broadcasts to the Germans among whom Crosby enjoyed prewar popularity.
This version originally came from Cork O’Keefe who claimed he got it first hand from Crosby. According to O’Keefe, Crosby told him Stimson had been brusque to the point of warning if he tried to enlist, in any branch of service, Stimson would see he was found unfit. O’Keefe said Crosby had come to Washington excited about meeting with Stimson and expecting he would be given an assignment, perhaps a commission. However unassuming he appeared to be—and generally was—he was also accustomed to getting his way. The treatment at Stimson’s hands profoundly affected him.
O’Keefe quoted Stimson saying to Crosby: “Do you realize what a problem this would be for us?”
Crosby did not.
He saw others who would be called “super stars” today queuing up without trouble. Clark Gable, Tyrone Power, Robert Taylor, James Stewart, Glenn Ford all went into service and he could not accept the fact FDR considered him alone too big to handle.
Arthur Marx, one of Bob Hope’s biographers, believes commissions, as second lieutenants, were approved by the Navy for Hope and Crosby before Stimson, acting on orders from FDR, quashed them. If this did occur it is understandable from Roosevelt’s point of view. Hope and Crosby entering the Navy together would have been tumultuous and might even have seemed to make light of what were frightening times. FDR wisely forestalled “The Road To Tokyo.”
The rejection meant little to Hope but altered Crosby forever.
“The whole war thing and his non-participation troubled him deeply,” wrote Michael Brooks. Dave Dexter, Jr., who had been a record reviewer and became a producer at Capitol Records, described the change in Crosby as “shocking.”
Why it should have meant so much is embedded in the tenor of the times and the principles of patriotism that governed his generation. For all its horror, he recognized the war as the Olympian occurrence of his lifetime, a grim parade but one he did not wish to pass him by. His brother, Bob, believed he was never able to convince himself entertaining troops was an adequate substitution. “He had always been a participant, not a spectator in the game of life,” Bob Crosby said.
(Troubadour, page 270)
February 18, Wednesday. Bing has returned to Phoenix, Arizona, and plays a practice round of golf at the Phoenix Country Club.
February 19, Thursday. Starting at 1:30 p.m., Bing plays in a qualifying round for the Phoenix Country Club’s Invitational Match Play Tournament with Johnny Dawson, Bob Goldwater, and Dr. Payne Palmer.
The thirteenth annual invitation tournament of the Phoenix Golf and Country Club, now underway, finds a pair of Lakeside golfers in the forefront of the firing. While Bob Goldwater of Phoenix, set the pace with a sparkling 71, the worthy Bing Crosby, of Lakeside, tied Chet Goldberg Jr. for second place with a 72...And then, believe it or not, we find Lakeside’s Johnny Dawson posting a 74....This, of course, being in the first day’s qualifying play. The surprising feature of the report is that Dawson, who topped an all star field of professionals to win individual honors in Bing Crosby’s tournament at Rancho Santa Fe—trailed Bing, himself, by two strokes, in the Phoenix affair. At that, a tournament round of 72 is fine golf for Senor Crosby.
(Darsie L. Darsie, writing in the Los Angeles Evening Herald Express, February 21, 1942)
Meanwhile , Mickey Rooney hosts the Kraft Music Hall show.
Rooney’s air shot was characterized by his usual enthusiasm and ebullience, but despite his undoubted name value much of his film appeal is lost over the ether. Fact is that Crosby, in addition to his top singing chores, has managed to give KMH an informal charm that is beyond the capabilities of most emcees. Rooney cannot hope to equal this performance. As for Rooney’s warbling—well, the J. Walter Thompson agency did a very good thing by booking baritone Igor Gorin as one of the guests.
(Billboard, February 21, 1942)
February 21, Saturday. In a match beginning at 1:15 p.m., Bing beats local golfer Keith Downs two and one in the first round of the match play event.
February 22, Sunday. The invitational tournament continues. In the morning, Bing beats Johnny Dawson one up on the twentieth green. In the semifinal, Bing loses to Tom Lambie at the twenty-first hole. Lambie goes on to win the tournament. Bing catches the last train back to Hollywood.
February 24, Tuesday. (9:00 a.m. –12:15 p.m.) Records songs for his forthcoming film Road to Morocco at Paramount Studios. Elsewhere in New York City, the Voice of America has its first broadcast.
February 24–April 30. Films Road to Morocco with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour. Anthony Quinn has a featured role. The director is David Butler with musical direction by Victor Young.
The public knows that there’s going to be a lot of clowning in a Road picture, that nothing is premeditated, that anything can happen. And everything does happen. Even the animals in a Road picture get into a nutsy mood. In one scene in The Road to Morocco we were working with a camel. As I walked up to the camel’s head, he turned and spat in my eye.
Dave Butler, the director, said, “Print that. We’ll leave it in.” So it was in the finished film. There may have been those who thought that spitting sequence was faked. It wasn’t.
(Bob Hope, Have Tux, Will Travel, page 141)
February (undated). Bing and Dixie seen at Charley Foy’s night club. Dixie is now a brunette.
February 26, Thursday. (3:00–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his evening Kraft broadcast in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing returns to the Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. The guests are Paul Robeson and Allen Jenkins.
March 1, Sunday. Bing, Bob Hope and Babe Ruth take part in a fund-raising golf match at the Sacramento Municipal Golf Course for the American Red Cross. Hope and Babe Ruth beat Crosby and California Gov. Culbert L. Olson 1 up. Bing and Bob Hope also put on shows for the enlisted men at Mather and McClelland Fields, just out of Sacramento.
We were taking the train - it was The Lark, a very famous and elegant train in those days, from Glendale up the Coast. Babe’s wife came to the station with him and took us aside. She told us Babe hadn't been feeling well, that he went to bed early and we shouldn’t expect him to engage in any social activity. We said, fine, we’d look outfor him.
That night we drifted into the club car and soon Babe had a bottle of bourbon and some cigars. At midnight we went to bed and Babe was still there. At one, I got up to check and Babe was still there. At seven, he knocked on the door and wanted to know the day's schedule. His head hadn't hit the pillow. We got to Sacramento, had breakfast with the governor and then played a round of golf. Babe had never changed clothes.
(Bing Crosby, in an interview with Joe Gergen of Newsday)
March 5, Thursday. (11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m., 3:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his evening Kraft broadcast in NBC Studio B. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Jack Teagarden and Donald Crisp.
March 8, Sunday. (7:00–7:30 p.m.) Takes part in the Gulf Screen Guild version of Too Many Husbands with Bob Hope and Hedy Lamarr on CBS. Bing and Bob plug their film Road to Morocco. Oscar Bradley leads the orchestra.
March 12, Thursday. The U.S. withdraws from the Philippines. General MacArthur says “I shall return.” (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing hosts the Kraft Music Hall broadcast and his guests are Wingy Manone and Pat O’Brien.
March 13, Friday. (7:45 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.) Bing makes two records with Mary Martin in Hollywood, “Lily of Laguna” and “Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie.” John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra provide the accompaniment.
March 14, Saturday. Bing and Dixie dine at the Biarritz Restaurant.
March 16, Monday. (5:00–8:00 p.m.) Recording in Hollywood with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra.
BING CROSBY (Decca 18354)
Just Plain Lonesome — FT; V. Got the Moon in My Pocket — FT; V.
It was not so long ago that Bing Crosby had a major hit when he sang about “a pocket full of dreams.” Smacking of the same song flavor Bing now has a “dream up my sleeve” and the Moon in My Pocket, Written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke from the score of My Favorite Spy, this rhythmic and lilting ditty has everything it takes to duplicate the success of his earlier click. Taking it in a lively tempo and singing it in the same gay and carefree spirit, Crosby gives out for the opening and closing choruses, with John Scott Trotter’s crew cutting up the middle refrain. Companion piece is also from the same picture score. And as the title indicates, it’s a “lonesome” song with the sad and melancholy theme carried to the extreme. Whether the public will take to a tear-provoking tune in these times when songs are hardly needed to emphasize a state of sadness is a matter of conjecture. In any event, it’s an excellent sob song and Crosby is an old hand in cutting it out. With only to guitar accompaniments—shades of the late Eddie Lang —Crosby sings the verse in free style. Band joins in on the chorus with the tempo set at a slow beat. Music makers pick it up again at the last half of another chorus and bow out in favor of Crosby for the finish line. The combination of the song and Crosby for the chanting makes “Got the Moon in My Pocket” a natural for the phones for literally mint sales with the side.
(Billboard, June 6, 1942)
BING CROSBY (Decca 18360)
Mary’s a Grand Old Name — FT; V. The Waltz of Memory — W; V.
Bing Crosby is particularly effective for freshening up the favorites of yesterday. And that’s what he does for the Mary song. It’s the old George M. Cohan classic, and since it is featured in the much-talked-about Yankee Doodle Dandy picture Crosby’s disking is a most timely tune. In the vocal style of a typical song-and-dance man of old, the tempo moderately paced, Crosby sings the first chorus, whistles a second, fades in favor of John Scott Trotter’s accompanying orchestra cutting a third and returns for a fourth chorus to finish it out. Crosby takes on romantic glow for the slow waltz on the Memory side. It’s a pretty melody by John Burger, with appropriate lyrics by Pierre Norman. Impression it will make on the public will depend largely on plugging, the song being far from a “natural.” Crosby takes the chorus right from the edge. The soft strings and woodwinds start a second refrain, and Crosby returns at the halfway mark.
In view of the fact that the song is being featured in Jimmy Cagney’s Yankee Doodle Dandy flicker, music box operators have a made-to-order sale-catcher in “Mary’s a Grand Old Name.”
(Billboard, June 13, 1942)
March 18, Wednesday. Bob Hope’s film My Favorite Blonde is released. Madeleine Carroll is Bob’s costar and Bing makes a cameo appearance in a Hope film for the first time.
[The producer and director] permitted themselves still another conceit when Bing Crosby is seen idling at a picnic bus station. Crosby directs the lammister Hope and Miss Carroll towards the picnic grounds. As Hope gives Crosby one of those takes, he muses, “No, it can’t be.” That’s all, and it’s one of the best laughs in a progressively funny film.
(Variety, March 18, 1942)
March 19, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Allen Jenkins and Nigel Bruce.
Bing Crosby’s guests at 6
(Zuma Palmer, Hollywood Citizen News, March 19, 1942)
March 24, Tuesday. Robert E. Ray is arrested in the offices of music publishers Shapiro, Bernstein, & Co. in New York. He is attempting to impersonate Everett Crosby and he is charged with forgery having opened a bank account in the name of H. L. Crosby Inc.
March 25, Wednesday. Bob Crosby’s wife, June, files a divorce action against him. They later reunite.
March 26, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall broadcast. Bing’s guests include the Ink Spots and Robert Preston.
March 28, Saturday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing appears on the Lucky Strike “Your Hit Parade” radio program following heavy demand from servicemen. Under protest, Kraft gives him special dispensation. Joan Edwards also appears on the show. Bing is patched into the program from Hollywood and sings three songs: "How About You"; "Blues in the Night" and "Rose O'Day". The show is re-broadcast at 9 p.m. Pacific.
April 2, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Walter Huston, Claude Thornhill, and the Kraft Choral Club.
Aprl 3, Friday. In her newspaper column, Louella O. Parsons states that, “Mrs. Bing Crosby is reported recovering from her operation.”
April 9, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Another Kraft Music Hall broadcast hosted by Bing. Guests include Walter Pidgeon and June Havoc.
April 11, Saturday. (2:00 p.m.) Dixie opens the family home at 10500 Camarillo Street to the public for a “bundle tea” in aid of the AWVS. Admission is by a bundle of clothing and 50 cents.
April 12, Sunday. (starting at 1:30 p.m.) Bing and Bob Hope play in an American Red Cross Benefit at the Valhalla Country Club.
April 16, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Spike Jones and his City Slickers, Sabu, and Ronald Reagan.
April 18, Saturday. American B-25s make a lightning raid on Tokyo for the first time.
April 23, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Victor Borge, Mary Martin, Jerry Lester, Ken Carpenter, and the Music Maids remain as regulars. The program is abbreviated to 45 minutes due to a war-related speech on the network.
April 26, Sunday. Bing and Bob Hope play in a golf benefit at La Cumbre Country Club, Santa Barbara. The funds raised go to the AWVS. The Hollywood Victory Caravan, a variety show with many top Hollywood stars, starts out on a tour of the country as the special train leaves Los Angeles for Washington DC.
Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) The Kraft
Music Hall broadcast on NBC. Bing’s guests include Larry Adler, Gene
Tunney, and Susan Hayward.
More than twenty Hollywood stars are invited to the White House by
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to launch the Hollywood Victory Caravan
and later the first show takes place at Loew's Capitol Theatre in
May 5, Tuesday. Bing arrives in Chicago and checks in at the Hotel Ambassador. He joins the Hollywood Victory Caravan in Chicago for the last seven shows of the tour. Mark Sandrich is the producer of the show and the orchestra is led by Alfred Newman. The list of stars in the show is breathtaking: Desi Arnaz, Joan Bennett, Joan Blondell, Charles Boyer, James Cagney, Claudette Colbert, Jerry Colonna, Olivia De Havilland, Cary Grant, Charlotte Greenwood, Bob Hope, Frances Langford, Laurel and Hardy, Bert Lahr, Groucho Marx, Frank McHugh, Ray Middleton, Merle Oberon, Pat O’Brien, Eleanor Powell, Rise Stevens plus various starlets. Special music and lyrics are written for the show by Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Frank Loesser, and Arthur Schwartz.
May 6, Wednesday.
(Starting at 2 p.m.) First match (of five) in Bing and Bob Hope’s
...The doings were terminated at the ninth because Crosby and Hope, buffeted right and left by the gallery, had to leave for last night’s appearances on the Caravan of Stars show in the stadium. Bing and Bob arrived at their respective hotels in reasonably good condition, managing by a small miracle to retain most of their garments and a full complement of golf clubs. . . Whether Crosby and Hope could have gone another nine holes is questionable. The gallery crowded them at every step, seeking autographs or at least a walking proximity to the two stars. . . The only relief given the two was the presence in the gallery of two other Hollywood lights - Jimmy Cagney and Jerry Colonna, who absorbed their share of the autograph charge.
(Chicago Daily Tribune, May 7, 1942)
(8:30 p.m.) Bing and Bob later take part in the Hollywood Victory Caravan show at the Chicago Stadium before a crowd of 19,823 and $87,761 is taken. The various stars sell kisses at the end of the show until a figure of $90,000 is achieved.
The show proceeded as usual, with an orchestra of forty. This night had the addition of Bing Crosby. With his songs added the show ran over 4 hours, finishing thirty-five minutes past midnight.
Cary Grant and Bob Hope shared the masters of ceremonies position. When introduced to the audience they always did a bit of “patter” together. Typical of the style of humor, Hope told Grant that getting around during wartime was rough. “I've got seniority on by priority, but I have to wait until I get the authority of the majority to get the authority of the Authorities” he said, which during the time of rationing boards brought down the house.
When Hope and Crosby were on the stage together, beside their normal “barbs”, they did a routine of two Chicago politicians trying to pick each other's pockets. At one point Hope was so flustered with the ad-libbing, he looked into the audience and said, “Talk amongst yourselves for a bit. I'll remember my lines!”
(I. Joseph Hyatt, Hollywood Victory Caravan, page 170)
Bob Hope was doing his stuff and he said, “Well, I know you’re waiting to hear the Groaner”—and the place went crazy. Bing walked out to a reception for which the adjective, “triumphant” is inadequate. He stood there in that very humble charming way of his, wearing a brass-buttoned blue coat, rust trousers, brown and white shoes, and a light green shirt that seemed to verify the legend that he’s color blind. After the explosion died down, Bing said, “Whadda yez wanna hear?” and they blew up again. Finally he said, “Ya wanna leave it to me?” and they exploded again, until the walls of the stadium nearly buckled. Finally he said, “Hit me Al” and our orchestra leader, Al Newman started his boys off on “Blues in the Night.” They had only played the first two bars when the audience went into rapturous applause once again. Bing finished that song, and never in my life have I heard anything like it. I got the traditional goose pimples just standing there, listening. He did another, same thing. And if ever I wanted a demonstration of how it felt to live that old vaudeville phrase “What an act to follow” this was it. . . .
But I’ve almost forgotten the point of this story, which is that when Bing came offstage, the perspiration on him was an absolute revelation to me. Here he had been to all appearances perfectly loose and relaxed, but not at all. He was giving everything he had in every note he sang, and the apparent effortlessness was a part of his very hard work.
(James Cagney, writing in his book, Cagney)
May 7, Thursday. The Victory Caravan train pulls into Union station, St. Louis and is parked on a platform heavily curtained as the performers are sleeping late. About noon, Bing is seen stretching his legs but is not recognized and not paid any particular attention. (Starting at 2:30 p.m.) Bing and Bob Morse (trick shot artist) defeat Bob Hope and Johnny Manion (host club pro) one up at Meadowbrook Country Club, St. Louis. Hope loses the special challenge match with Bing two and one. The golf has to finish after twelve holes because of the unruly crowd of 2,000. Bob Hope’s shot on the eighth hole hits a five-year-old girl in the head but fortunately she is not seriously hurt. Bob threatens to quit but Bing speaks to the crowd about the dangers of being hit by a golf ball. That night, Bing and Bob go on to take part in the three-hour Hollywood Victory Caravan show at the Municipal Auditorium in St. Louis before a capacity audience of 12,000.
The stars who stayed at the Hotel Jefferson were Joan Bennett, Olivia de Havilland, Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Rise Stevens, Eleanor Powell, Charlotte Greenwood, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Charles Boyer, Bert Lahr, Groucho Marx, and Frank McHugh.
Bob Hope and Bing Crosby finally made it to the Meadow Brook Country Club. The game started at 2:30 in the afternoon due to autograph requests before Crosby and Hope reached their vehicle. The requests did not stop when they arrived at the course. An announcement had to be made over the loudspeakers that no more signatures would be given. Since the Caravan show was scheduled for 8:30 that evening, play had to start to get the stars back in time to prepare. The crowd was filled with 2000 spectators, all happy to pay the $1 admission fee.
When they reached the first tee, Crosby joined with Bob Morse (trick shot artist) and Hope paired with Johnny Manion (Meadow Brook's club pro). It was hard to keep the onlookers away from the tee and off the fairway, until Crosby topped his first shot and the ball bounced into the crowd. After this, the spectators showed considerably more respect. Hope tried to pitch across a creek and under some tree branches at hole 3. The ball hit a small five year old girl. She stated that she was not hurt, but persons around her could see a lump on her head.
Hope was extremely annoyed at the people in the crowd and suggested they cease play. Crosby spoke to the crowd, pointing out the danger of injury if a ball hits a person. The crowd stayed back on hole 4, but by hole 5 they fringed the fairway again. The game had to finally be called, after 12 holes, due to the uncontrollable crowd and the time it took to play each hole. The game still counted on the Hope-Crosby bet, however, and Crosby was now ahead by 2 games.
(I. Joseph Hyatt, Hollywood Victory Caravan, page 178)
Vaudeville came back last night at Municipal Auditorium, when Hollywood’s Victory Caravan presented an evening entertainment for the benefit of the Army and Navy relief funds and the delight of 12,369 St. Louisans who paid $41,040 to attend. It was a glorified version of vaudeville, with more than 20 top-raking Hollywood stars in the leading roles but there was nothing missing except the acrobatic turn. It began to look, along about midnight, as though vaudeville was reluctant to go away again, but the performance came to an end after more than three hours without an intermission in a rousing flag-waving skit in which Jimmy Cagney recalled a George M. Cohan performance.
. . . Hope’s old sidekick of the movies, the dulcet-voiced California turf man, Bing Crosby, appeared resplendent in a double-breasted blue coat with brass buttons, topping off some startling slacks which might have been cut from the same bolt as the crimson backdrop of the stage. He and Hope convulsed the audience with their skits on the meetings of rival business men and two politicians who, when they met, got all tangled up rifling each others’ pockets.
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 8, 1942)
May 8, Friday. The caravan travels to St. Paul and arrives at the Union Station at 5:00 p.m. where civic dignitaries, 175 drum majors and majorettes, plus a large crowd greet them on the station concourse. The stars then entrain for nearby Minneapolis. Bing and Bob Hope attend a party at the Radisson Hotel that night.
From Chicago we went by train
to St. Paul, where Wally Mund, the professional at Midland Hills and a national
officer in the
At nine o’clock the next morning Bing called me. He said, “What are you doing?” I replied, “What do you mean what am I doing?” Bing said he was on the first tee at Midland, and ten thousand people were waiting for us to play. I told him I’d get there as fast as I could.
I jumped into a cab and hurried over to Midland, which is located between Minneapolis and St. Paul. They had a guy waiting there for me with a pair of shoes and a sweater. . . . My head was still ringing, but I shot thirty-five on the front nine.
(Bob Hope, writing in Confessions of a Hooker, pages 135–36)
May 9, Saturday. (starting at 10:00 a.m.) Golfs with Bob Hope, Wally Mund, and Harry Cooper at Midland Hills Country Club, St. Paul, to raise money for the Army and Navy Relief Funds. Hope wins this time one up. The match is restricted to twelve holes because of the need to take part in a matinee show at 2:30 p.m. for the Victory Caravan at the Auditorium, St. Paul. A crowd of 10,000 watches the afternoon performance in the Auditorium which runs for just under its three and a half hour performance time.
Bing Crosby, who has traveled so many roads with Bob Hope to Zanzibar, to Singapore and other odd points, was in at the close with him. The audience took Crosby to its heart as a favorite prince no matter what he did. I have great admiration for his style in singing a song like “Blues in the Night.” He has invented a way of doing this sort of thing that has perfect timing, neatness of touch, theatrical distinction. He has a pleasant urchin way of doing impudent imitations. He looks so innocent, so sleepy and is positively replete with guile.
(James Gray, writing in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, May 10, 1942)
The troupe goes on to give an evening performance in the Minneapolis Auditorium starting at 8:30 p.m.
Stars paraded for more than three hours before delighted spectators, displaying a wealth of beauty, talent and special abilities. The whole thing was kept on an informal basis, with Bob Hope, Cary Grant, Bing Crosby and others tossing in frequent ad-libs.
The show took the curse off a lot of previous celebrity personal appearances. Each of the stars showing did something, and Bob Hope’s dexterity as master of ceremonies was taxed to keep things from being tied up by encores.
The show was smoothly staged and ably directed, and constituted a field day for admirers of film talent.
The program went something like this: The chorus of eight starlets opened with a number introducing Hope. Desi Arnaz got a heavy hand with two songs on the Latin order. Groucho Marx and Olivia De Havilland kicked some nonsense around in a domestic skit. Cary Grant appeared in a skit and thereafter spelled Hope at mastering ceremonies.
Joan Blondell did a threatened strip-tease number. Laurel and Hardy went through a skit having to do with Laurel’s driver’s license. Charlotte Greenwood sang a ditty called “Shall I Be an Old Man’s Darling or a Young Man’s Slave,” and did one of her famed eccentric dance numbers. Claudette Colbert appeared in a kidding match with Hope.
Frances Langford sang a brace of numbers. Arnaz, De Havilland, Frances Gifford and Charles Boyer appeared in a dramatic sketch, and Boyer, who became an American citizen in February, injected a hefty patriotic punch with a brief talk. Ray Middleton sang two numbers, one written especially for the show. Frank McHugh and Fay McKenzie acted in a bedroom farce, with Stan Laurel coming in for the blackout.
Pat O’Brien did a bit from his “Knute Rockne” role.
Joan Bennett appeared for her kidding match with Hope. Bert Lahr and Cary Grant appeared in a hilarious income tax sketch, which had Grant laughing so hard he missed lines.
O’Brien spelled Hope and Grant at MC’ing, to introduce Rise Stevens, the Metropolitan singer.
Blondell, De Havilland and Bennett went through a sketch having to do with ladies’ war work. Jerry Colonna gagged with Hope, sang and played the trombone. Merle Oberon read a choice bit of verse. Marx appeared with the chorus in a loony “Dr. Hackenbush” song.
O’Brien and McHugh appeared in a brief and effective war sketch. O’Brien did his version of the “America” lyrics. Eleanor Powell dished out plenty of rhythm in a tap number. Lahr convulsed the audience with a song about a woodman.
Crosby kicked some conversation around with Hope and did his spell of caroling. James Cagney did an impression of Cohan’s “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”
Finale, with everybody on stage again.
Superlatives are weak things in describing a show of this kind. On the score of names alone, it’s the biggest thing of its kind ever done, and for entertainment, while there’s naturally nothing heavy, it’s sure fire. Hope, Grant, O’Brien, et al, kept the thing on an intimate basis despite the fact the audiences were among the largest ever gathered here under a single roof.
Audience response was what the public relations gentlemen describe delicately as “terrific.” Had the players yielded to the demand for encores, another three hours might have been spent.
(Robert E. Murphy, Sunday Tribune and Star Journal, May 10, 1942)
As often as he could, Hope returned to the Caravan train at night to sleep and enjoy the camaraderie of the other stars. Hope particularly enjoyed singing barbershop quartets with Crosby, Groucho and whomever else they could dig up to sing bass.
“One night we were in a restaurant,” remembers Groucho, “and the three of us started singing barbershop style again. But we needed a fourth to make it a quartet. So Bing went from table to table trying to recruit a bass. Everyone turned him down. I’ve often thought how ironic it was that the most famous singer in the world had to lower himself by pleading with customers to sing along with him. Perhaps they didn’t recognize him—without his toupee.”
. . . By the time the Caravan arrived in Minneapolis, the travelers were so sick of life in those cramped train compartments that Hope and Crosby rented several floors of the Nordic Hotel for the cast and other members of the troupe to enjoy a night’s sleep in a real bed.
(The Secret Life of Bob Hope, page 169)
May 10, Sunday. Matinee show starting at 2:30 p.m. at the Shrine Auditorium, Des Moines before a capacity house of 4,300 after the first street parade of the tour since Boston is seen by an estimated 200,000.
The train arrived at the Rock Island Station at 8:00 in the morning of May 10th. Stars started getting up around 11 AM, and started to leave the train in time for the first actual full parade since Boston. Stars were brought to the State Capitol to start the parade from the capitol to the Shrine Auditorium. Originally scheduled to end at 14th Street, the parade was extended to 18th Street. Due to the fact that the tickets sold out so early, and the auditorium sat just over 4,000 it was decided to give everyone in town a look at the stars with a parade. By the estimate of Joe Loehr, Chief of Police, this parade was viewed by over 200,000. H. A. Alber, Assistant Chief of Police rode in the front of the parade and was reported saying: “I rode ahead of the parade the entire distance and didn't see an unoccupied spot anywhere. Only the parade for President Roosevelt had a similar crowd, but the parade route was considerably longer.”
(I. Joseph Hyatt, Hollywood Victory Caravan, page 191)
Bob Hope opened the show by mis-pronouncing Des Moines. After this error, for which he was forgiven, he told the story about the troupe’s visit to the White House. After referring to it as “crowded”, he went on to say that First Lady Eleanor flew in for the party, but Franklin was absent, “busy working on a spare tire.”
Speaking with the starlets behind him, he mentioned working with such a beautiful group. He said “in Boston, I had drew a date who was at the original tea party. She was one of the bags they threw overboard.”
Each star took their “shot” at Bob Hope. Joan Blondell asked Hope if many girls try to chase and grab him on the street. He responded with: “Oh, it’s about even!” When he spoke of his “manly physique” he received remarks like “his mother must have been frightened by an avocado.”
When introducing Bing Crosby, Hope stated that the man needed many pockets. “Bing doesn’t pay an income tax. He just asks the government how much it needs this year. He has so much invested in his country that every time a Douglas bomber flies over his house it curtsies.”
Cary Grant shared the hosting duties again. Claudette Colbert, Merle Oberon, and Joan Bennett kissed Grant as they came on stage. Hope told Grant that tonight he would “hide all of the actresses’ curling irons.” Claudette responded with “If you’re a Boy Scout, why do you try to kiss me?” Hope responded: “I belong to the Wolf patrol. “
Charlotte Greenwood was the next act, and made sure she kissed Hope. Hope said “It had to be her, from the Boston Tea Party again!” and brought the house down.
When Pat O’Brien came on stage, he received a standing ovation that ran on and on. He walked up to the mike and said “Thank you. That was 90% for my wife, Eloise Taylor. She’s from this town. I’ll give her top billing tonight”. That started the crowd roaring again.
Bing Crosby was singled out for his magenta pants and blue sports coat with brass buttons, as much as he was for his singing. All went as planned and Jimmy Cagney’s numbers had the whole audience standing at the end of the show.
Since the travel distance was about 700 miles to their next city, the show ran without intermission and finished just after 6 PM. The stars were taken to the Rock Island Station by bus immediately after the show. It pulled out of the station before 8 PM.
(I. Joseph Hyatt, Hollywood Victory Caravan, page 197)
May 11, Monday. The Victory Caravan train arrives at the Union station in Dallas at 2:45 p.m. and is met by large crowds. The stars parade in open cars to the hotels. As soon as Bing and Merle Oberon get settled in their rooms, they immediately find their golf clubs and go off together to the Brook Hollow club for a quick game. Commencing at 7:00 p.m. the stars parade by open car around the city on their way to the Fair Park Auditorium where the show starts at 8:30 p.m. The Caravan train sets out for Houston at 3:00 a.m. on May 12.
And I thought I enjoyed myself Feb. 11!! I have never seen anything to equal what I saw tonight. I expected Bob Hope to look and act rather sick, but he didn’t look as if he knew the meaning of the word. The program lasted 3½ hours and I was weak by the time it was half over. Bob was never funnier than he was with Bing Crosby tonight. They first gave an imitation of the presidents of the Pepsi Cola and Coca Cola companies. Bing was Pepsi and Bob was Cokey. They started at opposite ends of the stage, trotted across, met at the center mike, and burped in unison. Next came an imitation of the presidents of the Pepsodent and Ipana companies. Bob said, “You be Ipana. I want to keep my job.” The same routine, except they meet in the center, shake hands, and begin gargling. Next it’s two Ft. Worth business men. After they shake hands they start digging feverishly in each other’s pockets. Next came two farmers. Bob came in scraping his feet, and Bing milked his thumbs instead of shaking hands.
The last and best was the imitation of the presidents of Vitalis Dandruff Remover and Fitch Shampoo companies. While they talked the kept brushing their collars and shaking their coats, then Bob turned around and Bing brushed his coat and Bing turned around and Bob brushed his coat. Bob said, “Got much time?” Bing replied, “Oh, about 60 seconds.” Bob said, “Sixty seconds? Well come on!” and they began scrubbing each other’s heads. Bing called Bob “Chisel chin” as he left the stage, and Bob yelled, “So long Dumbo! Don’t go too fast or you’ll take off, with those ears. (By the way, Bing was actually dressed up!) Bob said that when he was in Washington, D.C., he found out what the D.C. stands for. Damned crowded! When Pat O’Brien walked out and said, “Hello, Texas,” I knew he was talking to me because he called me “Texas” last summer. Pat did several dramatic sketches and then did an Irish song and jig, and for an encore he and Bob did the jig together. Bob said, “Well, whatta you know! They’ve even got an Irish Conga!” (I’m running out of room, so will continue elsewhere.)
Bob introduced Cary Grant as one of Hollywood’s handsomest, best dressed leading men. Cary walked out on the stage and said, “Why, thanks, Bob. It’s sweet of you say that, because I have always thought of you as one of Hollywood’s handsomest, best-dressed men.” Bob said, “Do you really think so, Cary?” Cary replied, “Look, I learned my lines, I read my lines. Now don’t try to confuse me!” Bob said, “You’d better watch out there, Grant, or I’ll hide your curling iron tonight.” Cary said, “Yeah, and ditto with your girdle.” Then Bob started sulking and said, “Is that any way to treat me after all I’ve done for you? After all, what would you have done if I hadn’t loaned you my underwear today when you sent yours to the laundry?” Cary said, “You’re right, Bob. I’m sorry. It was mighty swell of you to lend me your underwear, but every once in a while the lace tickles.” Bob walked up to Cary and started feeling the material in his suit and examining it (a dark blue pin-striped suit). He finally said, “Isn’t it remarkable the designs they can print on Kleenex?” For once Cary had no reply.
When Bob first introduced Bing and started off the stage so Bing could sing, Bing yelled at him and said, “Oh, by the way, Hope, your laundry came back today. They refused it.” Bob threw him the dirtiest look I ever saw and walked the rest of the way off the stage. For Desi Arnaz’ second number he used a big conga drum about three feet long…. Bob brought it out to him and said, “What’ll you have—chocolate or vanilla?”
Naturally Bob talked about the California weather. He said, “This Texas weather is grand, but it just can’t compare with California weather. The weather out there is so invigorating that the caretakers have to walk around the graveyards all the time saying, “Come on now, fellas, lie down!”
Once Bob started across the stage carrying an open umbrella. Cary Grant started from the opposite side with an umbrella under his arm. Bob turned around, looked at Cary, held out his hand, shrugged his shoulders, closed the umbrella, and walked off without a single word.
What a show!
(Muriel Windham’s Diary, Growing up in the Forties)
May 12, Tuesday. (9:30 a.m.) The Hollywood Victory Caravan train arrives at Union Station, Houston. Most of the stars remain on the train during the day. Starting at 8:30 p.m., Bing takes part in the final show by the Hollywood Victory Caravan at the Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, before a crowd of 12,000. In all twenty-three screen personalities take part in the three hour show and $65,000 is raised for the relief funds. As Bob Hope is broadcasting his radio show, Bing acts as MC until Hope arrives. In all, the Victory Caravan, during a sixteen city, 10,091 mile (by train) tour, grosses War Bond sales of $1,079,586,819.
Most of the evening was frivolous, with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Pat O’Brien and Cary Grant occupying the spotlight the greater part of the time. Crosby stopped the show with his crooning. “Blues in the Night” called for an encore, and after Crosby sang “Miss You” and “Sweet Leilani” the audience still clamored for more. He could stop their applause only by going into a comedy skit with Bob Hope, giving impressions of captains of industry.
(Houston Chronicle, May 13, 1942)
In addition to accomplishing its purpose, I think that every one connected with it had a barrel of fun, despite the adversities under which we lived and worked. There wasn’t a single squawk about anything or any unpleasantness of any kind. If you could have seen our Hollywood Glamour Girls like Claudette Colbert, Merle Oberon, Joan Bennett and Joan Blondell all jammed together, dressing in the ladies’ rooms of auditoriums, doing it cheerfully and laughing and kidding with each other all the time, you’d know what I mean. If any one of them—or any of the male stars either—had been asked to put up with the inconveniences on a picture, for which they were being highly paid, that they endured with a laugh and for nothing on that trip, they’d have walked out of the picture.
I couldn’t get away in time to start out with them, but I joined them later and played eight shows—Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City [sic], St. Paul, Minneapolis, Des Moines, Dallas and Houston. I fully expected to find a slipshod, haphazard show that had been hastily flung together, mediocre material, rough edges and a lot of bickering. Instead, I found a show that ran as smoothly as if it were being presented on ball-bearings, every one having fun, every one with first class material and playing to capacity business in the biggest theatre in town wherever we went. The show ran three hours and forty minutes without an intermission and there were all standees at every show the fire warden would permit.
We traveled and lived on a special train. When we reached a town, a police guard met us, we rode in a parade and then went to the theatre.
(Bing Crosby, as quoted in an interview with Dick Mook which was printed in Silver Screen magazine of September 1942.)
May 14, Thursday. Bing arrives in Louisville, Kentucky, having stopped off at Memphis en route and walked down Beale Street there. He checks in at the Brown Hotel and gives an interview to the local press before leaving with his friend J. Fred Miles (a Louisville oil company executive) to see his five horses at Churchill Downs. One of them—”Momentito”—has recently won a race at Keeneland and been placed at Churchill Downs.
May 15, Friday. Takes part in a trapshooting party at the Miles farm with Rodes K. Myers, Senator A. B. Chandler, and Major General Jacob L. Devers.
May 16, Saturday. Bing is at Churchill Downs to watch the racing. His horse Momentito is the favorite to win the fourth race but in the event is unplaced.
May 17, Sunday. At the Audubon Country Club in Louisville, Bing is involved in a golf match for the Army and Navy Relief Funds. He partners with local pro Bobby Craigs but they are beaten five and four by Senator A. B. (Happy) Chandler and local golfer Jack Ryan. Bing has a seventy-nine in front of a crowd of 1500.
The real winner, however, was the war relief fund which realized approximately $2,376 less taxes and incidentals, from the efforts of the four. Of this amount—believed to be a record for such matches—$1,000 was realized from the sale of Crosby’s golf clubs after the match. With the ebullient Chandler acting as auctioneer, twenty-two Crosby sticks, bearing the name of the crooner, were bought by General J. Fred Miles, referee of the match and host to Crosby on his visit to Kentucky in a spirited bidding duel with D. D. Stewart. Then, with everyone envying him for his acquisition, the general magnanimously donated the clubs back to the fund and they were auctioned off again, this time to Lamar D. Roy for $250. Bidder Roy actually stopped at $200 but, upon eloquent pleading by Chandler, agreed to go another fifty, provided Crosby would throw in a song. Bing, much to the delight of the crowd, responded with a few bars of “If I Had My Way” but not until “Happy,” better than a fair warbler himself, had gotten in a few licks at the tune.
(Courier-Journal, May 18, 1942)
Bing continues to Fort Knox to give a show for servicemen and shows up late for a planned fifteen-minute interview over station WINN at the Fort Knox Field House. Instead of the interview indulges in a ninety-minute ad-lib song and gag session with Senator Chandler and Governor Rodes.
May 21, Thursday. Bing is thought to have arrived back in Los Angeles in the morning aboard the City of Los Angeles Streamliner. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing returns to the Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Carole Landis and Virginia Weidler. Bob Crosby has been deputizing in Bing’s absence.
May 25, Monday. Records three songs from the film Holiday Inn in Hollywood with Bob Crosby and his Orchestra.
May 26, Tuesday. The War Department officially establishes the Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) to keep American forces informed and entertained.
May 27, Wednesday. Bing records “I’ll Capture Your Heart” with Fred Astaire and Margaret Lenhart with musical support from Bob Crosby and his Orchestra. This session also includes two solo recordings by Fred Astaire of songs from Holiday Inn. Bing stays on to cut two more tracks with Bob Crosby’s Bob Cats.
Fred Astaire enters the scene for I’ll Capture Your Heart (18427), a whimsical rhythm ditty calling in Crosby and Margaret Lenhart with Bob Crosby’s band. Fred pointing up his hoofing tap appeal and Bing going way back to his Bu-Bu-Bu-Blue of the night antics.
(Billboard, August 22, 1942)
BING CROSBY Decca 18371
Walking the Floor Over You - FT; VC. When My Dreamboat Comes Home - FT; VC
Again brother Bing goes on a Western kick with Bob Crosby’s Bob Cats. And for this trip he has picked a classic that for many weeks has been the top tune favorite at all the grange halls and hoe-down temples along the cattle trails. It is Ernest Tubb’s Walking the Floor, and with Crosby calling it to the attention, looms to become as big a favorite with the city folk. Like most of the hillbilly music, this close-to-the-good-earth ditty is even more free in spirit and spontaneous in expression. The charm, of course, lies in its naturalness and simplicity, which makes it just right for Crosby. Song story tells of the cowboy walking the floor all night long waiting for his sweetie to come home, and ends on a turn-the-table note that some day she may be doing the walking and waiting for him to come home. Crosby takes it in a lively tempo, with the Bob Cats bringing up a rhythmic boot in the background. Story telling is broken up by a band chorus and later by a tenor sax ride. It all makes for a happy blend of the hillbilly and the hot jazz. For the flipover, it’s the Cliff Friend-Dave Franklin Dream Boat ballad of a year or so ago. But here again, Crosby’s chanting is in tune with the Western style. And pacing it at a moderate tempo, the Bob Cats kick in again with the heavier rhythmic beats. Crosby sings the opening chorus, gives the second to the small jazz band, and returns for a third chorus to carry out the side.
Music operators using hillbilly and Western sides need no direction for “Walking the Floor Over You,” and now that Bing Crosby has hopped onto the tune, it should build like a prairie fire in the more urban areas as well.
(Billboard, July 18, 1942)
May 28, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Frank McHugh and Ruth Hussey.
May 29, Friday. (8:30 to 11:20 a.m.) Records “White Christmas” for the first time plus two other songs with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra and the Ken Darby Singers. “White Christmas” enters the charts on October 3 and the rest is history.
At eight-thirty on the morning of May 29, Bing Crosby entered Decca Studios in Los Angeles to record several songs from Holiday Inn for a collection of 78s to be released in conjunction with the film. Among the songs he recorded that morning was “White Christmas.” Backed by the John Trotter Orchestra and the Ken Darby singers, Crosby cut the song with his usual cool dispatch, requiring two takes and eighteen minutes of studio time. He would have needed only a single take were it not for a fatal flub—he swallowed the your in “may all your Christmases”—in the song’s third-to-last bar. . .
The song is given a delicate orchestral arrangement, enveloping Crosby’s baritone in a feather bed of strings and tolling chimes; Berlin had to be pleased to hear his song treated with the same care as “Silent Night” and “Adeste Fideles.” Even the appearance of the Ken Darby singers, who reprise the chorus after Crosby’s first run-through, doesn’t break the record’s gentle spell.
“A jackdaw with a cleft palate could have sung it successfully,” Crosby once said of “White Christmas.” “You’ve got to give full credit to its composer, Irving Berlin.” But countless lesser “White Christmas” recordings tell a different story. Crosby was a master at pitching his performance to suit a song’s emotional requirements. Listening to his greatest recordings, we hear one perfectly realized mood piece after another, from the sumptuous romanticism of “Where the Blue of the Night (Meets the Gold of the Day)” to the swatting-flies-on-the-front-porch breeziness of his “Gone Fishin’” duet with Louis Armstrong to the jaundiced rumination of “I’m Thru with Love.” No one else has summoned quite the same combination of reverence and restraint that “White Christmas” requires.
Crosby enunciates Berlin’s lyric with stately care, treating “White Christmas” like a carol—a meaningful choice given the novelty of secular Christmas songs in 1942. But “White Christmas” also sounds like a love song. In the tune’s second measure, on the first syllable of the word dreaming, Crosby lets fly a telltale mordent—a mournful fluttering from F to G and back again—a Crosby signature that stamps “White Christmas” as a pop song in the sentimental crooner tradition. (He repeats the trick on the first syllable of sleighbells in bar fourteen.) No less an authority than Berlin’s eldest daughter, Mary Ellin Barrett, a teenager at the time of the song’s release, remembers how Crosby’s performance gave “White Christmas” an erotic charge. “However seasonal the words, we didn’t hear it as a carol,” she recalled. “ ‘White Christmas’ [was] a song boys and girls . . . danced to, fell in love to, adopted as ‘their’ song … a ballad that Bing Crosby had sung to a blonde in a movie.”
But the heart of “White Christmas” is its creeping melancholy. This Crosby captures wonderfully, with many small touches: with the sob that surfaces in “dreaming,” with the soul cry he brings to the song’s key line “just like the ones I used to know.” There is spookiness in Berlin’s lyric—the narrator is that ghostly figure, gazing dimly back at the past—and we hear that quality in Crosby’s voice, never more clearly than in the song’s closing moments. Crosby sings a sweet high harmony part, soaring in barbershop falsetto above the female choir (“May your days be merry and bright"); then the background singers fall silent, and Crosby plunges into his burring lower register, dropping a note below the octave in the final phrase—”Christmas be white”—before Berlin’s melody climbs back to make a valedictory cadence, still trailing the shadow of that eerie almost-dissonance.
(White Christmas: The Story of a Song, pages 119-122)
During one of our conversations, a few weeks before Christmas 1974, Bing reflected on the impact of his most identifiable song: “I certainly didn’t think ‘White Christmas’ was going to be such a hit. I thought it was a very good score for Holiday Inn, but I had no preconceived idea what would be the hit song. ‘White Christmas’ just stepped out, because it was wartime and so many people were away from home, away from their families, serving in the army, navy and air force and in faraway places—and a song like that is reminiscent of home and family, and that’s why it had such an immediate and lasting impact, I believe.”
Bing’s musical conductor for many years, John Scott Trotter, was also the arranger on many of his most memorable recordings. I wondered if he ever had a feeling that one of their collaborations might be a hit. “When we made ‘White Christmas’ I thought it was a very lovely tune, but I had no idea that it would turn out to be the most famous recording of all time. However, working with Bing and knowing the depth of his public acceptance, there was always a good chance that any of our sessions would be successful.”
He also recalled how the song might have been recorded in a different manner than its now familiar arrangement. “There was an argument between Jack Kapp, who was the head of Decca Records, and Irving Berlin. The song was written for a scene in the picture that was set on the West Coast. The lyrics of the verse began, ‘I’m sitting here in Beverly Hills’—Berlin thought it was a marvelous poetic set-up for the chorus, but Kapp said that it had nothing to do with the record. Kapp prevailed and we didn’t record the verse, and as luck would have it, the movie setting for the song was changed later from sunny California to snowy New England.”
(Gord Atkinson’s Showbill, page 200)
Bing Crosby - White Christmas
This beautiful song from Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn score is seemingly destined to be one of the big hits of the winter season. Because it deals with Christmas, the publishers have not been allowing it to be played on the air and have not been encouraging its sale. A few towns, however, have gobbled it up, air-plugging or no air-plugging. This is a pretty good sign that when the “drive” starts for this song it will hop to the top with ease.
(Billboard, September 19, 1942)
May 30, Saturday (9:05 p.m.) Bing joins in an all-star radio program to support the USO.
May 31, Sunday. Thought to have attended a cocktail party at Pat O’Brien’s Brentwood home which is thrown for all those who were on the Hollywood Victory Caravan.
June 1, Monday. Involved in car crash at 12:03 a.m. on Wilshire Boulevard at Roxbury Drive. Bing receives minor injuries including a cut lip. Is treated at Beverly Hills Emergency Hospital and sent home. (8:30 to 11:30 a.m.) Records three more songs from the film Holiday Inn with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra. “Be Careful, It’s My Heart” enters the charts on August 22 and reaches a peak position of No. 2 during its 15 weeks in the Billboard list.
“HOLIDAY INN” (Decca Album No. A-306; Decca 18424-5-6-7-8-9)
Decca has scored a terrific scoop in packaging 12 songs from the Irving Berlin score for Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby’s movie Holiday Inn, which is already flashing on the country’s screens. The album is the entire weekly release from the wax factory—and apart the music it contains, it’s more than just another album, it’s almost a transposition on wax of the screen score all capably executed by Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire....Plattermate is the ballad hit from the picture Be Careful It’s My Heart, Crosby singing it softly and rhythmically. Trotter’s soft strings and woodwinds paint the orchestral background…Album finishes in a blaze of vocal glory, most impressive in Bing Crosby’s plaintive appeal for a White Christmas, assisted by the Ken Darby Singers and Trotter’s music…
(Billboard, August 22, 1942)
June 4, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Rosemary Lane and John Garfield.
June 7, Sunday. The Battle of Midway in the Pacific—the Japanese Navy is forced to withdraw.
June 8, Monday. (8:30 to 11:20 a.m.) Bing records “Silent Night” and “Adeste Fideles” plus two other religious songs with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra supported by Max Terr’s Mixed Chorus.
Bing Crosby (Decca 18510 and 18511)
Silent Night, Holy Night —V. Adeste Fideles—V. Faith of our Fathers—V. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen—V
There are still plenty of shopping days left to Christmas, but hardly enough time to give the wax factory a chance to press enough of these Christmas hymns to meet the demand created each holiday season. For this yuletide Decca has printed up a deluxe edition of Bing Crosby’s reverential singing of Silent Night, Holy Night and Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful) (18510), the latter hymn sung in both Latin and English. For these two and the other two traditional holiday hymns (18511), Crosby is assisted by the mixed chorus, directed by Max Terr, and John Scott Trotter’s orchestra. Forgetting the jazz idiom entirely, all four sides are in good taste, Crosby’s chanting ever most respectful and expressive of reverence. These sides are for counter trade and not meant for the music boxes.
(Billboard, October 17, 1942)
June 10, Wednesday. Records “Road to Morocco” and two other songs with Vic Schoen and his Orchestra.
Ain’t Got a Dime to My Name – Decca 18514
Also from Road to Morocco, this rhythm ditty shows great promise and might be a major hit. It’s a cheery song about boys hitting the road, light of heart and of pocketbook. Crosby is in his characteristic happy-go-luck frame for this singing, and with the song design tailored to his talents, it’s a natural. Moreover, bright background is furnished by Vic Schoen’s orchestra, which has been providing the swingy instrumentals behind all the Andrews Sisters’ recordings.
(Billboard, November 14, 1942)
June 11, Thursday.
Hosts the Kraft Music Hall show on
NBC between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. Guests include Vera Zorina and Thomas Mitchell.
Probably between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., Bing records a guest shot with John
Scott Trotter and his Orchestra in Command
Performance show #17 which is emceed by Don Ameche. The Command Performance series was recorded
on transcription discs for shipment to overseas forces instead of being
broadcast live. In the UK, the
June 12, Friday. (8:30-11:30 a.m.) Records four songs with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra in Hollywood, including “Moonlight Becomes You” and “My Great, Great Grandfather”. “Moonlight Becomes You” spends two weeks at the top of the Billboard charts during its 17 weeks sojourn in the lists.
BING CROSBY (Decca 18432) My Great, Great Grandfather — FT; C. The Bombardier Song — FT; V. Crosby goes patriotic for this couplet, but adds little to his singing laurels. Grandfather is a forced opus that brings up the Revolutionary forefathers, and not too effectively, in words or music. Crosby takes this and the flipover as well in lively march-fox-trot tempo. Vocal force is even weaker, despite the assist from the Music Maids and Hal for Bombardier Song, the Rodgers-Hart contribution to patriotic American music. This one is dedicated to the bombing crews of the U. S. Army Air Force. John Scott Trotter, as usual, trots out sterling musical accompaniment. As a service song, “The Bombardier Song” should attract some attention from the boys who wear silver wings.
(Billboard, August 15, 1942)
Moonlight Becomes You – Decca 18513
From his forthcoming Road to Morocco picture, in which Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour are co-starred, Bing Crosby waxes a lovely romantic ballad that promises to hit the top of the song parade. In a romancy mood as he sings of Moonlight’s inspiring effect on lovers, he gives plenty of gloss to the side. A tuneful easy-to-listen-to melody with lyrics that follow the accepted love song pattern, it should take little persuasion for this ballad to catch on almost immediately, and in a big way.
(Billboard, November 14, 1942)
Bing Crosby gets full marks for his singing of “Moonlight Becomes You” and “Road to Morocco,” both of course from his current film of the latter title. Better recording than of late does much to add to the enjoyment of the famous voice (Brunswick 03410). Also from his film are “Constantly” and “Ain’t Got a Dime to My Name” although less pleasing than the other pair. (Brunswick 03410).
(The Gramophone, February, 1943)
June 15, Monday. Lends his support to the Scrap Rubber Drive and is photographed alongside items being put aside for salvage.
June 18, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Donald Crisp, Linda Darnell, and Walt Disney. Then, starting at 8.15 p.m., Bing takes part in a Gershwin Memorial Concert at the Shrine Auditorium with Dinah Shore, Harry James, The Kings Men, and Paul Whiteman. Whiteman jointly conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and his own orchestra which are seated side by side on the stage—a total of 150 musicians. The event is a benefit for the Philharmonic Orchestra. Bing sings a solo and then he and Dinah Shore sing a medley from Porgy and Bess. An edited version of the concert is broadcast on the east coast on July 4.
Forgetting the anxieties of war, 6,500 of the music-loving elite of our community, film stars, dramatists, artists and professionals and unprofessionals of every walk of local activity crowded into Shrine Auditorium last night . . . Bing Crosby sang inimically “Somebody Loves Me,” and though the audience was all in favor of an encore, the genial Bing refused to delay the program by accepting the ovation and invitation to sing again.
(Carl Bronson, Los Angeles Evening Herald Express, June 19, 1942)
…Much interest was evoked in the audience over the appearance of Bing Crosby, who sang “Somebody Loves Me.” Dinah Shore displayed a sweet mezzo in “The Man I Love” and “They Can’t Take That Away from Me”. The two vocalists, supported by the Gilbert Allen Choir, offered selections from Gershwin’s latest and best work, “Porgy and Bess,” including the favorite “I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” and “Summertime,” for the climatic and closing item.
(Richard D. Saunders, Hollywood Citizen News, June 19, 1942)
June 20, Saturday. Bing and his son Gary film a minor scene for Star Spangled Rhythm, a Paramount extravaganza packed with its contract players performing cameo roles. The film stars Betty Hutton and Eddie Bracken. The director is George Marshall with Robert Emmett Dolan as musical director. Bing’s featured spot comes at the end of the movie when he sings “Old Glory.”
June 21, Sunday. Thought to have performed in a USO Navy Camp show.
June (undated). Bing attends a party thrown by Peter Lind Hayes at the Grace Hayes Lodge and sings a couple of songs.
June 22, Monday. A threatening letter addressed to Bing by a George Baker demands $1000 which is to be sent to a post office. It emerges that the comedian Harold Lloyd has received a similar letter. The letter is passed to the FBI who contacts Bing at the studio and he tells them that he does not know a George Baker. Meanwhile, Bing writes in support of Glenn Miller's desire to join the Armed Forces.
To Whom It May Concern
Mr. Glenn Miller advises me that there’s a possibility of his being selected for training, with the ultimate result a commission in the United States Navy, and that he is desirous of securing letters of recommendation from friends of his that might be of some value.
It is a great privilege for me to make this recommendation for whatever it is worth, as in the many years I’ve known Mr. Miller I’ve found him to be a very high type young man, full of resourcefulness, adequately intelligent and a suitable type to command men or assist in organization.
June 25, Thursday. Submissions to the Securities and Exchange Commission indicate that Bing had the second highest earnings in the U.S.A. in 1941 after Louis B. Mayer, production director of Loew’s Inc. who received $704,000. Bing received $300,000 from Paramount Pictures while his earnings from Decca were $100,640. No amount was quoted for his radio income. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s last Kraft Music Hall appearance until October 1. The guests are Harry James and Fred Astaire. The songs from the film Holiday Inn are plugged. Bob Crosby takes over for the summer months.
June 28, Sunday. June Crosby, Bob’s wife, gives birth to a son, Christopher Douglas.
June 29, Monday. The setting up of $50,000 trust funds given by Bing for each of his four sons is completed in Probate Court. John O’Melveny, the family attorney, is appointed to look after the trusts which consist of stock in the Crosby Corporation. The sons are to receive their respective trust fund when they reach the age of twenty-one.
July 1, Wednesday. Thought to have appeared on the “Hello Mom” broadcast with Joan Blondell and the Kings Men.
July 2, Thursday. The FBI detains “George Baker” when he calls at the post office to see if Bing or Harold Lloyd have responded to his demands. Baker is discovered to be a Samuel Rubin.
July 4, Saturday. (2:00-3:00 p.m.) Bing and Dinah Shore take part in a radio tribute to Stephen Foster broadcast over the Mutual Broadcasting System. Also Bing takes part in a radio program over station KHJ sponsored by the War Production Board called Junk Will Win the War and sings the title song. Both of these programs may have been recorded in advance as Bing himself was near Newcastle in California.
Fourth of July celebration such as this State has never seen was held yesterday on the Nola fruit ranch near Newcastle. A celebrated crooner appeared as a benefactor to the few and impoverished remnants of a once large tribe of Os Sut Indians. Bing Crosby appeared before all of those who were left of the Os Suts and Hollywood (in a sense) preserved traditions of the early settlers. The story: The Os Suts were about to lose title to lands which for years have been their burying grounds. If you know Indian lore you know what that means. It seemed for the moment that the abode of the ancestors of Indians would be sold cultivated and lost to history. Bing Crosby came up yesterday with $200 to save the Indian burial grounds and his action terminated a distressing situation. As I get it the Superior Court of Placer County, at the insistence of the Rev. Father Hynes, had sanctioned sale of the tract of ground to Crosby for $200 and all details were complete for the legal transfer of the cherished plot to the diminished Indian band. Assisting Father Hynes in the negotiations were J. P. Hall and John E. Noia, at whose ranch home the presentation was made. Bing, it is understood, while bestowing the gift in person declined all Big Chief honors, such as wearing the traditional regalia of the Os Suts. The gratitude of the Indians for his generous intervention will be his recompense. Check off your Fourth of July stories. In many respects this may be unique.
(Oakland Tribune, July 5, 1942)
July 9, Thursday. Recording date in Hollywood with Captain Eddie Dunstedter and his Army Air Force Training Center Band. Bing sings three songs.
BING CROSBY (Decca 4367)
Hello Mom — FT; V. A Boy in Khaki—a Girl in Lace—FT; V. Entirely in his element in singing soldier ballads, Bing Crosby gives most sympathetic and tender vocal force to A Boy in Khaki — a Girl in Lace. Taking it at a moderate tempo, Crosby’s voice is set in the lush fiddle background provided by John Scott Trotter’s orchestra. Also a soldier ballad, Hello Mom is given the same lyrical pleasantries. Side has collector interest in that the musical background is provided by the label’s own Eddie Dunstedter, who had a hand in writing the song, now in uniform as a captain. Musical background is etched out by Captain Dunstedter and the West Coast Army Air Force Training Center Orchestra, loaded with Strads and cutting it in the John Scott Trotter manner.
“A Boy in Khaki— a Girl in Lace” is the side that is getting the attention, and Bing Crosby hopping onto the tune not only gives it a big lift, but also provides the ops with a sale-attracting entry.
(Billboard, September 19, 1942)
July (undated). Bing gives three shows in Arizona and Texas for the forces in which Gary Crosby participates.
July (undated). Bing is on a fishing trip in the High Sierras with Johnny Burke and Dr. Arnold Stevens and nearly slips to his death while casting from a snow-covered ledge at Mammoth Lake.
July 22, Wednesday. Samuel Rubin (age twenty-four) is indicted by a federal jury on charges of sending extortion letters to Bing and to Harold Lloyd threatening harm to their children if they did not pay $1,000. On September 9, Rubin is sentenced to five years in jail.
July 23, Thursday. Bing takes part in Treasury Star Parade, a War Bond Drive radio program. This appears to have been a transcribed (recorded) program as various radio stations broadcast it at different times. Bing sings “I’m Saving a Dime (Out of Every Dollar)”, the new official song of the Treasury Department. Both Bing and Dinah Shore have recorded the song with Al Newman’s Orchestra and chorus.
July 25, Saturday. (a.m.) Arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah and checks in at the Hotel Utah. Gives interviews to local newsmen before rehearsing in the Presidents Room with Jimmy Van Heusen. Goes on to play golf with George Schneiter at the Ogden Country Club.
July 26, Sunday. (2:00 p.m.) Teams up with Bob Hope for a golf match at Salt Lake City with the profits going to the Army Benefit Fund at Fort Douglas. A crowd of 4,500 watch Bob Hope and Ed Dudley beat Bing and George Schneiter one up at the Salt Lake Country Club. Bing and Bob give a short impromptu show just off the eighteenth green after the match before going to the bombing and gunnery camp at Wendover to give a performance for the servicemen. Jimmy Van Heusen accompanies Bing at both shows. They all return to Salt Lake City for the night.
July 27, Monday. Bing goes on to Colorado Springs with Ed Dudley.
August 1, Saturday. The American Federation of Musicians commences a recording ban by its members which continues until September 18, 1943, in the case of Decca.
August 4, Tuesday. Bing joins USO Camp Show unit #32 with Phil Silvers and Rags Ragland and their show “Full Speed Ahead” which begins a tour at Camp Lewis, Washington. The attendance at the first show is 2,276. Elsewhere, Bing’s film Holiday Inn has a charity premiere for the benefit of the Navy Relief Society at the Paramount, New York and goes on to take $3.75 million in rental income in its initial release period in the USA.
That man Irving Berlin has been whistling to himself again. Not content with turning out the most rousing Broadway show in years, he has scribbled no fewer than thirteen tunes for “Holiday Inn,” the light-heartedly patriotic musical which opened last night at the Paramount in conjunction with a gala stage show for the benefit of the Navy Relief Society. Mr. Berlin may not know a great deal about notes, as he confesses, but he does know a lot about music. If there are no tunes in “Holiday Inn” that quite match those of his army show, Mr. Berlin still has created several of the most effortless melodies of the season—the sort that folks begin humming in the middle of a conversation for days afterward. At present Paramount prices Mr. Berlin’s tunes are being sold dirt cheap.
As it happily happens, the film has caught the same effortless moods of the music. Mark Sandrich, director and producer, has taken the inevitable mélange of plot and production numbers and so deftly pulled them together that one hardly knows where the story ends and a song begins—a neat trick if you can do it. That it comes off, of course, is largely due to the casual performances of Bing Crosby, who can sell a blackface song like “Abraham” or turn an ordinary line into sly humor without seeming to try, and Fred Astaire, who still owns perhaps the most sophisticated pair of toes in Christendom. Mr. Astaire has rarely danced with more alert, carefree abandon than among the exploding torpedoes and red devils of “Say It with Firecrackers.” And in Marjorie Reynolds, a very fetching blonde young lady, Mr. Astaire has a new partner who can hold her own at all speeds.
Mainly “Holiday Inn” is a series of musical episodes, each of which takes an American holiday for cue. But they have been strung ever so neatly on the amorous rivalries of Mr. Astaire, who wins all the battles except the last, and Mr. Crosby, a musical lazybones who retires to a New England farm which he converts into a night club for holidays only—thus leaving him 300-odd days a year for pure loafing. And while the pair desperately conspire against each other for the hand of Miss Reynolds, Mr. Berlin’s music sets the moods from the romantic “Be Careful, It’s My Heart,” to nostalgic “Easter Parade,” tender “White Christmas” and rollicking “Let’s Start the New Year Right.”
Along the way the author and director have bobbed up with some engaging tricks such as the befuddled Thanksgiving turkey hopping from one Thursday to another or the Washington’s Birthday Minuet, in which a bland Mr. Crosby continually breaks up Mr. Astaire’s precise and dainty footwork with hot licks in the accompaniment. It is all very easy and graceful; it never tries too hard to dazzle; even in the rousing and topical Fourth of July number it never commits a breach of taste by violently waving the flag. Instead it has skipped back over the year in an affectionate and light-hearted spirit. In a month without a holiday, “Holiday Inn” offers a reason for celebration not printed in red ink on the calendar.
(The New York Times, August 5, 1942)
Paramount has decided to ‘special’ this Irving Berlin filmusical, and rightly so. It’s a standout film. With those Berlin tunes, a strong story content and Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire for the marquee, it’s an undeniable boxoffice parlay, a winner all the way. . The July 4 production effects afford Astaire a whale of a firecracker dance specialty on top of Crosby’s own ‘Song of Freedom.’ This, of course, is a setup for the cinematic montage of U. S. planes, battleships, armaments, MacArthur, F. D. R. and finally Old Glory. That kinda puts a topper to the George M. Cohan technique—in spades. But it fits the occasion and, in the 1942 idiom, it’s topical and socko....The production is ultra, and the musical interpretations, with Bob Crosby’s Bobcats backing up brother Bing, make the song idioms ultra-modern
(Variety, June 17, 1942)
The best musical drama of the year.
(New York Post)
With dancing by Fred Astaire and singing by Bing Crosby and music by Irving Berlin, Holiday Inn, the new picture at the Paramount Hollywood and Downtown theaters, fires a real salvo of entertainment. Light and romantic, the new film is soothing balm for war nerves or whatever else ails you. . . . The picture is going to be a gilt-edged property for Paramount and a top musical treat for filmgoers.
(Los Angeles Evening Herald Express, August 28, 1942)
This is the best picture Fred Astaire has made since the rupture of the Astaire-Rogers team. Accompanied by tuneful Irving Berlin melodies, Fred makes love to two girls for both of which Bing Crosby has fallen. It is a question as to whether Fred’s dancing or Bing’s vocal efforts will win the day. The pair make a first-rate song and dance team which we hope will not be dissolved too soon.
(Picturegoer, August 22, 1942)
August 5, Wednesday. Bing gives further camp shows at Camp Lewis with 2,476 forces personnel seeing the shows.
August 6, Thursday. (12:15 p.m.). In Tacoma, Bing sings at the Liberty Center to help the War Savings Bonds drive.
When Bing sang, his feet did little dances and his hands toyed with the cord leading to the mike, twisting it into such knots the kilowatts could barely squeeze through. Bing blinked and alternately looked coy and innocent. He sang first about an Irish lad and a Mexican beauty who had a romance [“Conchita, Marquita Lopez” recorded June 10, 1942]. The latter half of this melody was devoted exclusively to naming the children. He followed with “Sleepy Lagoon” and the swaying cadence “Jingle Jangle,” accompanied by the soldier band. His feet shuffled and his winks kept the children, even the old ones, squirming with delight.
(The Tacoma News, August 7, 1942)
Bing also golfs at Fircrest with Dr. Harry Davis, Martin Traub, and Doug Dyckman. Gives more shows at Camp Lewis and this time the audience totals 1,788. Stays at the Tacoma Country Club.
August 7, Friday. The USO Camp Show is at the Naval Air Station, Seattle, where the total attendance is 2,139. During the day, Bing takes part in a benefit golf match.
August 8, Saturday. Having stayed overnight at the Benjamin Franklin Hotel, Bing appears in Victory Square, Seattle, in front of 15,000 people with Phil Silvers and Rags Ragland.
In Seattle, it was a huge open-air show—thousands of people milling around the stage—but nobody tried to tear Bing’s clothes; nobody, as a matter of fact, really bothered him.
. . . Suddenly a cry disturbed the quietness of the smiles and the soft laughter that Bing’s antics on the stage had elicited. Phil [Silvers] looked around again. It was a baby crying, a baby who was lost. He leaned down and picked it up. “Mama will find you,” he comforted the very little child. “See,” he said, “I’ll hold you where you can be seen.” But the baby wouldn’t stop crying.
“Sweet Leilani.” Bing was talking to the audience. “Sweet Leilani for a $500 bond.” Still the baby would not stop crying. . . . Bing took the baby, took a good look at it, and exclaimed, “My God! A girl. I haven’t seen a little girl in years!”
At the obvious reference to his wholly male family, the crowd burst into loud laughter and fixed firm attention upon the stage. Bing sang “Sweet Leilani,” holding the little girl in his arms. Her mother noticed her, and the family was once more complete.
(The Incredible Crosby, page 196)
The same day, Bing goes to a “Hole-in-One” competition at Beacon Hill (where he hits a few balls) and then entertains naval combat fliers at Sand Point.
August 10, Monday. Bing arrives at Cheyenne, Wyoming, on an early morning train and checks in at the Plains Hotel. Together with Phil Silvers, Rags Ragland, and Jimmy Van Heusen they entertain at Fort Warren where 1,798 soldiers attend the two evening shows.
August 11, Tuesday. (11:15 a.m.–12:10 p.m.) Bing presents a radio program over station KFBC in Cheyenne and more than $15,000 worth of war bonds are sold. More than 1,000 people pack the mezzanine at the Plains Hotel to watch and hear the show. During the afternoon, Bing undertakes a three-hour tour of the Quartermaster Replacement Training Center at Fort Warren including at 3:00 p.m. a special program for the patients in the camp hospital where he sings six songs.
Starting at the motor maintenance school, Bing, Phil [Silvers] and Jimmy [Van Heusen], as they are known to the soldiers, visited two of the giant buildings while classes were in session. In one of the buildings, Bing paused to talk with a group of colored soldiers from the fourth regiment. He expressed interest in the drill presses they were operating and listened patiently while they explained the operation of the machines. At the other building, Crooner Crosby continued to mingle with the soldiers and exchange quips with them. His casual, informal manner put the privates at ease and every “hello, Bing” was answered with a “Well, how are you, glad to see you” or some equally friendly greeting.
Traditionally an informal dresser, Crosby was garbed in light gray tropical trousers, a dark blue cotton high-necked polo shirt horizontally striped with white and a dark blue linen jacket. An unlit pipe constantly dangled from his mouth.
Boarding jeeps at the QMRTC motor pool, the visiting Hollywoodians, in the company of several officers, went out to the rifle range where they watched soldiers learn the art of marksmanship, posed for dozens of amateur photographers and penciled their signatures scores of times. Twice on the range Bing met privates he had known in civilian life and both times he made them proud by warmly acknowledging the acquaintanceships. . . .
To the grateful cheers of bathrobed patients, at the station hospital annex, Crosby sang a half dozen songs, Silvers entertained with several amusing stories and Van Heusen exhibited unusually fine style at the piano.
(The Wyoming Eagle, August 12, 1942)
He then returns to his hotel before presenting two more shows in Fort Warren’s Theater no. 2 at night and this time the attendance totals 2,720.
August 13, Thursday. The tour reaches Camp Carson, Colorado Springs, and 2,076 people watch the shows. During the day, Bing and Lawson Little golf at Broadmoor and defeat Bud Maytag and Ed Dudley three and two. Bing has a seventy-four. Approximately 2,000 fans view the proceedings.
August 14, Friday. Further shows at Camp Carson in front of 4,152 people.
August 15, Saturday. Bing and Bob Hope play golf on the Broadmoor course at Colorado Springs against Lawson Little and Ed Dudley in front of a crowd of 4,000 with receipts going to the Camp Carson Recreation Fund. Bing cards a seventy-eight and the match finishes even.
August 16, Sunday. Starting at 11:00 a.m., Bing and Lawson Little golf against Bob Hope and Ed Dudley at the Cherry Hills course, Denver, Colorado. A crowd of over 6,000 (including Governor Ralph Carr) watch the thirteen-hole match which is won by Hope and Dudley one up. Bing and Bob put on a show at the driving range after the match and are helped by entertainers from Lowry Field. Radio station KOA broadcasts some of the show. The proceeds of the day go to the four army camps in the area.
August 26, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m., Pacific Time) A radio program featuring a preview of Holiday Inn is broadcast on the CBS network. Bing, Fred Astaire and Betty Jane Rhodes star.
August 27, Thursday. The Los Angeles papers report that recently Bing was at the Players Club in Hollywood with Dixie and that he thrilled the stay-up-laters by singing all his numbers from Holiday Inn.
August 30, Sunday. Bing and many other Hollywood celebrities arrive at Union Station, Washington D.C., at 8:40 a.m. where they are greeted by Kay Kyser’s Orchestra and about 1,000 fans. Starting at 11:00 a.m. Bing takes part in a rehearsal of a show at the National Theater. The actual event takes place at 7:00 p.m. and Bing acts as host in the Bureau of Public Relations Washington Show at the National Theater in front of an audience of 1000 top ranking government and army officials plus 800 soldiers. Guests on the show include Connee Boswell, Abbott and Costello, James Cagney, Hedy Lamarr, Ginny Simms, Larry Adler, and Dinah Shore. The proceedings are recorded and subsequently issued as Command Performance shows #30 and #31. Following the show, the stars are taken to the National Press Club where they interview the press. Bing questions Tom Stokes.
August 31, Monday. Having stayed at the Carlton Hotel overnight, the stars leave in army jeeps at 11:00 a.m. for a parade to the Treasury Building. At 11:30 a.m., in front of a crowd of 30,000, Bing acts as MC in a war bond rally which continues until 2:00 p.m. on the south steps of the Treasury Building. The rally inaugurates the “Salute to our Heroes” Drive and $250,000 is raised. The proceedings are broadcast between noon and 12:30 p.m. and captured by newsreels of the day. Bing sings “This Is Worth Fighting For.” Bing and the stars are entertained to lunch at 3:00 p.m. by Henry Morgenthau, secretary of the treasury, before they depart in various directions as part of a thirty-day tour of 300 cities organized by the Hollywood Victory Committee.
September (undated) Frank Sinatra is released from his contract with Tommy Dorsey to begin his solo career.
“I think my appeal was due to the fact that there hadn’t been a troubadour around for ten or twenty years, from the time that Bing had broken in and went on to radio and movies. And he, strangely enough, had appealed primarily to older people, middle-aged people. When I came on the scene and people began noticing me at the Paramount, I think the kids were looking for somebody to cheer to for. Also, the war had just started. They were looking for somebody who represented those gone in their life. I began to realize that there must be something to all this commotion. I didn’t know exactly what it was, but I figured I had something that must be important. So I decided to try it alone, without a band.
The other reason was that I had been thinking. The number one guy in the world was obviously Crosby. Nobody was going to touch him because he really was the best. Still, I thought, at some future time there has to be a number two.”
(Frank Sinatra, as quoted in Frank Sinatra, My Father, page 41)
September 5, Saturday.
Commencing at 2:00 p.m., Bing plays in a benefit golf match at the
Looking a trifle worn, his
light blue eyes noticeably deep in their sockets, but nevertheless kind, accommodating and exuding the personality
that has made him stand out above the throng in the world of entertainment,
Bing Crosby, star of screen and radio, sucked on his pipe as he selected a
couple of golf balls in the shop at
The door was locked and faces flattened against the window
panes as admirers, young and old, looked at their idol. . . Crowds were just
another thing in Bing’s crowded life. He had looked at them continually the
last 15 days, hopping from city to city on sleeper stops, his last from the
nation’s capital. Yes, Bing was tired, but there were 15 more on the itinerary
and after the
(The Binghamton Press, September 6, 1942)
September 6, Sunday. Starting at 2:30 p.m., Bing takes part in a golf benefit for the USO at the Inverness Country Club, Toledo, Ohio with Byron Nelson, Jimmy Demaret, and local amateur Frank Stranahan. A crowd of more than 3,000 sees Bing and Demaret lose two down. Bing has a seventy-seven and then sings several songs at the end of the game on the club terrace to entertain the crowd, supported by the Eddy Brandt Orchestra. Bing goes on to Camp Perry to take part in the weekly show given soldiers at the induction center.
I’ll never forget the first time I met Bing Crosby. It proved to be one of the most embarrassing moments of my career as a musician.
It was back in 1942, and I was playing string bass with Eddy Brandt’s society-type orchestra at the Commodore Perry Hotel in Toledo, Ohio. Bing was coming through town on a World War II bond-selling tour and was to play golf on a Sunday at Inverness Country Club with Byron Nelson, Jimmy Demaret and Frank Stranahan. Through Mitch Woodbury, the entertainment columnist with the Toledo Blade, our band was asked to play a few numbers behind Bing as he entertained the crowd after the match at the “19th hole.”
Crosby was going to sing only three numbers, and, so that we would be prepared, we were notified several days in advance what the tunes would be. As I remember, they were popular Crosby tunes of the day: “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” “A Sleepy Lagoon” and “White Christmas,” which he had done a few months earlier in a picture with Fred Astaire, Holiday Inn. Bing rarely sang a song in the original key, so we knew we would have to transpose to his key. We practiced the transpositions during the regular evening dance sets so we’d be ready. Just the idea of meeting Bing Crosby, let alone playing behind him, was an exquisite anticipation for me. Crosby at that time of course, was at the top of the show business heap, with no one closing in.
On Sunday, after the foursome finished the golf match, they adjourned to the clubhouse for a toddy or two, while the crowd assembled on the patio outside. Finally Bing came out, and I remember him walking up to me, holding out his right hand and saying:
“Hi, I’m Bing Crosby.” As if I didn’t know. As if anyone didn’t know.
He sang “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” and the audience clapped in the right places. Then came “Sleepy Lagoon,” which the composer had written in me key of C. Bing’s key was G, which meant playing it two and a halftones lower. The band got through the introduction and the first chorus okay. But during the second chorus, Bing, as was his style even then, ad-libbed in tempo and in tune. Looking directly at our violinist, Kenny Karpf, he sang: “A sleepy lagoon/a tropical moon/you take the next chorus.”
Well, Kenny did take the next chorus, but he was so flustered by all this unexpected attention that he loused up the pickup notes. Bing, quick as ever on the uptake, drawled in the familiar baritone over the microphone:
“The kid needs a little more practice, doesn’t he?”
The crowd, of course, laughed, because Kenny’s mistake was so obvious. But the rest of us in the band were looking for the 20th hole to crawl into.
I was flattered when, several years ago as I was chatting with Crosby at Fisherman’s Wharf, he recalled the incident and even named his golfing companions of so many years ago.
(Dick Alexander, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, October 16, 1977)
September 7, Monday. Bing travels to Detroit where he plays in another fund-raising golf match starting at 2:30 p.m. at Plum Hollow Country Club. The profits from the match go to the Selfridge Field Recreation Center. Bing and Jimmy Demaret lose by four and three to Byron Nelson and Chick Harbert in front of a crowd of over 5,000.
He still managed to have a good time, and the spectators who followed him in the match and heard him sing “Jingle, Jangle,” “Sleepy Lagoon,” “Johnny Doughboy,” and then “Home on the Range” with Demaret as a partner in a duet near the eighteenth green at the close of the match also enjoyed themselves. . . . Later in the evening Crosby made an appearance at Selfridge Field and sang for the 7,500 soldiers there. Early this morning he left for Chicago to watch his horses run before resuming his series of eleven war benefit exhibition golf matches at Grand Rapids, Saturday.
(Detroit News, September 8, 1942)
September 10, Thursday. Bing and Lawson Little play against Tommy Armour and Charley Penna in a benefit golf match at Flossmoor Country Club, Chicago. Bing has an eighty. Elsewhere, there is a sneak preview of the film Road to Morocco at the Paramount, New York. The Armed Forces Radio Service records Front Line Theater radio show #1 with Bing, Bob Hope, Hedy Lamarr, and Glenn Miller’s Orchestra appearing in Too Many Husbands. It is probable that the AFRS utilized the Gulf Screen Guild version of the same play which had originally been broadcast on March 8, 1942. Bing’s horse “Barrancosa” (a product of the Binglin stable) wins the Brookdale Purse at Aqueduct race course, New York.
September 12, Saturday. Starting at 2:30 p.m., Bing takes part in a golf benefit with Jimmy Demaret, Chick Harbert, and Al Watrous (a late replacement for Byron Nelson who was ill) at Kent Country Club, Grand Rapids, Michigan for the USO and the Red Cross. A crowd of 3,500 pays $1.10 each and sees Bing and Demaret lose on the eighteenth green, one down. After the match, Bing sings three songs and auctions off various items.
Bing Crosby was the high man of the foursome, with a medal of 78. He had one ball out of bounds and used a 7 on the 15th hole, but in all fairness to the popular movie star, it must be mentioned that he was under the most severe handicap of all. The crowd literally mobbed him all over the course.
He needed the protection of two state policemen through the entire round to keep away the autograph seekers. Fully three-quarters of the gallery flocked behind him to see him hit every shot. Many times they stood within a club length of him, but Bing calmly continued to play very good golf for an amateur star. Playing under the conditions he did, many top-notch pros couldn’t hit a shot. Through most of the match, he calmly smoked his pipe and at times hummed strains of various tunes he made famous. . . .
At the finish of the match, the crowd, which was the largest by far that ever saw an exhibition match in Grand Rapids, clustered around the first tee and heard Bing sing three songs. And it was amazing the manner in which the crowd acted during his singing. With a gallery of that sort, one would think that Crosby would have had a hard time being heard, but it was as quiet as though he were singing in an auditorium. The fans gave him their undivided attention and gave him a thunderous ovation at the close.
(Grand Rapids Herald, September 13, 1942)
September 13, Sunday. Bing’s tour has brought him to Youngstown, Ohio, and at 1:45 p.m. he is at the WFMJ studios where he is interviewed by Bob Wylie in front of an audience who each buy a $25 war bond for admission. He then goes to Mahoning Country Club for a 2:30 p.m. start to an eighteen holes golf match in which Bing and Gene Sarazen defeat local professionals Jack Thompson and Al Alcroft two and one. Bing has a seventy-one and the match raises $1343 for the USO. After the match, Bing entertains the crowd of 1300 from the porch at the country club singing several songs including “Jingle, Jangle, Jingle” and “My Melancholy Baby” accompanied by a local string band called “Bing’s Melodiers.” At 7:00 p.m., Bing presides over a dinner at the country club for twenty-five people all of whom have had to purchase a $1000 war bond to gain a seat.
He proved a crowd-pleaser at Mahoning, mixing superb golf with wisecracking, signing hundreds of autographs, and adding a few songs. . . .
“All over the country the people are enthusiastic about war bond purchases and aiding the USO. And during my appearances at the army camps—I play to about 40,000 soldiers a week—the work of the USO is inspiring. And that’s one way to keep up the morale of our armed forces—buy bonds and aid the USO,” Crosby added. . . .
Crosby’s singing appearance really “brought the house down” at Mahoning. Bing likes to ad-lib and never misses a chance for one of those trigger wisecracks. When someone on the platform made a noise, in the midst of his singing, Bing joked “Stay on your feet and get a draw.” . . . The biggest kick Crosby got in the current appearance was at the bond dinner. At Bing’s request, it was limited to some 25, as he was unable to remain for the entire session. But the 25 bought $1000 bonds and one family—that of Thomas McFarland Sr., was represented by eight purchasers . . . Crosby spoke briefly, as did Peter M. Wellman, sponsor of the event. Bing joined Al Alcroft—Youngstown Country Club pro—in Scotch songs.
(The Youngstown Daily Vindicator, September 14, 1942)
September 15, Tuesday. Bing travels by car from Indianapolis to Cincinnati and makes a speech in Fountain Square at 1:00 p.m. as part of a gala war bond rally. Goes on to Kenwood Country Club for lunch at 2:00 p.m. He then takes part in a USO benefit golf match starting at 3:00 p.m. at the country club with Byron Nelson, Jimmy Demaret, and Curt Bryan. The golf match finishes on the thirteenth hole and Bing then sings to the crowd of 3,000 and helps sell war bonds totaling $176,000. He attends a dinner at 6:00 p.m. on the country club verandah where he sings for the audience. Goes on to Kansas City for golf.
September 16, Wednesday. Starting at 2:30 p.m., Bing plays in a benefit golf match sponsored by the American War Dads at Swope Park, Kansas City. Partnered by Lawson Little they lose two down to Ed Dudley and Johnny Goodman (former national amateur champion) in the fifteen-hole game. A crowd of 3,000 watches the proceedings. An auction follows the golf and Bing entertains the crowd.
Kansas City Times, Thursday, September 17, 1942
One of the non-wonderful things about Bing Crosby is that he plays golf just about as expertly as the 3,000 men and women who gathered at the Swope Park course yesterday to see him and three very good boys at the game. Bing, naturally, had himself and the crowd in the traps the first nine holes, but who cared? For, you see, a part of the entertainment sponsored by the American War Dads was to get Bing to sing. He did. He even appeared bare-headed, accepting the first overseas cap the War Dads ever gave out. Bing is bald here and there, so you can realize bareheadedness in his case was a concession.
He was playing golf with Lawson Little, the one-time open champion; Ed Dudley, a famous golfer, and Johnny Goodman, former national amateur champion. Bing was valiant. He always, for instance, stroked the ball. But as he said afterwards, the earth worms were crawling toward his ball to be in safety. At that, he wasn’t so bad. He posted a 40 on the first nine, compared to Little’s 34, Goodman’s 33, and Dudley’s 35. Six more holes were played with Dudley and Goodman, who were partners, the winners not only of the match by 2 up but a $50 war bond put up as security, as we say in this nonbetting city. Goodman had the queer feeling of having the hepcats, who seemed to form most of the crowd, identify him as Benny Goodman. He swings good but his swing is something different from Benny’s. Little had no such trouble. He and Bing got before the crowd later and auctioned some old records, with one going as high as $31. Bing was pleasant and he told a lot of stories, most of them with an air of age. You remember, for instance, the one about the Maine gas dealer? Well, just to show you how courteous people are, they laughed at that one. Bing is a good guy but he needs to get in a back room for some new ones.
(Kansas City Times, September 17, 1942)
September 17, Thursday. Bing and Ed Dudley arrive in Miami, Oklahoma, to meet their friends, Mr. and Mrs. George Coleman, a wealthy oil man and his wife. During the morning, Bing and Ed Dudley visit Judge Sam Fullerton’s Sunbeam farm where they are shown Prince Sunbeam, grand champion of the Fort Worth livestock show. Bing poses for photographs with the bull before he and Ed Dudley together with Mrs. Coleman, and Miss Patty Fullerton play thirteen holes at the local golf course late in the afternoon. A gallery, that numbered only a few at the start, swells to unexpected proportions before the golfers call it a day. Before leaving the clubhouse, a large group of teenage girls swarms about Bing and he stays to sign autographs for them all. Bing and Ed go on to be dinner guests of the Colemans with whom they also stay overnight.
Singer Bing Crosby is a regular fellow. Even the crowds who surround him, paw him and worship him can’t spoil this film and radio star who has crooned himself into the hearts of millions. Big Ed Dudley, his golf-playing associate and one-time pro at Miami Country Club, and Bing were Miami visitors Thursday, stopping off here to see their friends, Mr. and Mrs. George L. Coleman, Jr., while en route to Tulsa for a war relief golf show today.
“I don’t see how he holds up under the strain of meeting hundreds of persons, everywhere he goes—but he does,” the congenial Dudley said. “At Kansas City yesterday, 400 to 500 persons swooped down upon him when we got off the train at the Union Station. There’s nothing he can do, except meet them, and he does a good job of it.”
(Miami Daily News-Record, September 18, 1942)
September 18, Friday. Bing and Ed Dudley travel to Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa, where they arrive just after noon. At 2:00 p.m., Bing and Lawson Little team up for an eighteen-hole war benefit exhibition match against Ed Dudley and local golfer Walter Emery. Bing and Little win one up with Bing having a seventy-five. At 6:15 p.m., Bing sells war bonds and entertains the crowd of 2,500 as he sings “San Antonio Rose”, “Johnny Doughboy”, “Jingle Jangle, Jingle”, “Sweet Lorraine”, “Mexicali Rose” and “My Melancholy Baby” with Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys orchestra. The proceedings are broadcast by station KVOQ between 6:15 and 7:00 p.m. War bond sales of $315,125 are achieved, the highest so far on Bing’s current tour. Bing discloses to newsmen that he has not seen his family, except for four days, since June.
A crowd of 2,500, the largest that ever saw a golf match in Tulsa, followed the match and roared approval of Bing’s radio broadcast and war bond sales party which featured the finish. Bing was in grand form at the entertaining (normal for him), and surpassed even his best previous efforts in the war bond auction by disposing of $315,000.
With Bob Wills and his orchestra playing, Bing sang for at least half an hour after the bond sale. “San Antonio Rose,” composed by Wills and made famous by Crosby, was the smash hit of the party. But Bing sang many other request numbers and took time to pass some nice compliments to Wills.
(Tulsa Daily World, September 19, 1942)
One thing is certain, both Wills and Crosby profited from the song. The song was still so popular in 1942, that Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys recorded it near the eighteenth green at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa and then offered to give a copy to the person buying the most war bonds. Leon McCauliffe [steel guitarist with the band] reported that someone bought $250,000 in bonds in order to get that limited edition of ‘New San Antonio Rose’. [At this point there is reference to an end of chapter note which reads, “Leon McCauliffe; Harry Rasmussin. Rasmussin, the sound engineer in charge of the KVOO mobile unit that day, at the Country Club, remembered the disc sold for $20,000 in bonds.” It may be that all of the recordings brought in $250,000 in bonds.]
(San Antonio Rose – The Life & Music of Bob Wills)
September 19, Saturday. Bing and Ed Dudley go to Oklahoma City for another war benefit golf match at the Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club with Henry Picard and Lawson Little, but a near three-inch downpour washes the golf out before the match can be started at 1:30 p.m. Bing lunches at the Country Club and later catches a train to Houston.
September 20, Sunday.
Bing, Ed Dudley, and Lawson Little arrive by train in
Houston, Texas, and are met by a reception committee and an honor escort of
United States marines. They go on to Houston Country Club where, after a 2:30
p.m. start, Bing and Lawson Little finish all-square
after nineteen holes in a match with Ed Dudley and local amateur Ed White. Bing
has a seventy-five. After the golf match, Bing entertains the crowd of 2,000
with several songs and auctions off various items. Fred Corcoran, the
tournament manager of the
September 23, Wednesday. Bing arrives back in Hollywood.
September 25, Friday. The American Red Cross holds a charity golf event at Haggin Oaks, Sacramento and Bing, Bob Hope and Babe Ruth all tee up for it.
October 1, Thursday. Records the first of the Personal Album series of shows for servicemen. Press reports indicate that Bing has lost weight and that he attributes this to making his breakfast his big meal of the day. Later, between 6:00–7:00 p.m., Bing returns to the Kraft Music Hall on NBC until April 15, 1943. The main guest in the opening show is Cass Daley. Audience share is 23.1 during the season which relegates the show to thirteenth place in the Hooper ratings. Bob Hope heads the table with a rating of 40.9. Bing’s salary is $5,000 per broadcast. Victor Borge, Ken Carpenter, the Music Maids, and Mary Martin remain as fixtures together with John Scott Trotter and the orchestra. The Charioteers become regulars.
A 21-bell salute, please, Mr. Carpenter. Bing is back. Forsaking the golf course and the race track for the nonce, Mr. Crosby supplants brother Bob and again takes his place as the backbone and general raison d’être of the old KMH. The show is still same expert blend of music, comedy and guest stars and that inimitable spirited of good fellowship and effortless entertainment. In addition to the usual regulars, there are the Charioteers.
Bing starts off with Kalamazoo, and as soon as the first notes are out you know that everything is all right again. Later on he gives the old Crosby once-over to Conchita Lopez; Be Careful, It’s My Heart and Boy in Khaki, and the season’s pops come into their own…
(Shirley Frohlich, Billboard, October 10, 1942)
The Charioteers, a black quartet had begun as college students, at Wilberforce in Ohio, then like the Boswells, made it into radio through a local contest. They worked in Cincinnati (Ohio) for a couple of years, then hit it a little bigger and left home for New York, eventually landing a plum position in what became one of the longest-running musical productions in history, Olson and Johnson’s “Hellzapoppin” in 1938.
They signed up for Kraft and began October 1st, 1942. They were immediately popular with the audience and with Bing. “They can sing anything four different ways”, he once said. Mainly for KMH they stuck to spirituals and humor-songs (“Straighten Up and Fly Right”, “Tabby the Cat”). Their beautiful work with Crosby is one of the lasting adornments of the program. Two of them were brothers, Willie and Ira Williams. The other two, Eddy Jackson and Howie Daniel supplying the balance to the brothers with a second tenor and a bass voice, made them famous. Their bright clever arrangements were all done by their pianist, who also appeared on the series, Jimmy Sherman. They appeared with Bing after the Hall. They must have been good to have remained for over three and a half years
(Vernon Wesley Taylor, Hail KMH! The Crosby Voice, September 1985)
October 3, Saturday. Bing and Bob Hope headline the two-and-half-hour AWVS show at the Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. Frances Langford, Jerry Colonna, and the Skinnay Ennis Orchestra also take part. $25,000 is raised.
October 4, Sunday. (Starting at 1:00 p.m.) Bing and Earl Fry play against Bob Hope and Mark Fry in a special golf match at Sequoia Country Club, Oakland, for the benefit of the American Women’s Voluntary Services. The Fry brothers are local golf professionals.
October 5, Monday. (7:15 p.m.) Bing appears on the radio program Between the Lines broadcast from station KLX. The film Road to Morocco is released nationwide and is a box office smash taking $4 million in rental income in its initial release period.
Let us be thankful that Paramount is still blessed with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, and that it has set its cameras to tailing these two irrepressible wags on another fantastic excursion, Road to Morocco, which came to the Paramount yesterday. For the screen, under present circumstances, can hold no more diverting lure than the prospect of Hope and Crosby ambling, as they have done before, through an utterly slaphappy picture, picking up Dorothy Lamour along the way and tossing acid wisecracks at each other without a thought for reason or sense. That is what they are doing in this current reprise on trips to Singapore and Zanzibar and, as a consequence, Road to Morocco is Route 1 to delightful “escape.”
Of course, that may sound a bit ambiguous, considering Morocco’s current significance in the news. But you mustn’t forget that geography means nothing in a Crosby-Hope film. The only purpose it serves in this instance is to justify a fairy-tale background of oriental splendors, turbaned villains, Miss Lamour and Dona Drake in scant attire, and a line in a song whereby the heroes indicate that they are Morocco-bound.
Otherwise this lot of slapstick nonsense, wherein Paramount’s priceless pair of pantaloons whale each other with insults instead of custard pies, might take place in any locality, including Hollywood, in which the Messrs. Hope and Crosby could be cast up on a strange and fearful shore, amid the most forbidding surroundings-until Miss Lamour comes along. It might be set down in any country where Miss Lamour could be a gauze-gowned princess and Bing and Bob could wrangle hotly about which one should win her fair hand, then later go through mad and fast adventures when they have to shove a native sheik aside.
For, really, this Road to Morocco runs through that beautiful land of wacky make-believe, so seldom well explored in the movies-a land of magic rings and mirages, a land in which Bing and Bob can suddenly make an inexplicable escape from rigid bonds and then observe that, if they told how they did it, no one would believe them-so they just won’t tell. It is, in short, a lampoon of all pictures having to do with exotic romance, played by a couple of wise guys who can make a gag do everything but lay eggs.
As usual, Mr. Crosby is the sly one, Mr. Hope is the reckless, pop-eyed dope. Mr. Crosby woos the lady with soft talking and a song, “Moonlight Becomes You So.” But Mr. Hope does it in a manner which would normally make her laugh herself to death. Together they form a combination which strings the fastest and crispest comedy line in films. Miss Lamour is, as usual in such spots, helpful; she never gets in the way and she sings a ditty called “Constantly” with just the proper shadow of a doubt. And Dona Drake, Anthony Quinn, and Mikhail Rasumny furnish picturesque and rib-tickling assists.
The short of it is that Road to Morocco is a daffy, laugh-drafting film. And you’ll certainly agree with the camel which, at one point, offers the gratuitous remark, “This is the screwiest picture I was ever in.”
(Bosley Crowther, The New York Times, November 12, 1942)
Crosby, Hope and Lamour have done it again. Their click in Road to Singapore and Road to Zanzibar is eclipsed by Road to Morocco…The entire production represents a hefty budget. David Butler’s direction has kept it all moving at a fast pace, and it’s to his credit, plus the frolicsome performances of the two male stars, that many of the situations are the sources of amusement that they are. Four tunes punctuate the proceedings, with ‘Ain’t Got a Dime to My Name (Ho Hum),’ warbled by Crosby, showing the most commercial possibilities. The others, however, are consistent for the production’s needs…Crosby, of course, is still more or less straighting for Hope’s incessantly steaming gags. The two have never teamed better, nor have they, seemingly, romped with such abandon.
(Variety, October 7, 1942)
The two comedians, Crosby with his polished deliberateness, Hope with his wildfire speed, play beautifully together; a performance at once spontaneous and finished, a truly American performance.
(Dilys Powell, The Sunday Times, London, November 1942)
October 6, Tuesday. Bing is thought to have attended the race meeting at Bay Meadows.
October 8, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Milton Berle and Desi Arnaz.
October 13, Tuesday. Probably between 8 p.m.. and 8:30 p.m., in CBS Studio A in Hollywood, Bing records Command Performance #36 with Dinah Shore, Mary Martin, the Charioteers, and John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra. Bing acts as MC.
October 15, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Charles Ruggles and Cass Daley.
October 19, Monday. Records Song Sheet shows #14 and #16 for servicemen. The format of the shows is that Bing sings a couple of songs and then reads out the lyrics of the songs at dictation speed. One of the songs featured is “White Christmas.”
October 22, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Judy Canova and Andrew Tombes.
October 25, Sunday. The AWVS holds a United Nations bazaar at Bing’s home at 10500 Camarillo Street. Meanwhile, starting at 12 noon, Bing golfs at Santa Ana Golf Club in a benefit for the Army Emergency Relief Fund. He is partnered by Olin Dutra and Johnny Dawson. Others taking part include Bob Hope, Randolph Scott, Fred Astaire, Guy Kibbee, Mickey Rooney, Oliver Hardy, John Montague, Sam Snead, Babe Didrickson Zaharias, and her husband George.
H. Allen Smith’s piece on ‘Bing - King of the Crooners’ appears in next Saturday Evening Post and declares that nobody really knows Bing Crosby despite his wide circle of acquaintances.
(Variety, Ocober 28, 1942)
October 28–February 18, 1943. Wednesday–Thursday. Films Dixie with Dorothy Lamour, Marjorie Reynolds, and Billy de Wolfe. Harry Barris has a small part. The director is A. Edward Sutherland and Robert Emmett Dolan is the musical director. Because of wartime restrictions, Paramount uses sets at Columbia ranch, Goldwyn studio, Fox, and Vitagraph. This is Bing’s first full-length film in Technicolor.
October 29, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Eve Arden and Bob Hope.
October 31, Saturday. Bing’s recording of “White Christmas” reaches number one in the charts for the first time and stays there for eleven weeks.
The song’s slow start in America, Berlin eventually decided, was because of the opening verse about Christmas in a warm California clime. He ordered the first verse cut from the sheet music (to resounding initial complaints from music stores, who felt that they were cheated of material), and Bing Crosby’s hit record climbed the charts without it. . . . “White Christmas” changed Christmas music forever, both by revealing the huge potential for Christmas songs and by establishing the themes of home and nostalgia that would run through Christmas music evermore.
(Merry Christmas, Baby—Holiday Music from Bing to Sting)
“White Christmas,” the song so many experts had disparaged, quietly found its way to a special constituency that was immune to all of Berlin’s promotional efforts: American Soldiers abroad. Around the world, GIs began inundating the Armed Forces Radio Services to play the song. In short order, it became, quite spontaneously, the American soldier’s anthem of longing and homesickness. Berlin hadn’t written the song specifically for soldiers, and this aspect of its appeal caught him by surprise. At any rate, his faith in the song had been vindicated.
(As Thousands Cheer: The Life of Irving Berlin, page 409)
November 1, Sunday. Partners with Bob Hope in golf tournaments organized by the Junior Chambers of Commerce in the San Francisco Bay area for the benefit of the American Women’s Voluntary Services. In the morning commencing at 10:00 a.m., at Claremont Country Club, Oakland, there is a nine-hole match and Bing and Bob defeat shipyard workers Henry Suico and Reno Nardin one up before a gallery of 2,500. After skipping lunch at the Claremont Country Club, there is a similar match in the afternoon at Presidio Golf Club, San Francisco, commencing at 2:00 p.m. against two more shipyard workers, Jack Finger and Oleg Baloff which Bing and Bob also win one up. The crowd at the Presidio is estimated at 3,500. Paramount News covers the proceedings in its newsreel of November 6.
Oakland won’t have a $5000 golf tournament this season, and probably not for the duration. But Oakland had a surprise $50,000 tournament yesterday, and the champions of the event happened to be Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, the film and radio celebrities.
It was probably the biggest single money tournament held in the history of golf. Crosby and Hope defeated Henry Suico and Reno Nardin, shipyard golf kings, 1 up in a nine-hole match played before more than 3000 people at snug Claremont Country Club.
It was a legitimate match but it was practically finished on the sixth when S. A. Reinhard, Oakland banker, stopped Crosby as he was putting for a bird and paid $50,000 to have Bing sing and Hope dance before the big crowd.
Crosby was ready to tap an eight-foot birdie putt when Reinhard shouted, “How about a song, Bing?” The crooner stopped, marked his ball and asked, “How about a bond?” Bing wouldn’t sing for $5000 so the bidding started with Hope tossing gags so fast it was impossible to keep track. The amount was worked up to $25,000 and Reinhard added another $25,000 on the promise that Hope would dance the second chorus.
So for a $50,000 bond, the customers saw and heard Crosby sing “Honeysuckle Rose” while Hope, spikes and all, danced the second chorus. The big gallery 1iked the show and gave the boys a terrific hand. Then Bing dribbled the putt in for a bird and presented the bond to Mrs. George Washington Baker Jr., the boss lady among the AWVS.
On the 18th green, after the finish of the match, Crosby sang two more tunes, “White Christmas” and “Jingle Jangle,” while Hope gave an account of his trip to Alaska where he entertained soldiers. That was the airplane trip when it was so foggy the birds had to come down to the ground and walk and the pilots up front were busy measuring cigarettes.
As an entertainment value, the people who paid one dollar to the American Women’s Volunteer Service for the event were amply rewarded. Hope and Crosby were at their best. Hope is one of those rare comedians who can be just as funny away from a mike and off a stage as he is in front of the footlights. They are genuine people. Today, Hope takes his radio company to Sacramento for the Mather Field boys while Crosby will visit the Oak Knoll Hospital and give the sailors a bit of cheer.
(Bob Blake, from an Oakland newspaper, November 2, 1942)
November 2, Monday. Bing visits Oak Knoll Hospital to entertain the sailors.
November 4, Wednesday. Records Mail Call show #11 with Fred Astaire, Betty Jane Rhodes, Fibber McGee and Molly, and Ken Carpenter. The show features extracts from the film Holiday Inn and may have used material from the CBS broadcast of August 26, 1942. The Mail Call series of shows was transcribed for subsequent broadcast to the armed forces.
November 5, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Richard Haydn and Cass Daley. Mary Martin makes her last appearance prior to having an appendectomy.
November 12, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall broadcast. Bing’s guests include Ginny Simms, Edgar Buchanan, and Ed Brophy. This marks the end of Victor Borge’s stint as a regular on the show.
November 13, Friday. (8:30 p.m.) Bing and Dixie, together with many other stars, are thought to have attended the Army Emergency Relief Fund Show “Unlucky day for the Axis” at the Carthay Circle Theater.
November 19, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Freddie Slack, Broderick Crawford, and Ella Mae Morse.
November 20, Friday. Records Song Sheet shows #20 and #22.
November 21, Saturday. Bing may have attended the “Jitterbug Jamboree” dance contest at the Hollywood Legion Stadium.
November 26, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing again hosts the Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Virginia Weidler, Janet Blair, and George Tobias.
November 28, Saturday. Bing is thought to have attended the Loyola versus Fresno football game at Gilmore Stadium. Fresno win 27-6 and Bing, who had bet against them, treats the Fresno team to a meal at ‘Slapsy Maxie’s’, a nightclub named for boxing champion, Maxie Rosenbloom.
December 3, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall broadcast and his guests are Dorothy Lamour and Marcia Maguire.
December 10, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Another Kraft Music Hall broadcast. Bing welcomes Margaret Lenhart, Jinx Falkenburg, Cliff Edwards, and Richard Haydn.
December 16, Wednesday. (6:30 p.m.) Bing makes a guest appearance in a radio play called The Mayor of the Town which stars Lionel Barrymore and is broadcast over station KNX in Los Angeles. The plot of the play is built around a bond rally at which Bing is to sing. His songs include “White Christmas”.
December 17, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing hosts the Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Frances Shoup and Trudy Erwin.
December 20, Sunday. Bing is thought to have taken part in a Victory Golf Tournament at the Wilshire Country Club with many other celebrities.
December 24, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Bing acts as emcee and the guests include Janet Blair, Jack Carson, Fay Bainter, and Andrew Tombes. Later, an hour long Command Performance show is broadcast on all networks at 8:00 p.m. Bing is featured together with Bob Hope, the Andrews Sisters, Dinah Shore, and many others. Bing and the Charioteers sing “Basin Street Blues”. The show originates from CBS Studio A in Hollywood.
The War Department on Christmas Eve gave domestic listeners their first taste of a series that had been going out to the Armed Forces on short-wave for 43 consecutive weeks. The purpose of the special occasion as Elmer Davis, Office of War Information chief, expressed it in a foreword to the show, was to forge a link between the servicemen abroad and the folks on the Home Front. A recorded version of the show was short-waved, all over the world, the next day….Hope emceed, tossed off a monologue and cross-fired with Crosby. A special treat in the vocal department was the version of “Basin Street Blues” that came out of the tonsil partnership of Bing Crosby and The Charioteers.
(Variety, December 30, 1942)
December 26, Saturday. Appears in the Soldiers with Wings radio show
December 27, Sunday. Bing defeats Guy Hanson 1-up in the semi-final of the Lakeside Country Club championships. He cards a 74.
December 28, Monday. Probably between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., Bing records a guest spot on Command Performance #44. Kay Kyser acts as MC and also leads his orchestra.
December 30, Wednesday. Frank Sinatra makes his first solo appearance at the Paramount in New York alongside the premiere of the film “Star Spangled Rhythm.” The era of the bobbysoxers begins.
December 31, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Richard Haydn, Johnny Mercer, and Betty Hutton. The film Star Spangled Rhythm (in which Bing sings ‘Old Glory’) is released nationwide taking $3.8 million in rental income in its initial release period. Paramount buys time on six separate radio stations to promote it in a special fifteen-minute transcription.
That quaint old Paramount custom of producing an annual all-star variety show, which was allowed to lapse into the past tense after “The Big Broadcast of 1938,” has been hopefully revived with new vigor and a few new faces, too, in “Star Spangled Rhythm,” which came yesterday to the Paramount Theatre on the New Year’s bill. Half of the contract players on the studio’s lot are jam-packed into it; stars of considerable glitter play vaudeville bits like good performing seals, and the great generosity of Paramount with entertainment is unblushingly advertised. But the film, by its very nature, concedes consistent quality to size and assumes the uneven proportions of a whopping big benefit show. . . And the whole thing is topped off by Bing Crosby in a patriotic tableau called “Old Glory.”
Those are just the high points in the picture. There are plenty of lower ones, too. For “Star-Spangled Rhythm” is like mountains—its ups and downs and spread all over the place.
(Bosley Crowther, New York Times, December 31, 1942)
Only trouble exhibs will have in selling Star Spangled Rhythm will be in finding a marquee big enough to hold all the names. By actual count there are 16 of Paramount’s b.o. toppers listed in the official billing as ‘starred’ and 20 more players as ‘featured’.
…‘Old Glory’ is used for a patriotic finale which seems out of place and tacked on as an after-thought, as if someone suddenly remembered, “Gee, we haven’t waved a flag in this picture. We’ve got to do something about that.” They got it in, but it is an appendage the film could very well do without.
(Variety, December 30, 1942)
Bing Crosby provides a majestic patriotic note when he sings ‘Old Glory,’ a hymn filled with references to American ways and places. It is chanted against heroic statues of the American forefathers with a chorus from which Crosby elicits sectional testimony.
(Daily Variety, December 30, 1942)
Bing is paid $298,946 for his services by Decca in 1942 and he also receives $300,000 from Paramount. During the year, Bing has had eleven records that have become chart hits.
January 3, Sunday. Plays golf with Dick Gibson at the Bel-Air Country Club and then dines at the Brown Derby. In Bing’s absence, the Crosby home at 10500 Camarillo Street catches fire at 7:15 p.m. and is badly damaged following a problem with the Christmas tree lights, later alleged by Phillip Crosby to have been caused by his brother Gary. No one is hurt other than a pet cocker spaniel which is found suffocated in the children’s apartment upstairs. Bing is contacted by phone by Johnny Burke and when he is convinced that the story is true, he returns home and pulls out a shoe from the debris containing a large amount of cash. The loss is said to be partially covered by insurance and with rebuilding out of the question because of wartime conditions, Bing eventually sells the charred site for $15,271. Bing and his family then go to the Beverly Hills Hotel for a spell before renting a property from Marion Davies in Beverly Hills. They are also said to live for a time with the Bob Hope family. Bing quickly replaces the house with a seventeen-room Georgian Colonial home on South Mapleton Drive in Holmby Hills, near the Los Angeles Country Club.
Raging flames that successfully defied the efforts of four engine companies last night destroyed the palatial North Hollywood home of Bing Crosby, film and radio crooner and actor. The fire started when a string of Christmas tree lights short circuited as Mrs. Crosby, the former Dixie Lee of the screen, and her four children were removing the baubles from the tree. The flames almost instantaneously raced through the crooner’s mansion and Mrs. Crosby and the children were barely able to flee from the house and take refuge next door at the home of Crosby’s brother Larry from where they summoned the fire department.
Crosby, not yet back from a golf course at the time, rushed home when word of the fire reached him, arrived 40 minutes after the blaze had started and in time to see only the blackened outer walls of the two story southern colonial type structure standing. Damage was estimated at $250,000.
Several hundred persons witnessed the conflagration, and flames lit the sky over all of North Hollywood and for miles around. The home—one of the most beautiful in a neighborhood noted for its grandeur—was the manor of the Crosby clan.
It was not only the home of Bing, his wife and their children. It also was the gathering place, the meeting ground, of the singer’s brothers, Larry and Everett, and his father and mother, all of whom came to Hollywood following the crooner’s spectacular rise to fame some 12 years ago, and all of whom joined with him in the incorporation of his many interests.
The house was a 20 room structure, complete with all the facilities for entertainment of every fashion and with one of the largest of Hollywood’s swimming pools adjoining it. Among the fire consumed rooms was Bing’s prized trophy room—one of his prides comparable to his race horses and golfing ability. Servants’ quarters at the rear of the big house were not touched by the flames. One witness reported that neighbors rolled the Crosby automobiles from the garages on the spacious grounds
(Los Angeles Daily News, January 4, 1943)
January 7, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing hosts the Kraft Music Hall which becomes a half-hour program for the first time. The guests in the opening show are Janet Blair and Charles Ruggles. After the show, Bing goes on to a party at Betty Hutton’s home in the Los Feliz hills where he sings many songs to Joseph Lilley’s piano accompaniment.
January 11, Monday. (7:00–7:30 p.m.) Stars in a radio version of the film Holiday Inn with Dinah Shore and the Lady Esther Screen Guild Players on CBS. Wilbur Hatch leads the orchestra.
January 14, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Janet Blair and Cass Daley.
January 18, Monday. Arranges to buy a 3,500 acre ranch, a few miles east of Elko, Nevada, on Humboldt River (the old Jube Wright Ranch, 7J’s Livestock Co.).
January 20, Wednesday. Records Mail Call radio show #21. Bing is the MC with guests Alice Faye, Tommy Dorsey, Cesar Romero, and Andy Devine.
January 21, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall broadcast. Bing’s guests include Leo “Ukie” Sherin and Andy Devine.
January 25, Monday. Bing and Bob Hope (plus Bob’s radio troupe) arrive in Phoenix, Arizona. Bing and Bob golf during the afternoon at the Phoenix Country Club playing against Bob Goldwater and Del Webb. In the evening, Bing and Bob entertain the soldiers at Williams Field. During their visit to Phoenix, they stay at Camelback Inn.
Yesterday afternoon, while waiting to go into action for the valley’s airmen, they relaxed in their customary way, whacking little white pellets over Phoenix Country Club fairways and greens. And while relaxing (they teamed up against Bob Goldwater and Del Webb, leading Phoenix amateurs and their close friends), the movie travelers proved to be just what they seem – a couple of nice, easy-going, strictly-for-home-consumption guys with a natural talent for ad lib humor.
Not that they approached their golf game in the same slap-happy spirit they exhibit on the screen. Brother, no! Let it be said, right here and now, when the chips are down on the fairways, (and there were a few chips down yesterday) the Hollywood road-runners are all business. Stricken to the heart was Hope when his drives went slicing into the rough or his putts didn’t carry far enough. On such occasions his mildest comment was “You silly jerk”, accompanied by vehement club pounding.
Crosby took his “flubs” more philosophically. He is one of the best amateur golfers in Southern California and has blistered par on many a course, including the local country club layout. And he had to prove he was good to take the honors yesterday. He turned in a card of 72 for the par-71 layout, and that was only one stroke better than the cards reported by Hope, Goldwater and Webb. The radio team held a 1-up edge over its rivals at the halfway mark, but the Phoenicians made up the deficit on the second nine and they ended the match at all even – and still friends.
…Bing and Bob, it seems, are inseparable pals, on and off the screen. When Crosby’s 20-room colonial mansion burned to the ground January 3 after his wife, Dixie, and their four sons started to dismantle a Christmas tree, Hope and Mrs. Bob threw open their doors to the Crosbys for more than a week. The Crosbys are still residing “around with friends” while the kids are staying with “Grandma,” Bing’s mother, in North Hollywood. In a couple of weeks, the family plans to move into a new home which Bing recently purchased in Holmby Hills north of Beverly Hills.
(Arizona Republic, January 26, 1943)
January 26, Tuesday. (7:00–7:30 p.m.) Guests on Bob Hope’s radio show on NBC with Frances Langford, Barbara Jo Allen, Jerry Colonna and Skinnay Ennis and His Orchestra. The 7:00 p.m. start of the broadcast is delayed by news reports of the Casablanca meeting between Churchill and Roosevelt and the show starts at 7:05 p.m. and originates from Luke Field, Phoenix, Arizona. Bing starts the program with an appeal to buy war bonds. He then sings “I’ve Heard That Song Before.”
January 27, Wednesday, Bing leaves Phoenix to return to Hollywood.
January 28, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Ginny Simms, Leo “Ukie” Sherin and Frank McHugh.
January 30, Saturday. (8:15–9:15 p.m.) Sings “Home on the Range” on a radio program “America Salutes the President’s Birthday” (also known as the March of Dimes Show) which is broadcast coast to coast over all networks.
Annual 60-minute broadcast Saturday night (30) over all networks and stations under the complete title ‘America Salutes the President’s Birthday’ climaxed the March of Dimes campaign of the Warm Springs Foundation to combat infantile paralysis. Although there were a few high spots on the show it was generally inferior to previous years’ programs. That was not only because President Roosevelt, himself was missing, having not yet returned from his trip to Casablanca, but because the entertainment portion of the broadcast was spotty.
There were two notable interludes and several passable ones, but the rest was distinctly ordinary. ‘Four Freedoms’ dramatization, pungently written and directed by Norman Corwin, with an expressive musical accompaniment composed and conducted by Bernard Herrmann, provided six or seven eloquent minutes early in the show, although the circuit-preacher narration of David Gothard marred the effect. Sketch took the form of questioning United Nations war dead whether the Four Freedoms were justification for their sacrifice.
The other strong spot was Jim and Marian Jordan’s “Fibber McGee and Molly’ comedy routine from Hollywood, generating mounting laughter, but still neatly inserting the ‘March of Dimes’ idea. Bing Crosby sang ‘Home on the Range’ in characteristically sock fashion, Dick Powell vocalled ‘Anchors Aweigh’, and Florence George concluded the Coast origination by leading a mass singing of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’. At the start of the show Sammy Kaye’s orchestra played ‘Happy Birthday, Mr. President’, specially composed by Irving Berlin for the occasion.
. . . Basil O’Conner, president of the National Foundation to Fight Infantile Paralysis talked endlessly and with ponderous seriousness about the March of Dimes drive, but Mrs. Roosevelt was simple and direct in reading a brief, genial cable from the President. Clifton Fadiman was an effective m.c. at the Waldorf-Astoria, though apparently handicapped by difficulty in being heard in the large ballroom there.
(Variety, February 3, 1943)
January 31, Sunday. Bing wins the thirty-six-hole finals at the Lakeside Golf Club championships for the fourth time by defeating John Leach eight and seven. Bing had previously won the title in 1936, 1937, and 1942.
February 4, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Victor Borge and Ukie Sherrin. Trudy Erwin (formerly a member of the Music Maids vocal group) becomes the resident female singer.
My becoming a soloist with Bing was a long story. I had been a Music Maid on the Kraft Music Hall for three years when Kay Kyser asked me to join his band. After much soul-searching and long talks with Bing and the Maids, I did go with Kay. Ginny Simms had recently quit and as a consequence Kay wouldn’t allow me to use my own name, “Jinny”. I told him that if that was the case he would have to choose - and “Trudy” it was.
Shortly after joining Kay Kyser, my husband Murdo MacKenzie and I were married. At that time he was Bing’s sound engineer. After the war he became director and co-producer on the show and later an associate producer on Hal Kanter’s TV series “Julia”. We are still happily married in 1985.
. . . Harry Babbitt and I recorded “Who Wouldn’t Love You?” for Kay Kyser (January 20, 1942) and it won him his very first gold record. It was a tremendous wartime hit and consequently Bing asked me to be his “guest” (December 17, 1942) on the Kraft Music Hall and to sing a duet. Thus the offer to join him weekly as a soloist.
One of the songs Bing and I sang together was “Stay as Sweet as You Are”. Strange as it seems when I was a senior in high school I had harmonized that very same song with a record of Bing in a little recording booth at the World’s Fair. Dreams do come true!
I loved singing with Bing. He was totally relaxed and had a great sense of humor. He stood on one side of the mike and I stood on the other. We each had a music rack for the scripts and music. As Bing finished reading a page he would let it fall to the floor. When the show was over, the stage was covered with sheets of paper.
In addition to singing, I also did what was called the weekly “memory spot” with Bing. He played “Harry” talking to his wife “Trudy” and at the end of our brief conversation we segued into a duet. I also had small talking parts during the guest spots.
We rehearsed every Wednesday evening and then worked all day Thursday until showtime. Often, after the KMH broadcast, Bing would invite several of us to the Palladium for dinner and dancing to whatever big band was in town.
My mom used to drop in occasionally during rehearsals at NBC. One day she gave a young “woe-be-gone” looking sailor a lift - it was the patriotic thing to do in those days - and he asked if she knew where he might be able to catch a glimpse of a “star”? Of course she brought him to studio B and introduced him to Bing, John Scott Trotter, Ken Carpenter and the rest of us. He spent a spellbound afternoon and after the show Bing invited him to the Palladium. When he finally left for his ship we had all signed his white Navy cap to prove he’d really been to KMH.
Those were truly wonderful, wonderful times.
(Trudy Erwin [Mrs. Virginia MacKenzie], writing on the cover of the LP “Bing & Trudy - On The Air”, March, 1985.)
February 6, Saturday. Records Song Sheet show #40 and is accompanied by Skitch Henderson on the piano. Bing sings “Moonlight Becomes You” and “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No Mo’.” As is customary, he also dictates the words separately on air to a soldier.
February 8, Monday. Records a Personal Album show for the AFRS.
February 11, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Edgar Buchanan.
February 13, Saturday. Records Command Performance #52 and acts as host to Richard Crooks, Pat O’Malley, and Janet Blair.
Any time the old groaner, Bing Crosby, feels like singing, he can be sure of a ready-made audience. So, for that matter, can Richard Crooks, star of ‘Voice of Firestone’.
Put the two together and what do you have? A ‘command performance’. Also some darn good harmony. Also a priceless record. But that’s the last line of this story.
Earlier this year, the two silver throats stood before a group of servicemen on the West Coast as talent on the shortwaved program, Command Performance. Bing did his stuff on a couple of hits and Crooks sang ‘Ave Maria’. When they tried to leave, the boys clamored for more, preferably a duet.
“What’ll we do?” asked Crooks. Bing suggested Stephen Foster’s ‘Camptown Races’. That suited Crooks, so they began, completely unrehearsed, while Meredith Willson’s men filled in. Sometimes Bing carried the melody, sometimes Crooks. Sometimes they both jumped to the harmony, at which points the orchestra heightened the melody.
Nowadays, one of Crooks’ prized possessions, played for friends with a great deal of needle lifting, is the single battered record of this high-class, hilarious jam session.
(Bob Bentley, writing in an unidentified magazine)
February 18, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Another Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Bing acts as emcee and the guests include Fay McKenzie and Alan Hale.
February 19, Friday. Bing arrives in San Francisco and checks in to the Palace Hotel. Goes on to play golf with local pro Benny Coltrin at Lake Merced Golf and Country Club where he has a seventy-five.
February 20, Saturday. Takes part in a Gershwin Festival concert at the Civic Auditorium in San Francisco with Paul Whiteman and Dinah Shore. Bing and Dinah sing a medley of songs from “Porgy and Bess”. The takings of $40,000 are a record for a one night musical event in San Francisco. All seats in the auditorium are sold and the concert is carried by special microphone to the Opera House where additional seats have been made available. Whiteman conducts the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Edward G. Robinson is the master of ceremonies.
…Not long after (3 or 4 weeks maybe) we saw him when he and Dinah Shore appeared in San Francisco with Paul Whiteman and The King’s Men at what was called a “George Gershwin Memorial Festival”. That whole show climaxed anything I had ever seen before or since. He sang “Somebody Loves Me” and “Maybe” and he and Dinah did all those duets from “Porgy and Bess”. It was really wonderful.
(Helen Tolton, writing in BINGANG, summer 1996)
February 21, Sunday. (starting at 1:00 p.m.) Bing takes part in a golf exhibition at Lake Merced Country Club to raise funds for the men of the Fourth Air Force Command. Bing and Bud Ward lose two and one to Benny Coltrin and Art Bell in pouring rain. Bing has a seventy-seven. During his visit to San Francisco, Bing is thought to have visited the hospitals at Oak Knoll and Mare Island to entertain the men.
February 24, Wednesday. Probably between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., Bing records a guest appearance in Command Performance #54 with Dinah Shore. Bob Hope is MC and the show is a tribute to the British Army. The AAF Orchestra is conducted by Major Eddie Dunstedter.
February 25, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Bert Lahr.
February 26, Friday. (8:00–11:30 a.m.) Thought to have recorded with Dorothy Lamour and John Scott Trotter. Bing and Dorothy later appear on a radio program ‘Hollywood at War’ on NBC with Alberto Rondo, Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs.
March 4, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall broadcast. Bing’s guests include Cass Daley. Later, at the Academy Awards ceremony held in the Cocoanut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel, “White Christmas” wins the Oscar as “Best Song.” Irving Berlin has also been nominated for “Best Original Story” but he loses out to Emeric Pressburger for The Invaders. Robert Emmett Dolan is nominated for “Best Scoring for a Musical Picture” but is beaten by Ray Heindorf and Heinz Roemheld for Yankee Doodle Dandy. Frank Butler and Don Hartman are unsuccessfully nominated for “Best Original Screenplay” for their work on Road to Morocco.
March 6, Saturday. Bing has traveled by train to Phoenix, Arizona, on a war bond selling tour and during the afternoon, he headlines a show at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel pool to raise funds for the Red Cross. Phil Silvers is the MC and Rags Ragland, Johnny Burke, and Jimmy Van Heusen also take part.
More than 1,000 Phoenicians and winter visitors crowded the banks of the colorful Arizona Biltmore Hotel pool yesterday afternoon in warm sunshine to hear Bing Crosby offer vocal selections in return for each purchase of an $18.75 bond following a fashion show. . . .
Introduced by glib-talking Phil Silvers, Crosby made his way to the platform through autograph seekers and explained a 15-minute tardiness by saying one of his horses was dying and he wanted to see at least one finish. . . . In response to bond sales the crooner sang “As Time Goes By,” “I’ve Heard That Song Before,” “Time on My Hands,” “Praise the Lord,” “Melancholy Baby,” and repeated “Fighting Sons of the Navy” for several purchasers.
(Arizona Republic, March 7, 1943)
It is understood that the troupe also entertained at local army camps during their time in the Phoenix area. Bing golfs with Harry Offutt Jr., while in Phoenix.
March 9, Tuesday. Bing is injured when hurrying to catch the last train to Los Angeles at Phoenix, Arizona. He slips while jumping from a car and the car passes over his left leg. Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen have to carry him on to the train. Has to use a cane to get about for a while.
March 11, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Eddie Bracken.
March 14, Sunday. Bing has to withdraw from a war benefit golf match because of his leg injury and instead goes to Camp Roberts to participate in a camp show with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra.
March 18, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing hosts another Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Bert Lahr. It is announced that Bing has filmed a test to play Will Rogers in a biopic for Warner Brothers. His contract with Paramount gives him an outside picture privilege. In fact the picture is not made until 1950, when Will Rogers Junior plays his late father instead.
March 20, Saturday. Louella O. Parsons’ newspaper column states, “Only a few of Mrs. Bing Crosby’s intimate friends know she is in the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital.”
March 25, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Bert Lahr and Leo “Ukie” Sherin.
March 28, Sunday. (Starting at 1:30 p.m.) Bing and Olin Dutra golf against Bob Hope and Jimmy Thomson in a benefit match at Recreation Park in Long Beach. Dutra and Crosby win and the money raised goes to buy golf equipment for a serviceman’s hospital in Corona.
BING, BOB CRUSHED BY MOB
Long Beach, March 28–The
gallerites turned out in full force (with the accent on force) this afternoon
at Recreation Park when more than 5,000 fans–the largest crowd ever to witness
a golf event in this area–watched Bing Crosby and Olin Dutra stroke their way
to a 4 and 3 triumph over Bob Hope and Jimmy Thomson in an 18-hole best-ball
exhibition match. While Crosby and Hope were being swamped with autograph
requests and jostled around by what the latter termed “one of the biggest and
roughest galleries I played to in my short but slap-happy links career,” the
only member of the high-powered quartet able to shoot steady golf under the
circumstances was big Olin Dutra, reigning president of the Southern California
(Bill Clark, writing in the Los Angeles Examiner, March 29, 1943)
March 31, Wednesday. Starting at 8:15 p.m., Bing joins in another Gershwin Memorial Concert at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. Paul Whiteman conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Dinah Shore and Bing sing a Porgy and Bess medley.
April 1, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall broadcast. Guests include Lucille Ball. A song from the show is issued on V-Disc. Probably between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., Bing also records Command Performance #60 with Dinah Shore and Bob Burns. Bing is MC and John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra provide the musical backing.
April 2, Friday. Puts on a show at Camp Pendleton Marine Base with Rags Ragland and the Charioteers.
April 5, Monday. Spends most of the day rehearsing for the evening Lux Radio Theater broadcast. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) In the Lux Radio Theater version of Road to Morocco with Bob Hope and Ginny Simms on CBS. Cecil B. DeMille is the host and Louis Silvers leads the orchestra.
April 6, Tuesday. Signs a new seven-year contract minus options to record for Decca. The deal calls for a guaranteed $500,000 over the seven-year period as against sales royalties. Jack Kapp tears up the old contract which still has two years to run.
April 7, Wednesday. To celebrate National Boys Club Week, Gary Crosby and his three brothers appear in a Boys Club syndication radio program called “Building the Citizens of Tomorrow”. Bing and J. Edgar Hoover are also heard.
April 8, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Rags Ragland and Leo “Ukie” Sherin.
Rags Ragland, the comedian featured in Metro’s DuBarry Was a Lady guested at the Bing Crosby, Kraft Music Hall program, Thursday night and gave the stanza a five minute laugh-fest that was solid all the way. In his rapid crossfire exchange with Crosby, the ex-burlesque trouper, last seen on Broadway in “Panama Hattie,” demonstrated a knack for delivery and timing that was exceptional. Not even the occasional sorry pun that crept into the material could conceal the fact that Ragland, with proper assist from the script department, offers fine possibilities as a radio comedian. Crosby, himself, was right on the beam while the contributions of the program’s regulars, Trudy Erwin, the Charioteers and the John Scott Trotter Orchestra, rounded out a sock half hour of diversified entertainment.
(Variety, April 14, 1943)
April 15, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s last Kraft Music Hall show until June 17. Frank McHugh guests.
April 17, Saturday. Bing’s recording of “Moonlight Becomes You” reaches number one in the charts. During the day, Bing and Dixie leave by train for Mexico City for a vacation and by chance Bob Hope is on the same train. Hope attempts to persuade Bing to stop off with him in Dallas for a show but Bing declines.
April 21, Wednesday. Bing and Dixie arrive in Mexico City. During his time in Mexico, Bing sings in a show at Palacio de Bellas Artes and is said to have done a radio broadcast in Spanish for the Red Cross. He is also reported to have sold seven of his horses to a banker named Carlos Gomez for $13,000. Following his vacation, he sets out on a war bond selling tour with Phil Silvers.
Hedda Hopper, Hollywood gossip writer, reports that Bing Crosby is being mobbed everywhere on his trip to Mexico, and instead of saying hello to his fans sings them snatches of songs. Mexicans are reported as saying, “Stop sending us missions; send us more Crosbys.” He has picked up three new songs south of the border which, it is hoped, will prove as popular as El Rancho Grande which Bing popularized a few years back.
(Billboard, May 8, 1943)
April 27, Tuesday. Leaves Mexico City for parts unknown.
May 6, Thursday. (a.m.) Bing and Dixie, accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Dick Gibson and Barney Dean, arrive in New Orleans from Mexico City. It is Dixie’s first visit home in fourteen years and Bing’s first time in the city.
May 7, Friday.
(3:00 p.m.) Bing and Bob Hope take part in a benefit golf match at the City
Park No. 1 golf course, New Orleans. Bob and state champion Mrs. Sam Israel
beat Bing and Mrs. M. D. Kostmayer Jr. one up in the nine-hole match. Ed
Dudley, president of the
May 16, Sunday. (Starting at 2 p.m.) In Chicago at Soldier Field to celebrate the third annual observance of “I Am an American Day,” Bing sings in front of an audience of 130,000. Dinah Shore, John Garfield, Paulette Goddard, and the Navy Band conducted by Lt. Cmdr. Eddie Peabody also take part. (6:30–7:00 p.m.) Bing acts as guest quiz master on the Quiz Kids radio program which is broadcast from station WENR on the Blue Network. He assists quiz master Joe Kelly for the first part of the show and takes over himself for the final segment.
May (undated). Bing and Dixie are in New York and are seen at Belmont Park racecourse. They also dine at the Stork Club while in New York.
May 20, Thursday. Bing arrives at the Warwick Hotel in Philadelphia from New York. He goes to Pine Valley Country Club to practice his golf shots. It is assumed that Dixie has returned to Hollywood with Mr. and Mrs. Gibson.
May 21, Friday. Bob Hope joins Bing in Philadelphia. At 12:00 noon they appear in the Four Freedoms War Bond Show at the Strawbridge and Clothier Department Store where Bing sings “As Time Goes By” and duets “Road to Morocco” with Bob. They then visit Mayor Samuel at City Hall before arriving at Llanerch Country Club to put on a Navy Service League Show with Frances Langford and Jerry Colonna for the Philadelphia Recruiting Office. The show is advertised as taking place between 2:00 to 2:30 p.m. A five-hole golf match follows at 3:00 p.m. with Ed Dudley and Harold (Jug) McSpadden. A crowd of 6,000 watch the proceedings in pouring rain. War bonds worth $130,000 are sold.
May 22, Saturday. Bing is on a train en route for Memphis where he is to take part in a golf match with Bob Hope. Hope is to fly down.
May 23, Sunday.
Arriving in Memphis, Bing discovers that Bob Hope’s plane is grounded in
Atlanta by poor weather. During the afternoon, Bing plays with Byron Nelson against
Ed Dudley and local pro Jake Fondren at the Memphis Country Club before a crowd
of 10,000. Bing and Byron win two up and Bing has a seventy-two. After the
golf, Bing puts on a forty-five-minute show at the course singing “Miss You,”
“As Time Goes By,” “Please,” and “White Christmas” accompanied by the staff
orchestra of radio station
Skies were threatening when
the sale started, but Bing persuaded the crowd to ignore the possibility of
rain and entertained it right merrily for three-quarters of an hour. He sang
requests readily, with none of the pseudo-reluctance usually affected by the
celebrity coaxed to perform at such gatherings. He didn’t worry about keys,
either. The band, recruited for the occasion from the staffs of
(Memphis Press-Scimitar, May 24, 1943)
May 24, Monday. At Griffith Stadium in Washington D.C., Bing, Babe Ruth, and Kate Smith entertain the 29,221 crowd at a baseball game between Norfolk Naval Station and Washington Senators. Bing spends time in the Norfolk dugout before going on to the field at 8:36 p.m. for his seventh inning songs from the home plate. He sings “Dinah,” “As Time Goes By,” and “White Christmas.”
May 26, Wednesday. It is announced that the Del Mar racetrack is to be turned into an aeroplane parts manufacturing plant.
May 27, Thursday. Bing is at Belmont Park in New York to see one of his horses “Don Bingo” win the $3,000 Glorifier-Handicap. The horse is a product of the Binglin Stock Farm in Argentina and its victory is its third in five races. Press comment suggests that it is now “a red-hot long-shot hope” for the forthcoming Suburban Handicap.
May 29, Saturday. Bing joins Bob Hope in Atlanta, Georgia, and they play golf at the Capitol City Country Club with Morton Bright, Bobby Dodd, and Ed Dudley as a warm-up for a major benefit on the following day.
May 30, Sunday. Starting at 3:00 p.m., Bing and Bob Hope play in an exhibition golf match for the benefit of the Red Cross at the Capitol City Country Club before a crowd of around 10,000 which was then the largest gallery in Atlanta golf history. Bing and Ed Dudley beat Hope and Johnny Bulla two and one in the fourteen-hole contest. During the show at the course after the golf, Bing sings “White Christmas.” Over $300,000 worth of war bonds are sold at the event.
May 31, Monday. Bing’s horse “Don Bingo” wins the fifty-seventh Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park, New York, earning a winner’s bankroll of $27,600. A new world record for betting is set with $2.699 million passing through the machines. Bing golfs at the Capitol City Country Club.
June 1, Tuesday. Bing visits Birmingham, Alabama, and at 12:00 noon he presents a Minute Man award at the Bechtel-McCone-Parsons aircraft division plant. Tentative plans for a benefit golf match in Birmingham have fallen through and at short notice, Bing goes on to entertain the WAACs at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. After a short rehearsal with a pianist, Bing performs before a crowd of around 5,000 in the outdoor theater singing “Stardust,” “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To,” “Dinah,” “As Time Goes By,” and “White Christmas.” Bing stays the night at the Read House in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Wednesday. Bing and Ed Dudley arrive in Nashville by special army car just
after noon and check into the Hermitage Hotel. Bing telephones Dixie in
Hollywood on arrival. Starting at 2:00 p.m. Bing takes part in a golf match ith
Ed Dudley against Byron Nelson and local champion Adrian McManus at Belle Meade
Country Club in front of a crowd of 5,000. Nelson and McManus finish two up in
the fifteen hole match. Bing gives a short show afterwards on the course and
auctions various items to help sell war bonds. It is estimated that $500,000 of
war bonds are sold. The event is broadcast over station
He was marvelous at the bond auction. Immediately, when he walked out on the platform and took over the microphone, he captivated the crowd. His easy manner endears him to you. Never have I seen a more receptive audience. . . . In twelve years of sports writing, this person has never met a man of Crosby’s personality, He’s the most sincere, easiest to talk with, individual I’ve ever had the pleasure of contacting—absolutely tops.
(Bob Rule, Nashville Tennessean, June 3, 1943)
June 9, Wednesday. Bing shoots a seventy-three at the Broadmoor Golf Course at Colorado Springs. His playing partners are Ed Dudley, Bud Maytag, and Jim Heaney.
June 13, Sunday. Bing leaves Colorado Springs for Hollywood after a few days’ rest.
June 17, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing returns to the Kraft Music Hall on NBC with guest Eddie Bracken. John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra, Ken Carpenter, Trudy Erwin, the Music Maids, and the Charioteers continue as regulars.
...We sang on Kraft Music Hall for 5½ years and there were several changes in the group during that time. Bobbie Canvin was with the group for a short time after June Clifford left. Later Pat Hyatt joined us as the lead singer. We had become a group of four gals instead of the original five. Hal Hopper sang with us for awhile, when we were called the Music Maids and Hal. We sang many war songs during the period of World War II and those songs bring back memories of our concern at the time for the men who were fighting the war overseas. The Music Maids left the show when Bing changed sponsors and networks, and there was a new show format. We have many pleasant memories of the years we sang with Bing, and it’s hard to realize that he’s no longer with us. We all miss him and we’re so thankful to have recordings of the songs we sang together on Kraft Music Hall. Two of the original Music Maids... June and Dottie have passed on. Virginia now lives in Oregon, and Denny and I are in California. Listening to these numbers we did so many years ago gives us much pleasure. It’s surprising that the arrangements still sound good today. We hope another generation will enjoy this music too.
(Alice Ludes, January 1981, writing on the sleeve notes for the LP ‘Bing And The Music Maids’.)
June 19, Saturday. Probably between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., joins Dinah Shore to record Command Performance #71. Guests include Fanny Brice, Mel Blanc, and Vaughn Monroe and his Orchestra.
June 22, Tuesday. The New York premiere of Bing’s film Dixie takes place at the Paramount Theater.
Dixie is a Technicolorful money-getter, ideal for the summer b.o. It has charm, lightness, good new songs by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen, the classic oldies by Dan Emmett (‘Dixie’), and some spirituals such as ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot.’ And it has Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour for the marquee.
…The new songs are clicko. ‘Sunday, Monday and Always’ and ‘She’s From Missouri’ are Hit Parade material, and the Negro spiritual on the riverboat was effectively introduced by Crosby….
Per usual, Crosby is in high with his vocalizing. Whether it’s ‘Dixie’ or the new Tin Pan Alley interpolations, the crooner is never from Dixie when it comes to lyric interpretations. The weaker the film vehicles, the greater is the impact of the Crosby technique. . . .Crosby now is as standard among the male singing toppers as the Four Freedoms, and today he shapes up more and more as the Will Rogers-type of solid American actor-citizen. He enjoys a stature, especially because of his radio programs, enjoyed by no other singing star in show business…
(Variety, June 30, 1943)
Gentlemen (and ladies), be seated—at the Paramount Theatre that is to say—if you are interested in some old-time minstrel capers tossed off in a Technicolor film. For songs and jigs and funny sayings are what Paramount is delivering about 40 per cent of the time in a ruffled and reminiscent picture entitled Dixie which came to that theatre yesterday. Otherwise, the remainder of the picture is mainly and not so spiritedly absorbed in a largely fictitious story of Dan Emmett, the original ‘Virginia Minstrels’ man and the author of the rousing song “Dixie”— a role which the old booper, Bing Crosby, plays.
When the minstrels in their shiny, long, white trousers, swallowtail coats and high silk hats are jabbering and kyaw-kyaw-kyawing and flinging their lithesome legs around, the film has a fitful exuberance. Raoul Pene du Bois has dressed them up in brilliant clothes, and a quartet of uninspired writers has raided the warehouse for some old but safe jokes. And when Bashful Bing is warbling such sparkless but adequate songs as “Sunday, Monday or Always”, “She’s From Missouri” or “A Horse That Knows the Way Back Home”, it is easy to sit back and listen. There is also a dash of liveliness in the wholly apocryphal climax which pretends to show how “Dixie” was born.
But when the story goes weakly meandering into a pointless, confused romance between Dan and a New Orleans hoyden, played airily by Dorothy Lamour, and then marries him off to an old sweetheart who is crippled (Marjorie Reynolds), it is labored and dull. (Miss Lamour doesn't do any singing; just flounces around and plays straight.) Raymond Walburn, the late Lynne Overman and Eddie Foy Jr. puff and prance as minstrel men in a manner which is more entertaining than that of a newcomer, in a parallel role, named Billy de Wolfe. Mr. De Wolfe, with some coaching, might do in an amateur show, but he is definitely a minus quantity in a spot generally filled by Bob Hope. Indeed, the fact is that none of the picture has the jubilatory spirit and dash that should go with an old-time minstrel story. There’s a great movie in that subject yet. And Paramount had a nerve to make a picture in which Bing — and he alone — has one hit song.
(Bosley Crowther, New York Times, June 24, 1943)
This is Bing Crosby’s first full-length Technicolor film, and the fine color photography takes full advantage of the picturesque period and settings. It is the story of the rise to fame of Daniel Emmett, the first of America’s Kentucky Minstrels. It is tuneful and most agreeable entertainment, with Bing Crosby in fine fettle, surrounded by a first-rate cast, in which a newcomer, Billy de Wolfe, is outstanding.
(Picture Show, October 23, 1943)
June 24, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Leo “Ukie” Sherin and Ed Brophy. One of the songs at the rehearsal is issued on V-Disc.
June 25, Friday. Bing and the cast of the Kraft Music Hall appear in The Camel Comedy Caravan show on CBS and give a salute to the Merchant Marine. Joe E. Brown also guests. This is the fourth of five special shows of the Camel series.
June 30, Wednesday. (9:00–10:00 p.m.) Sings “As Time Goes By” and “Old Glory” as his contribution to a two hour star-studded show from the Hollywood Bowl in front of 20,000 people to launch the “Build the Cruiser Los Angeles” campaign. The show is broadcast over the NBC network and Edward G. Robinson is the MC. Music is provided by the navy, marine, and Coast Guard bands under the direction of Lt. Rudy Vallée. [The USS Los Angeles was laid down in Philadelphia on July 28, 1943 and commissioned on July 22, 1945. All the funds needed for her construction were raised by Los Angeles residents. The cruiser saw service in the Korean War when it was the flagship for Rear Admiral Arleigh A. Burke.]
July 1, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Falstaff Openshaw.
July 2, Friday. Records “Sunday, Monday or Always” in Hollywood with only vocal group accompaniment from the Ken Darby Singers because of the continuing musicians ban. The song spends seven weeks at the top of the Billboard Best-Sellers list during its 19 weeks in the charts.
Petrillo OKs Crosby’s Dixie discs for Decca
Bing Crosby carrying a paid-up drummer’s card in Los Angeles Musicians Local 47 was permitted to record two songs without orchestral accompaniment for Decca. Permission was granted by Petrillo on condition that Crosby use only his voice and refrain from thumping the drum. The numbers are ‘If You Please’ and ‘Sunday, Monday or Always’.
(Variety, July 7, 1943)
Bing Crosby enlists the aid of the Ken Darby Singers to record “If You Please” and “Sunday, Monday or Always.” The addition of the chorus makes a tremendous difference to the style in which these two songs from Dixie are presented. Let’s hope that we shall get many more similar efforts (Brunswick 03485).
(The Gramophone, February, 1944)
July 4, Sunday. (5:00–5:30 p.m.) Joins Al Rinker and Harry Barris in a Rhythm Boys reunion on Paul Whiteman’s summer radio program Paul Whiteman Presents on NBC (sponsored by Chase and Sanborn Coffee). Bill Goodwin is the announcer. Dinah Shore is also on the show and she and Bing sing a medley from Porgy and Bess. Bing golfs with Rinker at Bel-Air during the afternoon between the rehearsal and the show. It is said that Bing refuses his fee of $5,000 and asks for it to be split between Barris and Rinker.
Chase and Sanborn Summer series (NBC) still has eight weeks to go but it still seems a good bet that it reached the acme of musical entertainment, as far as this series is concerned, on last Sunday’s (4th) broadcast. Everything meshed so perfectly and the performance produced such rare enjoyment in the genre of popular music, that it’s hard to conceive other show’s pilots even coming within reaching distance of this event.
The program was divided into two sections, and each was a darb of showmanship and execution. The first section offered a revival of the original Rhythm Boys; namely Bing Crosby, Al Rinker and Harry Barris and the ten minutes of raillery vocalizing and special business that ensued was a treat of uncommon dimensions. The trio’s interpretation of “Mississippi Mud” would undoubtedly become a must for record collectors if it were recorded.
It was in the second section that the program took off to the heights of brilliant musical entertainment. The scripted material was amended from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and what Dinah Shore and Crosby, supported by Paul Whiteman’s sterling orchestral background, did with the vocals can best be described by borrowing a phrase from the Swing and its lexicon, namely “out of this world.”
(Variety, July 7, 1943)
July 7, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m.) Appears in the Soldiers with Wings radio show on the Mutual network with Cpl. Alan Ladd. Bing sings “Sunday, Monday or Always” and “You’ll Never Know.” The show comes from the Santa Ana air base. Ben Gage is the announcer and Major Eddie Dunstedter leads the orchestra.
July 8, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Franklin P. Adams.
July 11, Sunday. Records Command Performance #75. Bing acts as MC with guests Betty Grable, Artur Rubinstein, and the Harry James Orchestra.
July 15, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall broadcast. Bing’s guests include Raymond Walburn.
J. Walter Thompson office, Carroll Carroll and Bing Crosby were both upset and pleased last Friday. The double-named scripter of Kraft Music Hall, inadvertently said that femmes from eighteen to twenty-four could join the WAVES, in a special recruiting plea, read by Crosby on the program last Thursday. Navy recruiters were busy on Friday, explaining to under-age gals that the script should have read, from the ages of twenty to thirty-six with no dependents under the age of eighteen. (Variety, July 21, 1943)
July 22, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include William Frawley.
July (undated). Bing, Phil Silvers, Rags Ragland, and the Charioteers entertain the recruits at the Naval Training Station in San Diego.
I had the pleasure of seeing Bing Crosby in person.
It was the summer of 1943. I was in the Navy and was going to service school at the Naval Training Station in San Diego, California.
Bing arrived in a travel trailer that was pulled by a pickup truck. He had comedians Phil Silvers and Rags Ragland with him, and the backup singing group, the Charioteers.
The show took place in the daytime at the ball field on the base. I remember paying a fellow sailor $2.00 to take my guard duty so I could go see Bing.
The show started with Phil Silvers and Rags Ragland telling Navy-type jokes. Then Bing and the Charioteers came out and sang a lot of songs. I can only remember three of them, “Moonlight Bay,” and “Sunday, Monday or Always” (from his movie Dixie, which was playing in downtown San Diego at the time). Then one of the WAVES in the crowd asked for “White Christmas,” and of course he sang that for her.
There were a few hecklers in the crowd, which surprised me. I thought everyone liked Bing as much as I did.
The show must have taken place during the musician’s strike, because there were no instrumentalists there. Bing and the Charioteers had to sing without musical accompaniment.
The base newspaper had a big write-up about the show, and Bing’s picture was on the front page. Bing didn’t wear his toupe that day.
I carried that newspaper with me for the next two years that I spent on board ship in the Pacific.
(James McCusker, a long-time member of Club Crosby, writing in BINGANG, summer 1999)
July 29, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Rags Ragland. The song “Please” is recorded at the rehearsal and issued on V-Disc.
July 31, Saturday. A radio salute on the first anniversary of the WAVES includes a message from Bing.
August–October. Bing films Going My Way with Barry Fitzgerald, Frank McHugh, and Rise Stevens. The director is Leo McCarey and Robert Emmett Dolan is musical director. The golfing scenes are shot at the Riviera Golf Club whilst external scenes around the fictional “St. Dominic’s” are filmed at Saint Monica Church, 725 California St., Santa Monica.
“Leo McCarey was an old racetrack and football pal,” Bing recalled. “And he always threatened to use me in one of his pictures. After years of joking one day, he finally said he wanted me to play a priest. I told him the church simply wouldn’t stand for that kind of casting, but Leo said it would. He sold his idea—and when he finished, there wasn’t a dry eye among us. Paramount brass thought Leo was all wrong. They couldn’t see me in a long, black buttoned-down robe. But Buddy De Sylva, the production head went along with Leo.”
(Bing Crosby, as quoted in Bing Crosby—The Illustrated Biography, pages 78–79)
August 4, Wednesday.
Guests on the radio show "Wings Over the World" which is broadcast from
the AAF Recreation Hangar at Long Beach on the NBC Blue Network. Other
guests are Trudy Erwin and Ukie Sherin.
August 5, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing hosts another Kraft Music Hall show. Guests include Isabel Randolph. Songs from the show are issued on V-Disc.
August 10, Tuesday. Bing guests on Johnny Mercer’s Music Shop program.
August 12, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Ed Gardner. Leo ‘Ukie’ Sherin becomes the regular comedian.
August 17, Tuesday. (7:00–7:30 p.m.) Bing again guests on Johnny Mercer’s Music Shop radio show on NBC.
August 19, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing is the emcee on the Kraft Music Hall broadcast. Guests include Oscar Levant.
August 20, Friday. Bing and several other stars entertain the servicemen at Santa Anita.
August 23, Monday. With Trudy Erwin, records “People Will Say We’re in Love” and “Oh! What a Beautiful Morning” from Oklahoma! with only a vocal accompaniment from the Sportsmen Glee Club. “People Will Say We’re in Love” reaches the No. 2 spot during its 17 weeks in the charts, whilst “Oh! What a Beautiful Morning” peaks separately at No. 4 during its 13 weeks spell.
Bing Crosby and Trudy Erwin (Decca 18564)
People Will Say We’re in Love—FT: V.
Oh! What a Beautiful Morning—W; V.
For sheer vocal beauty and charm, the blended talents of Bing Crosby, Trudy Erwin and the Sportsmen Glee Club make for a real pleasantry on the platters. With the added comfort of two of the top tunes from the smash Oklahoma musical hit as the vehicle, it adds up to the most ear-caressing of all-vocal recordings to come forth this year. Crosby, sharing the lyrical expressions with Miss Erwin, and with the Glee Club weaving a rhythmic and harmonic background, the interpretation approximates downright purring, it being that purty. Taken at a moderate tempo, and with sustained harmonies of the glee club setting the stage, the boy-belle team of romancing singers split the opening chorus. The glee club gets a second stanza underway and then Crosby jumps to the words of the bridge with Miss Erwin joining him in duet to complete the chorus and carry out the side with an ear-tingling vocal reprise. Unquestionably one of the more beautiful waltz melodies of this day is the lilting 16-bar lullaby for Oh! What a Beautiful Morning. Taking it at a bright and breezy three-quarter tempo, Crosby and company make the morning sound all the more beautiful in song. Sharing wordage with Miss Erwin, whose vocal talents are in high order, the boy-belle team start right off with verse and chorus, followed by a second set of verse lyrics and chorus. The glee club carries a chorus on their own and the two lead voices return for a third verse and chorus. Already going strong in the music boxes with “People Will Say We’re in Love”, it’s a certainty that the disk is going to serve double duty for the operators, with “Oh! What a Beautiful Moring” proving just as strong.
(Billboard, October 30, 1943)
August 26, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Rags Ragland.
August 28, Saturday. Records a guest appearance in Command Performance #81 with Jimmy Durante, Judy Garland, and Kay Kyser and his Orchestra. Bing acts as MC. He also makes a trailer for the National Tuberculosis Association’s Christmas Seal drive.
September 2, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall show broadcast. Guests include Frank McHugh. During the day, Bing also records an appearance on Mail Call show #54. Ben Lyon is MC and the other guests are Robert Benchley, Nan Wynn, and the Merry Macs.
September 4, Saturday. Records GI Journal show #8. Bing acts as MC and the guests include Rochester, Mel Blanc, Falstaff Openshaw, and Linda Darnell. The GI Journal shows are recorded for subsequent broadcast to the armed forces. Harry Mitchell is the resident announcer.
September (undated). A Liberty ship is named “S.S. Nathaniel Crosby” in Portland after Bing’s grandfather. Bing’s mother names it as Bing is committed to filming Going My Way.
September 8, Wednesday. (6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.) Bing takes part in ‘Cavalcade for Victory’, a nationwide broadcast on all four networks to launch the Third War Loan which was to be on offer from September 9 until the end of the month. Bing and Dinah Shore operating from the NBC Studio in Hollywood introduce the song “The Road to Victory” which has been specially written by Private First Class Frank Loesser.
The gathering of this clan was for the purpose of helping our Treasury Department infuse a little glamorous oomph into the launching of the Third War Loan Drive. Show business’ part in the event was distinguished by good organization, sound radio procedure and all-around infectious showmanship. Unlike the usual toss-together of this type program, the Third Loan teeoff had a continuity that tied every item on the bill into a cohesive, logical narrative. The telling was entertaining, informative and inspiring. The program set out to tell by way of dramatic sketch, comedy patter and song ‘how far we have gone’ in the nigh two years of war.
In the looking backward there was recalled to the listener the heroic stand on Bataan (Robert Young); the spirit that brought forth ‘Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition’ (Kay Kyser’s orchestra); an amusing sidelight on the housing shortage (Burns and Allen); a bit of lyrical longing on the home from (Dinah Shore); how the auto driving restriction hypoed the importance of the bicycle (Edgar Bergen); the spirit that drew the Allies together in the North African battle (Ronald Colman, Charles Boyer, Akim Tamiroff and George Murphy); an adventure of two men in an upper berth resulting from the transportation shortage (Jimmy Durante), and woman’s importance in the American arsenal (Jane Darnell and Mercedes MacCambridge). Despite the potpourri of moods and entertainment facets, the whole thing had the aspect of an adroitly fitted mosaic. The timing was faultless, which fact gave special emphasis to the skillful direction of George Zachary.
Bing Crosby had the closing spot on this Hollywood-originated
bill. With the support of a chorus, Crosby intoned the current drive’s theme song,
‘Get on the Road to Victory’. All the comedy passages were good, but Durante’s
monolog packed an added pinch of
The final 15 minutes of the hour brought from Washington James Cagney, Secretary of the Treasury Henry A. Morgenthau, Jr., and President Roosevelt. Cagney told about the latest ‘Hollywood Cavalcade’ that had been put at the disposal of the drive, and introduced Morgenthau, whose mike delivery now rates as about the best among his Cabinet confreres, and a rich relief when compared to the general run of Washington politicos.
(Variety, September 15, 1943)
September 9, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Falstaff Openshaw and Phil Silvers. The Hooper rating for the winter season is 22.2 placing the program in twelfth position. The top show is Fibber McGee & Molly with a rating of 31.9. During the day, a transcribed radio program—Treasury Star Parade—is broadcast featuring Bing, who sings three songs. The show is designed to raise funds for the Third War Loan.
September 10, Friday. Records GI Journal show #9. Bing acts as MC and the guests include Jimmy Durante, Mel Blanc, Falstaff Openshaw, and Linda Darnell. John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra provide the musical support.
September 11, Saturday. Bing’s recording of “Sunday, Monday or Always” gets to number one in the charts where it spends seven weeks. During the day, Bing and Frank Sinatra meet at a radio studio and the Associated Press widely circulates a photograph of the two men apparently singing together.
September 13, Monday. (7:00–7:30 p.m.) Stars in the Lady Esther Screen Guild radio production of Birth of the Blues with Johnny Mercer and Ginny Simms on CBS. Wilbur Hatch leads the orchestra.
September (undated). V-Discs are issued for the first time. These discs have been prepared for the exclusive use of servicemen and feature airshots by famous artists, including Bing. Bing also records special material for V-Disc use.
September 16, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Falstaff Openshaw and Jinx Falkenburg.
September 17, Friday. Records GI Journal show #10. Bing acts as MC and the guests include Jimmy Durante, Mel Blanc, Falstaff Openshaw, and Linda Darnell. John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra provide the musical support. Elsewhere, Dixie and the children return home from a vacation in Malibu.
September 18, Saturday. The American Federation of Musicians reaches agreement with most record companies and lifts its ban on recording by its members.
September (undated). Bing films a special trailer at Paramount called Now about Christmas in which he compares tuberculosis and the campaign against it with the country’s war against Germany and Japan. The audience is asked to buy Christmas Seals.
September 21, Tuesday. (7:00–7:30 p.m.) Bing guests on Bob Hope’s first Pepsodent show of the season on NBC. The show comes from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and features Frances Langford, Jerry Colonna, “Vera Vague” (Barbara Jo Allen), and Stan Kenton.
Back from a tour of the fighting fronts and aglow with newsprint plaudits for a job well done, Bob Hope slipped into his radio harness last Tuesday (21) and sprinted over the old track like a filly that had long been kept under wraps. It was the beginning of his sixth season on that course, and the only newcomer among his running mates was Stan Kenton, pacemaker for the program’s instrumentalists. The added name for the occasion was Bing Crosby. In summary the half-hour was topsy-top Bob Hope loudspeaker entertainment.
Hope’s opening monolog crackled with wows and near-wows. The gags, as was natural, drew their thematic sustenance from the comic’s recent travels. The crossfire involving Jerry Colonna and Vera Vague, the dulcet songmaking of Frances Langford and the smooth orchestral support from the Kenton unit all fitted snugly in a production of Grade AA merit. Aside from a song, Crosby’s contribution to the plot was a sketch in which he and Hope enacted their conception of what the Hollywood studios would be like if the producers were compelled out of necessity to resort to a.k.’s for screen lovers.
Frank Sinatra’s name figured frequently in Hope’s post-monolog railery. When one of his aides remarked that the reason that Sinatra holds on to the mike is the fear that he might fall over if he let go, Hope cracked, “That will be taken care of when he gets that job on the Kraft program and he can eat all the cheese he wants.”
Hope took over the closing few minutes of the period to convey, in a serious vein, some of the observations and conclusions he had brought back with him from Africa and Sicily. There was plenty of bite in what he had to say about the reactions of the stay-at-homes to the war. The message had both eloquence and the sharp flick of an accusatory truth.
(Variety, September 29, 1943)
…Bing Crosby, who had volunteered to sub for Hope in event that latter was not ready for Tuesday start, was guest on opening program. Bing did Sunday, Monday or Always, took a Sinatra-needling from his host and wound up with a sketch ribbing Hollywood’s vet actors. Clowning combo came over in fine shape to clock plenty of laughs…
(Billboard, October 9, 1943)
September 23, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include George Murphy.
September 24, Friday. Records GI Journal show #11. Bing acts as MC and the guests include Leo “Ukie” Sherin, Mel Blanc, Falstaff Openshaw, Jerry Colonna, and Linda Darnell. John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra provide the musical support.
September 25, Saturday. Records Command Performance #86 radio show with Bob Hope (MC), Tony Romano, and Frances Langford.
September 27, Monday. (8:00–10:30 p.m.) Records with the Andrews Sisters and Vic Schoen and his Orchestra, including “Pistol Packin’ Mama” and “Jingle Bells.” The record is released in Decca’s “Personality” series priced at 75 cents, 40 cents more than their usual releases.
Decca asks six bits for this galaxy of stars, and pairing of favorites. “Pistol Packin’ Mama” and “Vict’ry Polka” both receive the ultimate at the hands of Vic Schoen and throats of the Groaner and the terrifying trio! Without any help from your disc-digger, this particular disc will hit the jackpot. Therefore it will not need the help I would feel forced to withhold in any event.
Bing Crosby – Andrews Sisters (Decca 23277)
Pistol Packin’ Mama – FT; V. Victr’y Polka – FT; V.
Supplications to melody to put down that revolver are going to start all over again. And with a fresh vengeance now that Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters have taken most of the corn out of the hillbilly classic and cut it up for a freshly broiled rhythmic dish. The first waxing by Decca since the Petrillo ban was lifted, it’s a cinch to remain on the best selling lists for a long time to come. There can be no underestimating the appeal of a Bing Crosby on a platter. And with the Andrews Sisters for added merchandising and vocal appeal, this disk is bound to bring back Pistol Packin’ Mama to the high position it held during the summer spell. …with Vic Schoen’s orchestra and direction providing the instrumental accompaniment, ever with a zing, Bing and the girls lay it down in a bright and breezy tempo. Save for a dixieland band interlude, it’s their singing all the way, sticking to the original lyrics with the Andrews gals adding a special patter to bridge the onslaught. And while there is no mistaking the corn in the ditty, at least there are no kernels popping all over the disk. The vocal combination carries on for the mated side in Jule Styne’s and Samuel Cahn’s post-war Victory Polka. In a lively fox-trot polka rhythm, Bing and the sisters sing it all the way. Ditty deals with a victory parade when the boys come marching home, and again the polka flavor is eschewed in favor of the more peppery and modern rhythms in their singing. This is a dream platter for the phono ops, with the combination of Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters a cinch to keep the coins a-comin’ for a long time to come and start a fresh wave of windings for “Pistol Packin’ Mama”. Moreover, their “Victory Polka” side also packs plenty of phono appeal.
(Billboard, November 13, 1943)
Bing Crosby – Andrews Sisters (Decca 23281)
Jingle Bells – FT; V. Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town – FT; V.
This pairing of holiday standards, as packaged by Bing Crosby in combination with the Andrews Sisters, adds up to one of the better platters of the year. Sides are socko all the way, both musically and as merchandisers. Not since Glenn Miller’s instrumental of a few years back, has there been such delightful rhythmic doings for Jingle Bells… Equally exciting is the rhythmic treatment set for the Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town evergreen... Something new in the way of popular holiday tunes. It’s merely a question as to how fast the music machine operators can get both of these sides set in their machines before the coins start raining in. It’s a cinch that it will be a heavy shower until the holiday season wears itself out.
(Billboard, December 11, 1943)
When the recording ban was lifted, the sisters and Bing Crosby were in the studio nine days later, their first collaboration since 1939. The girls arrived at the Los Angeles studios following a day of filming at Universal, still in full make-up, while Crosby arrived straight from the golf course—pipe in mouth, hat on head, ready to record. This nighttime session was unusual for Crosby, who preferred early morning sessions, feeling that his voice was at its fullest in the morning (this to the dismay of LaVerne, who liked to sleep in).
The group completed the session in ninety minutes, and a million-selling record was born. Several photographers were on hand to record the event as Crosby and the trio rehearsed and kidded each other, as well as Vic Schoen and Jack Kapp. After several takes, final masters of “Pistol Packin’ Mama” and “The Vict’ry Polka” were completed, resulting in the first of four million-selling collaborations between Crosby and the trio.
(John Sforza, Swing It! page 67)
WATCHING THEM MAKE PICTURES
Only today, we’re not going to start by watching them make pictures, but by watching them make a record. Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters got together and made a record of “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” that song about a guy who urged his gal to put down her armament.
Because it was an event of sorts, the first record to be made since the American Federation of Musicians made peace, I dropped into the Decca Studio on Melrose Ave. to watch them have at it.
The Andrews Sisters were hepped up over the occasion. They arrived straight from the set of Swingtime for Johnny, still wearing their movie makeup. Crosby was late. He didn’t show up until an hour and a half later. He didn’t come directly from the set of Going My Way. He didn’t wear makeup. He was puffing on an old pipe.
“Hiya, kids,” he greeted. “Let’s knock it.”
Bing and the girls ran over the number three times, and they were ready. “Let’s put on a pie,” Bing told Jack Kapp, president of Decca. “This will be the master.” He meant the men in the sound booth should put on the master wax platter from which the duplicate records are made.
The studio got quiet. A red light went on. It changed to green. Patty Andrews gave out with a short scream. The drummer made with his stick on the edge of his drum, in imitation of a pistol shot, a “rim shot,” the musicians call it. Crosby and the band began as one.
The Andrews Sisters accompanied Bing in the verse, took a chorus with him, then in the second chorus they divided up the lyrics, Bing taking a line for himself, with the girls coming in for hot licks. When they would sing a line of their own, they’d move up close to the mike. When they took the background, they’d move back. Everybody was in the groove.
Toward the end of the song, Bing was supposed to sing by himself the line: “Lay that pistol down, Babe,” but he deviated from the set routine and talked instead. In a rich, Amos ‘n’ Andy drawl he ad-libbed, “Put that thing down, honey, before it goes off and hurts somebody.”
It caught the Andrews Sisters completely by surprise. Patty bit her lip to keep from laughing. They almost broke up. Mr. Kapp, the Decca man, came out of the booth, laughing. “Let’s do it again, Bing,” The song doesn’t need any tricks. It’s novelty enough as it is.”
“No, let it stay,” replied Bing. “People will play it over again to hear what I’m saying. It’ll sell more records.”
Kapp considered a moment and then agreed. That, of course, is important to Bing and the Andrews Sisters. Bing gets 5 cents royalty on every record sold. So do the Andrews Sisters. Mr. Kapp believes that the record will sell over a million.
The record of “Pistol Packin’ Mama” will be on the market in six weeks. And since “Pistol Packin’ Mama” stands likely to become a national menace, you’d better get ready to like it. One songwriter along Vine Street commenting on the sensational success of “Pistol Packin’ Mama” said: “Those mother songs are always a hit.”
(Sidney Skolsky, Hollywood Citizen News, October 6, 1943)
Bing has the able assistance of the Andrews Sisters while singing “Pistol Packin’ Mama” and the well known “Vict’ry Polka.” I felt that the team work was not all that it might have been and I would have preferred that either Bing or the Sisters had been absent so that one had not detracted from the other. Nevertheless Brunswick 03494 will appeal to many.
(The Gramophone, April 1944)
September 30, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Phil Silvers.
October 1, Friday. (6:00 to 8:30 p.m.) Recording date in Hollywood with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra, including “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” The latter song reaches the No. 3 position in the Billboard list, spending seven weeks in the charts. It returned to the charts again in December 1944 in the No. 16 spot. “Poinciana” gets to the No. 3 mark during a 15-week stay in the lists.
I’ll Be Home For Christmas.
The lyric and melody of this number by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent reach the ultimate in sentimentality. Bing Crosby makes a typical vehicle of it, singing first ad-lib and then in tempo, with sweet work by the strings in the background. The other side offers Bing’s brand new version of “Londonderry Air” in its most popular form, under the title “Danny Boy” (Decca).
October 7, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Lucille Ball.
October 9, Saturday. Records GI Journal show #12. Bing is the MC with guests Mel Blanc and Georgia Carroll. John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra supply the musical backing.
October 13, Wednesday. In her syndicated newspaper column Louella O. Parsons states that:
Dixie Lee Crosby, Bing’s pretty frau, has been living at Malibu the past two months, but it hasn’t been all sunshine and tennis. Dixie has written an original story called Footlight Five, all about a theatrical couple who have five children. Since the Crosbys have four, it might be autobiographical. Because Mrs. C. wants to sell her story on her own, and not through Bing’s influence, she has turned it over to an agent, and if Paramount should be interested in it for Bing–they’ll have to bid on the open market.
October 14, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall show broadcast. Bing’s guests include Jack Douglas.
October 15, Friday. On the set of Going My Way Bing and Rise Stevens sing Lohengrin’s “Wedding March” accompanied by Leo McCarey on the piano to mark the wedding of Irene Crosby, the stand-in for Rise Stevens. During the day, Bing records GI Journal show #13. He acts as MC and the guests include Mel Blanc, Jerry Colonna, and Georgia Carroll.
October 20, Wednesday. Records Mail Call show #61. Bing is MC with Frank Morgan as guest. Harry Von Zell is the announcer.
October 21, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s last Kraft Music Hall show until December 2. Cass Daley is the guest. During the day, Bing records a song called “The Seventh Air Force” and the disc is sent to a South Pacific air base. Bob Crosby deputizes for Bing for the next five weeks.
November 7, Sunday. Bing and Bob Hope play together in the Arrowhead Springs Golf Tournament. Dorothy Lamour acts as caddy in this war bond event. All proceeds go to the Citizens’ Committee for the Army and Navy, Inc. Elsewhere, a forest fire in Southern California consumes many homes and destroys some of Bing’s Rancho Santa Fe property.
November 10, Wednesday. Bing attends the wedding of his stand-in Leo Lynn and Julia Quigley. Bing sings a solo at the event.
November (undated). At his ranch at Elko where he grows a beard for use in his forthcoming role in Road to Utopia. In the event, Paramount switches the filming schedules and Bing has to begin the picture beardless.
November 20, Saturday. Press reports indicate that Dixie has been in St. John’s Hospital, Santa Monica.
November 29, Monday. Bing is back in Hollywood.
December 2, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing returns to his weekly Kraft Music Hall show with guest Ed Gardner. Bing surprises the audience with his 5-week growth of beard and a photograph quickly hits the newspapers. The show has an audience share of 22.2 during the season. Ken Carpenter, the Music Maids, the Charioteers, Trudy Erwin, and Leo “Ukie” Sherin continue as regulars.
December/March 1944. Filming Road to Utopia with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour. The director is Hal Walker with Robert Emmett Dolan as musical director. The screenplay is written by Norman Panama and Mel Frank. During filming, Bing suffers a back injury in a fall and needs medical attention. The film is not released until 1946 due to Paramount having a backlog of films for release.
[Mel] Frank was responsible for a Utopia line which became a movie classic. In Road to Utopia, Hope and Crosby had to act tough to impress the local bad guys. They saunter up to a bar in the mining town, and the head heavy asks, “What’ll you have?”
“Oh, a couple of fingers of rotgut,” growls Crosby.
“What’s yours?” asks Douglas Dumbrille.
“I’ll take a lemonade,” squeaks Hope in a high-pitched voice before responding to a nudge by Crosby and snarling, “in a dirty glass.”
(Randall G. Mielke, Road to Box Office)
December 3, Friday. Bing applies to the Los Angeles Coliseum management for a franchise to put on regular Sunday professional football games after the war. At that time, professional grid games were banned in the Coliseum, by agreement with local universities, for the next two years.
December 4, Saturday. Bing’s recording of “White Christmas” again appears in the pop charts, peaking at number six over a six week period.
December 7, Tuesday. (5:30–6:00 p.m.) Appears on Ed Gardner’s Duffy’s Tavern radio show on the Blue Network and sings “How Sweet You Are.” Music is provided by Paul Weston and his Orchestra. Harry Von Zell is the announcer.
December 9, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Lucille Ball.
December 11, Saturday. Records GI Journal show #20. Bing hosts Rochester and Linda Darnell plus John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra.
December 16, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall broadcast. Guests include Phil Silvers and Joan Davis. Later, Bing performs at the Palladium in a $1.10 admission benefit for disabled and hospitalized service men, sponsored by the LA Examiner. The headline act advertised is the “Band of Bandleaders,” with Spike Jones, Les Brown, Lou Bring, Harry James, John Scott Trotter, Phil Harris, Bob Crosby, Sammy Kaye, Alvino Rey and Ray Noble scheduled to appear. Other entertainers thought to have taken part include Dinah Shore, Betty Hutton, Dorothy Lamour, Reginald Gardiner, Connie Haines, Dick Haymes, King Sisters and the Pied Pipers. Louella O. Parsons later reports that Bing sang despite a temperature of 100.
December 18, Saturday. Bing records Command Performance show #97 with Dinah Shore and Leo “Ukie” Sherin. Skinnay Ennis conducts the 370th Army Air Force Band.
December 20, Monday. Spends most of the day rehearsing for the evening Lux Radio Theater broadcast. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Stars in an hour-long Lux Radio Theater version of Dixie with Dorothy Lamour and Barry Sullivan on CBS. Cecil B. DeMille is the host and Louis Silvers leads the orchestra.
Bing Crosby has enjoyed a string of three successive sock performances within the unusual time bridge of a week. Two of these were on his own show, those with Lucille Ball and Phil Silvers. The third came in between those two, when he was a guest of Ed Gardner on “Duffy’s Tavern”—all hilarious. Also, on Monday night (20th) he did a replay of his picture, Dixie for the Lux Hour.
(Variety, December 22, 1943)
December 21, Tuesday. Films the ‘Goodtime Charlie’ number with Bob Hope for Road to Utopia.
December 22, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m.) Bing and Janet Blair are the guests on the Soldiers with Wings radio show.
December 23, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include the Kraft Choral Society. After the broadcast, Bing goes to Port Arthur in the Los Angeles harbor, singing for the men at their Christmas party.
December 24, Friday. (1:00–3:00 p.m.) Rehearses for the Elgin radio special due to be broadcast on Christmas Day on CBS. (7:00-7:45 p.m.) Bing takes part in an all network radio special Christmas Eve at the Fronts with Bob Hope, Eddie Dunstedter and Lionel Barrymore. Bing sings “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” and “O Come All Ye Faithful”. The program segues in to President Roosevelt’s talk to the US forces.
Hope and Crosby, in an apparently ad-lib ribbing session, made a number of old gags seem new and funny.
(Variety, January 5, 1944)
Later, Bing goes to the Masquers’ club “at home” party for servicemen and then appears at the Hollywood Canteen on Cahuenga Boulevard and sings fourteen songs in all including “White Christmas” and also a duet with a sailor. A press report indicates that he receives the biggest hand ever at the venue. He subsequently goes to three army camps in the Los Angeles area and sings midnight mass at each one accompanied by Jimmy Van Heusen on the piano.
December 25, Saturday. (1:00–3:00 p.m.) Bing and Bob Hope star on the Elgin Watch Show on CBS with Jack Benny and Judy Garland.
Crosby, in addition to swapping chapter with Hope to start things off, was on with Fibber McGee and Molly for more gagging, sang “Sleep Kentucky Babe” with The Charioteers, soloed “My Heart Tells Me” and was picked to close the show with “White Christmas”.
(Variety, December 29, 1943)
December 29, Wednesday. Recording in Hollywood with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra. Songs include “San Fernando Valley” and this tops the charts for five weeks, spending 22 weeks in the hit parade. Another song—“It Could Happen to You”— charts briefly in the No. 18 spot.
Poinciana-FT; V. San Fernando Valley – FT; V.
The incomparable Bing is his incomparable self again. The way he sings out for both of these sides, the song material will undoubtedly skyrocket into popularity. A large measure of attention has already been showered on “Poinciana,” and the manner in which Crosby gives voice to this gorgeous song of a tree, it’s a certainly that everyone else will want to start singing it. That a Crosby chant is the most potent potion for a song is best demonstrated by his doings for this disk. Packing all the exotic appeal of a Spanish lullaby, and its melodic charm enhanced by the lyrical appeal, Crosby is entirely in his element. Crosby gets going with the verse, marked by the bolero rhythms of John Scott Trotter’s band. Into the chorus to carry out the side, there is an infectious beguine beat. Per usual, Trotter’s scoring of figures for the fiddles brightens the background bank. Making for a complete turn in tune and tempo, yet just as effortless in his singing performance, is the turn-over. Already a heavy fave on the West Coast, Gordon Jenkins’s “San Fernando Valley” threatens to spread like a prairie wildfire across the land. Particularly with such a side Crosby turns in to set the sparks flying. Packing all the inherent qualities of a Western ditty in melodic and lyrical content, Crosby eschews any of its corn and it comes out as a bright and breezy rhythm ditty. In his characteristic manner, he makes it thoroughly contagious. It’s a 64-bar melody, and with plenty of rhythmic urges from the Trotter tootlers creates much enthusiasm for two choruses. Already reaching out in popularity circles, a Bing Crosby rendition on the record for “Poinciana” should spell real coinage for the phono ops. In spite of its travelog title, the way Bing blows his vocal horns for “San Fernando Valley” makes the Western-style ditty equally potent for the music box play.
(Billboard, February 26, 1944)
December 30, Thursday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Cass Daley. Trudy Erwin makes her last appearance as a regular.
Bing comes in at number four in the annual box office stars listing in the U.S.A. Betty Grable is number one. During the year, Bing has had ten records that have become chart hits.
January 6, Thursday. (11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., 4:30-6:00 p.m.) Rehearses his Kraft show in NBC Studio B in Hollywood. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Nan Wynn and William Frawley. The annual poll conducted by Down Beat magazine results in Frank Sinatra being voted the new “King of Croon,” replacing Bing who has held the title for some years.
January 8, Saturday. Bing and Ann Sheridan are thought to have recorded a transcription at NBC for the Office of Coordinator of Inter American Affairs for distributing to the other Americas. This day also sees the introduction of “Billboard’s Hot Country Songs”, then called “Most Played Juke Box Folk Records”, and topping it is Bing and the Andrews Sisters with “Pistol Packin’ Mama”.
January 10, Monday. Records a guest spot on Jubilee show #60. Ernie Whitman is MC. Bing sings “Shoo, Shoo, Baby.”
January 12, Wednesday. Records Mail Call show #73. Bing is the MC with guests Skinnay Ennis, Jerry Colonna, and Dorothy Lamour. The show is dedicated to the fighting men of Iowa. Bing introduces Meredith Willson’s song “Iowa” on the show but has considerable difficulty singing it at first. Major Meredith Willson conducts the AFRS Orchestra.
January 13, Thursday. Thursday. (11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., 4:30-6:00 p.m.) Rehearses his Kraft show in NBC Studio B in Hollywood. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall broadcast. Guests include George Murphy and Jane Frazee.
January 16, Sunday. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing appears in the Silver Theater production of “Mr. Margie” on CBS. The program is sponsored by the International Silver Company.
January 17, Monday. (3:00-6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for an evening War Loan broadcast in the CBS Studios. (6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.) Bing takes part in “Let’s Back the Attack,” a radio show on all four networks to launch the Fourth War Loan drive. Other guests include Captain Ronald Reagan, John Charles Thomas, Ginny Simms and the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band.
January 20, Thursday. (11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., 4:30-6:00 p.m.) Rehearses his Kraft show in NBC Studio B in Hollywood. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Dale Evans.
January (undated). Records GI Journal #25 with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra. Bing is the MC and he introduces Mel Blanc, Linda Darnell, and Jerry Colonna.
January (undated). Transcribes another Treasury Star Parade radio program to raise funds for the Fourth War Loan. The program is thought to have been broadcast on February 6.
January 21, Friday. Bing and Bob Hope serve as hosts at a dinner in the Paramount Commissary where the plans for the forthcoming Bing Crosby and Bob Hope Invitational Pro-Am at Lakeside are drawn up.
January 23, Sunday. Bing and Bob Hope introduce Frank Sinatra to Lakeside Golf Club.
Look out—Frank Sinatra is now crowding Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in the sports picture. Frankie, the “Swooner-crooner,” was so impressed with golf yesterday at the Lakeside Golf Club that he immediately wanted to become a member. Lakeside is staging the unique two-day golf show next weekend for the American Women’s Voluntary Services and the United States Marine Air Station at El Toro, two worthy beneficiaries, and the great pros and big names of movieland will compete to make it a terrific occasion. Sinatra appeared for some publicity shots and got the golf bug. Who should propose Sinatra as a member? Crosby and Hope, of course, and then the gagging went merrily apace. Crosby, in signing a recommendation for Sinatra wrote:
“He sings a helluva song!”
And Hope, opposite the query “time known,” wrote: “Since he became famous!”
As to Sinatra’s character and habits, Hope wrote: “Swooning!”
It was all good fun and a preview of the rollicking time everybody is going to have to come this weekend.
(George T. Davis, Sports Editor of the Evening Herald and Express, January 24, 1944)
January 27, Thursday. (11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., 4:30-6:00 p.m.) Rehearses his Kraft show in NBC Studio B in Hollywood. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Gloria De Haven and William Bendix.
January 29, Saturday. The start of a two-day Bing Crosby–Bob Hope pro-am Charity Golf Tournament at Lakeside Golf Club. After some pre-round horseplay with Frank Sinatra, Bing partners Marvin Stahl and they have a best-ball round of sixty-six, although Bing himself has a seventy-eight. A crowd of 3,500 watches the golf.
January 30, Sunday. The second day of the pro-am event at Lakeside which is won by Bob Crosby (twelve handicap) and Harold “Jug” McSpaden with a best-ball score of 119. Bing and Marvin Stahl finish with 133 and are placed tenth. After the golf, a war bond auction is held and Bing takes part as an auctioneer with Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, and Kay Kyser. Kay Kyser bids $20,000 to hear Bing and Frank Sinatra sing together and in response they duet “People Will Say We’re in Love.” The proceedings are captured on film by Paramount News and included in its newsreel of February 6.
Later that night, Bing, Dinah Shore, Lena Horne and the Merry Macs sing at a concert with Victor Young conducting the Philharmonic Orchestra. The show is emceed by Dick Powell and Kay Kyser, and features 15 of the top Ascap composers soloing their outstanding hits at the Steinway with the musical back-up of 130 musicians.
Their first chance to apply the acid test was at a War Bond exhibition golf match at Lakeside Country Club where Bing and Bob slap the ball around. . . .
It was a big Hollywood event, and thousands of people were on hand to watch the fun. It was also the first public appearance together of the Groaner and his sensational new rival, and to be fair, Frank was at a big disadvantage. Bing and Bob had played lots of Southern California benefit matches before. Both of them are super golfers: Bing had even been Lakeside champ for two straight years, and Bob was a close runner-up. Frankie was a mere dub at pasture pool. Although in a prize ring or a swimming pool he could make both Bing and Bob look awkward.
They went to work on Frank right away. First off, Bob turned to Bing. “Crosby,” he said, “your caddy can carry the clubs. Mine can carry Sinatra.” When Frank teed off, Bob got him talking while Bing traded a trick ball on the tee. Frank swung and “Bang!” it exploded all over the place. Then Bob ha