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 Motion Picture magazine 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 had 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 3, Wednesday.
Press reports indicate that Bing and Dixie have returned to
their Camarillo Street home after several days at El Mirador in Palm
They were in a party at the desert resort with Mr. and Mrs. Dana
and Mrs. John Burke, Miss Judith Barrett and Lin Howard. Bing plays in
a qualifying round for the Los Angeles Open at Griffith Park but picks
up his ball and does not qualify.
The screen bad man, Humphrey Bogart, will reform his tactics long enough to appear with Bing Crosby on the Music Hall broadcast tonight. Two singers. Lucy Monroe, opera star; and Joan Brodel, night club performer, will be the other guests on the program over WMAQ at 9 o’clock. Bob Burns, the Music Maids, and John Scott Trotter's orchestra complete the bill for the night’s divertisement. “Bogey,” as Bing calls Humphrey, is a M. H. veteran. He’ll compete with Crosby in shooting big words at the ever-receptive microphone.
(Belvidere Daily Republican, January 4, 1940)
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, Jimmie Fidler, Tyrone Power, Jon Hall, Frances Langford, Bob Hope, Shirley Ross, Eleanor Powell, Lew Ayres, and Edgar Bergen.
Hilda Burke, soprano of the Metropolitan Opera Company; Maureen O’Hara, English actress, and the man of many supporting roles in the films, Alan Hale, make up the list of personalities to be heard from by Bing on the Music Hall tonight….Maureen O’Hara is currently being frightened on screens throughout the nation by Charles Laughton as “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” She’ll no doubt welcome the comparative quiet of K. M. H. unless Bob Burns takes to shooting unfair questions at her.
(Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11th January, 1940)
January 13, Saturday. Bing and Dixie hold a celebration gala dinner party at the Cafe LaMaze after the Binglin 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.
Music will spread its wings over the Lux Radio Theater tonight when Cecil B. DeMille produces and presents “Sing You Sinners” as another dramatic triumph the like of which recently won him first place in a nation-wide radio poll of editors to decide the best dramatic show on the air. In order to assure its perfection as real entertainment, DeMille has engaged Bing Crosby to return in his original starring role of Joe Beebe, which won him widespread film acclaim.
Joining Crosby when the show goes on the air over WDAE-CBS at 9 o’clock, will be Elizabeth Patterson, who played Crosby’s mother in the picture; Ralph Bellamy in the role of older brother, David, and Jacqueline Wells as the girl David wants to marry. The story by Claude Binyon is written around Joe Beebe (Crosby) whose propensity for bartering reaps a reward similar to that of the hero in “Jack and the Beanstalk” with a considerable dash of romance. Also, appropriately in a vehicle starring Bing, there’s a race-horse; and songs play a part in the fast-moving and hilarious plot - songs sung in a night club to provide money for feeding the horse.
(The Tampa Times, January 15, 1940)
…An hour later, WABC’s Radio Theatre resurrected one of Bing Crosby’s most successful films, “Sing You Sinners.” It was as durable as ever, with Bing and his cast lending sparkle to its lines.
(Sid Shalit, Daily News, January 16, 1940)
January 16, Tuesday. Bing is at the Philharmonic Auditorium for a concert by Lawence Tibbett.
January (undated). Bing and Dixie are at a cocktail party in the American Room of the Brown Derby hosted by Mr. & Mrs. Robert Young.
January 18, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Dalies Frantz, Ida Lupino and Frank McHugh.
Bing Crosby turns the key to his Music Hall over WMC at 9 tonight and welcomes one of the leading concert pianists and two members of the film colony. The keyboard artist is Dalies Frantz, making his first visit to the program in over a year, and the cinema performers are Ida Lupino, English actress, and Frank McHugh, comedian. While Bing has become widely known as a host through his greetings to a wide assortment of visitors, each week, the famous Crosby vocal chords continue to predominate and rank the crooner as a radio favorite.
(The Commercial Appeal, 18th January, 1940)
January 19, Friday. Bing's horse "Rita Osuna" and the Binglin horse "Preceptor ll" win at Santa Anita.
January 20, Saturday. (8:00-9:00 pm. PST) 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, Fanny 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. A benefit golf match between the Lakeside team and the Ryder Cup team at Lakeside for Finnish relief has to finish after 9 holes because of the wet conditions. Bing plays with John Gallaudet and they lose one-down to Byron Nelson and Vic Ghezzi. Later, Bing and Dixie are 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.”
That rising young starlet, twelve-year-old Gloria Jean, will meet Bing Crosby for the first time tonight on the Music Hall. Bing and Gloria will talk over plans for the new picture they’re to make together called, “If I Had My Way.” Madeleine Carroll and Lon Chancy, Jr., will also drop in on Bing, Bob Burns, the Music Maids, and John Scott Trotter’s orchestra for the broadcast over WMAQ at 9 o'clock.
The glamorous Madeleine Carroll enjoys nothing better than the informalities of M. H. She even outdoes Crosby’s “doubletalk” on occasion.
When Bing tendered his invitation to Lon Chaney, Jr., he found the son of the late master of cinema make-up was heading for Hollywood from the east by train and therefore couldn’t sign the contract until he arrived. Lon Jr. had just attended the “Of Mice and Men” preview in which he played the part of the dim-witted Lennie.
(Belvidere Daily Republican, 25th January, 1940)
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,
golfing item featuring the tournament. Half the field of 300 play on
the first day, the remainder on the Saturday with the low 70 competing
on the Sunday. On the first day, Bing has a 79 playing with Herman
Keiser and they have a best ball score of 71.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. The weekend finishes with Bing's barbecue at the Del Mar Turf Club. Amateurs playing include Ty Cobb, Fred Perry, Ellsworth Vines, Johnny Weissmuller, George Murphy, Oliver Hardy, Richard Arlen, Dick Gibson, Grantland Rice, John Dawson and Jimmy McLarnin.
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 Gaspar Cassado, Randolph Scott and Jean Parker.
Bing Crosby will roll out the well-worn reception carpet in the old Music Hall tonight to receive Randolph Scott, Jean Parker, both of the films, and the noted cellist, Gaspar Casado (sic)…Randolph Scott will slip into the language of the open spaces he employed in the westerns that gave him his picture start, when he chats with Bob Burns. Jean Parker, the ideal ingenue, may be persuaded to try a song with King Croon Crosby. The cellist, Gaspar Casado, a Spaniard by birth, first attained prominence in his field by being the only man to play the instrument with a metal bow.
(Belvidere Daily Republican, 1st February, 1940)
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.
Pinocchio’s papa, Walt Disney; Ralph Bellamy, movie actor; and Mischa Levitsky, concert pianist, will present their calling cards to Bing Crosby in the Kraft Music Hall, over WIBA at 9 o’clock tonight.
(The Capital Times (Madison. Wisconsin), 8th February 1940)
February 9, Friday.
Records four songs in Hollywood with John Scott Trotter and his
Orchestra, including “Tumbling Tumbleweeds.” Later, Bing and Dixue go
to the premiere of the Walt Disney film "Pinochio" at the Holluywood
February 11, Sunday. (1:00-1:30 p.m.) Bing guests on a KHJ radio program called “Nobody’s Children” which is presented by the Children's Protective Society of California and broadcast over the Mutual network. He sings "That Sly Old Gentleman".
February 13–April 12. 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.
Gloria enjoyed working with Bing Crosby, who revealed the secret of his casual performing style. “He always told me, ‘Don’t be too serious about anything. Throw it away, you’ll have more fun. The minute you get serious—and I find this with everything I’ve done in my life—it doesn’t work that well.’ And he was casual. He was always smoking a pipe and putting it down, or chewing gum before we’d sing, and he’d take it out of his mouth and stick it on the microphone. That was casual!”
For all his laid-back demeanor, Crosby was fussy about some things and would sometimes disagree with his director. “Bing could be harsh when he wanted to. When it came to his performance, he liked all the little freedoms he took with his singing. No one ever told him what to do (about his) singing. He and Dave Butler had fights. It got a little bad there at times, everybody was scurrying around. Bing won most of the arguments. But they got along famously otherwise.”
(Scott and Jan MacGillivray, Gloria Jean: A Little Bit of Heaven, page 41)
“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 15, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Alice Ehlers, Frank Albertson and Marlene Dietrich.
Bing Crosby will have competition on his program over WBAP-WFAA and NBC at 9 p.m. when Marlene Dietrich breaks into song. Frank Albertson will be another guest with the regulars consisting of Bob Burns, the Music Maids and John Scott Trotter’s orchestra. Miss Dietrich will engage in banter with Bing and Bob before a session of warbling in her own style.
(Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 15th February, 1940)
…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 16, Friday.
Bing is given a life membership in the Professional Golfers Assocation
for the contributions he has made to golf both as a player and sponsor.
This is an honor seldom bestowed on an amateur player.
February 20, Tuesday. The film Road to Singapore is previewed at the Los Angeles Paramount. It has its New York premiere on March 14 and its general release on March 22. The film 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” and "I'm Waiting for Ships That Never Come In".
BING CROSBY (Decca)
I’m Waiting for Ships That Never Come In-V. Cynthia-V.
Of all the wealth of available material for Crosby's unique style these two numbers are probably the poorest that could have been chosen. This disk can mean something only because of Bing’s great popularity—and it will place a strain on that.
(Billboard, July 27, 1940)
February 29, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Vronsky and Babin, Patricia Morison, 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.
Bing Crosby and Bob Burns, KFI at 7 pm, will entertain Pat Morison, actress; Brian Donlevy, Irish-American actor and the piano team of Vronsky & Babin. John Scott Trotter’s Orchestra will play, ‘Eighteenth Century Drawing Room’ and Bing will sing, ‘Devil May Care’, ‘Camptown Races’ and ‘Beautiful Dreamer’.
(Hollywood Citizen News, 29th February 1940)
March 2, Saturday. Bing and Dixie are at the Santa Anita track to watch the Binglin horses ‘Don Mike’ and "Ra II" in the Santa Anita Handicap but they see the legendary horse ‘Seabiscuit’ win. At night, Bing and Dixie attend the Santa Anita Handicap Ball in the Fiesta Room of the Ambassador Hotel.
March 6, Wednesday. The Binglin Stable horse "Golden Chance" wins at Santa Anita.
March 7, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Bing’s guests include Howard Hill, Rudolph Ganz and Priscilla Lane.
One of the loveliest of the Lane sisters, Priscilla, joins the eminent pianist, Rudolf Ganz, and Howard Hill, expert archer, in the guest panel of Bing Crosby’s show at 9 p.m….Miss Lane is currently featured in “Four Wives” and Ganz is equally noted as a conductor and has appeared with leading symphony orchestras throughout the world.
(Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 7th March, 1940)
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 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.
Lottie Lehmann of the Met and Bazooka Bob Burns – a combinations as contrasting as crepes suzette and beer (make mine Bock) – is the tasty dish offered this week by Bing Crosby – 7 p.m. on KPO. And along with it Bing plans on singing “In An Old Dutch Garden” and the same program with Pat O’Brien, Hollywood’s best known Irishman, as gueststar in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.
(The Press Democrat, 14th March, 1940)
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 again 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.
Bing had been subpoenaed to appear in San Francisco on this day before
State Senate Committee investigating horse racing but he is not called
to testify and it is suggested that he could give his evidence
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.
Bing Crosby’s guests on his “Music Hall” variety program…will include Humphrey Bogart, screen star, and Victor Schertzinger, movie director, who was the first film technician to write a musical score into a screen production.
(The Evening News, (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), 21st March, 1940)
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. Meanwhile, Bing's friend Lindsay Howard elopes to Yuma with actress Judith Barrett where they get married.
…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)
At that same session, Bing mined the 1916 elegy “Sierra Sue,” by one Joseph Buell Carey, and struck gold. No less depressing than the Foster laments, “Sierra Sue” had the advantage of obscurity. Evidently the only song Carey published, it had lain dormant for a quarter century. Trotter provided a responsive orchestration, laying out in the first bar of each eight-measure episode and enhancing the piece with a nicely rolling lilt that belies the lyrics:
“Sierra Sue, I'm sad and lonely / The
rocks and rills are lonely too” and “The roses weep, their tears are falling / The
gentle doves no longer coo.”
Bing's stately midrange allows for dramatic low dips, perfectly turned mordents, and modulations that underline the tune's shifting melody. The a cappella measures work like a springing coil. “Sierra Sue” was Bing's first number one hit in over a year, dominating sales in the summer and fall, and his luck persisted with consecutive number ones, “Trade Winds” and “Only Forever.” Kapp was right again: forlorn emotion beats no emotion at all.
(Gary Giddins, Swinging on a Star, page 48)
March (undated). Bing and Dixie are seen at Perino’s Sky Room. John Kirby’s band plays songs from Bing’s pictures.
Oscar Levant, whose smattering of ignorance has made him a household term and has produced a book on the subject, will visit Bing Crosby along with Errol Flynn and Brenda Marshall at 9 p.m. over WBAP-WFAA and NBC. Flynn and Miss Marshall, fresh from the set of “The Sea Hawk,” will converse with Crosby and Bob Burns. Levant will play “Prelude No.2.”
(Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 28th March, 1940)
April 1, Monday. A 10-minute Columbia short Screen Snapshots (Series 19, No. 6) is released showing where Hollywood stars relax and have fun. Bing is glimpsed briefly. The US Census takes place. The entry for 10500 Camarillo St., Toluca Lake, which is valued at $85,000, shows the following occupants.
Harry L. Crosby (head) age 35
Dixie L. Crosby (wife) 27
Gary E. Crosby (son) 6
Dennis M. Crosby (son) 5
Phillip L. Crosby (son) 5
Lindsay H. Crosby (son) 2
Frances Olson (nurse) 25 (Canada English)
Teddy Edwards (chauffeur) 36 (Texas)
Blanche Edwards (maid) 34 (Texas)
Wilma Miles (cook) 38 (Texas)
and Dixie's parents both live nearby in Toluca Lake. Harry L. Crosby
(age 62) and Catherine Crosby (also shown as 62) live at 4966 Arcola
Avenue. Mr. Crosby is described as Treasurer. Evan E. Wyatt (58) and
his wife Norma (sic - 57) are at 4543 Sancola Avenue with Minnie
Scarborugh (sic - 61, sister-in-law) and Estlle Akers (nurse - age 46).
April 2, Tuesday. Bing entertains the La Grande High School Band from Oregon at Universal and has to buy 97 ice cream sodas for them. He is photographed with them.
April 3, Wednesday. Bing is part of the Lakeside team golfing against Annandale at Lakeside. Lakeside win 14-7. Bing and his partner, Marshall Duffield, halve their game.
April 4, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Bing’s guests include Anne Jamison, Virginia Bruce and Donald Budge.
Donald Budge, the tennis player, who turned “pro” when he ran out of competition in the amateur ranks, will be on the other side of the microphone when Bing Crosby steps forward for a battle of words in the Music Hall tonight. Other special guests for the broadcast over WMAQ at 9 o’clock are Virginia Bruce, of the films, and Ann Jameson, soprano… Since retiring from amateur matches, Don Budge has been crossing tennis racquets with such veteran stalwarts of the courts as Bill Tilden, Fred Perry, and Ellsworth Vines. He plans to get some pointers on golf from Bing in return for giving the crooner a few tennis tips.
(Belvidere Daily Republican, 4th April, 1940)
Saturday. Bing golfs at Del Monte. Dixie is at Palm Springs.
April 10, Wednesday. Bing is part of the Lakeside team who beat Midwick at Lakeside 16-5.
April 11, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show and the guests include Fingerle & Fields, Jeffrey Lynn and Lucille Ball.
A quartet of young stars will drop in at the Kraft Music Hall tonight, over WIBA at 9 o’clock, when Bing Crosby calls roll to open the hall. From the film colony, the program will draw Lucille Ball and Jeffrey Lynn, and from the music world, Crosby has invited the piano team of Fingerle and Fields.
(The Capital Times, (Madison, Wisconsin), 11th April, 1940)
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. Later, Bing throws a party for the cast of If I Had My Way.
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 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 a member of the Lakeside team golfing against Hillcrest at Hillcrest. Lakeside win 11-10 amd win the Group 1 title. Bing has a 73 and he and his partner, John Duffield, win 3 up. Later Bing and Dixie are at Gilmore Field to see the Hollywood Stars baseball team lose 9-8 to the San Diego Padres.
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 20/21, Saturday / Sunday. Bing spends the weekend with Johnny Weissmuller and Humphrey Bogart at Catalina Island attending the Bobby Jones golf tournament at Catalina Country Club in Avalon. Bruce McCormick is the winner.
April 24, Wednesday. Bing is part of the Lakeside Movie Colony golf team which loses 12-9 to the Los Angeles Country Club team at Flintridge in the Wednesday division inter-club playoff.
April 25, Thursday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Carol MacFarlane, Spring Byington, and Basil Rathbone.
A young lady who lived next door to Bing Crosby in Los Angeles while he was still singing in a trio hasn’t been forgotten by the crooner. Carol MacFarland is her name and she’ll make her radio singing debut at the invitation of Bing in the Music Hall Thursday at 10 p. m. over WEAF. Basil Rathbone and Spring Byington will be the other guests, with the regulars Bob Burns, the Music Maids and John Scott Trotter’s orchestra.
(Lima News, April 25, 1940)
April 26, Friday. The film If I Had My Way goes on general release and subsequently has its New York premiere at the Rivoli Theater on May 5. Bing is annoyed by the proximity of its release to that of Road to Singapore (March 22).
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 2, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Another Kraft Music Hall show and Bing’s guests include Gene Towne, C. Graham Baker, 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 4/5, Saturday/Sunday. Bing and Dixie are reported to be at Arrowhead Springs with Mr. and Mrs. Lindsay Howard.
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)
Bing Crosby and Bob Burns will usher Kay Francis, William Boyd and the Coolidge String Quartet into the precincts of their program heard at 8 p.m. on WBAP-WFAA and NBC… The Music Maids and John Scott Trotter’s “effervescent eighteen” also appear on the broadcast
(Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 9th May, 1940)
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.
Ever loyal to the graduates of the Music Hall, Bing Crosby has invited “the most beautiful opera star in the world,” Jarmila Novotna, to make her second appearance on his program during its broadcast to be heard over WSB at 9 o’clock tonight. Miss Novotna made her debut in the hall before she made her operatic debut last fall at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. Brian Aherne, of the stage and screen, and David Butler, who directed Bing’s new picture, “If I Had My Way,” will complete the guest roster for the broadcast.
(The Atlanta Constitution, 16th May, 1940)
May 17, Friday. Publicity about the building of the Del Mar race track is seen.
HOLLYWOOD, May 17. – Bing Crosby. ﬁlm and radio crooner, answered charges made in Washington that the WPA was “taken for a ride” when it built the Del Mar race track, operated by Crosby, by saying he and not the government was “taken in.”
“The charges of the house investigators and the comment of WPA Administrator F. C. Harrington are utterly ridiculous and silly,” Crosby said.
Ofﬁcials of the 22nd agricultural district of San Diego county came to Crosby several years ago, he said, and explained that San Diego county, with the aid of WPA funds, was going to build a fair grounds at Del Mar.
They said the fair grounds would contain a horse racing plant and offered to lease it to Crosby for 10 years for $100,000. He was to operate the track when the fair grounds were not being used for the San Diego county fair.
Crosby said he organized a company and sold stock. Three months before the track was scheduled to open, the plant had not been completed and WPA funds were exhausted.
“In order to protect the stockholders, I spent $400,000 of my own money to complete the plant,” Crosby said. “The state is paying me back from the pari-mutuel take.
“The whole thing has been a headache to me from the start,” Crosby said. “I may never get all my money out of the thing and if anyone was ‘taken in’ it was me, not the government.”
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.
Bing Crosby is bringing his favorite leading lady, little 12-year Gloria Jean, to the Music Hall for a visit tonight when Robert Preston and Frank McHugh will also be guests. Currently on exhibit throughout the country is Bing Crosby’s newest motion picture, “If I Had My Way,” in which he is co-starred with Gloria Jean. Gloria will sing a song or two from the picture as well as chat with her “Uncle Bing.”
Robert Preston and Frank McHugh are a contrasting pair on the screen but all that changes before the microphone. Preston plays menaces with McHugh cast for his laugh-getting abilities. They’ll both be in there “pitching” for laughs tonight.
(The Belvidere Daily Republican, 23rd May, 1940)
May 24, Friday. The gala opening of “The Pirate’s Den,” a night club at La Brea, near Beverly Hills takes place. 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.
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.
Opera and Movie Performers to Appear With Bing Crosby
TRIPLE star entertainment is promised the radio audience tonight as the highlight of The Music Hall program on WSUN at 9 o’clock when carefree Bing Crosby corrals Elizabeth Rethberg, the Metropolitan soprano, Edna Best and Chester Morris, of the Hollywood sound stages, as his guests of the evening. Morris has made many visits to the program before, in fact, to the K. M. H. gang he is known as “Mysterious Morris” because of his great interest, in the art of magic. Miss Rethberg, as everyone knows, is an habitué of the Metropolitan Opera House during the regular season, but for this time she will join in one of Crosby’s famous chats and contribute two numbers to the program. Besides the guests to be present for the Memorial Day outing on the Crosby picnic, the regular cast composed of Bob Burns, The Music Maids and John Scott Trotter and his orchestra will be on hand to add to the entertainment.
(The Tampa Times, 30th May, 1940)
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 3, Monday. Bing captains a team of Lakeside caddies in an 8-7 victory over a similar Bel-Air group at Bel-Air.
June (undated). Bing and Dixie are seen at the Hollywood ballpark rooting for the Hollywood Stars with Ray Milland and his wife.
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.
The well-known soprano of opera fame, Suzanne Fisher, and John Payne, one of the up and coming leading men of the films, have promised Bing Crosby to hand him their calling cards for a Music Hall visit tonight. The leading and only exponent of the bazooka, Robin Burns, the Music Maids, Ken Carpenter, and John Scott Trotter's orchestra fill the bill for the airing over WMAQ at 8 o’clock.
Bing Crosby is ever on the alert to introduce young Hollywood talent on his program. He has presented John Payne on a previous occasion thus making this a return appearance by “popular request.” John married one of Bing’s favorite M. H. graduates, lovely Anne Shirley.
Ken Carpenter, the master bell ringer, is readying several surprises for the graduation ceremonies in M. H. Last week Carpenter irked Professor Crosby by saying he had only learned three things in M. H. and then proceeded to give out with the three station-break chimes.
(Belvidere Daily Republican, 6th June, 1940)
June 7, Friday. Bing and Dixie are thought to have attended the Andrews Sisters opening at Casa Manana.
June 8, Saturday. Bing is thought to have reserved a box at a big Corrientes 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.
Marcel Hubert, French cellist of note, a guest of Bing Crosby at 6 over KFI, will play his Montagnana cello of 1727 often called “Le Roi Soleil” because of its tonal quality and the sunburst markings on its sides. Hubert is said to have been the youngest cellist to win the First Prize at the Paris Conservatoire. Ralph Bellamy will be a second visitor to the Town Hall. “Playmates,” “Devil May Care,” “When You Look in Her Eyes” and “Make Believe Island” will be sung by Crosby. Scenarists had given Ken Carpenter a different name for his part of radio announcer in Rhythm on the River but John Scott Trotter, an orchestra leader in the picture as well as on Music Hall, made a long film take in which he called Carpenter by his real name. Instead of doing the takes over again, the director changed the announcer’s name to “Ken Carpenter.” The Music Maids could become a five-piece band. At least three are pianists, two play the saxophone, one the cello, two the violin, and one the drums.
(Zuma Palmer, Hollywood Citizen News, June 13, 1940)
June 17, Monday. Bing plays in the qualifying
round of the Southern California Amateur Championship at Wilshire Country Club and has a 79.
June 18, Tuesday. Bing plays in the second qualifying
round of the Southern California Amateur Championship at Lakeside and has a 72 for a total of 151.
June 20, Thursday. Bing loses to Jim McMunn, one down, in the first round of the Southern California Amateur Championship at Lakeside (6:00–7:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall broadcast on NBC. Bing’s guests include Garson Kanin, Kirsten Flagstad, and Roland Young.
Kirsten Flagstad, one of the world’s outstanding singers, will be one of Crosby’s three guests at 6 over KFI. Madame Flagstad will sing two arias. Garson Kanin, 27 year-old RKO director and Roland Young, comedian will be Crosby’s other visitors. The Music Hall will change its broadcast time on July 4th to 5pm.
(Hollywood Citizen News, 20th June 1940)
22, Saturday. (9:00–11:00 p.m.) Takes part in a two-hour radio benefit broadcast on all NBC and CBS California stations for the American Red Cross Mercy
Fund. More than 50 celebrities, including Shirley Temple and Mickey Rooney,
help 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 25, Tuesday. Bing plays in the qualifying round of the Los Angeles City Golf Championship on the Harding Park course at Griffith Park and has a 73. He has a 72 in the second qualifying round and makes it through to the match play with a total of 145.
June 26, Wednesday. Plays
at Griffith Park in the Los Angeles City Golf Championship and wins
both of his games 2 and 1. In the evening, Bing and Dixie attend a
benefit for the League of Crippled Children at the Hollywood ball park.
June 27, Thursday. Bing is knocked out of the Los Angeles City Golf Championship by Dave McAvoy, losing 3 and 2. The Kraft Music Hall show does not take place due to the Republican Convention being broadcast instead.
Bing Crosby played to the smallest audience in the history of the Kraft Music Hall last Thursday. Convention speeches and balloting kept the NBC crooner, Bob Burns and the rest of the gang off the air, so instead of having the usual audience of millions, they played to a studio audience of 340.
(San Fernando Valley Times, July 4, 1940)
June 29, Saturday. The Binglin horse "Etolia II" wins the Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park.
June 30, Sunday. The Treasury Department publishes the list of the highest paid Americans and Bing is in fifth place earning $410,000. Louis B, Mayer of MGM is top with $688,000.Teeing off at 1:00 p.m., 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. Later, Bing is at Hollywood Park to act as an honorary steward for a race in a Red Cross benefit day,
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.
Bing Crosby will celebrate the new time of his "Music Hall” program by presenting a number of stars to his audience when he switches to a 7 o’clock broadcast over KTBS tonight. Formerly the Music Hall was heard at 8 o’clock. The outstanding guests will include such notables of the stage and screen as John Garfield, Geraldine Fitzgerald and song-writer Johnny Mercer. The Music Maids and John Scott Trotter’s orchestra will also be on hand for the broadcast. Johnny Mercer, one of Bing’s oldest friends, will introduce a new number which he has written titled “Meadow Lark.” Mercer will perform it in duet with Crosby.
(The Shreveport Times, 4th July, 1940)
July 5, Friday. (7:30-8:00 p.m.) 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.
July 6, Saturday. The Binglin horse "Don Juan II" wins at Hollywood Park. Bing 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 7, Monday. Larry Crosby is sued for divorce by his wife, Elaine, on the grounds of cruelty.
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.
Virginia Bruce, Lynne Overmann, Carol MacFarlane and Eddie Albert will be Bing Crosby’s guests at 5 over KFI. They were scheduled for two weeks ago but the show gave way to the Republican Convention. Miss Bruce will sing “Button Up Your Overcoat” with Crosby and Albert will accompany himself on the guitar in “Wee Cooper of Fife,” a 15th century Scotch ballad. Overmann will relate some stories and then will offer “Till the Clouds Roll By.” From Miss MacFarlane, Crosby’s protege, you will hear “You” from The Great Ziegfeld and “You’re Lonely and I’m Lonely” from Louisiana Purchase. The Music Maids sing five songs in the forthcoming RKO picture, Too Many Girls and every two weeks for the past two years they have supplied the background vocals for a “Merrie Melodies” cartoon.
(Zuma Palmer, Hollywood Citizen News, July 11, 1940)
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.
Bing Crosby and Oscar Levant will continue their discussion of Debussy and his music where they left off a few weeks ago, when Levant makes his second guest appearance on the Kraft Music Hall, tonight over WIBA at 7 o’clock. Other guests include Olivia de Havilland, Alan Hale and Lou Holtz. As a concession to Crosby, Levant will play Debussy’s “Garden in Granada,” as one of his piano solos.
(The Capital Times, [Madison, Wisconsin], 18th July, 1940)
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.
Raymond Massey, noted Canadian actor and star of the recent historical play by Robert Emmet Sherwood, “Abe Lincoln in Illinois,” will be the principal guest on Bing Crosby’s Kraft Music Hall program tonight. Massey will appear, not in character, but as himself, something it is doubtful that if he has done on the radio before. The actor is not the only one on the list. There is also Shirley Ross from the movies, and Allen Jenkins, the dry comedian from the same source. Bing Crosby is still carrying the load himself as Bob Burns will not be back until the middle of next month.
(The Gazette, [Montreal], 25th July, 1940)
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.
August 1, Thursday. (5:00–6:00 p.m.) Bing hosts the Kraft Music Hall show with guests Muriel Angelus, Lou Holtz, The Kidoodlers, and Pat O’Brien.
Bing Crosby’s Music Hall, KFI at 5, will be visited by Muriel Angelus, seen in Safari and The Great McGinty, Pat O’Brien, Lou Holtz and the Kidoodlers. The latter go in for novelty vocal and instrumental music. Crosby will sing two tunes from Rhythm on the River, his picture which is completed but which has not yet been previewed. They are "That’s for Me" and "When the Moon Comes Over Madison Square." His memory song will be "When I Lost You." Before the members of the Music Maids began singing together, each had been in unmusical work. Bobbie Canvin clerked in a five-and-ten-cent store; Denny Wilson modeled dresses in a Paris shop; Alice Ludes ran an elevator; Dotty Messmer was a telephone operator, and Jinny Erwin made and sold cup-cakes.
(Zuma Palmer, Hollywood Citizen News, August 1, 1940)
August 5, Monday. Larry Crosby and his wife Elaine are divorced. Bing and Pat O'Brien entertain the press at a dinner at Del Mar prior to the opening of the season.
August 6, Tuesday.
Bing and Pat O'Brien take part in a nightball game at Finney Field and
help the Rancho Santa Fe team win 4-2 against the Travelers of
August 7, Wednesday. (10:00 a.m.) Bing is present to welcome the first customer as 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.
Bob Burns will return to the Music Hall at 5 over KFI. Crosby’s guests will be Charles Laughton, who certainly knows how to read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address; Lillian Cornell singing actress in Buck Benny Rides Again; Jose Iturbi, pianist and conductor, and his sister Amparo, a pianist. “Fools Rush In,” “Only Forever,” “Legend of Old California,” and “Mary Is a Grand Old Name” will be sung by Crosby. During the station breaks, announcers in cities are varying their usual station identifications. A Houston, Texas, station announcer said “This is KPRC, the Houston chapter of Rappa Tappa Gong.” A Los Angeles announcer went poetical and declared, “The Station I identify is Los Angeles, KFI.” Bing Crosby has announced that he will stop broadcasting if the National Broadcasters-ASC battle should end in the taking of his right to sing ASCAP songs. (NOTE: It was later revealed that it was Larry Crosby who had made that statement.)
(Zuma Palmer, Hollywood Citizen News, August 8, 1940)
August 10, Saturday.
(5:15-5:30 p.m.) Bing is interviewed on the Sports Searchlight
program about his plans for the Del Mar track prior to the running of
the San Diego Handicap.
August 13, Tuesday. Bing's horse "Rita Osuna" wins at Del Mar.
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)
Friday. 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. Later, Bing
rehearses for a radio show to emanate from Del Mar in the evening. 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
August 21, Wednesday. Bing's horse "Midge" wins the Huntingdon Beach purse at Del Mar.
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 24, Saturday. Bing is at Del Mar for the running of the Del Mar handicap.
August 27, Tuesday. Bing plays in the 36-hole sectional qualifying round for the U.S. Amateur Open Golf Championship at the Bel-Air Country Club but comes in sixth with 77-75-152. 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, New York in September. He cancels a planned trip to South America,
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 3, Tuesday. Bing practices at Winged Foot.
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)
(Variety, September 10, 1940)
For “Swing with Bing,” intended as a golf promotion and approved by the PGA, actors Andy Devine, Bing’s fishing chum, and Mary Treen delivered cringe-inducing comic narration; Bing’s dad and his brothers Larry and Ted took bows. Bing had no lines, but he executed the entrechat he had developed in his days with Mack Sennett and recorded a new, soon forgotten Burke/Monaco song, “The Little White Pill on the Little Green Hill,” lip-synching, with descriptive hand gestures that are the best part of a frivolous project. The only lasting significance of the venture is that during the prerecord, Bing was accompanied by a young pianist named Buddy Cole who would play a major role in his postwar radio work.(Gary Giddins, Swinging on a Star, page 50)
September (undated). The Battle of Britain takes place in the skies over southern England.
September 6, Friday. Playing on the West course at Winged Foot, Bing has a 72, equalling par.
September 7, Saturday. Bing practices at Winged Foot Golf Club and is followed by a small crowd.
September 9, Monday. (Starting at 9:52 a.m.) Playing in front of large crowds, Bing shoots an eighty-three in the opening qualifying round of the National Amateur Golf Championship. Dixie goes to watch the tennis at Forest Hills instead of watching the golf.
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. Teeing off at 12:54 p;m., 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. (7:15-7:45 p.m.) 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 11, Wednesday. Bing golfs at the Apawamis club in Rye, New York.
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.
…Crosby turned in an 81, while Dudley shot a 68, Smith a 73 and Thomson 74. But Bing’s higher score made no difference to the spectators who interrupted his every shot with requests for autographs, enjoyed his constant flow of chatter and heard him yodel at the first tee.
(The Tribune, September 15, 1940)
Monday. Bing partners Toney Penna
(the pro from Dayton, Ohio) in the pro-am of the Long Island
Monday. Goes to the opening of the fall racing season at Belmont Park,
Elmont, New York with his friends Raymond Guest and Chris Dunphy.
September 27, Friday. Is seen in the 21 Club on West 52nd St., New York.
September 29, Sunday. At the Belmont Country Club in Boston, Bing golfs in a charity match for the committee for placement of refugee children in Belmont homes. He plays with Toney Penna against Harold (Jug) McSpaden and Fred J. Wright in front of a crowd of 5,000. The match ends in a draw and 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 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 2, Wednesday.
Bing visits Court Manor, near Woodstock, Virginia. This is the famous
stud farm of the late Willis Sharpe Kilmer and Bing is interested in
several horses which are to be sold by auction on October 30. He is
besieged by autograph seekers when he stops at a restaurant in New
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 teeing off at 1:30 p.m. at Columbia Country Club in Washington DC. Bing and Toney Penna are beaten one 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 7, Monday. Bing attends one of the World Series games between the Cincinnati Reds and the Detroit Tigers at Crosley Field, Cincinnati. The Reds win 4-0 and go on to win the Series 4-3.
October 12, Saturday. During the morning, Bing meets Charles Francis Adams, controller of the Boston Bees financial operations, 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.
Sunday. (10:30-11:00 p.m.) President Roosevelt launches the annual Community Mobilization
Needs campaign. At some stage earlier in the year, Bing transcribes a
15-minute program in support with John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra.
October 14, Monday.
Meets Thomas H. McInnerney, the head of Kraft-Phenix, to discuss
changes to the Kraft Music Hall show format. Boards a train for Los
Angeles to escort a shipment of horses he has bought in South America
to the west coast.
October 19, Saturday. Bing’s recording of “Only Forever” is at number one in the charts where it remains for ten weeks. (7:00-7:15 p.m.) Bing's appeal on behalf of the Community Chest is broadcast in Nebraska,
October 22, Tuesday.
Bing sends a telegram to Mayor Arthur B. Langlie of Seattle, who is the
Republican candidate for Governor, giving his support.
October 26, Saturday. 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.
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 and Dixie are in Palm Springs for the opening of The Dunes, marking the start of the Palm Springs season.
November 4, Monday. (9:00-10:00 p.m.) Bing speaks briefly in a radio broadcast starting at midnight (EST) 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 wagers $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.
Bing Crosby, in Radio Talks, Urges Election of Willkie
Bing Crosby last night made three radio appearances speaking in behalf of Wendell Willkie over N.B.C. and Mutual networks coast-to-coast and locally.
“There are some who will tell you that we need Mr. Roosevelt because he has had experience—that we simply can’t let him leave the job.” Crosby said, “I grant you he has had experience—plenty of it—and I submit that a man who can’t learn from experience is not the man you can entrust the destiny of the nation for 12 years.”
“Mr. Roosevelt went to Harvard and I went to a small college, Gonzaga. But we both studied Aristotle, and I remember what Aristotle said about experience. He said that a good flute player learns to play the flute well by experience and that a bad flute player learns—by experience—to play badly.
“I’m voting for Wendell Willkie. And so, by the way, are a great many other Hollywood people in spite of all rumors to the contrary. Here is a partial list of people I know in the industry who are voting for Wendell Willkie.” Crosby said, and then read off a list of 84 of the most prominent personages in Hollywood.
(Los Angeles Times, November 6, 1940)
November 4–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 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 (undated). Bing has a 76 in the qualifier for the Lakeside club championship.
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. Ed Helwick joins Carroll Carroll to work on the scripts.
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 Jacques Fray & Mario Braggiotti, Ogden Nash, Robert Young, and the Brewer Kids.
No less than seven visitors will gather around Bing Crosby and the Kraft Music Hall microphones for tonight’s broadcast at 10:00 p.m. over NBC and CBM. The program will have a festive air of Thanksgiving, many listeners in the states having celebrated the holiday on this day. The guests will include Robert Young of the films, Fray and Braggiotti of the two pianos, Ogden Nash the poet of unhampered line and the three Brewer kids, Betty, Sonny and Ileene.
(The Gazette (Montreal), 21st November, 1940)
November 28, Thursday. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall broadcast and Bing’s guests include Minerva Pious, Charles Boyer and Tommy Dorsey. Bing and Connie Boswell introduce the Sy Oliver song "Yes Indeed".
Charles Boyer, Tommy Dorsey, and radio comedienne. Minerva Pious, make up the guest panel in Bing Crosby’s Music Hall for tonight's get-together. Also on hand for Thanksgiving Number 2 will be Bob Burns, Connie Boswell, the Music Maids, and John Scott Trotter’s orchestra.
New to the proceedings in M. H. is Charles Boyer who has never faced Bing Crosby across the WMAQ microphone that will carry his verbal foray at 8- o’clock. Minerva Pious, who is an old friend of Fred Allen’s, will also be making her debut on the program. She’s on the coast currently to work in the movies. When the Music Hall first presented Bing Crosby as a regular, Jimmy Dorsey’s orchestra was featured. Now Jimmy’s well-known brother, Tommy, will trot out before Trotter’s band for a workout on his famous trombone.
(Belvidere Daily Republican, 28th November, 1940)
Tommy and Jimmy were two of my very best friends in the music business. Tommy, mercurial, explosive, loaded with talent and an unforgettable personality. You always knew when Tommy was around. He took a position on every issue, and you knew where he stood. You had to like him, and you had to respect him. Not only for his immense talent, but for his uncompromising integrity. Tommy was pretty frank, all right.
(Bing, writing the foreword to Tommy and Jimmy: The Dorsey Years)
Bing Crosby called Tommy for a guest appearance on the Kraft Music Hall. Tommy appeared in a bit with Minerva Pious, who played Mrs. Nussbaum on the Fred Allen Show. In the bit, Tommy used Mrs. Nussbaum’s New Yorkese dialect. At one point, Tommy expressed disdain for Min, who was playing the part of a swing fan. She snapped at him, “Don’t gimme dat; if it wasn’t for jitterbugs like me, you’d still be playing a horn in some jug band.” When Bing brought Tommy on as guest star, he showed he had not forgotten an earlier time on the Kraft Music Hall. He introduced Tommy as “brother of Jimmy.”
November 30, Saturday. The number one record is Bing’s recording of “Trade Winds.” (3:00-5:00 p.m.) Bing's home is opened to members and friends of the Young Ladies Institute for a benefit tea and entertainment. Proceeds go to orphanages, hospitals and needy persons at Christmas. Bing is thought to be in San Francisco.
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.
The dashing man of pictures, Errol Flynn; comedian Benny Rubin; and “double-talk” authority Cliff Nazarro will help Bing Crosby carry on without his man, Bob Burns, in the Music Hall tonight. Burns is currently in New York with his wife for a two weeks’ vacation during which they’ll put the cares of radio aside tor a little show-seeing…Errol Flynn has a habit of bringing up his sea-going adventures in conversation with Bing. According to a recent news dispatch, the actor plans to turn over his yacht to the navy for patrol duty. Benny Rubin hasn’t visited the Hall in too long but one of the more frequent callers is Cliff Nazarro who is an expert at befuddling people with his slashing attacks on the English language.
(Belvidere Daily Republican, 5th December, 1940)
December 7/8, Saturday / Sunday. Playing in the first round of the Lakeside Golf Club championship over the weekend, Bing defeats Huntley Gordon 4 and 2.
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.
Connie Boswell and the Music Maids will keep the Music Hall from becoming a “stag” affair tonight for Bing Crosby has invited a male quartet of guests around. They are movie director Preston Sturges, opera star Richard Bonelli, Lynne Overman, and musician Charles Lavere…Those Crosby-Boswell duets have become such a popular feature of the show, the pair will do “Down Argentine Way” together this week. On his own, Bing will croon “You’ve Got Me This Way,” “Do You Know Why,” “I’d Know You Anywhere,” “Song of Old Hawaii,” and “I Know That You Know.” Connie does “Two Dreams Met” and “Somewhere” and the Trotter orchestra is to be featured in its special arrangement of Rachminoff’s “Prelude in G Minor.” Preston Sturges will confide in Bing and the Music Hall audience some of the secrets that have made him an overnight success as a movie writer and director. He’s the man responsible for “The Great McGinty” and “Christmas in July.” Richard Bonelli will compare his baritone with the Crosby “groanin’” and Lynne Overman will make cracks about anyone on hand at the moment.
(Belvidere Daily Republican, 12th December, 1940)
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 with companion piece.
(Variety, April 23, 1941)
December 15, Sunday. Golfs in the annual Southland Scotch mixed foursomes tournament with Babe Didrikson Zaharias at Rancho Country Club. They have a 76 and tie for second place.
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 The Kraft Choral Society, Allen Jenkins and Donald Crisp.
Christmas is being celebrated in the Music Hall tonight when Bing Crosby will present the Kraft Choral Society from Chicago with Donald Crisp and Allen Jenkins as his Hollywood guests. This will be in the nature of a double celebration for Robin Burns will return to the hall following a New York vacation…The choral society is to sing “When the Sun Has Sunk to Rest” and “In a Monastery Garden.” This huge chorus is made up entirely of employees of the Kraft Cheese corporation and they perform on the program twice annually - once during the Easter season and once near Christmas day…Donald Crisp and Allen Jenkins chat with Bing and Bob Burns on their Christmas plans. Burns just had to get back to Hollywood to play Santa Claus for the younger members of the family.
(Belvidere Daily Republican, 19th December, 1940)
December 20, Friday. Bing takes part in a Christmas party for twelve hundred colored children at Ascot Avenue Elementary School together with other artists including the King Cole Trio, Dorothy Dandridge, and Frankie Darro.
However, before 1940 was through, Nat King Cole received validation from two even higher authorities than Bob Hope, one of whom coincidentally was Bing Crosby, who had just launched a lifelong sub-career as Hope’s sparring partner with The Road to Singapore. Even as the Radio Room gig continued, the Trio took the night off to play at a party for a local school, the African American Ascot Elementary School, where he had shared the spotlight with several old friends: Mantan Moreland and Dorothy Dandridge, as well as Crosby himself. A lifelong political conservative and unswerving Republican, Crosby was nonetheless decades ahead of his time in his lifelong support of black causes and black artists. The Trio seems to have accompanied Crosby on several songs, and one attendee, described the Crosby-Cole performance as “just the greatest thing that ever happened around here.”
(Will Friedwald, Straighten Up and Fly Right: The Life and Music of Nat King Cole, page 73)
(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”.
Bing Crosby ‘You Lucky People’ - ‘It’s Always You’ (Decca 3636)
Crosby’s in a lifting, rhythmic mood on the first side, a hot melody from his ‘Zanzibar’ film. It’s lively and helped by John Scott Trotter background. Reverse is a ballad and a weaker tune. On another pair (Decca 3637) Crosby does “You’re Dangerous,’ a sock ballad, and ‘Birds of a Feather,’ another rhythm tune. Both good.
(Variety, March 26, 1941)
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 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 (ASCAP) music which became effective December 22.
A great American—”Ballad for Americans”—will be sung for the first time by Bing Crosby over the air as a special feature of the Music Hall tonight. Bing’s guests for the broadcast over WMAQ at 8 o'clock are Thomas Mitchell, screen actor, and Jose Iturbi, the well-known pianist and conductor. “Ballads for Americans,” whose theme is patriotic was written by Earl Robinson and John La Touche. It is probably the longest composition ever sung in the Music Hall with a running time of about 12 minutes…Thomas Mitchell will be interviewed by Bing, Bob Burns will compete with Jose Iturbi on the piano (Burns has openly challenged Iturbi to a duet), the Music Maids will “give out” with background harmony, and John Scott Trotter's orchestra will furnish the music for the full-hour of entertainment.
(Belvidere Daily Republican, 26th December, 1940)
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 28, Saturday. Bing is at Santa Anita for the opening of the racing season.
December 30, Monday. Records four songs with Victor Young and his Orchestra including "When Day Is Done" and "Chapel in the Valley". Later, playing in the fourth round of the Lakeside Golf Club championship, Bing defeats Pete Watts, the defending champion, on the 19th. hole.
Bing Crosby (Decca 3614)
Chapel in the Valley—V. When Day Is Done—V
If Crosby were to sing the scales, it would still make better listening than most of the vocal disks released all lumped together. But when Bing has a really fine song to sing, it makes compelling listening of a standard that very few records can ever approximate. Of late Crosby has been lending his voice to a good many numbers of varying degrees of quality (mostly low), but in the second side of this latest release he meets up with a song that matches his ability in the extent of his melodic and lyrical merit. It’s the familiar Buddy DeSylva-Robert Katscher ballad of a number of years ago—the same song that became one of the outstanding items in Paul Whiteman’s erstwhile repertoire and that established Henry Busse for his standout trumpet solo on Whiteman’s original recording of the number—and in Crosby’s individual style it now becomes a vocal classic.
Bing sings it straight, and it’s the absence of any tricks of scoring—either vocal or instrumental—that gives it its stature, because the excellence of music and lyrics is such that embellishments are unnecessary. Done with the simplicity of Crosby’s memorable recording of And the Angels Sing, with Victor Young’s fine sensitive instrumental backing a further reminder of that disk, it should be a natural for music machines, and one of Crosby’s best-selling platters among the legion of his admirers. A great song plus Bing Crosby to sing it is probably the best guarantee of fool-proof disk listening extant today.
The ditty on the reverse doesn’t belong in the same league as Day Is Done. It’s to the added credit of the Crosby style-that-can-do-no-wrong that the inanities of tune and wordage here are covered over as well as they are.
(Daniel Richman, Billboard, March 8, 1941)
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. Bing attends the 1941 Rose Bowl college football bowl
the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The undefeated and second-ranked Stanford
Indians of the Pacific Coast Conference defeat the #7 Nebraska
Cornhuskers of the Big Six Conference, 21–13. 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.
An author of note, an All-American football player, and a comedian make up the varied guest list Bing Crosby has invited around to the “old Music Hall” tonight to celebrate the advent of the New Year. They are, in order, James Hilton, Tom Harmon, and Frank McHugh who’ll appear on the broadcast over WMAQ at 8 o'clock…Tommy Harmon, Michigan All-American backfield ace will make use of his radio talents with which he hopes to gainsay employment following graduation this June. James Hilton, who is responsible for the successful novel, “Lost Horizon,” will give Bing Crosby a few lessons in the use of the English dialect. An old hand at M. H. antics is Frank McHugh. This movie comedian who has helped many a picture at the box office, will aid Bing Crosby in the laugh-giving department.
(Belvidere Daily Republican, 2nd January, 1941)
January 5, Sunday. Together with Tom Harmon and Marshall Duffied, Bing watches Sam Snead's play at the Los Angeles Open at the Riviera Country Club. Snead has a disappointing 75.
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 8, Wednesday. Golfs with Jimmy Demaret at Lakeside.
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 James 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)
Movie actors Roland Young and James Stephenson join Bing Crosby in everything, but song when the meeting of the Music Hall “takes up” tonight…James Stephenson is the young actor who got his long-awaited break in “The Letter” with Bette Davis. His movie studio is predicting stardom for him within the next year. This will be his first experience of facing Bing Crosby and Bob Burns across a live microphone. Roland Young, an old hand in M. H. matters, will doubtless give young Stephenson a few pointers on the ritual.(Belvidere Daily Republican, 9th January, 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.
Walter Pidgeon, Duke Ellington and Benny Rubin are guests of Bing Crosby on the Music Hall, WCAF, at 9. Walter intends to give Bob Burns a few lessons in “Pidgeon” English.
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 16th January 1941)
January 19, Sunday. (Starting at 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 5 and 4. It is estimated that crowd reaches 3000.
I remember one match where I teamed up with Patty Berg against Bing and Bob at the San Gabriel Country Club. Patty and I beat them, although nobody out there was too much concerned about the score. I smacked one about 280 yards off the first tee. Bob Hope dropped to the ground and began beating on it with his hands, pretending to cry and wail. Bing put on an act of consoling Bob, then Bing took his drive. It was a good bit shorter than mine. So, Bob started consoling Bing. On one of the holes, my second shot bounced into a bunch of people standing near the green. The ball hit a woman’s hand. They tell me it knocked a diamond out of the ring on her finger. Anyway, it bounced right back on the green as nice as anything, and rolled up to the pin to give me an easy birdie three. Bob Hope turned to the gallery. “Now do you see what we’re up against?” he said. At the halfway point the announcer began reciting, “Scores for the first nine holes. Miss Berg, thirty-seven. Mrs. Zaharias, thirty-five. Mr. Crosby, thirty-eight. Mr. Hope –” Before he could get any farther Bob burst out singing, “I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair.”
(This Life I’ve Led: My Autobiography by Babe Didrikson Zaharias as told to Harry Paxton)
Crosby, Hope Clown Way To Golf Fame On Gags
Los Angeles (AP) – There is no truth to the report that Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Patty Berg defeated Bing Crosby and Bob Hope 18 up in a golf match Sunday. It was only 5 up. Or maybe 7. No one seems to know for certain. Yes, these long-swatting girls played from scratch and gave the likeable, anything-for-a laugh pair from Hollywood a thorough going over, but the match goes down as worth a guffaw a stroke – strokes, it might be added, were plentiful.
The foursome, featured in a day at the San Gabriel county club staged in memory of the late fiction writer and golf enthusiast, Frank Condon, started off with a following of 1,000. The number mounted with Hope’s score. More gags than shots rolled off his clubs. The Babe drove off on the first tee 280 yards down the middle. Hope collapsed on the ground and wailed. Crosby offered consolation and then drove. Hope gave him consolation. That started the fun.
On the sixth, believe it or not, the Babe; second carried into the crowd around the green. The ball hit a woman’s hand; knocked a diamond out of its ring setting. It fell into the lady’s hand-and the ball bounced back for an easy putt and a birdie three.
“Now you can see,” said Hope, turning to the gallery, “what we are up against.”
At the turn, kilted Scotty Chisolm, perennial announcer at golf meets, proclaimed: "Scores for the first nine holes: Miss Berg, 37; Mrs. Zaharias, 35; Bing Crosby, 38; Bob Hope, –.”
“I Dream of Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair,” the loud tones of Hope drowned out the score. Crosby holed a five-foot curving putt on No. 10, and promptly went into a spirited two step with Hope. Or perhaps it was something the Russian ballet left lying around on the last visit to town.
Hope came back and sank his putt. Distance: Eight inches. The gallery cheered.
“It’s nothing,” he assured them.
Four holes later he putted from eight feet. It was short. He putted once more. Again it was short.
“This is still same man putting,” he advised.
Mrs. Zaharias lined up a 25 foot putt.
“I’ll give you $40 to 40 cents you can’t do it,” offered Crosby.
“Say, I can get longer odds than that on your horses,” Babe fired back.
Hours later, they reached the 18th. There must have been 3,000 watching by this time. All grew quiet as Crosby looked over a putt and addressed the ball. Suddenly a small voice squeaked “Hi, Bing”.
“Hi partner,” Crosby called back, and then, looking up, saw a youngster, about a foot and half high waving. He walked over with great ceremony, shook hands with the boy – and then missed the putt.
The match finally ended:
“Scores for this foursome,” bellowed the announcer. “Mrs. Zaharias, 72; Miss Berg, 74; Bing Crosby, 76; Bob Hope, – “
“I Dream of Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair.”
The tones of Hope, joined with Crosby’s in a piercing duet, blotted out the score.
(Associated Press, January 20, 1941)
January 20, Monday. Bing arranges for several of the golfers entered in his Pro-Am to have a practice round at Lakeside. Playing with Byron Nelson, Bing breaks 70 for the first time with a 69. He had promised his caddy Newt Bassler a new suit of clothes if he ever broke 70 and he duly has to deliver.
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 only has cash in the bank of $167,000 with a tax bill due of $377,000! 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 Jimmy Demaret, James Hilton and Edward Everett Horton.
One of those things Connie Boswell never talk about is her ability at song-writing, but she’s done more than a little in her time. In fact, she’s written special lyrics for “Frenesi” and will sing the song duet-fashion with Bing Crosby in the Music Hall over WSB at 8 o’clock tonight. Bingston, as Connie calls him, has invited quite a diversified line-up of talent around to the Hall this week. James Hilton, the eminent author; Edward Everett Horton, comedian of complete confusion; and that able golfer Jimmy Demaret will take up various matters with Bing.
(The Atlanta Constitution, 23rd January, 1941)
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 heavy rain in Los Angeles. Ed Oliver partners Bing in the pro-am commencing on January 25 and they have a better ball score of 64 in the first round putting them in joint second place. In the second round, Bing plays the first nine in 37 and is 3 over for the back nine through the 17th but does not putt out the final hole. Amongst the amateurs playing are Johnny Weissmuller, George Murphy, Forrest Tucker, Charles Boyer, Johnny Burke, Grantland Rice, Jimmy McLarnin, Zeppo Marx, Dick Gibson, Edgar Kennedy, Maurie Luxford and John Dawson. In addition, Babe Zaharias plays with her husband George while Patty Berg plays with Mrs. Opal Hill. Bing sponsors the tournament with the gross proceeds being split between the Junior League of San Diego and the League for Crippled Children in Los Angeles. Admission is $1.
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.
A beautiful girl, a poet in the popular vein, and an accomplished harmonica player will come face to face with Bing Crosby in the ever-popular Music Hall tonight. In order, they add up to Virginia Bruce, Ogden Nash, and Leo Diamond who’ll bob up during the proceedings over WMAQ at 8 o’clock…Under the pinpricking attack from Robin Burns, who is addressed as “Junior” by Crosby, Ogden Nash created a little piece of poetry especially for M. H. the last time he was on the program. If Bob will stay on his side of the fence, Ogden has promised never to do it again. But, of course, Bob won't. Virginia Bruce has been on the program many times before but this will be the initial time out for Leo Diamond. Leo is a veteran harmonica player who graduated from the Borah Minnevitch company.
(Belvedere Daily-Republican, 30th January, 1941)
pleas of his ASCAP friends, Bing
Crosby is said to be ready to
(Variety, February 5, 1941)
February 1, Saturday. Voted most popular male singer in a New York World-Telegram poll of radio editors.
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.
When Bing Crosby unzips the entertainment in the Music Hall tonight he'll have with him as special guests Lew Ayres, of the cinema lots, and Paul Robeson, noted Negro singer. Bob Burns, Connie Boswell, the Music Maids, and John Scott Trotter's orchestra will all be there for the broadcast over WMAQ at 8 o'clock. Crosby has once more pulled down top honors as the best male popular singer in the annual N. Y. World-Telegram poll of radio editors throughout the United States and Canada. For this signal honor, Bing doffs his ever-present chapeau to all the editors taking part in the vote-casting. Lew Ayres is the young man who jumped to movie stardom after posing for collar-ads. He forms a great contrast with Bingston who has never been known to wear a collar to work in the old Hall. Bing says his well-known “out-board” shirts are more comfortable but promises not to argue the point with Ayres.
(Belvedere Daily-Republican, February 6, 1941)
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 8, Friday. Bing leaves on the Union Pacific with his son Gary for Sun Valley where they are to join the rest of the family.
February 9, Saturday, Bing and Gary arrive at Sun Valley for a ten-day holiday.
February 11, Tuesday. Jimmie Fidler's column in the Los Angeles Times states: "That rumored rift in the Bing Crosby-Dixie Lee marriage caused coast-to-coast excitement, but it is not true."
February 13, Thursday. Bing's horse "El Osuna" wins at Santa Anita. It's Bing's first win of the season. Misses the Kraft Music Hall show as he is on a short vacation at the Sun Valley Inn, Idaho, with his family.
Real reason for Bing Crosby’s absence from the air last week was his desire to join his family in Sun Valley and thereby squelch those persistent, but untrue, rift rumors.
(Jimmie Fidler in Hollywood, as seen in the Los Angeles Times, February 18, 1941)
February 20, Thursday. Bing's horse "Osunita" wins at Santa Anita (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 Vicente Gomez.
Fresh from a week at Sun Valley with his family Bing Crosby returns to the Music Hall tonight when he will face a welcoming committee consisting of George Raft, Sabu, the “Elephant Boy,” and guitarist Vicente Gomez…With such a pair of horse fanciers as Crosby and George Raft on hand it’s hard to predict just where the script will wind up. Perhaps both will prefer to keep mum on their doings at the dust ovals. Sabu has familiarized himself with the English language pretty well since leaving his native India but there’s no doubt that certain of the Crosby verbiage will puzzle the youngster who’s just made a hit in “The Thief of Bagdad.”
(Belvedere Daily-Republican, 20th February, 1941)
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. Frank Tours leads the Oscar Bradley orchestra.
Mirth and Melody will be combined through the talents of Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Betty Grable on the Columbia network “Screen Guild Theatre” broadcast over KWKH at 6:30 tonight, when that stellar trio stars in an original musical-comedy, “Altar Bound.”
The adage “two’s company, three’s a crowd,” gets a thorough working-over in this gay story of a honeymoon trip to South America on which the bride shares her suite with two total strangers as a result of a mistake in identity when Crosby and Hope, as two down-and-out-ers are hired to break up a wedding and kidnap the bride.
All goes well with the scheme except for the fact that they pick on the wrong wedding party. The groom, a wealthy South American, stalks off in high dudgeon and promptly flies home to the peace and quiet of Buenos Aires. Crosby and Hope accompany the bride-to-be, Betty Grable, on a junket to South America in an effort to patch things up.
With their usual tact and aplomb, Bing and Bob manage to add even more confusion to the proceedings.
Roger Pryor will serve as master-of-ceremonies and director for the program, with musical backgrounds for Crosby’s songs provided by Oscar Bradley’s “Screen Guild Theatre” orchestra.
(The Shreveport Times, February 23, 1941)
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.
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 The Ink Spots, Andy Secrest and Fay Bainter.
Fay Bainter and the Four Ink Spots will make it a point to drop in on Bing Crosby’s Music Hall this evening. Bing is due to focus the spotlight on another of John Scott Trotter’s musicians, Andy Secrest, the trumpeter, who’ll be featured in a new tune he’s written for the occasion.
(The Republican Courier, February 27, 1941)
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 and Dixie are 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. Bing's 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 Thurston Knudson & Augie Goupil, Lionel Barrymore and Eddie Bracken.
The wisdom of maturity, as personified in Lionel Barrymore, and the brashness of youth, as exemplified by comedian Eddie Bracken, will be important ingredients of the culture course presented in the Music Hall by Bing Crosby from 6 to 7 o’clock this evening over KMJ.
An added fillip to the broadcast will be the artistry of Augie Goople, who is credited with the ability to make drums speak and swing out with rhythm unfamiliar to the jungle inventors of the tom tom.
Bracken, one of the outstanding young comedians, is a newcomer to the Crosby programs, but has been a guest on several of the programs of Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.
(The Fresno Bee, March 6, 1941)
Those Barrymore ‘boys’ appeared on two consecutive NBC programs, last Thursday night (6th), with Lionel topping John and everyone else on either of the two shows. Lionel guested for Bing Crosby on the Kraft Music Hall and John was with the Rudy Vallee troupe. Lionel was in what is known as ‘rare form’. Called the hardest working member of the Barrymore clan, he said that work was just a nasty habit with him - Ethel was the talented one and as for John - Well, John was the greatest Hamlet of his generation. He played it in Shakespeare’s home town and the critics abroad said John was the greatest Hamlet they’d ever seen, after that, quipped Lionel, there was nothing more left for John to do and he’s been doing it ever since. The guester then took a poke at Bob Burns, saying that portraying a character was OK but when it came to being a character, Burns was overdoing it. Talking about his famous Doctor Kildare characterisation, in films, someone said Barrymore was so perfect, ‘I don’t think of you as an actor’. Barrymore retorted, ‘Neither do I’- Reading of homespun philosophical poem, ‘Doctor’s Elegy’ was a lulu. Further interchanges between Barrymore and Burns, again gave the radio comic the worst of it. ‘There’s something about my songs that stick’, said Burns. ‘You can speak more plainly than that’, Barrymore countered. Reminiscing further about John, Lionel also recalled the time that a newspaper critic called the younger brother, ‘a celebrated actor’ and John has been ‘celebrating’ ever since.
(“Variety” 12th March 1941)
With a sly wink at the lads in the control room Bing Crosby slipped in an ad lib crack at Broadcast Music on last week’s Kraft program, that had the NBC’ites squirming. Replying to Bob Burns’ remark that all things are soon forgotten, even the songs he sings, Crosby let go with “Of course they will; they’re BMI.” Ted Hediger, NBC production contact on the show, gave Bing a double take, but it was too late to do anything about it. Long devoutly antagonistic against BMI tunes, the crooner this week repeats one of its numbers, ‘Friendly Tavern’.
(Variety, March 12, 1941)
March 8, Saturday. Bing and Dixie attend 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. A fee of $250 is paid to Novikoff.
Fields and Fingerle, one of America’s most popular piano teams, will represent the world of music on the guest list of the KMJ-NBC Music Hall opening at 6 o’clock this evening, when Jackie Cooper of the movies and Lou Novikoff of diamond fame also will have places on the guest list. Cooper, who is an amateur drummer and orchestra leader when he is not working before the movie cameras, will sit in with John Scott Trotter’s Orchestra to pick up a few tips for future use, and Novikoff will attempt to stop the fast ones hurled in his direction by Bing Crosby and Bob Burns.
(The Fresno Bee, March 13, 1941)
Softly through the Ozark night, floats the strains of the bazooka, wafted by the favorite son of Arkansas, Bob Burns. In Hollywood, it sounds like an over-heated steam-pipe, according to the local 47th American Federation of Musicians. The bazooka is ‘out’ as a musical instrument but its virtuoso is admitted to the Union for $52.50 as a pianist or guitar-strummer but not as ‘a bazookist’. The Union problem started in New York, where Jim Petrillo stuck up his nose at the bazooka which came from Arkansas and didn’t sound like music in Flatbush where there are no mountains and no strains except the howls of the proletarians, rooting against the ‘Giants’. The president of the local Union acted as intermediary between the Plumbers and Steamfitters and the Musicians. Technically, Bob Burns is a musician but his bazooka is something that won’t be recognized except when the Plumbers and Steamfitters hold their annual picnic and don’t care.
(“Variety” 19th March 1941)
Tuesday. (7:00–7:30 p.m.) Guests on Bob Hope’s radio show on NBC. Jerry Colonna and the Skinnay Ennis orchestra also take part.
Bing Crosby will mix it with Bob Hope and company tonight in the endless search for Yehoodi when he visits at 9, through WIBA and WMAQ. Also, in between the ad-libbing there’ll be some exploitation and propagandizing of their new film comedy.
(The Wisconsin State Journal, March 18, 1941)
March 19, Wednesday. Bing and Dixie attend the charity film premiere of That Hamilton Woman at the Four Star Theatre.
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.
Edward Arnold, portly actor of the screen, and Cliff Nazarro, double-talking comedian, will be the special guests of Bing Crosby at the Kraft Music Hall tonight…Crosby is to sing a number called You Ain’t Kidding as his duet with Miss Boswell. This is the number written by Nathan Scott, the Hollywood NBC pageboy who guides tours through the Kraft Music Hall precincts, and Ed Helwick, one of the writing assistants on the show.
(The Gazette (Montreal), 20th March, 1941)
Sunday. Bing and Cam Puget defeat Harry and Newt Bassler 2up at the
Hillview course in San Jose. Newt Bassler is the new pro at Hillview. A
crowd of 1500 watch the proceedings. In the evening. Bing stops at the
Hotel Cominos in Salinas for dinner.
March 27, Thursday. Bing misses the Kraft Music Hall show. Don Ameche acts as host. Elsewhere, Bing golfs with Johnny Dawson at Pebble Beach in the qualifying round of the H. Chandler Egan team matches and they post an 85.
March 29, Saturday.
Bing and Johnny Dawson are knocked out of the H. Chandler Egan
tournament by Dick Gibson and Pete Watts, losing 3 and 2.
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.
Bing Crosby will come up with these - Roland Young, Russ Morgan and Rudolph Ganz - when he calls his Music Hall broadcast to order on WFLA at 9 o’clock this evening. This versatile trio of guests will represent the acting art, music and more music. Young, noted for his urbane humor and delightful comedy roles, will engage Bing in conversation; Morgan, who is one of the best-known trombonists of modern dance orchestras, will demonstrate his talent for dispensing popular rhythms and Ganz will sit on the opposite side of the musical fence as he upholds serious music.
(The Tampa Times, 3rd April, 1941)
After much grimacing and reluctance, pro-ASCAP Bing Crosby finally yielded and has since sung BMI.
(Variety, April 9, 1941)
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 together with a 1700 word article about him in the magazine entitled "The Groaner".
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 The Kraft Choral Society, John O’Hara and Bob Hope.
Bing Crosby’s Music Hall…will feature the first yearly visit of the Choral Society, the highly trained chorus of employees who appear in the Music Hall twice annually – once at Easter and once at Christmas. The group will sing “Sanctus” from “St. Cecilia” and “God’s Son in Triumph Rose Today.” Also on this special Easter program will be Bob Hope, who insists that the reason Bing needs a full hour for his program is so that he can use longer words than anyone else, and John O’Hara, author of the book behind George Abbot’s current Broadway play, “Pal Joey.”
(The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), 10th April, 1941)
April 16, Wednesday.
Bing plays on the Lakeside Golf Club team which loses 18-3 to Bel-Air
at Bel-Air. He and his partner, Paul Reynolds, halve their match.
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.
Jack Teagarden, band leader and expert trombonist; Rosemary Lane and Brian Aherne of the films, form a healthy lineup of talent for any radio show. Add to them the regulars of the “Music Hall” Bing Crosby, Bob Burns, Connie Boswell, the Music Maids and John Scott Trotter's orchestra—and you have what looks like a “bang-up” entertainment for the full hour show that’s heard over NBC-KTBS tonight at 8 o’clock. Bing Crosby and Jack Teagarden’s friendship for each other dates back to the days “the groaner” was a member of the Rhythm Boys with Paul Whiteman’s famous band. Teagarden was then the ace trombonist of the outfit, Now Jack has a band of his own and Crosby hasn’t done so badly himself either.
(The Times (Shreveport, Louisiana), 17th April, 1941)
(7:30–8:00 p.m.) Bing guests on “Alec Templeton Time” on the NBC Red
wavelength. The show is sponsored by Alka-Seltzer. (8:30 p.m.)
Bing and Dixie are at the opening of the Ice-Capades show at the
Bing Crosby dropped in on the Alec Templeton show (WEAF 7:30) last evening and contributed two numbers—Two Hearts That Pass in the Night” and “Ida.” Alec, alone, is swell. But with Bing, he is something super special.
(Ben Gross, Daily News, April 19, 1941)
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 Jan Struther, Frank Jenks, Virginia Bruce and Don Ameche.
Bing Crosby will come out of his corner in the Music Hall tonight to take up a few matters of interest with Movie-Men Robert Young and Frank Jenks and novelist Jan Struthers…Young is one of the most versatile and continuously occupied of Hollywood’s stars. His last two pictures were “Western Union” and “The Trial of Mary Dugan.” Jenks, who plays a number of instruments in addition to acting, appeared last year in “His Girl Friday.” Jan Struthers is the author of the current best-selling novel “Mrs. Miniver.”
(Belvidere Daily Republican, 24th April, 1941) (NOTE: Looks like Robert Young was replaced by 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. (5:00–6:00 p.m.) Bing hosts the Kraft Music Hall broadcast and his guests include Pat O’Brien and Josephine Tuminia.
Two of the most distinguished graduates of Bing Crosby’s Music Hall come back to call at 8 p.m. Thursday over WAVE. They are Pat O’Brien of the films and Josephine Tuminia of the Metropolitan Opera Company…This makes the tenth time Josephine Tuminia has sung on Bing’s program. Many things of importance have happened since her last visit including her successful debut at the Metropolitan.
(The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), 1st May, 1941)
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 a 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 although that day he plays in the Lakeside team which defeats Virginia 15-6 at Cheviot Hills. He and Jimmy McLarnin win their match, Bing has a 78.
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. (5:00–6:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Alec Templeton, William Frawley, and Walter Pidgeon.
Alec Templeton repays Bing Crosby for the visit to the pianist's program by playing in the Music Hall tonight when Walter Pidgeon has also mentioned dropping in on “the groaner.”…Bob Burns has always interested Templeton as a rare American type rapidly disappearing. In fact, Alec looked into Burns’s tricked-up piano when he dropped around to visit Bing at M. H. rehearsal recently and dashed off a little number he called “Back in Arkansas.” It was the Templeton version of Robin’s theme-song, “The Arkansas Traveler.” He may do it on the program. Speaking of Burns, he’s made quite a hit recently with the letters from his relatives back home. Bing always leads into this part of the program with a series of ad-libs.(Belvidere Daily Republican, 8th May, 1941)
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. (5:00–6:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall show is broadcast. Bing’s guests include Jerry Lester and Priscilla Lane.
Connie Boswell will step out of her usual role of songstress in the Music Hall tonight long enough to play “Dark Eyes” on her cello. This is the night Bing Crosby is having Priscilla Lane, of the Lane brigade; and Jerry Lester comedian, around to help with the entertainment…Though some may be surprised that Connie is adept at playing the cello, those with a long memory will recall her talents. In fact, the famed trio which dissolved when Martha and Vet Boswell got married, was an instrumental group when the first radio break came along. Up and coming among the younger radio comedians is Jerry Lester. Lately, he's been doing special broadcasts from the army camps of the country.
(Belvidere Daily Republican, 15th May, 1941) (Note: Connie Boswell's cello performance was postponed)
…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. (5:00–6:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show and his guests are Kay Kyser, Humphrey Bogart and Lieut. W. W. Lowrey.
One of the oddest coincidences that has ever occurred in signing guests to appear on the Music Hall, brings Lieut. W. W. Lowrey, who with Aviation Chief Machinist’s Mate, J. R. McCants, performed the most spectacular mid-air rescue in naval history, to the Bing Crosby program Thursday May 22. Lowrey, who was suggested by naval officials as a typical test pilot to go on the air with Bing Crosby, took part in a feat without parallel on Thursday, May 15. Lowrey piloted the plane that rescued Lieut. Walter S. Osipoff who was dangling by his parachute from a transport plane for over 30 minutes. The rescue took place high over the Pacific ocean after Osipoff’s parachute got caught in the plane from which he leaped. The producer of the Crosby show chatted with Lowrey on Tuesday, May 13, about his proposed June 5 appearance. After the exciting episode happened on the following Thursday, the date of Lieut. Lowrey’s appearance was moved forward.
Other guests on the program…will be Kay Kyser, band leader; and Humphrey Bogart, of the films…And, according to the latest word from Hollywood, Connie Boswell’s blistered fingers have healed enough to permit her to go through with her cello solo of “The Swan” by Saint Saens,
(Belvidere Daily Republican, 22nd May, 1941) (Note: Connie Boswell's cello performance was again postponed)
…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. Attends the races at Hollywood Park. (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 (undated). Bing and Dixie together with many other stars attend the opening of the street cafe at Grace Hayes Lodge.
May 24, Saturday. Starting at 2 p.m., the Immaculate Heart Mothers' Club holds a benefit garden party at Bing's home.
May 25, Sunday.
The final of the Southern California Inter-Club Championship takes
place at San Gabriel. Oakmont beat Lakeside 12 and a half to 8 and a
half. Bing and Jimmy McLarnin playing for Lakeside win their match 2
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 27, Tuesday. Bing's horse "Okool Maluna" wins at Hollywood Park.
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. (5:00–6:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Frank McHugh, James Hilton, and Duke Ellington.
A novelist of note, a band leader, and a comedian should manage to keep Bing Crosby hopping through another Music Hall divertissement tonight. In order, they are James Hilton, Duke Ellington and Frank McHugh who’ll be heard over WMAQ at 7 o'clock on the hour-show that regularly features Bob Burns, Connie Boswell, Ken Carpenter, the Music Maids, and John Scott Trotter’s band. As a special feature of the entertainment, Duke Ellington will play two new tunes written by his son for the first time publicly. The band leader, who is an excellent pianist, has a son who takes after him for the Duke has written many a hit song. Now writing for the movies is novelist James Hilton whose latest best-seller in the book-stalls is “Random Harvest.” He’s been in M. H. before as has Frank McHugh who always comes back for more.
(Belvidere Daily Republican, 29th May, 1941)
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. (5:00–6:00 p.m.) Another Kraft Music Hall broadcast and Bing’s guests are Jerry Lester and William Boyd. Connie Boswell finally makes her debut on the cello.
Comedian Jerry Lester and Bill “Hopalong Cassidy” Boyd interrupt Bing’s alliterative flow temporarily.
(Evening Star, June 5, 1941)
Connie Boswell topped her singing and talking assignments on Kraft Music Hall with a cello solo of a classical number. Bing Crosby went to some lengths, fore and aft, in emphasizing that the cellist was Miss Boswell. After playing the selection, skilfully, Miss Boswell modestly expressed her hope that top flight cellists throughout the country would overlook her bit or words to that effect.
(“Variety” 11th June 1941)
Monday. Starting at 9:51 a.m., Bing plays in the first qualifying round
of the Southern California amateur golf championship at Annandale Golf
June 10, Tuesday. Mary Rose Miller (Bing’s sister who has divorced Albert Peterson and married William Miller) gives birth to a son, William. Bing plays in the second qualifying round of the Southern California amateur golf championship at Oakmont. With two rounds of 76, he qualifies for the match play section of the championship.
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. (5:00–6:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Ethel Waters, Donald Crisp, and Chester Morris.
Bing Crosby will play host to a singularly versatile trio of guests in the Music Hall tonight at 7 o'clock over WMAQ. The welcome mat will be spread for Donald Crisp and Chester Morris, movie actors, and Ethel Waters, star of “Cabin in the Sky,” each of whom has achieved prominence in a field other than that in which he is now established. Chester Morris was successful on the stage and in vaudeville until 1928 when he entered the movies. Since then he has been in an impressive list of productions. Ethel Waters was a well-known blues singer until her work in “Mamba’s Daughters” disclosed her talent for dramatic acting. Donald Crisp, a Londoner by birth, was both an opera singer and movie director before devoting himself wholly to acting in pictures.
(Belvidere Daily Republican, 12th June, 1941)
Saw the Bing Crosby program the other night. The Groaner was dressed very formally - he was wearing an orange and green lumber-jacket.
(Milton Berle - “Variety” 16th April 1941)
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. Meanwhile at Lakeside, the Bing Crosby Golf Tournament for Women commences and continues until June.19.
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. (5:00–6:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Jimmy O’Brien, Gail Patrick, and Bert Lahr.
Bert Lahr, returning to Hollywood after two years on the stage, will drop in at the Music Hall to visit Bing Crosby and company this evening. Gail Patrick of the movies, and a young singer, Jimmy O’Brien, also will be heard during the KMH session. Lahr, who portrayed the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz, deserted Hollywood for the stage and was featured in DuBarry Was a Lady on Broadway and on the road. Miss Patrick will be drafted into a sketch with Crosby and Bob Burns, and O’Brien will be guest vocalist on the program.
(The Sacramento Bee, 19th June, 1941)
When Bing Crosby heard Jimmy O’Brien sing at a Hollywood café, he asked him to be one of his guests on the Music Hall program from KFI at 5. Jimmy, a young Irish tenor, will appear today along with Bert Lahr and Gail Patrick. Crosby put the royalties from one of his recent recordings, “Adeste Fidelis,” into an automobile which he gave to his North Hollywood parish, St. Charles, to raffle off at a bazaar. The winner was James Fabian of Los Angeles.
(Zuma Palmer, Hollywood Citizen News, June 19, 1941)
June 21, Saturday.
(10:15 a.m.) Bing arrives in Spokane by car and is greeted by his
brother Ted. He lunches at the Davenport Hotel and then plays a round
at Spokane Country Club with Ted Crosby and Bud Ward. His handicap is
given as 4.
June 25, Wednesday, Teeing off at 1:10 pm. in the first round proper of the Championship flight, Bing is defeated by Marshall Hammond, Spokane municipal champion, three and two.
June 26, Thursday. Starting at 9:06 a.m., plays Dr. Mac O'Brien in the First Flight and wins 3 and 2. In the afternoon, Bing loses to A. L. Kenney 2 and 1. He says he is relieved as he has to leave that night by train for a board meeting of the Western Amateur Golf Association in Denver. Don Ameche deputizes for him on the Kraft Music Hall .
Saturday. Bing is in Colorado Springs and plays 20 holes at the
Broadmoor course with Ed Dudley in a foursome with two local golfers.
Crosby and Dudley win.
July 1, Tuesday. Bing plays in the first qualifying round of the Western Amateur Golf Championship on the Broadmoor course in Colorado Springs and has a 76. However he then has to return to Hollywood for his Kraft show.
July 2, Wednesday. Variety announces that Bing has changed music publishers.
Bing Crosby has switched his music publishing affiliation from Santly-Joy-Select, Inc., to Edwin H. Morris, head of Mercer & Morris. There will be a separate corporation set up to cover this new alliance. Larry Crosby, the member of the Crosby family who was associated with S-J-S as a v.p. will now hold stock in Morris' corporation. F. C. (Corky) O’Keefe, who brought Bing and Mori is together for the deal, will also have a stock interest.
Through the Morris-Crosby tieup the new publishing corporation will be entitled not only to the score of any independent picture made by Crosby but to a share of the score of films turned out by Paramount in which Crosby is one of the stars.
The new catalog will have for its starter a tune by Al Dubin and Dave Franklin, ‘The Anniversary Waltz,’ which Crosby will record for Decca.
With the exit of Larry Crosby at Santly-Joy-Select, house has acquired the services of another member of the Crosby family, Everett, the agent. Everett Crosby, it was explained, will hold the stock in that firm formerly allocated to Larry and represent S-J-S in the matter of obtaining scores for the firm from Hollywood studios.
Morris on his return from Hollywood last Thursday (26) admitted there had been some discussion between him and Johnny Mercer about a dissolution of their partnership, but, he added, the question of whether Mercer would prefer to stick with the firm or sell his interest is still up in the air. Mercer at their last meeting, Morris stated, had indicated that he would put the matter in the hands of his New York counsel, Arthur Fishbein, for consideration.
(Variety, July 2, 1941)
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. (5:00–6:00 p.m.) The Kraft
Music Hall show on NBC. Bing’s guests include Marcel Grandjany, Capt. Robert L. Denig and 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.
Win, lose or draw in the golf tournament which kept him away from the Music Hall last week, it’s a safe bet Bing Crosby will undergo rough treatment from his partner in entertainment, Robin Burns, when he returns to the program tonight. Actor Raymond Massey, harpist Marcel Grandjany, and Captain Robert L. Denig, a graduate of the U.S. Marine Corps tank school, will be the special guests…A versatile citizen indeed, Raymond Massey invariably reveals a lighter side of his personality in his appearances with Bing Crosby. In addition to quipping with the quippers, Massey plans to recite a serious work during the festivities.
(Belvidere Daily Republican, 3rd July, 1941)
July 4, Friday. Sings at Ken Murray’s wedding to Cleatus Caldwell (an 18-year-old model).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 Country Club, Los Angeles. Bob’s doctor had ordered him to bed because of a bad case of sunburn but he ignores the advice and has to retire after 9 holes.
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. Bing's horse "Okoole Maluna" wins at Hollywood Park. (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. (5:00–6:00 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 (m.c.), Dorothy Maynor, and Paul Muni complete the lineup.
More big names of radio, Hollywood and Broadway came to the mike last night to boost the sale of defense bonds (WABC-9 to 10). Walter Huston, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour, Dorothy Maynor, Barry Wood, Ray Block’s Choir, and Al Goodman’s Orchestra, with Lowell Thomas as the emcee, provided the entertainment. Some of the patriotic shows are high in noble intent but low in entertainment. Not this one. In fact, “The Treasury Hour — Millions for Defense” as this period is titled, registers as about the best of all the Summer variety periods.
(Ben Gross, Daily News, July 10, 1941)
July 10, Thursday. The Binglin horse "Don Juan II" wins the $2500 Accarak Handicap at Hollywood Park. (10:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m., 2:30–5:00 p.m.) Bing rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B. (5:00–6:00 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.
Working right through the Fourth of July weekend, Bing Crosby has come up with a surprising list of guests for his Music Hall tonight, including Rita Hayworth, trumpeter Wingy Manone, and Jerry Lester. Miss Hayworth, it will be remembered, practically caused Tyrone Power to forsake home life in “Blood and Sand,” but, of course, it was only movie pretending. As difficult as it is at time for the homefolks in M. H. (i.e. Bob Burns, Connie Boswell, Ken Carpenter, the Music Maids, and the Trotter band) to understand fully the talk of Crosby that borders on double-talk, there’s a man who comes around occasionally who makes the crooner’s diatribes sound simple in comparison. He is Wingy Manone, the hot trumpeter, who talks in plain, straight, and only jive. Even Bing, himself, pauses to reconsider some of the words that issue forth from Wingy’s mouth.
(Belvidere Daily Republican, 10th July, 1941)
With time on his hands after completing his Paramount picture and the race track at Del Mar not opening until the first of next month, Bing Crosby decides to stay on Kraft Music Hall beyond his original summer exit, last week. He now drops off July 31st for his quarterly loafing spell and through the season, takes five weeks off at his discretion as per contract. Jerry Lester has been put under a term contract by J. Walter Thompson and becomes a regular on Kraft, filling the slot vacated by Bob Burns who heads his own show for Campbell’s Soup.
(“Variety” 16th July 1941)
July 14, Monday. Bing and Lin Howard watch the Binglin horse "Don Juan II" work out during the morning and decide to enter him for the Gold Cup on July 19. (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. (5:00–6:00 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Warner Baxter, Maureen O’Sullivan, and Vronsky and Babin.
Bing Crosby has invited Jester Jerry Lester to make a quick return trip to the Music Hall tonight when over and above the regular company, such performers as Warner Baxter, Maureen O’Sullivan, and the piano team of Vronsky and Babin will be on hand. Said regular company now consists of Connie Boswell, the Music Maids, John Scott Trotter’s orchestra with Jerry Lester shaping up as a regular weekly starter on the full-hour that’s heard over WMAQ at 7 o'clock.
There’s no denying that Jerry Lester grooved well into the pattern of the Hall last week. He was omnipresent, ducking into the guest interviews at just the right moment and even joining Bing on a song number. As a matter of fact, Lester has been signed to appear on the next three M. H. airings and will be heard on fifteen out of the twenty-two programs to be aired between July 31 and the end of the year of 1941.
(Belvidere Daily Republican, 17th July, 1941)
Saturday. (5:30 p.m.) Bing joins NBC’s Clinton Twiss on a radio broadcast to
describe the scene as the Hollywood Gold Cup is run at Hollywood Park. The Binglin horse "Don Juan II" is unplaced.
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. (5:00–6:00 p.m.) The Kraft Music Hall broadcast. Bing’s guests include Florence George, boxer Billy Conn (who has recently fought Joe Louis), and John Garfield.
Billy Conn, the man who put up such a great fight against Joe Louis in the recent heavyweight championship classic, will face a much tougher job tonight. This is the night he’ll be in there trading punch-lines with Bing Crosby on the Music Hall…Bing’s sister-in-law, Florence George, is the singing guest…Known as a pretty glib youngster with the chatter, Billy Conn will be pitted against radio’s virtual ad-lib champ Crosby. Jerry Lester, who has been functioning smoothly in the show’s comedy spot, will also pitch into the fray with Conn – if the going gets tough for Kid Crosby.
(Belvidere Daily Republican, 24th July, 1941)
July 25, Friday. Bing is at Del Mar to see his horses arrive for the forthcoming race meeting.
July 27, Sunday. Bing's horse "Blackie" wins the classic Polla de Poltrancas in Palermo. Buenos Aires, Argentina.
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. (5:00–6:00 p.m.) Bing’s last Kraft Music Hall show of the season and Mary Martin makes her first appearance as guest and she is joined by Frank Leahy. Don Ameche takes over the show for the next few weeks.
Bing Crosby’s last appearance in the Music Hall before his summer vacation will take place when he’ll entertain Frank Leahy, Notre Dame university’s head coach and director of athletics; Don Ameche, Notre Dame’s most ardent fan, and lovely Mary Martin of the films…Doctor Crosby will leave for his Del Mar track’s racing season immediately after the full hour of fun. The doctor will turn over the reins of M. H. to his confrere, Don Ameche, who’ll be the host until Bing returns in the fall.
Don Ameche was the one who suggested Frank Leahy as a great bet for a guest spot in the Hall. Leahy is well-known for his ability to take a joke at face value and will give as well take during the informal festivities.
(Belvidere Daily Republican, 31st July, 1941)
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. (12:45a.m.-1:00p.m.) In a radio show on NBC from Del Mar where he leads a quiz with the winner having a song performed specially by Bing. (5:15-5:30 p.m.) Later, Bing broadcasts the Long Beach Handicap over a Coast hookup.
August 9, Saturday. (12:45a.m.-1:00p.m.) Bing again broadcasts a quiz and interviews from Del Mar.
August 12, Tuesday. Bing has a winner at Del Mar when his horse "La Zonga" wins the featured sixth race.
August 16, Saturday. (12:45a.m.-1:00p.m.) Bing
again broadcasts a quiz and interviews from Del Mar. The Binglin horse
"Golden Chance" wins the first race and his horse "La Zonga" wins the
August 23, Saturday. (12:45a.m.-1:00p.m.) Bing attends the racing at Del Mar and broadcasts a quiz and interviews from Del Mar.
August 28, Thursday. Bing leaves by train for New York.
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 [Butler] 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 [Burke] and then we went to see Phil Silvers for a little while. Tonite they and Judy and Lin [Howard] 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 Copacabana and meets Ethel Smith, the organist with whom he later records. He watches Grande Otelo’s show and later dances the samba. The microphone is placed on his table and in response to many requests he improvises songs with Carlos Machado’s orchestra. He is invited to come back to Rio on his return trip to entertain for charity and plans are later put in place.
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 600 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 25, Thursday. Dixie writes to Bing again.
Your letters were so wonderful. I wish I could be like you (gee you’re lucky) and write long letters.
It was so funny ‒ I called Carroll Carroll to give him your phone number and Bo said he was talking to you. It makes it seem you’re so near. If I could only give you one kiss I’d let you go back again.
I went to the Ice Follies with Alice and Hugh last nite. They were very good.
Don’t laugh when you get Gary’s letter ‒ I had nothing to do with his line “Don’t fall in love.” He said he told you that to save you a “bump on the noggin” and to save my arm from using the rolling pin. You don’t suppose he’s been reading Jiggs and Maggie do you. Gee they’re funny kids‒they seem so much closer to me than ever before. Maybe I take them for granted when you’re here and when you’re gone they remind me of you.
Having read this one I’d like to tear it up but you said even hello and good‒bye helped so here goes.
I love you ‒ I love you ‒ I love you ‒
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 [Taurog] 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)
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.
October 7, Tuesday. The "S. S. Brazil" reaches Santos in Brazil and Bing disembarks. He is flown to Rio de Janeiro and visits the Brazilian Jockey Club. Later, at the Cassino da Urca, he sings six songs for the British and Brazilian Red Cross and the show is broadcast by Radio Mayrink Veiga with Globo Agency support. Bing has been invited by first lady Darci Vargas and during the event he also auctions a collection of his records to benefit the Red Cross. Overnight he stays at the Copacabana Palace Hotel.
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)
The nite we went to the Urca, Bing Crosby was making a charity appearance for the British Red Cross. Jock Whitney and Paramount Pictures through Ted Pierpoint, had suggested to the Bing-o that it would be in the interests of the good neighbor policy for him to sing some songs at the Urca, and Bing complied. He was presented as the second number of the floor show, following a huge dancing number, and he was a sensation. The Brazilians love singing, and Crosby was right down their ally. In addition, he was informal and humorous, and the net effect was tremendously successful. One fotographer, crowding up close to the floor to get a snapshot of Bing, exploded his flashlight in the middle of a high note. Crosby, without losing the rhythm of his tune, remarked in an aside: “Come right in,” and the crowd roared its pleasure at the American’s acceptance of the intrusion. As a result of Crosby’s appearance here, his picture “Road to Zanzibar,” has picked 60% in its current engagement. Brazilians are grateful.
(Ed Sullivan, writing in the Daily News (New York), 26th October, 1941)
October 8, Wednesday. In the afternoon, Bing rejoins the "S. S. Brazil" which has now reached Rio de Janeiro.
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. Dixie is there to greet him. 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. Bing and Dixie go on to the Cafe Rouge at the Pennsylvania Hotel to see the Glenn Miller band perform.
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.
After faltering the past few weeks, it’s a pleasure to report the Treasury Hour is solidly in the groove again (WJZ-8 to 9), Featuring Noel Coward, introduced from London by Robert Montgomery, now a United States naval attaché there, Carmen Miranda and Bing Crosby, among others, the hour, dedicated to Navy Day, was tuneful, quick-tempoed and alertly paced.
(Daily News, (New York), October 22, 1941)
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)
Bing Crosby. ‘Do You Care’ – ‘Humpty Dumpty Heart’ (Decca 4064)
Crosby’s tasteful, beautifully shaded and sentimental interpretation of first, a solid ballad, ought to push it to top sales brackets. Good accomp, too. Reverse, from Kay Kyser’s ‘Playmates’ film, also pleases, but won’t figure. Woody Herman’s band is backing, and it’s good.
(Variety, December 10, 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 sing his original theme song. ‘Blue of the Night,” since December 28, 1940 because of the ASCAP dispute.
A gala welcome is in preparation for Bing Crosby who returns to the Music Hall to take up the reins again with the airing of tonight at 8 o’clock over WMAQ. Bing has been on vacation for three months, spending part of his time in South America where he examined promising looking horses for his Del Mar track and stables and acted as unofficial good-will ambassador. His guests on home-coming night will be William Frawley, veteran character actor of stage, vaudeville, and screen; Metropolitan Opera soprano Rise Stevens, who will star in a forthcoming picture, and Warner Baxter, veteran Hollywood leading man and an old friend of Bing’s.
(Belvidere Daily Republican, 30th October, 1941)
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 which upsets the mayor of New Orleans. Bing and Dixie are thought to have attended the Jack O' Lantern ball at the Cocoanut Grove.
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.
Bing Crosby, Rochester and other stars gave a flying start to their latest picture, “The Birth of the Blues,” (WOR 9). A nostalgic divertissement, with Bing’s singing of “Melancholy Baby” and John Scott Trotter’s indigo music as the highlights.
(Daily News, (New York), November 2, 1941)
November (undated). Sings the title song of the newsreel short Angels of Mercy to honor the American Red Cross. The newsreel is released on December 5.
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 Michele Morgan.
Bing Crosby has invited his old friend, Brian Donlevy – who stars with Bing and Mary Martin in Paramount’s “Birth of the Blues” – to join him in the festivities of the Music Hall tonight along with French Film Actress Michele Morgan and basso-buffo Salvatore Baccaloni of the Metropolitan Opera company.
(The Shreveport Times, 6th November, 1941)
November 7, Friday. Birth of the Blues is released nationwide but not in New York City which has to wait until December 9.
‘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 The Milt Herth Trio, Ruth Hussey and Joe DiMaggio.
When Bing Crosby ambles into the ‘ole Music Hall tonight, he will bring with him, as his special guests, charming film actress Ruth Hussey, “Slugger” Joe di Maggio and the Milt Herth Trio…The Milt Herth Trio consists of the unusual combination of swing organ, piano and drums. Milt Herth is at the console of the swing organ. The outfit will be seen and heard in forthcoming juke box films. Ruth Hussey most recently has been in “Our Wife” and “Married Bachelor” and gave a particularly outstanding performance before that in “Philadelphia Story.” “Slugger” di Maggio established the all-time record, during the recent baseball season, for consecutive game hits.
(The Shreveport Times, 13th November, 1941)
November (undated). Bing and Dixie are seen dining at the Cafe Biarritz.
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.
NBC climaxed a week’s celebration of its 15th anniversary with a show last Saturday night (15) which ran four minutes short of three hours. Apparently NBC figured that the way that it could make the anniversary occasion momentous to listeners was to trot out practically every artist heard regularly on the Red and Blue networks. The performance, which started at 11:15 p.m., had one edge over the occasion of NBC’s celebration of its 10th anniversary. The marathon complexion prevailed, but it was a marathon of entertainment instead of a marathon of brass-hat oratory. The speeches this time were sort of slipped in between the acts, and the added virtue was their briefness.
(Variety, November 19, 1941)
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)
Berlin 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)
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 The Hall Johnson Choir and Donald Crisp.
Raymond Massey and Jinx Falkenburg, scheduled to be Bing Crosby’s guests tonight, have cancelled. Bing has substituted Donald Crisp, the Hall Johnson Choir and dug up “that surprise feminine guest” again.
(The Pittsburgh Press, 20th November, 1941)
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 Hank Bauer, 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.
Walter Huston, star of vaudeville, stage, and screen, whose checkered career has led him from bit parts in a road show, to managing a power plant, and on to become one of the dramatic greats, will join the confreres of the “Music Hall” when it goes on the air over NBC-KTBS tonight at 8 o’clock. Also invited to join Bing Crosby’s exuberant group is Carole Landis, young blonde movie star, whose curves and curls have garnered a mountain of fan mail and who currently has been appearing in “Moon over Miami”. As an added attraction, Bing has announced a surprise guest.
(The Shreveport Times, December 4, 1941)
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 see 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,
Par has a terrifically appealing item on the Red Cross roll call drive, with Bing Crosby singing ‘Angels of Mercy,’ by Irving Berlin, both getting screen credits. Tune is doubly effective as offered with succinct scenes of organization’s work.
(Variety, December 10, 1941)
December 7, Sunday. Japanese planes attack Pearl Harbor.
December 10, Wednesday. 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.
The girl with the most talked about head of hair in the nation – Veronica Lake by name – and often called the sweetheart of the navy air corps puts in a guest appearance on the “Music Hall” over NBC-KTBS tonight at 8 o’clock. Slated to appear with Miss Lake is Paul Robeson, great Negro baritone, and Robert Coote of the Royal Canadian Air Force, an old favorite at the hall.
(The Shreveport Times, 11th December, 1941)
December 14, Sunday. Plays with Babe Didrickson Zaharias at Potrero Golf
Club in the third annual Scotch mixed open organised by the Inglewood
Chamber of Commerce. They tie for third gross with a 77 in front of a crowd numbering about 1000.
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
On the Bing Crosby program at 8 o’clock tonight over WAVE, a choral society composed of eighty voices will sing. An unusual fact about the society is that its members are all employees of the firm which sponsors the radio program. Twice a year, the group sings on the firm’s broadcasts – at Christmas and at Easter. Tonight they will sing “Mary’s Lullaby” and “The Angel’s Song.” George Murphy, song and dance man of the movies and a veteran of Music Hall proceedings, will put in an appearance, and Victor Borge, Danish-born comedian, will begin a series of regular visits to the show. He made quite an impression on the Music Hall’s last two sessions.
(The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), 18th December, 1941)
December 21, Sunday. Bing and his four sons visit Defense House in Pershing Square, Los Angeles to buy Defense Bonds and stamps.
Bing Crosby and his sons were a sensation selling war bonds at Defense House in Pershing Square.(Daily Variety, December 23, 1941)
Boys and more boys, all sons of Bing Crosby, visited Defense House at Pershing Square yesterday to make their initial purchase of Defense Savings Stamps and Bonds.
Crosby bought a large Defense Bond, while the children discarded their piggy banks in favor of the new glass Defense Stamp banks.
Friendly rivalry among the brothers to see who could fill his bank first in order to break it open to buy more stamps cleaned Bing of all his small change.
Crosby, who has much of his money invested in various business enterprises including a racing stable, indicated that a large percentage of his future earnings will be invested in Defense Bonds.
(The Los Angeles Times, December 22,
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. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation does not allow the show to be aired in Canada because of its ban on commercial broadcasts on Christmas Day leading to many protests.
Bing Sings Yule Carols Tonight
For the sixth consecutive year Bing Crosby will sing “Adeste Fidelis” and “Silent Night” on Kraft Music Hall’s Christmas program tonight at 9 o’clock over WSB. As a Yuletide novelty he will sing for the first time on the air “White Christmas” from his new film, “Holiday Inn.”
The guest panel will be composed by Fay Bainter, celebrated character actress of stage and screen, and tubby zany Frank McHugh, an old friend of Bingston. Danish comedian Victor Borge, who became one of the regulars with last week’s K. M. H. proceedings, will play and sing “The Bells Are Ringing for Christmas,” an old Danish folk song. Bing and his colleagues in the Hall will regretfully say farewell to songstress Connie Boswell, who leaves the show to fulfil a series of personal appearances in the east. Her sultry voiced singing has been one of the pleasantest features of K. M. H. for more than a year.
(The Atlanta Constitution, December 25, 1941)
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 Defense 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 is scheduled to golf with Jimmy Demaret, Bud Oakley, and Jimmie Fidler in a benefit for the war chest of the Salvation Army at the Lakeside Club but it is not clear whether they actually played in view of the heavy rain. (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 Dusolina Giannini. 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 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 stag 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.
Proceedings at the “Music Hall” will take on a definite military flavor
with the appearance of Major John S. Winch of the United States Marine corps as
one of Bing Crosby's guests when the program is aired over NBC-KTBS tonight at
8 o'clock. Major Winch will introduce a solemn note into the general levity
with a short discussion on what to do when and if various and sundry bombs
start raining down. Also due for a hearty welcome is Cesar Romero, tall, dark
leading man of many a Hollywood production currently appearing in “Weekend in
Havana.” Starting the New Year with a slightly changed cast of regulars,
Maestro Crosby will be aided and abetted by sharp-tongued Jerry Lester, and the
new comic sensation from Denmark, Victor Borge. The latter plans to put his
talents to work with some personal impressions of the manufacture of steel.
Bing's musical aids will be songstress Mary Martin, John Scott Trotter and his
band, and the Music Maids and Hal. Ken Carpenter will do the announcing as
(The Shreveport Times, 8th January, 1942)
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.
For the second week in a row the “Music Hall” entertains the military as it hits the ether tonight at 9 o’clock over WSB. Bing Crosby and his cohorts will welcome an antiaircraft officer from the harbour defences at Fort McArthur. Also slated to appear on the program is an old friend, Robert Young, who is currently starring in the film “H.M. Pulham, Esq.” Continuing the procedure of delving into the serious for a moment or two, Bing plans to ask the Army officer to tell what he can about air raid precautions. Due to Army regulations, however, the officer’s name is to be withheld till program time.
(The Atlanta Constitution, 15th January, 1942)
January 16, Friday. The film actress Carole Lombard (33) is killed in a plane crash in the mountains 35 miles west of Las Vegas.
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 director is Conrad Nagel and the program is sponsored by the International Silver Company.
Bing Crosby actor, singer and turfman, has the lead in a radio adaptation of the recent motion picture success, “Weekend in Havana,” on the “Silver Theatre” broadcast over CBS-KWKH at 5 o’clock this afternoon.
Crosby appears as a wage slave in the employ of a steamship firm. One of the company’s cruise ships fails to complete a Caribbean holiday jaunt and when the beefs of the disappointed passengers attain a mournful crescendo Crosby is dispatched southward to adjust matters.
With a lone exception, all the passengers sign a waiver. The single conscientious objector - how did you guess it was a pretty girl? – insists on a trip to Havana. Crosby takes her there by plane, plans an exciting stay for her and even arranges a tropical romance with the aid of a gigolo and a reasonably small amount of cash,
There are repercussions when the adamant passenger and the gigolo’s girl friend tangle,
It wouldn’t be cricket to give away the finish – but put your money on a happy ending.
(The Shreveport Times, January 18, 1942)
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 Major Thomas S. Power and Lucille Ball.
The wise-cracking film actress Lucille Ball, will be back in the Music Hall tonight at 7 o’clock. She will indulge in a bit of verbal sparring with Bing Crosby and his pals. Continuing the policy of the last few weeks of inviting an officer in the defence forces to explain the branch in which he serves, Bing will present Major Thomas Power, assistant director of training for the West Coast Air Corps Training Centre.
(Calgary Herald, 22nd January, 1942)
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 Arlington girls All-Stars. The result is a 8-8 tie. Later, Bing and his sons entertain troops at Mines Field, 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
250 pros and amateurs take part supervised for the first time by the
Professional Golfers' Association. It is now known as the
National Pro-Amateur Championship. 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.
John Garfield of the movies, Lieut. Harold B. Roberts of the U. S. marine commission and Wingy Manone will be guests of Bing Crosby on the Music Hall program.
(The Austin American, 5th February, 1942)
February 6, Friday. Bing arrives in Phoenix, Arizona with his son Gary. 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. Bing and Gary stay at the Camelback Inn, Scottsdale.
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. Plays 27 holes of golf at the Phoenix Country Club. 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 14, Saturday. Plays with Byron Nelson and
Jimmy Demaret again as they compete in the Texas Open at Willow Springs. Bing has an 83 for a 160 total.
February 16, Monday. Leaves San Antonio at 9:30 a.m. to drive to Corpus Christi where he, together with Johnny Weissmuller, Ed Dudley and Jimmy Demaret, register for conscription to the armed forces under the Selective Service Act at the USO building. The event is captured by press photographers. In the afternoon, Bing plays in an exhibition match with Johnny Weissmuller, Ed Dudley, Jimmy Demaret and Sam Schneider at Corpus Christi Golf and Country Club. The match is a benefit for the Professional Golfers Association War Relief Fund and it is estimated that there are 1500 spectators. Bing leaves by train at 7:30 p.m.
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, returning a 76. He again stays at the Camelback Inn.
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 20, Friday. Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen fly into Phoenix to discuss the songs for Road to Morocco with Bing, They are accompanied by Victor Young and Arthur Franklin of the Paramount musical department.
February 22, Sunday. The invitational tournament continues. In the morning, Bing beats Johnny Dawson one up on the twentieth green. In the semi-final, 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 23, Monday. Reports to Paramount Studios to rehearse the songs for Road to Morocco. He is accompanied on the piano by Charlie LaVere.
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 (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 Hank Luisetti, Paul Robeson and Allen Jenkins.
The big news about the “Music Hall” airing over NBC-KTBS tonight at 8 o’clock is that Bing Crosby will resume his emcee duties after an absence from two shows. While he was away, Bingston was participating in a series of golf tourneys for the benefit of the Red Cross. On hand to welcome Bing back will be Paul Robeson, Film Actor Alan Jenkins (sic) and Hank Luisetti, one of the greatest basketball stars of all time.
(The Shreveport Times, 26th February, 1942)
Returning to KMH, Bing welcomed back Paul Robeson, and instead of vanishing during Robeson's numbers, he stood off to the side, arms crossed, and listened intently as the bass baritone sang “Balm in Gilead” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” Bing followed him to the microphone with “Miss You.” That month he told the magazine Music and Rhythm that Robeson “thrills me right to my boots every time I hear him sing; he handles his voice as though he were playing a mighty organ.”
(Gary Giddins, Swinging on a Star, Page 183)
February 27–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 28, Saturday. Plays in the Lakeside Wednesday team as they defeat the Sunday team 16 to 8. Bing and his partner Guy Hanson win their match with Bing having a 74.
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 out for 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 Cornelius Warmerdam, Jack Teagarden and Donald Crisp.
“The Waiter, the Porter and the Upstairs Maid.” Bing Crosby, Jack Teagarden and Mary Martin get together in that catchy tune; other guests are Donald Crisp, who won the Academy Award for his performance in “How Green Was My Valley,” and Cornelius Warmerdam, California school teacher and ex-Fresno College star who is only man ever to pole vault more than 15 feet.
(The Birmingham News, 5th March, 1942)
March 8, Sunday. (7:30–8:00 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 and Roger Pryor is the mc.
Three of the most popular stars of the screen and of the radio – Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Hedy Lamarr – were gathered by the Screen Guild to the mike last night (WABC-7:30). They appeared in an adaptation of the comedy film, “Too Many Husbands.” The boys and the gal had a good time and so did many listeners. With both Bing and Bob on hand, the gags flew thicker than rumors in wartime. Hedy, abandoning for the once her smoldering characterizations, came forth a bit on the brittle side.
(Ben Gross, Daily News [New York], March 9, 1942)
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 Mary I. Barber, Wingy Manone and Pat O’Brien.
Miss Mary I. Barber, whom Titusville still claims as its own, although she has not resided here for many years, talked over a nation-wide hook-up last night about her work as food consultant in the Quartermaster Corps of the Army… She had a particular message for American mothers telling them that their sons were the best fed soldiers in the world… Miss Barber received an impressive introduction, Bing Crosby, the master of ceremonies saying she is “one of the few women in the world not in the Army but of the Army” and that she is “the only woman in history who ever filled the empty stomach the army moves on.”
(Titusville Herald (P.A.), March 13, 1942)
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 Lester V. Berry, 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 John E. 'Deems' Reardon (National League umpire), Jack Mayhew (saxophonist), The Ink Spots and Robert Preston.
Bing Crosby will play host to Robert Preston, screen actor who is winning acclaim for his performance in Reap the Wild Wind, during the Music Hall program tonight.
(The Sacramento Bee, March 26, 1942)
March 28, Saturday. (6:00–6:45 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 1, Wednesday. Dixie undergoes an appendectomy at Cedars of Lebanon hospital Variety gives an update re Bing's recording of "Silent Night."
Another Bing Crosby philanthropy came to light last week when it was revealed that all royalties from the sale of the Decca's double-decker, ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Adeste Fideles,’ are used to finance a unit playing the camps. Platter sale, which gets brisk around Christmas, reached 315,000 last year, and the $8,132 accruing to Crosby in royalty payments went into the fund. When time from pictures and radio permits, Crosby joins the entertainers and emcees the show. When he’s not available, brother Larry takes over. Last year Crosby donated royalties from the disks to the St. Charles church in North Hollywood to help construct the parochial school.
(Variety, April 1, 1942)
April 2, Thursday. June Crosby drops her divorce action against Bob Crosby. (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.
The annual Easter appearance of the Kraft Choral Society will be a highlight of the Music Hall program at 6 o’clock this evening when Bing Crosby will have Claude Thornhill, orchestra leader, and Walter Pidgeon of the films as his studio guests. The chorus will be heard during a cutin from Chicago.
(The Fresno Bee, 2nd April, 1942) (NOTE: Walter Pidgeon was replaced by Walter Huston)
Walter Pidgeon, who was forced to give up his guest spot on the Kraft Music Hall because of studio activities, has promised to be present this week with Bing Crosby and the gang on the program heard at 9 p.m. over Station WMBG. Other guests will be June Havoc, screen star, and Major John L. DeWitt Jr., of the Fifth Armored Division, United States Army.
(Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9th April, 1942)
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 Visalia Country Club against Johnny Weissmuller and Johnny Dawson. A crowd of 2000 persons watches the golf and afterwards the party moves on to Sequoia Field and Visalia Bomber Base, where Hope emcees a show. Bing sings several songs and eight-year old Gary Crosby sings a song also.
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.
Two movie actors and a star harmonica player share and share alike the guest-star spot on the “Music Hall” with Bing Crosby tonight at 8 o’clock over KTBS. They are Ronald Reagan, who will be a member of Uncle Sam’s fighting forces three days later; Sabu, erstwhile “Elephant Boy” whose recent celluloid venture is “Jungle Boy,” (sic) and Larry Adler, harmonica player extra special.
(The Shreveport Times, 16th April, 1942)
April 18, Saturday. American B-25s make a lightning raid on Tokyo for the first time.
April 21, Tuesday. Bing's horse "Momentito" wins at the Keeneland track in Kentucky.
April 23, Thursday. (6:00–6:45 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.
With Captain Floyd J. Sweet of the Air Force Training Detachment for Gliders, Condor Field, 29 Palms, Calif., as guest, Bing Crosby and his Music Hall cohorts will fly, high wide and handsome during their broadcast at 9 tonight.
(The Bristol News Bulletin (Tennessee), 23rd April, 1942)
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.
April 30, 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 Washington.
Lieut. Commander Gene Tunney of the navy, harmonica virtuoso, Larry Adler and film actress, Joan Leslie will drop in on Bing Crosby and his pals for a session of the “Music Hall” over KTBS tonight at 8 o’clock…Joan Leslie, who co-stars with James Cagney in the forthcoming film, “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” will be featured in a hill-billy skit with Crosby.
(The Shreveport Times, 30th April, 1942)
May 1, Friday (night). Bing leaves by train to join the Hollywood Victory Caravan.
May 4, Monday. 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)
In 1942 Sandrich was given the job of organizing and directing the Victory Caravan, an impressive aggregation of Hollywood stars which toured the country giving performances for the war effort. Crosby joined the show in Chicago where it was booked for one night at the huge Olympic Auditorium before a capacity crowd of 22,000.
Up to that time Bing had never appeared in person before a large audience.
When he arrived in Chicago that morning Sandrich asked him how many numbers he had prepared. Bing said three.
“You’re crazy,” said Sandrich, “they’ll demand more than that. Better give them at least five songs.”
Bing was dubious. “I think you’re wrong,” he said. “They won’t go for that many.” Sandrich finally persuaded him to rehearse two more numbers.
“When he went on the stage before that mob,” Sandrich recalls, “he was scared stiff. He got a big hand, though, and that quieted him down. He sang his three numbers and they clamored for more, so he sang the other two. When he finished they wouldn’t let him off. They kept yelling for more and finally Al Newman, the musical director, walked over to the piano and sat down. Bing shrugged his shoulders and grinned. With Al accompanying him, he sang three more songs before they would let him go.”
(Photoplay, August, 1944)
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. The spectators number slightly more than 2000 and about $1000 is raised for the 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 13, Wednesday. En route to Louisville in Kentucky, Bing changes trains at Memphis and in the evening walks down Beale Street. He meets a soldier and buys him a meal producing some press coverage.
Bing Crosby, in between trains, window-shopped on Main Street, took a stray soldier to eat ribs at Johnny Mills’ famous joint on Beale Street.(Variety, May 27, 1942)
May 14, Thursday. Early in the morning, Bing arrives in Louisville, Kentucky, 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. Bing later goes to the Audubon Country Club and plays a few holes.
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. In the evening, Bing continues to Fort Knox and takes part in a ninety-minute ad-lib song and gag session with Senator Chandler and Governor Rodes K. Myers.
…Chandler and Crosby played a one night stand at Fort Knox last night and rolled some 3,800 soldiers in the aisles with a warm-up “battle of gags and vocal cords.” Appearing at the post field house in a skit broadcast by WINN, the team staged a 50-minute running fight of wise cracks at the record of the Crosby racing stable, and topped it all with a more or less harmonious rendition of “Blues in the Night.” As an encore, Senator Chandler sang his famous “Gold Mine in the Sky.”
(The Courier-Journal, May 17, 1942)
…The Senator, who has a reputation hereabouts as an amateur vocalist, joined with Crosby and Myers in a number of trios. The three indulged in an hour and a half gag and song session, all ad lib which wowed the soldiers. Station WINN had the forethought to transcribe the whole affair, and cuttings from the broadcast will be sent out as souvenirs.(Variety, May 27, 1942)
May 17, Sunday. Starting at 2 p.m., 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)
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 Rear Admiral I. C. Johnson, Carole Landis and Virginia Weidler. Bob Crosby has been deputizing in Bing’s absence.
Bing Crosby takes over the reins of his “Music Hall” on KTBS tonight at 8 o’clock after an absence of two weeks during which time he participated in a number of golf tournaments for the benefit of the Red Cross. Special guests, who will serve with the regulars as a welcoming committee for Bing, will be Virginia Weidler, Merle Oberon and Rear Admiral Johnson, director of the naval reserve 11th district. Merle Oberon has been traveling with other movie luminaries in the Victory Caravan, which has been giving shows for the benefit of the Navy Relief Society. She can be counted on to give some interesting highlights of the junket.
(The Shreveport Times, 21st May, 1942)
Following an interview with Admiral Johnson, stationed in Los Angeles (about enlistments, cases open in Naval Reserve etc.) Bing Crosby read a message in Crosby language. He knew what ‘all soldiers, sailors and coast guardsmen’ were doing: buying bonds. Asked everybody to do the same, ‘to clip the Nips.’ Emphasized payroll deduction plan. Well phrased and delivered. The Admiral thanked Crosby for what the latter had done to aid Navy Relied.
(Variety, May 27, 1942)
May 25, Monday. (Starting at 11 a.m.) Plays in the qualifying round for the Southern California amateur golf championship at the Riviera Club and has an 82! 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. (Starting at 11 a.m.) Bing plays in the second qualifying round for the Southern California amateur golf championship, this time at Bel-Air.
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