Transcription and Transformation, 1946–1949
The period began with headlines on the front page of Variety magazine’s first issue of 1946 illustrating the extent of Bing’s success.
Bing’s Bangup Box Office in ’45
400G from Decca Records alone
No other figure on the show business horizon has managed to parlay his multiple pix-radio-music talents into the gross yearly earnings wrapped up by Bing Crosby during 1945. That he’s the hottest guy in show biz today is reflected in the unprecedented royalties (more than $400,000) from the 1945 sale of Decca records. Add to that the current jockeying among every top advertising agency in the business and the top bankrollers in radio to latch on to Der Bingle’s radio services in the wake of his Kraft Music Hall divorce, plus the record four-week grosses racked up by the Radio City Music Hall, N.Y., for his current starrer, “Bells of St. Mary’s” (those 7:30 a.m. lines of customers circling the Rockefeller Center theater building have been one of the top attractions for New York holiday oglers) and you can credit El Bingo with copping, hands down, all laurels for emerging the one-man industry in show biz today.
As Decca’s all-time disk grosser, the Groaner has recorded during the year virtually every pop song that struck the public’s fancy. It’s by far the top royalty slice to any disk performer in modern times, and maybe of all time, with the current Crosby fan wave making him even potentially bigger in ‘46. . . .
Crosby is said to have a royalty deal with Decca which gives him 10% of the retail price of every record sold (his disks retail at 50c). On that basis, the 400G royalty total indicates that some 8,000,000 of Der Bingle’s needlings went across the counter and into jukeboxes in 1945. That’s considerably in excess of the number he must sell in order to earn the $300,000 he’s said to be guaranteed annually by Decca.
(Variety, January 2, 1946)
While this sounded marvelous, it was also true to say that Bing was increasingly beset by difficulties all around him. The issues at home with Dixie’s drinking were continuing, he may well have been engaged in an extramarital relationship with Joan Caulfield, his health was affected by his kidney stone problems, he was locked into a legal dispute with Kraft, his singing was reflecting the uncertainties in his life and, incredibly bearing in mind his income, he had cash flow considerations to worry about too.
Kraft contract duly ended after the legal battle as Bing fought to have the
right to record (or “transcribe” to use the jargon of the times) his radio show
in the same way that he had previously recorded broadcasts for the armed
forces. He moved to Philco in 1946 and problems emerged not only with the
recorded show, but also with Bing’s voice which had fallen from its previous
high standards. However, Bing came back strongly in 1947 after his troubles and
he regained his vocal prowess, albeit with a narrower range in a lower key. His
record sales were aided considerably by Decca issuing 36 albums of his
songs during the years 1946-49. Many were repackages of earlier
releases although some contained new recordings. Initially issued as
78rpm albums they were also released as 10" long-playing vinyl records when that
format was introduced during the late 1940s.
The Philco show achieved good ratings although the impact of television was becoming apparent. A switch to Chesterfield in 1949 kept Bing in the forefront as a radio star, but the medium was undoubtedly starting to lose out to television as the decade ended.
Although Bing’s income had indeed been enormous during the 1940s, his net income had not been well managed by his brother Everett and on his attorney’s recommendation, he recruited an accountant called Basil Grillo from Arthur Andersen to restructure his financial situation and find more tax effective ways of earning money. During the war, the special income tax levied on American citizens to fund war production and mobilization had taken over 90 percent of Bing’s income and although tax levels reduced, they were never to return to prewar levels. He sold his interest in the Del Mar Turf Club and rolled the funds over into a share of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team. His home at Rancho Santa Fe was sold and he increased the size of his working cattle ranch in Nevada. In 1949, he raised a large sum of money when changing radio company from ABC to CBS and he went on to invest lucratively in oil wells.
Bing spent a considerable amount of his time away from his Holmby Hills home and he and Dixie were infrequently seen together although the myth of the happy marriage was maintained. He tried to spend periods with his sons whenever possible and each summer he took them to his ranch at Elko, Nevada, and then on to a holiday home at Hayden Lake, Idaho.
After being suspended during the war, his annual golf tournament was relaunched at Pebble Beach in 1947.
Commercially the 1940s belonged to Bing but, after the war, it was apparent that the huge pressures on him from various sources had transformed him into a more introverted personality and he started to avoid live appearances and social events. A trip to Vancouver in 1948 brought him back into contact with a large unruly crowd again and the local press carried a perceptive article which was probably fairly close to the truth. The article is reprinted courtesy of The Vancouver Sun.
Bing Puzzled Over Mass Hero–Worship
Man Forced into Limelight Glare Prefers Shadows of Private Life
Bing loves ‘em individually; but collectively people are perhaps his greatest problem. His life, say those who know Harry Lillis Crosby, is one long pursuit to “get away by himself and be natural.”
Semi-retiring, genuinely friendly, taken aback by crowds, “a man of more depth than most people give him credit for”—that’s Bing, say his friends. And yet few personalities on the Canadian-American scene are so surely calculated to draw crowds wherever they go. That’s Bing’s quandary. The whole show company traveling with him are well aware of his allergy for crowds, though few admit it. Hence the public find this company, constantly “running interference” for him.
Bing, meanwhile, keeps as few formal appointments as possible, although he is always punctual when committed, sings and jokes his programs, then runs “to get away from it all.” Then he is likely to show up a few minutes later at a boys’ club, or on a sandlot pitching the ball with the kids.
“He realizes the responsibility grown-ups have to youth. That’s why he’s here,” said one of his company.
“People love Crosby. But when they show it in such large numbers he seems actually a little frightened. Bing likes people too. But he doesn’t like crowds.”
But crowd conscious or not, he is still the day-to-day quarry of a relentless horde of idolizing youngsters who want his autograph, wide-eyed women who want to “just pinch him,” men who tell him they think they have a voice, etc. In Vancouver, something new has been added. An English inventor traveled all the way here from the Old Country to see Bing. He wants the crooner to sponsor the manufacture of a new-type auto trailer. Life’s like that for Bing “a little guy who likes people, but not crowds.”
(Bill Ryan, The Vancouver Sun, Wednesday, September 22, 1948)
However, despite all of his problems, Bing generally managed to continue to maintain his public image of the easygoing crooner, and as a film star, he was the top box office performer for a record five years. This, allied to his vast record sales, his highly-rated radio shows and the constant publicity made him, arguably, still the most famous man in the world for most of the period.
In 1949, $100 was equivalent to $721 in the year 2000.
January 2, Wednesday.
John O'Melveny and Everett Crosby join Bing in New York. Bing sends a
telegram to J. Walter Thompson stating that he will not return to the
Kraft program on January 3 as requested. In the early afternoon, he
goes for a brisk walk and meets the Barsa girls (two young fans) and
takes them for a frankfurter at Howard Johnson's.
January 3, Thursday. Kraft files suit against Bing as he will not complete his Kraft Music Hall commitments. The process server hands Bing the summons as he opens the door to his New York hotel suite. It is revealed that Bing has been receiving $5,000 a show since 1939.
January 5, Saturday. Bing attends the opening night of the revival of Show Boat at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York.
January 7, Monday. Dixie’s mother, Nora Matilda Scarbrough Wyatt, dies from a heart attack in Santa Monica at the age of 63. She is buried at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, Los Angeles on January 10.
January 9, Wednesday.
Rumours about Bing's relationship with Joan Caulfield are starting to
circulate and in an effort to calm these, he writes to Hedda Hopper
stating that he and Joan have a very firm friendship and that there is
nothing clandestine about the relationship. However around this time he
goes to see Archbishop Spellman and tells him of his marital
unhappiness. Spelllman makes it clear that divorce is out of the
question and recommends that Dixie is put into a sanitarium as soon as
January 12, Saturday. After indications that the dispute between Bing and Kraft was to be settled amicably, John Kraft changes his mind and decides to go to court.
Round And ‘Round Kraft And Crosby
Dispute between Bing Crosby and Kraft Foods over former’s desire to ease out of his Kraft Music Hall contract which seemed likely to be settled amicably, last week, after several huddles between representatives of both principals will now go to court due to a reported, last minute, change of heart on Saturday (12th) by John Kraft. As a result, Crosby’s attorneys are now preparing an answer to Kraft’s application for an injunction.
Kraft claimed Crosby has reneged on a 1937 contract which it states runs on until 1950. The Groaner, however, maintains that last summer when he gave notice to quit, he was merely taking advantage of California’s seven-year employee law which says an employee can’t make a contract beyond seven years. In its application for injunction, Kraft acknowledges the Crosby statute but maintains that Crosby was not an employee but an independent contractor. This claim is based on the fact that Crosby himself picked the four songs which he sang on the Music Hall program each week. Crosby denies he’s a contractor, pointing out that he hired no one for the program, merely presented himself and used Kraft scripts handed to him. He also maintains that his weekly Kraft pay check had US Withholding Tax deducted from it, proving that he was an employee.
Furthermore, according to Crosby, Kraft Foods promised that they wouldn’t go to court over the matter but would sit down and discuss it first. Crosby or his manager brother, Everett were in constant touch with Kraft or their agency, J. Walter Thompson. They came East, three weeks ago, after John Kraft, in Chicago, phoned them to do so, to thrash the matter out, then the injunction application was filed. Despite this, according to Crosby, the two sides met amicably. Crosby offered to do two broadcasts while Kraft countered with a request for twenty-six broadcasts before they would release him. Crosby came up to six, Kraft replying it would take the six now, with five more guest shots, next Fall. Crosby countered with an offer to do thirteen broadcasts and two guest shots, next Fall; whereupon, according to Crosby, Kraft reps asked for thirteen now and four guest shots in the Fall. This was the situation last Thursday.
On Friday, after consultation with John Kraft, in Chicago, according to Crosby, their offer was withdrawn. Kraft reverting to their original for twenty-six broadcasts, whereupon Crosby decided to go to court.
(Variety, January 16, 1946)
January 14, Monday. The annual Photoplay Gold Medal Awards formal banquet takes place in the Palm Room of the Beverly Hills Hotel. Bing has won the Gold Medal for the most popular actor of 1945 as determined by the Gallup Poll of America's moviegoers. As he is still in New York, his mother accepts the award on his behalf.
January 15, Tuesday. Bing attends a party at Eddie Condon’s apartment in Washington Square which goes on until the early hours.
January 16, Wednesday. (10:00 a.m.) The Eddie Condon band meets to rehearse with Bing at Condon’s apartment in New York. At 3:15 p.m., Bing arrives at the Decca’s Studio A in New York and between 3:45 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. he records three songs with Eddie Condon, including “After You’ve Gone.” A different pianist is used for each song with Joe Bushkin accompanying Bing on “Personality.” The latter song enters the Billboard best-sellers chart for three weeks and peaks at No. 9.
The old studio clock had just struck 3 p.m. Condon’s barefoot-boys-with-shoes-on were on hand but showing visible signs of strain at the early hour. Decca types hustled—keeping a sharp eye on the door. At about 3:15 p.m. the Crosby arrived. Stripped of his bright yellow scarf, tweed coat, and inner-lined battle jacket, he was left naked in a brown felt hat, bright red checked shirt, brown slacks, and the sort of shoes ordinarily seen in the Alps at this time of year. Came 3:45, and in rushed Condon. No taxis, he said.
“Blue and Broken-Hearted,” the first number to be waxed, didn’t go so well. A large blue screen-like sound absorber stood between Bing and the boys. Kicking it aside, he commented: “Got to see if anybody’s alive out there.” Another run-through or two and, at his question: “Will this be the deathless disk? Shall we, men?” the side joined history.
“After You’ve Gone,” went rather quickly. Although trouble loomed when Jack Kapp, president of Decca and Crosby-adviser-extraordinary on record policy, walked in and asked if “Wild Bill” Davison’s trumpet ought to stay so dirty. “You go back to the board of directors if you make one more remark,” Crosby said. “I’ve flown these boys in at great expense. Eddie flew in without a plane.”
The clock was falling away from 5 when the group assailed “Personality,” a sock potential from “Road to Utopia.” Since Dorothy Lamour sings it in the picture, Bing had never seen the music. But no matter. He smoked his pipe (“the kinda singing I do, you can’t hurt your voice”), achieved one of his rare grimaces at what he called Newsweek’s “nostril shots”, and the side was done. Exit the Crosby—fast.
(Newsweek, January 28, 1946)
January 21, Monday. Bing records “On the Sunny Side of the Street” and “Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie” with Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra. Hampton subsequently announces that he will give half of his royalties from the recordings to the Sister Kenny Foundation in which Bing is heavily involved. Bing goes to see the New York opening of Nellie Bly at the Adelphi, Broadway. Marilyn Maxwell has been replaced by Joy Hodges and the play has been extensively revised. The reviews are again poor and a “notice to close” is posted after the first week. The show closes after sixteen performances on February 2.
On the Sunny Side of the Street
It’s only because of the combination of the Groaner and the Hamp that the side is bound to attract undue attention, both in coin boxes and across the counter at the retail marts. And while Crosby’s chant may not be in the groove, Hampton’s music definitely is. Moreover, the vibe pounding maestro provides some of the lyrical joshing that Crosby fails to deliver. Flipover is a solid eight-beat rider in the classic “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie,” which features Hampton’s flash knuckling of one or two fingers on the keyboard while Crosby staggers thru a prepared script with stop-and-go boogie woogie exhortations.
(Billboard, June 14, 1947)
Frank Jordan, managing editor of the New York Herald, is excited by the threat of a promotional beat staged by the New York World. The World assigns a reporter, Nellie Bly, to circle the globe in an attempt to beat the eighty-day record of Jules Verne. Jordan of the Herald engages Phineas T. Fogarty, who has been working as a “stable boy for the Hoboken Ferry,” to race Nellie. To be sure Phineas doesn’t loaf on the job, Jordan goes along and manages to fall in love with Miss Bly before the evening is well started.
It is reliably reported that the musical show, Spring in Brazil, which failed on the road to the tune of 300,000 dollars and was not brought to New York, suffered from so much rewriting that by the time it reached Chicago the only line remaining from the original book was properly enough, “Good God, what an awful mess!” The insistence of the grimly vengeful leading comedian, Milton Berle, is said to have been responsible for its retention, a compromise having being effected with the show’s understandably obdurate producer in the elimination of the qualifying adjective “awful.”
It is also reliably reported that this Nellie Bly, which was nevertheless brought into New York and failed to the same 300,000 dollar tune, underwent so much outside rewriting that the original authors, the Messrs. Ryskind and Herzig, wrathfully severed all connection with it on the road when the management declined to permit them to incorporate the line from Spring in Brazil. Just what the natal shape of the show was, I have no direct means of knowing, but it may be allowed from first-hand observation that one of the two dozen or so final troubles with it was that most of the people connected with it did not seem to know in the least what they were talking about. . . . Mr. Cantor, co-producer of the show, who supplied the major portion of the 300,000 dollars wasted on it, is further said to have been infected to the point of inserting into it divers additional humors which he esteemed as irresistible novelties and which amplified Mr. Moore’s notion of sumptuous belly-laughs. As examples of their unsurpassed novelty may be cited a scene in which Mr. Moore was disguised as a harem siren and was made love to by an actor who believed that he was a female; another in which Mr. Moore stuffed his laundry into his bosom and observed that if he was going to drown in the sea he might as well get it washed free; still another in which Mr. Moore proclaimed that if he was lying to his female companion might St. Patrick send down a bolt of lightning and strike him, with the bolt promptly serving as a blackout; another still in which the desperately seasick and undone Mr. Moore was told “You give up too easily,” with his retort, “I’ll say I do!”; another yet in which Mr. Moore, carrying a pail of beer, was apprised that “It has a head on it” and his inquiry, “Is it anybody I know?” and such jocosities as “There’s a south south-easter blowing from the north-west.” . . . Nellie Bly found itself in the unfortunate predicament of going around the world backwards.
(George Jean Nathan, from The Theatre Book of the Year, 1945-1946)
January 22, Tuesday. Records with the Jay Blackton Orchestra in New York including the songs from Nellie Bly. Bing is in poor voice but his version of “They Say It’s Wonderful” reaches the Billboard Best-Sellers lists and spends four weeks in the charts with a peak position of No. 12.
January 24, Thursday. Everett Crosby announces that a settlement has been reached with Kraft Foods Co. following out-of-court negotiations. Bing leaves by train for the West Coast.
January 25, Friday. Bing tops the list of nominees for the “Best Actor” Oscar for his role in the film The Bells of St. Mary’s. The results are to be announced on March 7.
January 30, Wednesday. Variety reports that Bing is back in Hollywood. On his return, Bing tells Dixie that unless she stops drinking, he will seek a legal separation and her partial custody of the children will depend on her ability to take care of them properly.
…a field day in
(Daily Variety, January 30, 1946)
February 1, Friday. Bing attends a meeting with Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett regarding the forthcoming Emperor Waltz film. Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke are also present. Wilder indicates that he thought that some of the songs written for recent Crosby films were weak. A problem arises with the proposed inclusion of “I Kiss Your Hand, Madam” but eventually agreement is reached.
February 4, Monday. Bing and
Bob Hope are featured on the cover of Life magazine.
February 5, Tuesday.
Bing replies to his friend Father Corkery's letter about the situation
with Dixie. Corkery had also ruled out divorce and suggested that Dixie
had treatment. Bing indicates that he is reluctant to place Dixie into
February 7, Thursday. (11:00–2:00, 4:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B in Hollywood. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing returns to the Kraft Music Hall radio program for thirteen shows under a compromise to break the contract. Ken Carpenter, the Charioteers, Eddy Duchin, Frank Morgan, and John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra continue as regulars on the show. Audience share for the season overall for the Kraft Music Hall is 17.5 pushing the show down to twentieth position in the ratings. Bing’s absence for several months had obviously had an impact. The top evening show for the season is Fibber McGee & Molly with 30.8.
Bing Crosby, a man who walks alone, walked back into his radio program in characteristic style this week. After months of arguments and a law suit, Bing came back to his old stand at the Music Hall. More than the usual number of songpluggers–about 45–were at NBC studios to press their tunes on him. He walked right through then, tossing a nonchalant greeting to those he knew.
He sauntered into studio B, waved a casual “Hi kids” as though he had been gone 15 minutes and sat down on a stool by his microphone. The rehearsal began and things looked normal in the Music Hall again. Bing had his regular loud sports shirt hanging over his slacks and the pencil was tucked under his hat. John Scott Trotter supplied a downbeat and the world’s most famous voice began to wave its charm.
(Bob Thomas, Hollywood Citizen News, February 9, 1946)
Bing Crosby slid back into his old, Thursday night NBC slot, last week (7th) and once more everything’s as it should be on Kraft Music Hall. His belated entry into the ’46 programming sweepstakes automatically provided nighttime radio with a hypo. A half-hour with El Bingo and it’s easy to understand why his sponsor made a super production and a federal court case out of his exit threat.
The Crosby style provides for a final thirteen week, smash semester for the Groaner on Kraft Music Hall, after which he’s privileged to talk terms with anybody but latest reports have it, that it is strictly within the realm of possibility that Crosby will be back again on the Kraft bandwagon, next season with the sponsor taking a cue from Texaco, willing to toss in a couple of cheese factories or anything his heart desires which would appear to be to Kraft’s advantage. Make no mistake about it, Crosby’s still got what it takes. It was demonstrated, last Thursday, when he moved in on Kraft with a naturalness that belied the months-old, bitter entanglements. Introduced as a guy just back from vacation, he bantered and sang his way through the Kraft session with the same casualness, ease and showmanship that have trademarked his picture-radio career, in recent years. “Aren’t You Glad You’re You”; “I Can’t Begin To Tell You”; “Personality” (from the Crosby/Bob Hope/Dorothy Lamour Road to Utopia pic) and “These Foolish Things.” With his knack for keeping the palaver rolling, here were the sock ingredients for a “boff” Crosby turn. As presently set up, however, the Kraft showcase is top heavy with talent and not without its imperfections. For instance, there is Frank Morgan who’s been holding down the spot since the start of the season; he’s committed to Kraft until June which takes him right through the thirteen week period with Crosby. It’s strictly a clash in personalities, there’s a discordant note about his brashness that isn’t attuned to the Crosby tempo. Fortunately, the scriptwriters were not over-sensitive in minimising his contribution. On the other hand, Eddy Duchin, also a regular on the show, since his recent return to civvies, blended harmoniously into the stanza. In fact, the Crosby/Duchin parlay shapes up as a natural, this season, next season, with or without the Kraft auspices. His pianistics on ‘Where Or When’ and ‘It Might As Well Be Spring’ was top drawer and complemented the Crosby mood. The Charioteers and John Scott Trotter’s Orchestra gave an assist that was all in the show’s favour and Ken Carpenter is still turning over those Kraft commercials, smoothly.
(Variety, February 13, 1946)
February 13, Wednesday. He receives the Picturegoer Gold Medal Award from David Niven in Hollywood.
Bing, at least 20lbs lighter from the combined effects of arthritis and worry – he has been going through troubles apart from professional ones, and these are all his own business – couldn’t take his eyes off the Gold Cup as it rested on the luncheon table ready for the various guests…He is, however, a buoyant personality and a great natural wit, and it is all the more regrettable to find him a bit off beam. His health is improving, however. There is nothing seriously wrong, and everyone hopes that other conditions around him may soon clear up so that he can feel his own happy, carefree self again.(W. H. Mooring, Picturegoer, February, 1946)
February 14, Thursday. (11:00–2:00, 4:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show in NBC Studio B in Hollywood. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Les Paul. A song from the rehearsal is issued on V-Disc.
February (undated). Appears on The Hedda Hopper Show and, with Leo McCarey and Hedda, enacts scenes from the film The Bells of St. Mary’s.
February 19, Tuesday. Press reports state that Gary Crosby (age twelve) is taking off some weight at Terry Hunt’s.
February 21, Thursday. (11:00–2:00, 4:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC.
February 27, Wednesday. Transcribes a special Command Performance Show for Army Day at the CBS Playhouse on Vine Street with Bob Hope, Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra, Bette Davis and the Andrews Sisters. Harry Von Zell in the announcer and the show is broadcast on April 6. Elsewhere, Bing’s film Road to Utopia has its New York premiere at the Paramount and goes on to take $4.5 million in rental income in its initial release period.
Not since Charlie Chaplin was prospecting for gold in a Hollywood-made Alaska many long years ago has so much howling humor been swirled with so much artificial snow as it is in “Road to Utopia,” which came to the Paramount yesterday. And not since “Road to Morocco” have Bing (Damon) Crosby and Bob (Pythias) Hope been so crazily mixed up in madness as they are in this current vagrancy. For the latest of Paramount’s “Road” shows, in which the Messrs. Crosby and Hope again have as fellow-traveler the indestructible Dorothy Lamour, is a blizzard of fractious sport and clowning, a whirlwind of gags and travesty, a snowdrift of suffocating nonsense—and that is said without consulting a press book.
There is no point in telling anybody what sort of humor to expect when the Messrs. Hope and Crosby are turned loose together in a show. Their style of slugging each other with verbal discourtesies is quite as familiar as ice cream—at least to the patrons of films. And their can-you-top-this vein of jesting runs straight through our national attitude. The only difference, in this case, is that their style seems more refined, their timing a little more expert, their insults a little more acute. Bing and Bob have apparently been needling each other for so long that they naturally stitch along a pattern which shapes the personalities of both.
And the personalities of the rascals—Bing the debonair blade and Bob the bumbling show-off—are fully defined in this tale of a couple of vaudeville grifters caught in a race for an Alaskan gold mine. Mr. Hope is the chicken-hearted partner who wants to go back to New York; Mr. Crosby is the adventurer who wants to woo fortune in the mining camps. And that’s why (despite Bob’s demurrers) they find themselves in roaring Skagway, holding a secret map to a gold mine which is really Miss Lamour’s by rights, mistaken for two desperadoes and caught blindly between two villainous gangs.
Out of this lurid situation the Messrs. Crosby and Hope—with the help of the boys at Paramount—have ripped a titanic burlesque of brawny adventure pictures and of movies in general, indeed. A “Road” show is always an occasion for the cut-ups to have a marvelous time and in this case the comic inventors (stars and writers and director) ran wild. The late Robert Benchley is employed as a sort of commentator on the film, who pops in the frame at odd moments to give a goofy explanation of the cinema craft. Actors from other pictures walk across the sets and the Messrs. Hope and Crosby several times address the audience. And, of course, the whole nature of the action is in the grand style of ha-ha ridicule.
But where this sort of clowning might be juvenile and monotonous in other hands it has rich comic quality in the smooth paws of the gentlemen involved. To catalogue gags is boring, so we reluctantly won’t do so—other than to say the flow of same in this picture is abundant and sustaining to the end. Also the boys manage neatly to clean up a few poolroom jokes which have a particular subtlety, at least for the wise guys in the back. Several songs are also brought into the picture by the Messrs. Crosby and Hope and Miss Lamour in one or another combination, all of them handled pleasantly.
We understand this picture was made a few years ago and is just now released. The reason? They were waiting till the laugh-ceiling was off. Now look out for inflation. It will skyrocket laughter throughout the land.
(Bosley Crowther, New York Times, February 28, 1946)
The highly successful Crosby-Hope-Lamour “Road” series under the Paramount banner comes to attention once again in “Road to Utopia,” a zany laugh-getter which digresses somewhat from pattern by gently kidding the picture business and throwing in unique little touches, all with a view to tickling the risibilities. Very big boxoffice results assured . . .
Though this one is rich in laughs and fast, the songs turned out for it are not of heavy caliber. Crosby and Hope’s “Put It There Pal” is on the novelty side and cute. Crosby single, “Welcome to My Dreams” and Miss Lamour’s number in a saloon setting, “My Personality” is nothing to get excited over. Quite good, however, is her “Would You.”
(Variety, December 5, 1945)
Gorgeous fun is provided by the famous two of the former “Road” films. This one takes them to the frozen wastes of Alaska, and is told in a flashback as the film opens with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour an old married couple enjoying a visit from dashing old bachelor Bing Crosby. Bob and Bing are entertainers who have to make a quick exit from the port where they are performing, and pose as a pair of tough bad men, with plenty of trouble resulting from their theft of a map. It is packed with bright lines, comic situations, and unexpected laughs. Don’t miss it.
(Picture Show, December 29, 1945)
Mel Frank was responsible for a “Utopia” line which became a movie classic. In ‘Road to Utopia’, Hope and Crosby have to act tough to impress the local bad guys. They saunter up to a bar in the mining town, and the local heavy asks, “What’ll you have?”
“Oh, a couple of fingers of rotgut,” growls Crosby.
“What’s yours?” asks Douglas Dumbrille.
“I’ll take a
lemonade,” squeaks Hope in a high pitched voice before responding to a nudge by
(Randall G. Mielke, Road to Box Office)
February 28, Thursday. (11:00–2:00, 4:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Martha Tilton and Jerry Colonna. A song from the rehearsal is issued on V-Disc.
March 3, Sunday. (3:00–3:30 p.m.) Thought to have made a surprise guest appearance on the Philco Radio Hall of Fame which is hosted by Paul Whiteman on ABC. Bob Hope is the main guest.
March 7, Thursday. (11:00–2:00, 4:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Lina Romay. Later, having been nominated again for the Oscar as “Best Actor” for The Bells of St. Mary’s, Bing loses out to Ray Milland (for his performance in The Lost Weekend) at the Academy Awards ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. The Bells of St. Mary’s has also been nominated as “Best Picture” but The Lost Weekend is the winner. Similarly, Leo McCarey, who had been nominated for “Best Director” for The Bells of St. Mary’s, loses to Billy Wilder for The Lost Weekend. Ingrid Bergman is nominated as “Best Actress” for The Bells of St. Mary’s but she is beaten by Joan Crawford for Mildred Pierce. Robert Emmett Dolan’s nomination for “Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture” is unsuccessful too as Miklos Rozsa wins for Spellbound. Two of Bing’s songs (“Ac-cent-chu-ate the Positive” and “Aren’t You Glad You’re You”) are nominated as “Best Film Song” of 1945, but the winner is “It Might As Well Be Spring” from State Fair. Bing is supposed to sing his two songs at the ceremony but he pulls out at the last moment.
March 8, Friday. The Crosby Investment Corporation obtains a court injunction against Bing's brother Ted claiming that he had failed to live up to a contract agreement.
BING ENJOINS HIS BROTHER FROM SELLING STOCK
Washington, March 10. - Bing Crosby got a temporary injunction in Federal District Court here Friday to prevent his brother Ted from selling 100 shares of stock in Bing’s Del Mar Turf Club
(Daily Variety, March 11, 1946)
March 9, Saturday. Bing is at Santa Anita to see War Knight win the Santa Anita Handicap in a photo-finish.
March 10, Sunday. Starting at 1 p.m., Bing and Bob Hope tee off on the new Long Beach Naval Hospital pitch and putt course. Jerry Colonna and Tony Romano are also in the foursome whilst Frances Langford keeps the score. Bing has a 28, Hope a 29. A crowd of 3,000 watches the event.
March 13, Wednesday.
Ted Crosby says that he has been damaged to the extent of $10,000 by
the suit brought against him by the Crosby Investment Corporation. He
states that it is "an unfortunate family affair which has no place in
March 14, Thursday. (11:00–2:00, 4:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. A song from the rehearsal is issued on V-Disc.
March–May. Films Welcome Stranger with Barry Fitzgerald and Joan Caulfield. The director is Elliot Nugent. Robert Emmett Dolan handles the musical score and Joseph J. Lilley looks after the vocal arrangements. Location shots are filmed at Munz Lakes in the northern Sierra Pelona Mountains in Los Angeles County.
March 21, Thursday. (11:00–2:00, 4:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Cully Richards and the Slim Gaillard Trio. A song from the rehearsal is issued on V-Disc.
“I would stand in line only to see Bing Crosby,” an out-of-town woman back of us was overheard to say as we waited for NBC’s Studio B’s doors to open for Music Hall. I wonder if she thought the same after the miserable performance he gave. Crosby didn’t seem to be putting anything into his songs–not even good tonal quality at times. He should keep two things in mind–the debt he owes the public for its loyalty and the fact that one comes down hill much faster than one goes up. The perfect spot on Music Hall was the song by the Charioteers. Eddy Duchin’s piano playing was smooth, the comedy, mediocre. The Slim Gaillard Trio probably was more interesting to see in action than it was to hear over the air. Its number was novel, at any rate. There was a lack of warmth, a feeling of something being missing from the Music Hall.
(Zuma Palmer, Hollywood Citizen News, March 25, 1946)
March 22, Friday. (6:00–9:00 p.m.) Bing records two songs in Hollywood with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra but both are unsatisfactory and are not issued.
March 28, Thursday. (11:00–2:00, 4:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Georgia Gibbs.
March 29, Friday.
The first day of the first peacetime baseball season for 5 years. Lieutenant Gov. Fred Houser was
supposed to waft the first pitch to Bing at Gilmore Field but bad weather prevents it
and it is rearranged for the next day.
March 30, Saturday. Starting at 8:15 p.m. Lieutenant Gov. Houser duly makes the first pitch to Bing. Later, Bing and Dixie attend a party at the Clover Club on Hollywood Boulevard which is hosted by Cary Grant, James Stewart, Eddy Duchin and John MacClain.
The four hosts, all dressed in tails, formed a receiving line. Mike Romanoff’s food ranged from green turtle soup to oysters, crab, shrimp, trout, chicken, stuffed turkey, roast ribs of beef, ham, coq au vin, boned squab, vegetables and salads, and numerous desserts. At five in the morning, 250 guests were still there, sitting on the floor and listening to Bing Crosby sing every song he ever knew, to the accompaniment of Hoagy Carmichael.
(Peter Duchin, writing in his book, A Ghost of a Chance)
March 31, Sunday. Bing and Leo McCarey help out at the Garden Charity Bazaar given by Mrs. Bob Hope for Immaculate Heart College. They are put in charge of the religious booth
April 4, Thursday. (11:00–2:00, 4:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Georgia Gibbs. During the day, Bing and other stars send a telegram to Washington objecting to a new bill intended to curb the activities of James C. Petrillo, president of the American Federation of Musicians. They felt that it covered too much other ground and would restrict the labor rights of all radio workers.
April 6, Saturday. Dixie is reported to be in hospital with the flu. Earlier press reports had suggested that she was entering hospital for a major operation.
April 7, Sunday. Attends a garden fair and buffet supper at Bob Hope's home for the benefit of destitute children.
April 11, Thursday. (11:00–2:00, 4:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Marilyn Maxwell and the Les Paul Trio.
April (undated). Bing
and Barry Fitzgerald are photographed receiving smallpox vaccinations
following reports of increasing cases of the disease in Hollywood.
April 15, Monday. Filming of Abie’s Irish Rose commences. This is the second film made by Bing Crosby Productions and it stars Joanne Dru and Richard Norris. Edward Sutherland is the director and John Scott Trotter is in charge of the music. Everett Crosby has not put proper financing in place for the film and at the outset they cannot meet the payroll costs. Faced with this crisis, Bing hires Basil Grillo to run Bing Crosby Productions. Grillo subsequently reorganizes all the Crosby business activities and Bing Crosby Enterprises is formed. Everett Crosby’s influence on his brother’s business matters recedes.
Everett was just about persona non-grata over the “Abie’s Irish Rose” fiasco but he took Grillo to Paramount and faced his brother down, the last of many significant things he did for Bing Crosby.
The two argued heatedly, during a break in filming, and enough of the conversation was audible for Grillo to realize Crosby regarded him as merely the latest in a long line of “geniuses” supposed to “fix everything.” As Grillo remembered the scene, Crosby seemed abruptly to give in. He walked off the set and over to where Grillo stood, extending his hand and offering an apology for the broken appointments.
“He turned on that friggin’ Irish charm and I was his forever,” Grillo said. The brief meeting began a 30-year relationship and when it was over, Grillo would describe Crosby as:
“The finest human being I have ever known.”
“Abie’s Irish Rose” became Grillo’s first priority. Crosby was worried about the situation finding its way into the newspapers and asked him to talk with Sutherland whom he had known since his days at the Cocoanut Grove. Sutherland also had directed him in “Mississippi” in 1935. The director agreed to proceed without pay until financing could be put in place. Grillo then made the same plea to Joanne Dru who also agreed. He telephoned the news to The Singer, pointing out Sutherland and Dru’s cooperation did no more than win a little time. He suggested the simplest solution might be for Crosby to personally finance the picture. Crosby exploded and banged the phone in his ear.
Ultimately, Grillo was able to negotiate a loan for $370,000 from Society First National Bank of Los Angeles and the film about a Jewish boy and a Catholic girl was released amid mild controversy in 1946.
(Norman Wolfe, Troubadour: Bing Crosby and the Birth of Pop Singing)
April 17, Wednesday. Completes the sale of his 35 percent interest in the Del Mar track for a reported $481,000 and soon sells the home at Rancho Santa Fe and his stables. His brother Ted sues him over the Del Mar sale. Elsewhere,
April 18, Thursday. (11:00–2:00, 4:30–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Trudy Erwin and the Kraft Choral Club.
Well, Crosby’s back and Kraft has got him--at least until May. After getting off to a somewhat dispirited start, Bing has swung back into his free and easy method of entertaining, with informality the keynote. He heckles the orchestra, the announcer, the guests, and even makes fun of himself with well-timed ad libs that require more than casual listening to catch all of the fun that goes on. His singing on the air has improved since his vacation, even as it has on records; his backing from John Scott Trotter and band isn’t as good as the Haggart, Heywood, etc. he’s had on records, but he sounds as though he’s enjoying it and that produces fine Crosby singing.
Regulars are the Charioteers who sing spirituals inoffensively, Eddy Duchin who makes with a bit of comedy and some strictly unhep piano solos, Ken Carpenter who plays straight man to Bing plus doing the commercials (accompanied by remarks from Bing), and the fancy work of Les Paul, who occasionally rounds up his trio for some really find plucking.
It’s too bad if Bing is unhappy, as rumours riot, about a live show; it doesn’t seem as though this spontaneity could be carried into a transcription studio and come out equally merry. It’s anybody’s guess as to Bing’s sponsor for next fall, but with Crosby at his best it should be mellow stuff.
(Metronome, May 1946)
April 19, Friday. Takes part in the radio “Cancer Drive Program” with Bob Hope, Ginny Simms, Frank Sinatra, and Perry Como.
April 20, Saturday. Decca has issued a 6-disc 78rpm album set by Bing called Don't Fence Me In and it reaches the No. 2 spot in Billboard's best-selling popular albums chart on this day.
April 21, Easter Sunday. Dixie Lee and
her four sons are in Carson City, Nevada during the morning on their way to Bing’s Elko
ranch. Mrs. Crosby and the quartet of hearty youngsters had breakfast at the
Senator and did some shopping. (12:00 noon–1:00 p.m.) Bing is on Can You Tie That, a radio program over station
The occasion was a clothing drive for Catholic Charities, and the seven tons collected just about measure up to the amount of hilarity served up on the discs. Hope and Crosby jitterbugged their way through the first record played, Les Brown's "Good Blues Tonight," and each gave it 95. Ella Logan judged it at 67, and Dave Dexter granted it a tepid 59. At this announcement, Hope and Crosby got up to leave. "You can tell we're from the country," commented Bob sadly. Second record played was "Who's Sorry Now?" by a singer named Bing Crosby. Crosby leaned back and listened in rapt attention with occasional murmurings of "Beautiful—beautiful. Turn it up." Hope's first comment was, "Well, I don't follow the singers much!" But he thought it was nice that Eddie Heywood let his father sing with the band. "After careful consideration, I give it six and one half points!" he decided. From singer Shirley Ross, Jarvis borrowed an old record on which she and Hope shared the vocal, "Two Sleepy People" (now scheduled for release). A stunned Hope recovered to find that on nostalgia value alone even hard-to-get Dexter had given him a satisfactory score. One of the highlights of the show was the presentation to Crosby of a gigantic picture of Frank Sinatra. Bing countered by giving Bob an even greater enlargement of Red Skelton. Jarvis admits that throughout the program, the boys kept him laughing so hard that he forgot about emceeing. "It should have been television," he sighed. "I've never had so much fun in all my life!"
(Joan Buchanan, Radio Life, June 23, 1946, pages 7-8)
April 22, Monday. Bing attends Bob Murphy’s annual Sportsmen’s dinner with his brother Larry, Bob Hope and Joe E. Brown.
April 24, Wednesday. Bing is part of a syndicate which files an application for a 1946–47 franchise in the National Hockey League.
April 25, Thursday. Does not
appear on the Kraft Music Hall broadcast and is said to have gone to San
Francisco for a benefit performance. Frank Morgan deputizes for him. The book Bing
by his brothers Ted and Larry, which was originally published in 1937, is
brought up-to-date and republished as The Story of Bing Crosby
foreword by Bob Hope. Ted Crosby is now shown as sole author. It sells
24,936 copies in the six months after publication, producing $450 in
royalties on top of a $2,000 advance.
May 2, Thursday. (10:00–2:00, 3:30–5:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing returns to the Kraft Music Hall show on NBC. Guests include Joe Frisco and Peggy Lee. Also Bing is thought to have appeared in the radio show To the Rear, March.
Bing Crosby, celebrating his birthday on the Kraft Music Hall over NBC on Thursday night (2nd), came up with one of the most hilarious shows in the soon to be concluded series. Evidently, ad-libbing most of the way, Crosby broke up the show several times with aside remarks to the studio audience and his guest stars, Peggy Lee and Joe Frisco. The hilarity was topped during the last five minutes when Bob Hope appeared unexpectedly with Bing’s birthday cake and the two let go with some unmatched witticisms. Sore spot to some listeners occurred however, when the crooner went off the deep end with a gag line to Eddy Duchin—“Fan your fanny over to the pianny and waft some music this way.” It might have been better if Crosby, heretofore, lauded for the cleanness of his shows and for “priest” roles he’s portrayed in pictures had remembered that some parents object to their kids listening to such stuff on the radio.
(Variety, May 8, 1946)
Selling records was only half of the equation for a popular singer in Peggy Lee’s early days. In postwar America, it was radio that dictated the success of records. No artist could be declared major until she or he appeared on a network radio show. And no one had a network radio show to rival the Kraft Music Hall. On May 12, 1946, (sic) Peggy Lee took to the NBC airwaves and sang “I Don’t Know Enough About You,” not only for an immense audience—a few years earlier, the Kraft show had boasted a staggering fifty million listeners—but for the show’s host, the most beloved performer in the history of American popular culture.
When Peggy stepped in front of the microphone that night, it was with the introduction and imprimatur of Bing Crosby, the reigning god of song. It was the first of some fifty appearances she would make on Crosby’s shows over the next decade, a time during which Crosby would become a close friend and ally. Crosby’s love for Peggy Lee’s music, and for Peggy Lee the woman, was perhaps the single most important factor in the blossoming of her career—and how could it have been otherwise? As an artist, she was following a trail into pop-jazz that no woman had trod, but that Bing Crosby had not only discovered, but mapped. It was with Bing Crosby’s sensibilities that Peggy Lee truly identified, on every band of the spectrum.
(Fever – The Life and Music of Miss Peggy Lee, pages 146-7)
Bing was always so protective and so sensitive during my early days of nerves and self-consciousness. Just before air time on one of my first Kraft programs, he found me standing rigid outside the studio at NBC and asked me what he could do to help. I managed to say, “When you introduce me, would you please not leave me out there on the stage alone? Would you stand where I can see your feet?” From then on he always casually leant on a speaker or piano to give me the support I needed to learn about being at ease on stage.
You have to love a man like that. He offered everything—money, cars, his own blood, and even volunteered to babysit with our little daughter, Nicki, while David was so sick in hospital.
(Miss Peggy Lee—An Autobiography, pages 105–106)
May 7, Tuesday. (6:15–8:50 p.m.) Records four songs with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra in Hollywood, including “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” and “A Gal in Calico”. The latter song reaches the No. 8 position in the Billboard Best-Seller lists, spending six weeks in the charts.
A GAL IN CALICO. Bing Crosby, with the Calico Kids and John Scott Trailer’s Orchestra Decca 23739. A bright and breezy rhythm ditty from the movie “The Time, the Place and the Girl,” contagion is added to the chant in the dittying design of Der Bingle who sings it free and easy, with vocal assist from the Calico Kids to heighten the appeal of the spin. Flipover is also from the same screen score, with Crosby chanting it alone and with persuasion from the slow ballad “Oh, But I Do.”
(Billboard, December 7, 1946)
May 9, Thursday. (10:00–2:30, 3:30–5:00 p.m.) Rehearses for his Kraft show. (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Bing’s final broadcast as host on the Kraft Music Hall. The guests are Dorothy Claire and Spike Jones and his City Slickers.
The last airing (May 9) was a surprisingly subdued, if not to say mild, offering. No fanfares, no frills, no balloons going up, no bells. After all those hundreds of others, the listener might have expected something more appropriate than (Ken): “Well, Bing, this is getaway night on the old Kraft Music Hall”: (Bing): “That’s what it is, Ken.”
A bit later, Duchin tells Bing, “I want to wish you a happy vacation and - no kidding - thanks for everything.” At the moment before the close, Bing speaks directly to his audience. “I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your tolerance and loyalty for this show.” This time, the applause runs on and on, then under Ken’s sign-off. Trotter’s orchestra carries all of it into yesterday with a few bars of the swing arrangement of HAIL KMH!
(Vernon Wesley Taylor, Hail KMH! The Crosby Voice, February 1986)
May 10, Friday. (5:00–9:00 p.m.) Records “Route 66” and “South America Take It Away” with the Andrews Sisters and Vic Schoen and his Orchestra.
May 15, Wednesday. (6:00–9:30 p.m.) Records “Pretending” and “Gotta Get Me Somebody to Love” with Les Paul and his Trio.
It is a sad, thankless, and sometimes presumptuous task to have to report that a champion has slipped up. If the champ happens to be a great one—personally as well as professionally—the task becomes inordinately difficult.
Bing Crosby has become that kind of champ. He has been the non-pareil, the unprocessed cheese kid. From the days of “Just One More Chance,” down through the abundantly talented years, he has been wonderful, with a special kind of purity in his appeal. Of late, though, his seeming disinterest has become more and more apparent, until now it can no longer be ignored.
In the entertainment business, though, you think twice before you criticize an idol, for if it is kind of amusing to say that so-and-so has a clothespin on his nose, it is almost lese majeste to suggest that a Crosby is not what he used to be. But be that as it may, the evidence is too stark. The Groaner, although his manner still has that incomparable kind of relaxation, no longer imparts the verve, the dash of his early disking, and if you think otherwise, listen to his newest releases.
Crosby’s “Pretending” and “Gotta Get Me Somebody to Love” (Decca 23661) are so inferior that you are apt to mistrust your own judgment when you hear them for the first time. You are apt to suspect that something is wrong with your phonograph. But you find out it isn’t your phonograph at all. Bing is accompanied by Les Paul and his trio (an effective background) and the faces should have been good. Five years ago, they might have been magnificent. Both tunes (“Gotta Get Me” is from Duel in the Sun) are the lazy sort of thing which Bing used to do better than anyone else. But he sings them so indifferently that you cannot ignore the gloomy conclusion that Bing has slipped. Sinatra, Haymes, Como, Buddy Clark and a few others are cutting him. If it sounds unduly harsh on him to say this, it would be harsher on the others to keep it quiet.
(George Frazier, Variety, October 2, 1946)
…Sheer routine are Pretending and Gotta get me somebody to love from the film “Duel in the Sun“ (03800).
(The Gramophone, December 1947)
Bing Crosby Named in Composer’s Suit on Song “Pretending”
Don A. Marion, composer, today asked for return of the song “Pretending,” claiming it had earned $250,000 since it was illegally appropriated by two other song writers. Mario’s suit for an accounting and an injunction, filed yesterday, also naming Bing Crosby and Andy Russell, Kate Smith and recording and radio companies for singing and selling the song without his permission. He said the song he composed in 1930 was stolen from him by Al Sherman, listed on the published version as composer of the melody, and Al Synes, credited with writing the lyrics.
(Hollywood Citizen News, January 7, 1947)
May 17, Friday. The Woman’s Home Companion poll names Bing as the leading male film star. He is similarly named for the next four years. Meanwhile, Bing finishes prerecording songs for The Emperor Waltz.
May 17…The morning was devoted to sets. Lunched at the commissary and went to the sound stage where Bing recorded “The Kiss in Your Eyes” magnificently. He made eleven takes of it, which is unusual for him. Usually he gets a song in three…
(From the diaries of Charles Brackett, as reproduced in It’s the Pictures That Got Small, page 289)
May 21, Tuesday.
Bing had planned to stay with Spike Spackman in Ketchum, Idaho for the
opening day of the fishing season on the Wood River but he is held up
in Hollywood by business and says he will not be able to get to Idaho
until June 1. Dixie and Mr. & Mrs. Eacret have been staying with
Mr. Spackman and they return to Elko.
May 31, Friday. Joan Fontaine and Roland Culver arrive at Jasper Park to join the crew filming The Emperor Waltz. Bing is still on holiday.
June 1, Saturday. Decca has issued a 4-disc 78rpm album set called Bing Crosby - Stephen Foster and Billboard reviews it on this day.
It was expected that sooner or later Bing Crosby would make an album of Stephen Foster tunes. Crosby does full justice to the popular composer’s music.
June 3, Monday. Bing is at Hugh Bradford’s Alturas Lake Ranch at Hailey, Idaho and he writes to Bill Morrow.
We leave here today for Spokane and then on up to the location at Jasper Park. Had a great time here with Spike & Dolly, the Eacrets, Ralph Smith and Vic Hunter. Quite a bit of ad-lib drinking went on and yesterday, by noon, Spike was leaning back quite a bit. We caught 80 red-fish yesterday morning and spent the afternoon dredging the bottom with some choice ??? trying to shake up a big one, but no luck. Too early I guess. I hope your plans have developed so you can come up to Nevada and on up here about mid-June. Johnny has several places cased for you and the Wild Horse Dam and the lake fishing will be available. Just phone or wire him at Tuscarora where and when to meet you.
I should hear something from Kapp by the time I reach Jasper and I hope, for the benefit of all concerned, it is something favorable. If not we can apply some pressure in the rite spot. The General Motors transcribed show is very hot rite now for about September opening. I propose the following lineup.
Glen Wheaton - Producer
Bill Morrow - Writer
Trotter - Band & choir
Les Paul - guitar accompaniment, occasional specialties.
Skitch Henderson - Piano solo and accompaniment.
Charioteers, Specialties, accompanist Peggy Lee, or some ?? with a similar delivery.
This will be a package arrangement with possibly first four shows live and maybe one or two others during the year, at our option. It should be an easy show for you to write - with Wheaton doing documentary material - and such guests as we use, being of a type suitable for humor.
Jack tells me he is going to Mammoth on the 15th., so you got yourself a nice parley, Mammoth to Nevada to Sun Valley. I’ll see you probably around July 1st and we can discuss the foregoing at that time.
Take care of all the local grummet (?) in my absence.
June 4, Tuesday. Bing arrives in Spokane by car from Sun Valley, Idaho and complains about the poor road conditions, having had four tire blowouts. He then calls in at the Athletic Round Table before playing a friendly game of golf at the Country Club with Roy Moe (local pro), Bud Ward, and Vic Hunter (a Hollywood advertising executive who is traveling with Bing). Subsequently, Bing is persuaded by the Athletic Round Table to stay on and play in a benefit golf match with Bob Hope later in the week as Hope will be putting on a show in the Gonzaga stadium on Thursday.
June 5, Wednesday. Bob Hope flies into Spokane during the evening and gets together with Bing straightaway. They go into the Desert Hotel and entertain the Athletic Round Table before Bob leaves to rehearse his show planned for the next night.
Bob Hope and Bing Crosby nearly put the Athletic Round Table out of business last night—or at least they tried.
The famed twosome showed up at the Desert Hotel club unexpectedly about 9, donned waiters’ uniforms and went to work behind the bar.
“Anybody want a drink?” yelled Hope.
And customers immediately swamped the bar. Crosby and Hope promptly started handing away the club’s bottled goods—until the stock, at least all that was handy, was exhausted. The two then took off the jackets, autographed anything from blank checks to membership cards, and left.
(Spokane Daily Chronicle, June 6, 1946)
June 6, Thursday. Bing
calls in at Gonzaga University and at the Athletic Round Table he joins in
briefly with the Gonzaga Quartet who are rehearsing. At noon, Bing is the guest
at a Gonzaga High School class of 1920 reunion at the Spokane Hotel. Starting
at 1:00 p.m., Bing and Bud Ward play Bob Hope and Neil Christian (the local
professional) at the Downriver golf course, Spokane, before a crowd of 2,500.
The match, which is designed to raise money for the
June 7, Friday. Bing lands a 16lb Rainbow trout while fishing at Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho with Vic Hunter and then leaves for Jasper Park, Alberta.
June 8, Saturday (evening). Arrives in Jasper Park over the Banff-Jasper highway to film The Emperor Waltz with Joan Fontaine, Roland Culver, and Richard Haydn. The director is Billy Wilder with Victor Young in charge of the musical score and Joseph J. Lilley handling the vocal arrangements. Young is subsequently nominated for an Oscar for “Best Scoring of a Musical Picture” in 1948 but loses to Brian Easdale for The Red Shoes. Bing is paid $125,000 for the picture. The location scenes are filmed at Jasper Park in five weeks during May / June. The weather is often too poor for filming and this gives Bing the opportunity to play plenty of golf on the Jasper Park Lodge course. In addition he fishes at Maligne Lake during the period in question. Bing stays in the cabin called Squirrel’s Cage at the Jasper Park Lodge during the filming. The studio work is completed in Hollywood by September 20, with Bing working until 1:00 a.m. some nights because of a threatened studio shutdown. The movie costs $4 million, some $1.2 million over budget. Because of a backlog at the studio, the film is not released until May 1948.
In the book Nobody’s Perfect: Billy Wilder: A Personal Biography, Joan Fontaine is quoted as saying:
“Crosby wasn’t very courteous to me. I remember he didn’t stand up when we were introduced. I thought “Poor Dorothy Lamour!” This man didn’t have respect. Maybe he treated her better. There was never the usual costar rapport. I never enjoyed his songs after working with him. I was a star at that time, but he treated me like he’d never heard of me. I should have brought my sarong. Crosby’s personality was what you might have expected from the Emperor Francis Joseph. He was the Emperor of Paramount. Bing Crosby had the power over Billy Wilder. Paramount would certainly have replaced Mr. Wilder, and Mr. Brackett, too, any day if Crosby had wanted it. It wasn’t that he had anything against Mr. Wilder. He just didn’t pay much attention to him. He told me once that he had some trouble understanding his funny accent…Crosby was directing himself, and he had writers working on what he said, and sometimes he didn’t pay any attention to the Wilder - Brackett words, or even the words of his own writers. He said it as he felt it at the moment.”
…“Bing Crosby operated for himself, not for the group or the film,” Wilder said. “He was a big star, the biggest, and he thought he knew what was good for him. He did. He sensed what his audience expected and he knew how to deliver that. The picture didn’t come out what I wanted, but that wasn’t Crosby’s fault. It was mine.”
(Nobody’s Perfect: Billy Wilder: A Personal Biography by Charlotte Chandler pp. 134-135)
June 9, Sunday. Bing plays on the Jasper Park Lodge golf course.
June 15, Saturday. At a colorful ceremony on the verandah of Jasper Park Lodge, Bing is made an honorary member of the Edmonton Highland Games Association, one of the largest Scottish organizations in Canada.
June 17, Monday. Bing is at the practice tee at the Jasper Park Lodge course when he is interrupted by eight-year-old Linda Wightman, the daughter of the local bakery owner, and presented with a picture of two bears taking a bath in Lac Beauvert. That evening Bing calls at the girl’s home and chats with the family, leaving a parcel for Linda containing a large picture of himself, which is inscribed “With love to my little pal, Linda, from Bing Crosby.”
June 24, Monday. The tired old bus carrying the Spokane Indians baseball club across Snoqualmie Pass around 8 p.m. on a rain-slickened highway in Western Washington crashes and nine players are killed.
June 30, Sunday. The crew filming The Emperor Waltz leaves Jasper Park to return to Hollywood.
July 1, Monday.
Arrives in Spokane. Says that the bad weather in Jasper meant that they
only shot on six days. Golfs with Bud Ward and Curly Hueston at Indian
July 2, Tuesday. Bing is in Spokane and purchases $2,500 worth of tickets for a benefit baseball game in aid of the families of the nine Spokane Indians players killed in the bus crash on June 24. He specifies that his tickets should be given to convalescent and other servicemen. The Oakland Oaks play the Seattle Rainiers in the exhibition game in Spokane on July 8 and 6,000 fans attend.
July 3, Wednesday. Leaves Spokane for Boise, Idaho where he calls in to see Sib Kleffner, an operator of a sporting goods store, and pays him $11.04 which he has owed him since college days in 1924.
July (undated). Bing fishes at Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho (near Spokane). During his visit he stays at the Hotel Hope.
July (undated). At his Elko, Nevada, ranch.
July 6, Saturday. Billboard magazine announces the results of its 8th. annual college poll of favorite male singers. Bing is top with 559 votes followed by Sinatra (462) and Como (341).
July 8, Monday. Filming of The Emperor Waltz continues at Paramount Studios. Billy Wilder is in constant pain with kidney stones.
July 10, Wednesday. Bing is back in Hollywood. During his absence, the Rosary Confraternity of Greece has appealed to Bing for help in providing rosaries for 50,000 Greek Catholics following his Family Rosary broadcast. He arranges for 10,000 rosaries to be sent to Greece.
July 13, Saturday. (8:00–10:50 a.m.) Bing records “Lullaby” and “Where My Caravan Has Rested” with Jascha Heifetz (violin) and the Victor Young Orchestra. Later in the day, a birthday party is held at Bing’s Malibu home for all four of his children in accordance with their usual custom. In all 33 children attend.
Crosby’s other disk this week is in the nature of a stunt. Jack Kapp, Decca’s wily boss, long ago conceived the novelty value of coupling The Groaner with other Decca contractees e.g. the merry Andrews, Louis Jordan, Eddie (“I Hate Publicity”) Condon, etc. Now Kapp has Jascha Heifetz fiddling obbligatos to Bing’s renditions of “Where My Caravan Has Rested” and “Lullaby” (from “Jocelyn”) on Decca 40012. It is not disclosing any military secret to say that Heifetz—even if, on this, he’s no Heifetz—takes the honors. Crosby sounds tired, disinterested, and, incidentally, badly advised not to rest his caravan.
(George Frazier, Variety, October 2, 1946)
The groaner goes concert with this cutting. And with no less a Strad scratcher than Jascha Heifetz tearing off the obbligatos as well as stringing in a bit of the theme himself, Bing Crosby gives with some real lullabying for both of these standard songs. “Lullaby” from Godard’s “Jocelyn” and “Where My Caravan Has Rested” is the classic chant of Herman Lohr and Edward Teschemacher. Victor Young brings up the orchestral background for the desired effect. Crosby crowds will like these better for home spinning.
(Billboard, October 12, 1946)
July 14, Sunday. Plays in Frank Borzage’s Invitational Motion Picture Golf Tournament at the California Country Club but has a poor round and does not submit his card. A crowd of 3000 watches the event, which is in aid of the AWVS. Other stars taking part include Don Ameche, Randolph Scott, Bob Hope, Nigel Bruce, Ken Murray, Mickey Rooney, Bob Crosby and Johnny Weissmuller. Some of the action is included in a novelty newsreel called Rough But Hopeful produced by Courneya-Hyde Productions.
July 18, Thursday. (8:00 a.m.–12 noon) Records six songs from the film Blue Skies with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra. Decca issues them on a 78rpm album set and the album reaches the No. 2 spot in Billboard's best-selling popular record albums chart.
Don’t miss this show album. Any of the complete score albums that Decca turns out have rotten tunes thrown in with the good. This one is no exception - but it does have Crosby, and Astaire in what may very well be his last wax appearance. Astaire may be no singer, but even on wax, his personality comes through. (Decca A481)
(Downbeat, November 4, 1946)
Another winner is Bing Crosby’s “I’ve Got My Captain Working for Me Now,” a good revue number on the subject of every G.I.’s dream. The smart lyric is set to appropriate music, and Crosby once again recalls the great days of the Rhythm Boys before the crooner swept all before him. You can see what happened by turning over and hearing how “Blue Skies,” which calls for a nice easy relaxed rhythm is dragged by the singer, who twenty years ago might have done it to perfection.
(The Gramophone, May, 1947)
July (undated). Films a cameo role in Bob Hope’s film My Favorite Brunette. Bing arranges for the fee of $25,000 to be paid directly to Gonzaga University.
July 24, Wednesday. (6:00–9:30 p.m.) Bing records three more songs from the film Blue Skies with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra. Fred Astaire duets “A Couple of Song and Dance Men” and Trudy Erwin joins Bing in “I’ll See You in C-U-B-A.”
July 26, Friday. Bing takes delivery of his new Dodge 6 car registration number AB 4662.
July 31, Wednesday.
Bob Hope and Bing are photographed sending off 15-year old caddy Roger
Dunn to the National Caddy Tournament to be held at Columbus, Ohio. The
two men have sponsored Roger who will be representing Southern
August 1, Thursday. (4:00–7:05 p.m.) Records “The Things We Did Last Summer” with Jimmy Dorsey and his Orchestra in Hollywood. Goes on to the premiere of Night and Day at Warners Hollywood Theatre and is photographed with Alan Ladd.
August (undated). At Bel-Air Country Club, Bing gets his first hole-in-one at the par 3 fifth hole.
August 8, Thursday. The Dreyfuss family sells the Pittsburgh Pirates National League baseball team to a group headed by Frank McKinney (50% holding), John Galbreath (20%) and Thomas P. Johnson (15%) for a reported $2,250,000. Bing also has a 15 percent interest in the syndicate. It is announced that Bing will again head the National Executive Committee of the Sister Elizabeth Kenny Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. The fund-raising drive is to begin on November 3 with a target of $2 million.
August 9, Friday. (7:00–8:40 p.m.) Bing records “When You Make Love to Me” and “So Much in Love” with Victor Young and his Orchestra in Hollywood.
When You Make Love to Me—FT; V. It Could Happen to You—FT; V.
September Song—FT; V. Temptation—FT; V.
Mine—FT; V. Connecticut—FT; V.
The groaner gives out on a batch of ballads for these six sides bringing on Judy Garland for one set. (23804). And while the song selections, for the most part, are not out of the top drawer, Bing Crosby’s dittying leaves little to be desired of the lyrics. His piping plenty listenable and the spinning smoothsome, Victor Young’s music provides the lush musical background for “When You Make Love to Me” while John Scott Trotter commands the music stand for the companion “It Could Happen to you.” Trotter still on deck, Crosby spins most soothingly for “Temptation,” the scoring set to a bolero beat while mixed voices blend with the band to make for richer background color. Flipover finds lush lyricizing for “September Song,” making the lovely song sound as lovely as ever. Joined by Judy Garland, with Joseph Lilley laying down the musical background, it’s a lively pace set for “Connecticut,” dipping back to the slow ballad tempo as they share the wordage for George Gershwin’s “Mine.” While neither voice lets loose on either set of lyrics, their chanting is in good style and taste. The Crosby fans will listen to these at home.
(Billboard, February 8, 1947)
August 15, Thursday. (5:00–7:30 p.m.) Records a reading of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Old Ironsides” with Victor Young and his Orchestra. The records are included on a Decca 78 rpm album called "Our Common Heritage".
The Star Spangled Banner—FT; V.
…Instead of singing the national anthem, he recites a meaningful poem while Victor Young provides the incidental background music that weaves around the anthem theme. It all makes for an impressive and dramatic spin.
(Billboard, September 20, 1947)
With considerable beating of the drums, Decca has issued an album called “Our Common Heritage” (eight 10 inch records). It contains sixteen poems commemorating “milestones in the history of America.” Jack Kapp, president of Decca is keynoting the campaign for this album [and writes] “Who else but Bing Crosby, who symbolises America to the world, should read The Star-Spangled Banner? And who else should make it a living experience, read as we believe Francis Scott Key felt it?” Who else, indeed? Unless of course, it should occur to you that you could read it for yourself....If it makes American ideals shine more brightly for them to hear Bing Crosby, Pat O’Brien and the others dramatize them, only a bounder would disagree with Mr. Kapp.
(Howard Taubman, New York Times, April 27, 1947)
Later, Bing signs a contract with Philco Radio Corporation to perform his radio show as a transcribed program. Bing is said to be paid a minimum of $24,000 and a maximum of $30,000 per show depending how many stations take it. Out of this he receives $7,500 as a salary with the remainder going to Bing Crosby Enterprises Inc. to meet the other expenses of the show. This arrangement is tax advantageous to Bing.
Everett Crosby, who handled the negotiations for his brother Bing, said last night that the contract covers a three-year period and that it would be a straight transcription show. It was learned that Philco wanted a five-year contract and Bing a one-year deal and that Everett Crosby negotiated the compromise three-year agreement.
(Daily Variety, August 16, 1946)
Primary change was the absence of Carroll Carroll who had not been invited to work on the new program. Vernon Taylor felt the reason may have been that Carroll’s writing had turned inward in the final seasons of The Kraft Music Hall, and Crosby wanted something fresher. There did not seem to be any animosity between the two and Carroll made the point he had never worked for NBC or Kraft in any case. He had always been on the J. Walter Thompson payroll and remained there.
The new writer and coproducer was Bill Morrow, a loosely knit bachelor who played the field with Hollywood ladies. He had written for Jack Benny and was brought on to impart some of the brisker pacing of the Benny program. Better writer than producer or businessman, Morrow tended to overpay for guest stars and musicians. The program consistently ran over budget until Grillo was placed in charge of all contracts.
(Norman Wolfe, Troubadour: Bing Crosby and the Birth of Pop Singing)
So everything was daisy until I launched my battle for a transcribed radio hour. At the time that warfare was practically front-page news. There was great opposition to the notion, not only from Kraft, with whom I’d been for ten years, but from the whole radio industry.
I had confidence that a show on tape would be just as satisfactory entertainment-wise as a live show, better in many ways. There were two reasons why I wanted to transcribe my radio shows. The first, and most important one, was that it gave me a chance to do a better show. By using tape, I could do a thirty-five or forty-minute show, then edit it down to the twenty-six or twenty-seven minutes the program ran. In that way, we could take out jokes, gags, or situations that didn’t play well and finish with only the prime meat of the show; the solid stuff that played big.
We could also take out songs that didn’t sound good. It gave us a chance to first try a recording of the songs in the afternoon without an audience, then another one in front of a studio audience. We’d dub the one that came off best into the final transcription. .
It gave us a chance to ad lib as much as we wanted, knowing that excess ad libbing could be sliced from the final product. If I made a mistake in singing a song or in the script, I could have some fun with it, then retain any of the fun that sounded amusing.
A second consideration—and a mighty important one to me personally—was that it would give me a chance to get around the country more if I could tape in advance. If I had to go to New York, I could do two or three shows ahead, which eliminated the necessity of transporting a cast and musicians across the continent. If I wanted to go fishing or hunting or play in a golf tournament, that too could be arranged.
Then, too, once when we knew a musicians’ strike was coming off, we taped ten or twelve weeks’ shows in advance. We knocked them off in about two weeks, working every day and every night. This gave us a chance to stay on the air with good shows while the strike was being settled.
But everybody was against the idea—the networks, the sponsors of other shows, the advertising agencies. They thought it might hurt the network financially. They felt that if entertainers were allowed to tape, they could sell to individual stations instead of having to use the network. Then at the psychological moment when the issue seemed in the balance, Philco said that it would be okay with them if I taped a certain number of shows. The way it worked out, it didn’t seem to hurt the networks. To my mind, the only things which lose impact on tape are sports events, or important news events.
(Call Me Lucky, pages 151-152)
August 20, Tuesday. Rags Ragland, who had toured army camps with Bing, dies at the age of forty.
August 21, Wednesday. Variety magazine reports that Bing and Tommy Dorsey have fallen out following the breakdown of negotiations for Bing to take part in the film The Fabulous Dorseys. Dorsey retaliates by saying that he will not perform songs published by the Edwin H. Morris and Burke-Van Heusen publishing firm as Bing has an interest in this.
August 22, Thursday. (3:30–7:35 p.m.) Bing records four songs with Russ Morgan and his Orchestra, including “Among My Souvenirs” and “Does Your Heart Beat For Me?”.
Bing Crosby’s newest Decca cut couples “My Heart Goes Crazy” with “So Would I” (both from My Heart Goes Crazy). If not top flight Crosby, they are unquestionably superior to most of his recent stuff. He sings carefully, feelingly, and, on the whole, rather as if he were concerned about his sponsors renewing. Better side is “So Would I” and you’ll be hearing it everywhere. Russ Morgan batons the accomp on both sides.
(Variety, January 22, 1947)
Sweet Lorraine / The Things We Did Last Summer / Among My Souvenirs / Does Your Heart Beat For Me / September Song / Temptation
If you have any doubts that Bing is both losing his voice and getting increasingly sloppy about his singing listen to these six sides and come away a little sick at the residue (relatively speaking) of a good binger. “Lorraine” is extremely nasal in its opening chorus of phrasing, “Things” is dead and unimaginative. “Souvenirs” is better though the top tones wobble (“rest” for example). The tenor sax solo (Russ Morgan accompanying) is for the books, “Me”, written by Morgan has long been identified with him. “Song,” a reissue, is the one that will really stop the stoutest Crosby fan in his tracks. He just has no tone in it, is consistently off pitch, and fades to nothing on high tones. Bing is a comparatively young man—losing his voice at his age is a result of either incorrect over use or complete sloppiness while making these records.
(DownBeat, January 29, 1947)
“So Would I” - “My Heart Goes Crazy”
Russ Morgan accompanies Crosby on Decca—Dave Barbour accompanies Peggy Lee on Capitol—now you know why Capitol’s vocal discs, by and large, are better. Why saddle Bing with this sort of thing rather than giving him the best possible background—certainly the way he’s been singing lately he needs it. (Decca 2374)
(DownBeat, March 12, 1947)
Bing Crosby has done “Among My Souvenirs” on Bruns. 03779 with the sinister “Temptation,” a contrasted record to interest the fans, but frankly not otherwise anything to write about.
(The Gramophone, August, 1947)
August 26, Monday. (7:00–7:30 p.m.) Bing stars in the Lady Esther Screen Guild Players radio version of The Bells of St. Mary’s on CBS with Ingrid Bergman and Joan Carroll. Wilbur Hatch leads the orchestra.
Spotting of the Bing Crosby Show for Philco was finally cleared up, yesterday (Tuesday). Once Philco executives completed negotiations with ABC, the Crosby ‘wax in your ears’ half-hour production goes into the Wednesday night at ten segment on all stations, in the East, with the Central, Mountain and Coast zones, carrying the show at 9 o’clock on the same evening. Crosby show tees off on October 16th on 211 basic ABC Stations. In addition, 400 other Stations, around the country, are being pacted separately to carry the program. These, of course, would include affiliates of other webs in cities not carrying the show. Spotting of Crosby at ten o’clock in the East and not at nine as was anticipated, is believed to have been motivated by the Groaner’s feeling that it would be labelled as ‘spite’ work, in view of the fact that Frank Sinatra’s Old Gold Show is also heard at 9 pm on CBS.
(Variety, August 28, 1946)
August 31, Saturday. Louella Parsons returns to the air after her summer absence with Bing as her guest.
…improvement in her diction, delivery and relaxed manner of conducting the interview with Bing Crosby. Not a line was fluffed and the excited inflections toned down. Gone, too, was the gushy treacle that formerly dripped from her gabby sessions with guestars if we can excuse her “Bing, dear” as a slight reversion…
(Daily Variety, September 3, 1946)
September 11, Wednesday. Whilst completing the filming of Emperor Waltz at Paramount, Bing pays a surprise visit to Ingrid Bergman’s set on Arch of Triumph and toasts the box office queen on her twelfth role in U.S. pictures.
September 18, Wednesday. Using the NBC Studio B in Hollywood, Bing rehearses for his first Philco show.
Bing Crosby will be a busy little bee this weekend and the hive will be a mass of honey by the time he oils up his shootin’ irons for a go at the deer and pheasant in the general vicinity of his Elko, Nevada ranch.
(Daily Variety, September 18, 1946)
September 19, Thursday. During the morning, Bing continues to rehearse for his first show for Philco using NBC Studio B. (1:07–3:07 p.m.). Transcribes his first Philco Show with Bob Hope which is broadcast on October 16. (3:40–5:10 p.m.). Rehearses for his second Philco show. (5:10–7:25 p.m.). Transcribes his second Philco show and this is transmitted on October 23.
Downey Did It First
It all depends upon who does a thing. While there’s a great fuss about Bing Crosby going network via transcriptions (October 16), it’s been ignored that Morton Downey has been going over the Mutual network via e.t.’s for some time without the network falling apart or the Downey rating doing any fIipflops. Nevertheless what happens to the Philco-Crosby show will determine in part just what Bob Hope and a number of other stars will want to do, come the end of their present contracts. The subject of transcriptions is a touchy one at both NBC and CBS. What happens to the show will have a bearing on what ABC will be in the future also. The Burl Ives show on Mutual for Philco is also transcribed. That fact hasn’t even raised a ripple.
(Sponsor magazine, November 1946, page 2)
September 20, Friday. (8:30–10:10 a.m.) Rehearses for another Philco Show. (10:10 a.m.–12:10 p.m.) Records a Philco show for broadcast on October 30.
September 22, Sunday.
(8:30–10:10 p.m.) Rehearses for a Philco show. (10:10 a.m.–12:10 p.m.) Records
a Philco show which airs November 6.
September 30, Monday. A radio program “End of the Oregon Trail” commissioned by Olympia Beer in celebration of its 50th Anniversary is broadcast on 26 western radio stations at various times. Bing plays the part of his great grandfather, Captain Nathaniel Crosby, part operator of Crosby Flour Co., Tumwater, Washington. He briefly sings a couple lines of “She Had Pearls in Her Hair”.
October 1, Tuesday.
(4:00–7:00 p.m.) In San Francisco, Bing rehearses for his evening broadcast
with Bob Hope. (7:00–7:30 p.m.) Bing guests on the Bob Hope radio show on NBC
with Carole Richards. Jerry Colonna and Vera Vague are also in attendance with
Desi Arnaz leading the orchestra. The show is broadcast from the American
League Convention in Marine Memorial Park, San Francisco.
October 5/6, Saturday / Sunday. Attends a dinner party in his honor given by Dr. & Mrs. Charles Crocker at Pebble Beach.
October 7, Monday. For the second time in the year, Bing appears on the cover of Life magazine, this time with Joan Caulfield with whom he is said to have a very close relationship.
October 8, Tuesday. (12:00 noon –2:00 p.m.) In KFWB Studio 4, Bing and Ezio Pinza rehearse for a Philco show. (2:14–4:15 p.m.) Records the Philco show with Ezio Pinza which is broadcast on November 13. (6:00–7:45 p.m.) Rehearses for his next Philco show with Burl Ives. (8:05–10:05 p.m.). Transcribes the show for transmission on November 20.
October 10, Thursday. The film “The Jolson Story” premieres at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
October 13, Sunday. (5:00–5:30 p.m.) Paul Whiteman’s radio show on ABC has a tribute to Bing and highlights his imminent return to the air on the same station.
October 16, Wednesday. Bing’s film Blue Skies is released and in many cities the first day’s receipts go to the Sister Kenny Foundation. In its initial release period in the USA, the movie takes $5.7 million in rental income making it one of the box office successes of the year.
“Blue Skies” is another in the show biz cavalcade cycle and it’ll spell beaucoup blue skies and black ink for any exhibitor. With Crosby, Astaire and Joan Caulfield on the marquee, a wealth of Irving Berlin songs and lush Technicolor production values, this filmusical can’t miss for terrific grosses.
The cue sheet on “Blue Skies” lists 42 different song items but some of it has been excised and the rest so skilfully arranged, orchestrated and presented that the nostalgic musical cavalcade doesn’t pall. The songs are pleasantly familiar to the World War I generation and, for the youngsters, they are refreshing and solid, especially as Berlin has modernized them.
…the dialog is inclusive of such tongue-in-cheek cracks as “I like kids even better than horses” (Crosby), along with other topical innuendos on Bing’s bangtails [racing] penchant. It’s in a rather corny scene with the baby that one of the three new Berlin numbers, “Running Around in Circles (And Getting Nowhere)” is done by Crosby to Karolyn Grimes, a rather self-conscious five-year-old. (Incidentally, of the other two new Berlin numbers, “You Keep Coming Back Like a Song” and “A Serenade to an Old-Fashioned Girl,” the former is the most promising of all three new tunes).
…Certainly, for Astaire, it’s perhaps a new triumph. If he ever seriously thought of retiring, ‘Skies’ should postpone any such ideas.
…Crosby is Crosby although a slightly heftier Bing. He’s the same troubadour, chirping the ditties as only Crosby does even though his waistline is somewhat more generous than behooves a juve.
(Variety, September 25, 1946)
So many screen exercises in the music-album line have been so cluttered up with “biography” that it is a pleasure at last to see one in which a tune-vender’s life and his music are not mutually and mawkishly abused. Such a one is the Paramount’s current and cheerfully diverting “Blue Skies,” which catalogues some songs of Irving Berlin without catalyzing that gentleman’s career. And with Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby as its bright particular stars, everyone’s probity is honored by it—especially Mr. Berlin’s.
There’s a lot to be said for any picture in the musical comedy groove which adheres to the oft-forgotten dictum that a film should be seen as well as heard, that variety and vitality in the visual are the stuff of which musicals are made. And when the evidence of that adherence is so enthusiastically displayed as it is by Messrs. Astaire and Crosby in “Blue Skies,” you may depend upon being entertained.
The story? Let’s not argue about it. It’s a standard and harmless little thing about the casual and genial competition between two song-and-dance men for a girl. One of them very soon gets her, but as he is a rolling stone, his interest is slightly sporadic. On that track, it ambles along. As a plot, it is no more elusive than the peg for “Holiday Inn,” in which the two above-mentioned performers and Mr. Berlin’s tunes were also combined. And the worst—or the best—to be said for it (you can tolerably take your pick) is that it does have a few soggy moments which are quickly and obligingly dismissed.
But it does serve as adequate hanger for some sparkling and stimulating turns of song, dance and general fancifying to Mr. Berlin’s familiar tunes. Best of the lot, for our wampum, is Mr. Astaire’s electrifying dance to that ancient and honorable folk-song, “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” Turned out in striped pants and top hat, Mr. A. makes his educated feet talk a persuasive language that is thrilling to conjugate. The number ends with some process-screen trickery in which a dozen or so midget Astaires back up the tapping soloist in a beautiful surge of clickety-clicks. If this film is Mr. A.’s swan song, as he has heartlessly announced it will be, then he has climaxed his many years of hoofing with a properly superlative must-see.
And that’s not his only contribution. In company with the redoubtable Bing, he doubles in song while that nipper doubles in dance in a comedy gem, written especially for the occasion, entitled “Two Song-and-Dance Men.” He also kicks his heels glibly in a fancy production of the torrid “Heat Wave,” and trips through the plot and other numbers with the elasticity of a happy rubberman.
Naturally, Mr. Crosby, as the rolling-stone character, has his share of the spotlight and holds it with aggressive modesty. He makes something lively, slick and novel of “Cuba,” along with Olga San Juan, and groans with his customary competence a new hit “You Keep Coming Back Like a Song.” Joan Caulfield, the “you” of this ditty, is most lovely and passive as the girl who stands none too seriously or firmly between Crosby and Astaire. And Billy De Wolfe, an obnoxious sort of person, is allowed only once to get too much in the way.
For the rest, there are no less than twenty of Mr. Berlin’s melodious tunes jammed here and there onto the sound-track, either as production numbers or incidental bits. And we must say that Robert Emmett Dolan has directed the music as distinctively as Stuart Heisler has directed the actors—or maybe more so. That’s why they sound so good. Or maybe it’s because they’re used as music and not as milestones in somebody’s awesome “life.”
(Bosley Crowther, The New York Times, October 17, 1946)
(9:00–9:30 p.m.) Bing commences his first season for Philco Radio Time on ABC which continues at weekly intervals until June 18, 1947. This is the first major transcribed radio series and most of the shows are recorded in Hollywood. The scripts for the shows are mainly written by Bill Morrow who also acts as coproducer with Murdo MacKenzie. The program has an audience rating of 16.1 during the season which makes it one of the ABC network’s top shows but leaves it outside the top twenty shows nationally. Fibber McGee & Molly again top the Hooper ratings with 30.2 but they have to share the position with Bob Hope. In addition to the 211 stations on the ABC network, up to another 400 independent radio stations also take the show. Bob Hope appears on the first broadcast with regulars Lina Romay, the Charioteers, Skitch Henderson, Ken Carpenter, and John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra.
Crosby’s Clicko Wax Radio Network - Debut For Philco History Making (Front Page Headline)
The Bing Crosby disc show for Philco, probably the most publicised debut on record, hit the air lanes via ABC and a flock of Indie Stations last Wednesday (16th) and make no mistake about it, it’ll go down in industry annals as a precedent shattering event. The long awaited ‘wax in your ears’ debut is fraught with significant undertones and overtones. The implications from a standpoint of radio entertainment are as far reaching as anything to hit show business since the advent of talking pictures. The boys who have long contended that it would take no less a personality than the Groaner (and Philco and the dealers backed them up with one of the top coin investments in radio sponsorship) to cue a whole new pattern in broadcasting which would invite a mass exodus of radio’s top headliners from live broadcasting to transcribed shows have even a more solid base for argument, today. For on the basis of Crosby’s initial show and it was a honey, you can’t minimise the importance of that argument and what it might well do to bring about an entire new change in NBC and CBS policy, regarding their present ban on transcriptions.
Once the switch-over of top names from live to transcribed shows gets under way and that’s inevitable, the NBC/CBS brass, rather than risk the loss of their star-studded rosters will have no other recourse but to let down the bars. Today, they still say it won’t happen but get a flock of wax shows under their belt that will pitch in the same high register as last week’s opener and they’ll be singing a different tune. Crosby proved it can be done. It was argued that wrapping up the transcribed show would strip it of the spontaneity that an on the spot performance before a live studio audience invites. Also, the ad-lib quality and the off the cuff bantering that made Crosby’s Kraft Music Hall semester one of radio’s real boffs would be lost forever. Through the simple expedient of waxing his shows before an audience, Crosby has invalidated these claims and you can match Philco’s Number One on the Crosby Disc parade with any of the live shows he’s done in the past and that goes for the spontaneity and the ad-libbing and the overall free play on the banter which only leaves us a possible pitfall, the element of timeliness and topical slant. A sufficient reserve of substitute transcriptions could be the obvious solution.
The pay off on the Philco premiere was that without the tag-line revealing the transcription auspices, this might just as well have been done live, thus accenting the Groaner’s own claims as to the multiple advantages of “going platter” i.e. you can eliminate ‘muffs’ via re-takes similar to pix, you could spot your show at the most advantageous time and it virtually solves the problem of wrapping up guest talent. As one of radio’s top coin packages, the Philco half-hour is solid showmanship but that not only goes for Crosby but in the permanent cast line-up, including Lina Romay, The Charioteers, Skitch Henderson and John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra, as well as the overall production under the strict ‘pro wand’ of Bill Morrow and Murdo McKenzie and the scripting contribution of Morrow, Jack Benny’s ex-writer Al Lewis and Larry Clemens. Show business, in general had its ear tuned to this new Crosby show, in view of distributing reports that the Groaner’s voice ain’t what it used to be, however the Crosby three-way vocalising of, “Sun In The Morning”, “Moonlight Bay” with The Charioteers and Orchestra and “Cynthia’s In Love” with Skitch Henderson and the band should put a quietus on the rumour mill. If there is any deterioration in the groaning department, it wasn’t audible.
Last Wednesday’s show format adhered pretty closely to the Kraft Music Hall lay-out where principal emphasis on the vocal, with the glib Crosby cross-firing. The Trotter Orchestra and The Charioteers have moved over from KMH along with Der Bingle. Spotting of Bob Hope as the guest star on the getaway show was a natural with the two ‘B’s’ slugging it out in their now, standard needling routine and chirping a novelty tune, “Put It There Pal” to accent their Pittsburgh Pirates versus Cleveland Indians baseball ownership rivalry. Ken Carpenter does the announcer chores - he’s as smooth as ever, both on script, continuity and the sales pitch. The Philco commercials weren’t commercials as such. The plugs were so inoffensively integrated, so sparsely used, as to make them an innovation. The Jimmy Carmine welcome of Crosby to the World’s largest radio audience on behalf of Philco was a blending of commercial copy with showmanship. The rating on the new Crosby show will be watched closely. It will have a lot to do with charting radio’s new pattern.
(Variety, October 23, 1946)
October 23, Wednesday. (9:00–9:30 p.m.) Bing’s transcribed Philco Radio Time show is broadcast by ABC. The guests are Spike Jones and his City Slickers.
October 30, Wednesday. (9:00–9:30 p.m.) Bing’s transcribed Philco Radio Time show is broadcast by ABC. The guests are the Les Paul Trio. Bing is in Boise, Idaho, having come from Weiser where he had been pheasant shooting. He meets up with some old Gonzaga friends in the office of T. Matt Hally (class of ‘26), state highway commissioner. The other schoolmates are Sib Kleffner and Dr. Jack Garrity.
October (undated). Dixie throws a birthday party and baby shower at her home for Sue Carol, who is now married to Alan Ladd.
November 1, Friday, Bing gives an impromptu concert for schoolchildren at a small school near Weiser, Idaho. He
then leaves for Elko. Elsewhere, his house at 23844 Roosevelt Highway, Malibu is sold to Dr. and Mrs. Becka
November 6, Wednesday. (9:00–9:30 p.m.) Bing’s transcribed Philco Radio Time show is broadcast by ABC. The guest is Ralph Mendez.
Bing Crosby’s troubles apparently are just beginning. That initial 24 rating on his Philco transcribed show is now down to 12.2. Latter rating based on last Wednesdays’ (6th) Show and it is understood that word has gone out to The Groaner from his Philco sponsors to get busy and do something in a hurry. Everett Crosby, brother and business manager for the crooner, who has been in New York for the past few weeks, getting agency/sponsor/trade reaction on the Philco Time Show, admitted before leaving for the Coast, Sunday 10th, that the platter show is due for some drastic re-vamping. Just who goes off the show and what hypos are contemplated hasn’t been determined yet. There are only two shows left in the advanced wax works (with Ezio Pinza and Burl Ives as guest stars) and The Groaner is due at the Hollywood recording studios, this week, when the boys will sit down and thrash out the whole advanced pattern of the show. Meanwhile, the rating nose-dive plus the unfavorable reaction to Crosby’s last few shows have contributed to putting a quietus on the ‘live to transcription’ flurry of trade excitement that followed in the wake of Crosby’s premiere and Philco’s super promotion job. In view of the original contract stipulation which calls for Crosby to go ‘live’ in the event that his ratings slip under 12 on four consecutive broadcasts, some of the boys are wagering that The Groaner segues back to live programs. The fault, they say, doesn’t lie in the transcriptions as such but in the quality of the show. While others say let Bergen go into the same spot on NBC and you will get a more accurate appraisal of transcription potentialities. The new musician’s contract is also raising havoc with the show, with Everett Crosby tipping off that the 31 piece John Scott Trotter Orchestra will be reduced to 18 men, to bring the show in under the talent cost budget.
(Variety, November 13, 1946)
November 13, Wednesday. (10:00–11:00 a.m.). In the NBC Studios, rehearses for a Philco show with Judy Garland. (12:15–2:15 p.m.). Records the Philco show which is broadcast on November 27. (9:00–9:30 p.m.) Bing’s transcribed Philco Radio Time show is broadcast by ABC. The guest is Ezio Pinza.
Crosby show’s face lifting.
Philco switch adopts name guestar policy.
Hollywood, Nov. 16— Breathing now is a little easier in the Bing Crosby crowd since the Philco show’s 12.2 Hooper dive straightened out last week (13) to a 15.8. However, show will still get a P.D.Q. hypo to avoid another rating dip. Bill Morrow, Groaner’s producer-writer, says the airer will use “good, solid names,” listing among future guesters, Judy Garland for Thanksgiving week broadcast, Jimmy Durante, Jack Benny, Jascha Heifitz, Edgar Berger and a return engagement for Bob Hope. Show for the most part will be plattered only two weeks prior to airing with Morrow feeling that any weaknesses in the first six programs can be blamed on too many cuttings crammed into a short period of time. Der Bingle is of the opinion that the advance recording should in no way impair the program’s listener appeal and in the future he will avoid doing too many shows in a short span of time. Lina Romay, who appears on the first six platters, will now “occasionally” drop in on the show, as will other fem chirps. Miss Romay was not included in the Thanksgiving program cut last week. Morrow, however, stressed that changes now being made in the show are not to be mistaken as “panic or emergency moves resulting from the 12.2 rating.” According to Morrow, some of these changes were planned after the first platter was aired, with others to have evolved naturally as the show progressed. He denied that Miss Romay is being eased out, saying the Latin lass was not intended as a cast regular originally and that the only reason she is on the first six shows is because the platters were cut within the same period of time. Morrow pointed out that if the show were live, gradual changes would have been made during the six weeks it had been on the air, brushing up certain weak spots. By waxing all six at one shot, nothing could be done until this time.
(Billboard, November 23, 1946)
November 14, Thursday. (9:00–11:50 a.m.) Records songs from his film Welcome Stranger with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra.
November 16, Saturday. (6:00 p.m.) Bing, Kate Smith, and Rosalind Russell broadcast on behalf of the Sister Kenny Foundation.
November 18, Monday. (3:30–5:00 p.m.). In the NBC Studios, rehearses for a Philco show with Jimmy Durante. (6:45–8:45 p.m.). The Philco show recording takes place and the show is broadcast on December 4.
November 19, Tuesday. (8:30–10:15 a.m.) Bing records “Country Style” and “My Heart is a Hobo” with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra. Later he checks in to St. John’s Hospital for what is said to be a minor surgical operation at first but is later corrected to “x-rays and a routine check–up.”
Welcome Stranger – (Decca A-531)
Bing Crosby covers four songs from his Welcome Stranger movie in this set of two records. And with John Scott Trotter’s music, emphasises the hit quality of the score’s ballad song, As Long as I’m Dreaming. Other songs have only production value, Crosby singing it in easy and rhythmic style for Smile Right Back at the Sun and My Heart Is a Hobo. And with the Calico Kids on the chant, Crosby is also the caller for the country style square dance ditty. Picture of the singer graces the album cover. Accompanying is a booklet more ambitious than the recordings, giving the screen story, Bing’s bio and the song lyrics. Screen showings will hypo interest in this set.
(Billboard, May 24, 1947)
Country Style / My Heart Is a Hobo / As Long As I’m Dreaming / Smile Right Back at the Sun
Better sides than Bing has made in a long while. Sounds if he actually felt like singing. In Style it’s mostly his engaging half-singing manner that sneaks him through the by now apparent faults in his upper tones - and it’s a square dance too (Decca A531)
(DownBeat, June 4, 1947)
You’ve probably heard this in all the juke boxes by now but we’d still like to recommend ‘Country Style’ as the best Crosby disc of the season. Crosby’s easy-going humorous arrangement takes you for a rural hayride and he does a bang-up job calling the turns at the village barn dance. Farmer Crosby certainly didn’t lay an egg with this one.
(Song Hits Magazine, October 1947, p14)
For the more sophisticated there are no less than six new records by Bing Crosby. Everybody will enjoy Country Style from the film “Welcome Stranger,” though the reverse may be confined to the fans As Long as I’m Dreaming (Bruns. 03801). From the same film are Smile Right Back at the Sun and My Heart Is a Hobo, both with a comfortable lilt on 03802.
(The Gramophone, December 1947)
November 20, Wednesday. (9:00–9:30 p.m.) Bing’s transcribed Philco Radio Time show is broadcast by ABC. The guest is Burl Ives. Lina Romay drops out of the show after this program.
November 21, Thursday. Bing checks out of St. John’s Hospital.
Bing Crosby back home over the weekend after three days in St. John’s Hospital, Santa Monica, where he underwent minor surgery.
(Daily Variety, November 25, 1946)
November 23, Saturday. June Crosby, Bob’s wife, gives birth to a son, Stephen Ross.
November 24, Sunday. (3:00–4:00 p.m.). In the NBC Studios, rehearses for a Philco show with Peggy Lee and Jerry Colonna. (6:25 –8:30 p.m.) The Philco show is recorded and airs on December 11.
November 27, Wednesday. A test screening of The Emperor Waltz is held at Long Beach and Wilder and Brackett decide to cut the song “Get Yourself a Phonograph” from the film. (9:00–9:30 p.m.) Bing’s transcribed Philco Radio Time show is broadcast by ABC. The guests are Judy Garland and the Les Paul Trio.
Nov.27…Drove to Long Beach for the preview of The Emperor Waltz. It was the right kind of a first preview, not breath-takingly enthusiastic but proving that we have a solid fairy-tale kind of a picture if the terms be not contradictory, a mousse with a reliable skeleton, which will be infinitely improved when the minutes are cut from it. One song “Get Yourself a Phonograph” laid a complete egg and must go. The violin concerto is too long, the style of writing the titles is appalling—illegible. Some official jokes don't warrant their laugh, but the whole thing is going to be all right. Everyone from the studios seemed pleased with it, Frank Butler having a couple of excellent suggests.
(From the diaries of Charles Brackett, as reproduced in It’s the Pictures That Got Small, page 296)
November 28, Thursday. Bing and Dixie entertain his parents at their home for Thanksgiving Day.
December 1, Sunday. Press comment states that after a brilliant start on the ABC network, Bing’s transcribed radio show is now “the season’s major disappointment.” The transcribed discs are felt not to be satisfactory and appear metallic and fuzzy. Bing is said to be too casual, with even his singing not tidy and sure and sometimes off-key. His relaxed charm seems to be missing and there is an apparent preoccupation to get each program done. Major revisions are planned for the future of the show with top performers such as Al Jolson being engaged.
December 2, Monday. (2:45–3:30 p.m.). In the NBC Studios, Bing rehearses a Philco show with Peggy Lee. (6:30–8:23 p.m.) Records the Philco show for transmission on December 18.
December 4, Wednesday. (9:00–9:30 p.m.) Bing’s transcribed Philco Radio Time show is broadcast by ABC. The guest is Jimmy Durante.
Jimmy Durante hypoed the Bing Crosby-Philco Show into easily the best since the debut program when Bob Hope guested. Crosby needs a sprightly comic to give the proceedings that bounce which is so necessary.
(Variety, December 11, 1946)
Bing Crosby always had a great love for Jimmy Durante and enjoyed doing vaudeville routines with him. Durante appeared as a guest on Crosby’s Philco Radio Time five times from 1946 to 1949 on ABC. The funniest of those guest appearances was Crosby’s show of December 4, 1946. Durante tried to sing Bing’s theme song, “Where the Blue of the Night (Meets the Gold of the Day),” and “I Surrender Dear” as a duet. Bing, for his part, tackles Durante’s theme song, “You Gotta Start Off Each Day with a Song,” as part of a duet, and bravely sings without help Durante’s “I’m Jimmy, the Well Dressed Man,” changing it to “Crosby, the Well Dressed Man.” The show closes with both singing “Blue Skies.”
(Jimmy Durante - His Show Business Career, page 125)
December 5, Thursday. Bing attends a baseball banquet at the Biltmore Bowl. He sings “My Old Kentucky Home” with Bob Hope, George Jessel and Baseball Commissioner A. B. ‘Happy’ Chandler.
December 9, Monday. (2:00–3:30 p.m.) In NBC Studio B, Bing rehearses for his Christmas show for Philco. (5:45–7:45 p.m.) Records the Philco show and it is broadcast on December 25.
December 7, Saturday. Bing’s recording of “White Christmas” enters the charts and eventually reaches number one again during its six-week stay.
December (undated). Bing and Bob Hope perform a golfing sketch and sing “Harmony” for the film Variety Girl, a Paramount extravaganza packed with guest stars performing cameo roles. Among those taking part in the final section of “Harmony” are Gary Cooper, Barry Fitzgerald, Dorothy Lamour, Ray Milland, William Holden, Burt Lancaster, William Bendix and Cass Daley.
December (undated). Plans are being made for Bing to go to England in February 1948 to make a film for Alexander Korda. While there he will record some Philco shows with British talent and make some records. British comedian Sid Field is thought likely to be in the film which was to be written by Damon Runyon. However Runyon dies on December 10 and the project does not proceed.
Bing Crosby has canceled his British picture. “I wanted to go there but they didn’t have a script for me,” Bing tells me at Paramount on the Road to Rio set. I guess they haven’t yet heard in England that Bing is the three times winner at the box office in this country. And when I ask Bing his reaction to this he replies, “Now I believe it, three times makes it official.” And you can bet that Bing won’t be doing any more pictures featuring a minority race. He is really upset with the Jewish-Irish controversy over Abie’s Irish Rose.
(Sheilah Graham, Hollywood Citizen News, January 1, 1947)
December 8, Sunday. Bing and
Bob Hope take part in the International Blind Golf and Shooting Tournament at
Inglewood Golf Club, California. Bing plays with Charles Boswell and Bob has Clinton J. Russell as his partner. Hope and Russell win 1-up in the 9-hole match.
December 9, Monday. Leo Lynn, Bing's stand-in is admitted to hospital with a heart ailment.
December 11, Wednesday. (9:00–9:30 p.m.) Bing’s transcribed Philco Radio Time show is broadcast by ABC. The guests are Peggy Lee and Jerry Colonna.
December 16, Monday. (12:30–2:15 p.m.) In NBC Studio B, Bing rehearses for a Philco show with Peggy Lee and Joe Frisco. (3:50–5:50 p.m.) Records the Philco show and it is broadcast on January 1, 1947.
December 17, Tuesday. (9:30–11:45 a.m.) Bing records “That’s How Much I Love You” and “Rose of Santa Rosa” songs with his brother Bob’s Bobcats and The Chickadees in Hollywood. “That’s How Much I Love You” briefly charts in the No. 17 spot.
At first, Nelson served as a ghostwriter for Trotter. Over a three-year
period, he wrote about two dozen charts for
Finally, Nelson got his chance to actually conduct a recording date with Bing. Bob Bain, who played on that date, recalled calling Doreen as soon as they had finished recording. “Nelson wasn’t nervous but Doreen sure was,” Bain recalled. “I had promised her that I would call her to let her know that everything went okay, which it did.”
(Peter J. Levinson, September in the Rain: The Life of Nelson Riddle, page 74)
December 18, Wednesday. (9:00–9:30 p.m.) Bing’s transcribed Philco Radio Time show is broadcast by ABC. The guest is Peggy Lee.
December 21, Saturday. Decca has issued a 4-disc 78rpm album set called Bing Crosby - Jerome Kern and Billboard magazine reviews it on this day.
With the forthcoming of the new movie keyed to the music of Jerome Kern, there is more than casual interest in this packaging of eight melodies by the master, some of which had been issued earlier as singing sides. Attention is also directed to two of the eight sides Bing Crosby had the missus, Dixie Lee, joining him vocally. Mr. and Mrs. Crosby share the lyrics for the ballads A Fine Romance and The Way You Look Tonight with Victor Young providing the musical background. Album plays down Mrs. Crosby, which is easy to understand once the sides spin out. Much more effective are the other six sides that has the groaner giving out in his usual easy and relaxed style, bearing out all the expression and understanding of the Kern songs… Booklet included with the package includes copious notes on the singer and the composer…Movie association will heighten the merchandising appeal of this slap-together set.
December 22, Sunday. (10:00–11:30 a.m.) In NBC Studio B, Bing rehearses for a Philco show with Mickey Rooney and Peggy Lee. (1:38–3:38 p.m.) Records the Philco show and it is broadcast on January 8, 1947.
I watched a theatrical history-making event the other evening. I watched Al Jolson and Bing Crosby do a broadcast, that is to make a recording for a “Bingsday” show, which was really something! It was a thrill and something unique to watch these two masters of two entirely different techniques work together. It was the first time that Al and Bing had ever performed together. This recording, which the public will be able to hear on the Jan. 15 broadcast, will be a collector’s item.
Jolson represents a definite type of singing, of selling a song, and Crosby represents an entirely different type of singing and selling a song. Yet both Jolson and Crosby are a distinct part of Americana, both leaders who set styles that had many imitators, both are permanent representatives of American theatricals.
It was fascinating to watch these men perform together. When they did the broadcast at NBC before a regular studio audience, you could feel that the audience knew that they were watching something entirely out of the ordinary. In fact, practically every performer and musician who was at the broadcasting station left their job to crowd into this studio to watch Jolson and Crosby.
Both Jolson and Crosby, you could tell while you watched them go through their routines, had great admiration and respect for each other. They kidded each other, but it was not the usual type of radio kidding and insulting. You felt that these two men were admiring each other and inspecting each other. And when they sang together, they do three different types of songs together, you were aware that you were listening to the best in the manner of popular singers that this nation had produced during our time.
There was Jolson, who pushes a song, who sells it somewhat in the manner of a fighter in the ring, who punches from the shoulders and gives it everything he has. There was Crosby, who almost listlessly croons a song, and who does it with almost a studied indifference. Jolson appeared concerned about putting the song over, and Crosby appeared unconcerned about putting the song over. Yet together they put over songs as they have never been put over before.
Crosby wasn’t really fooling when he said, “Al, you were my idol when I started in the business. I went to hear you sing and admired you.” Jolson wasn’t really fooling when he said, “Bing, I didn’t believe you’d get anywhere with that slow and easy manner of singing.” Yet they both realized that they were the leaders in their distinctive styles for their different generations of admirers.
Yet, as Crosby commented, “It is remarkable that the Jolson technique is still favored and again a vogue by a generation who had never seen him but his technique in The Jolson Story.”
During the broadcast, Bing sang and played strictly to the microphone, and not to the actual audience watching. Jolson, who was popular before the day of the microphone, played mainly to the gathered audience, regardless of the microphone. Like the theme of the picture about him, Jolson was singing so he could watch the faces of his audience.
I could go on–but wait until you hear the broadcast. It’s a hunk of theatrical history.
(Sidney Skolsky, Hollywood Citizen News, January 2, 1947)
December 24, Tuesday. (3:00–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses with Bob Hope for an evening broadcast. (7:00–7:30 p.m.) Bing guests on Bob Hope’s radio show on NBC with Desi Arnaz, Jerry Colonna, and Vera Vague. The show comes from Sawtelle Veterans’ Hospital. (9:00 –10:30 p.m.) Bing appears at the conclusion of the radio show Paul Whiteman’s ABC Christmas Party on ABC. He reads the Nativity story from St. Luke’s gospel and then sings “O Little Town of Bethlehem”.
December 25, Wednesday. (9:00–9:30 p.m.) Bing’s transcribed Philco Radio Time show is broadcast by ABC.
December 26, Thursday. Bing and Bob Hope entertain at the Los Angeles Times National Sports Awards dinner at the Biltmore Bowl.
December 27, Friday. The Bing Crosby Productions film Abie’s Irish Rose is released by United Artists and creates Jewish-Irish controversy which upsets Bing. The film is based on a very successful stage play from the 1920s about an Irish girl marrying a Jewish boy but it fails badly at the box office. Some of the material is now regarded as offensive to religious and racial groups and Jewish observers attribute the change in feeling about the story to the heightened awareness of religious and racial tensions which the intervening years since the stage play was shown have produced. Several cuts to the film were made following complaints before release.
...It still is a source of intermittent laughter; laughter which stems from the exaggerated racial and religious prejudices of Solomon Levy and Patrick Murphy, whose youngsters, Abie and Rosemary, are married first by a minister, secondly by a rabbi and lastly by a Catholic priest. But somehow in this day, one does not relish this sort of humor. In fact, it is downright embarrassing to see characters upon the screen insulting each other because one happens to be a Jew and the other an Irish Catholic. Of course, it is all intended as innocent joshing and the principals come to love and respect one another before the fadeout, but this does not quite remove the distaste of what has gone before.
(New York Times, December 23, 1946)
The essence of film fare is obviously to entertain. This one doesn’t. It can’t, when the fundamentals are as meretricious as unwind in these hokey 96 minutes. Nor does it suffice to dismiss it as merely hokum. There is commercial hoke and there is spurious buncombe [sic]. This celluloid concoction, for all its elementary plot development, is untimely. . . Fundamentally, the story has become a topical misfit.
(Variety, November 27, 1946)
Rosemary is the daughter of Patrick Murphy, an American-Irish Catholic; Abie is the son of Solomon Levy, an American orthodox Jew. The two young people meet in London on VE Day, when Rosemary is entertaining American troops, and Abie, a wounded soldier, is one of the troops. They fall in love at first sight and are married by a Protestant Army chaplain. Back in America the problem arises how to break the news to their respective parents. . . .
(Picture Show, March 6, 1948)
December 29, Sunday.
December 30-March, 1947. Monday. Films Road to
Rio (the fifth of the series) financed this time by Bing, Bob Hope, and
Paramount. Bing, Bob, and Dorothy Lamour star as usual with Gale Sondergaard in
a featured role. The Andrews Sisters appear in the film to sing “You Don’t Have
to Know the Language” with Bing. The director is Norman McLeod with the regular
team of Robert Emmett Dolan and Joseph J. Lilley being responsible for musical
direction and vocal arrangements respectively. Dolan’s work on Road to Rio
is unsuccessfully nominated for an Oscar for “Best Scoring of a Musical
Picture” for 1947 but he loses out to Alfred Newman for Mother Wore Tights.
Road To Rio was an entirely
different ball game for Bing and me. This time his company and mine each owned
one third of the picture, and Bing
and I were partners in other businesses as well. We had
both invested in a Texas oil venture that had brought us money by the gusher.
We found another promising investment, a soft drink called Lime Cola. A
promoter from Montgomery, Alabama, convinced us to invest $25,000 apiece with
the promise that he was going to put Coca-Cola out of business. The
thought occurred to us: why not use The Road to Rio to help sell Lime
not indeed? We ordered a large sign to be displayed prominently in one of the
can’t do that!” argued the Paramount attorney, Jack Karp. “That’s advertising!”
can’t do that, huh?” I said. “Say, Bing - who owns this picture?” “Why,
you own a third, and I own a third,” Bing replied. “Let’s
see - one third and one third makes two thirds, right? I guess Paramount is
Lime Cola ad remained in The Road to Unfortunately,
Lime Cola didn’t put Coca-Cola out of business: Lime Cola went out of business
itself. Bing’s and my 25 Gs were gone with the wind. There
was no way to remove the Lime Cola ad from the picture. When the sign came on
the screen at the preview, the only thing Bing and I could do was slump down in
our seats and crawl up the aisle on our hands and knees. (Bob Hope, writing in The Road to
Hollywood) Following the 1946 release of “Road To
Utopia,” described by Crowther as the funniest film about prospecting since
Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush,” Paramount announced it would be the last in the
series. The studio said coordinating
shooting schedules for the three stars had become all but impossible. Billboard
quoted a Paramount spokesman saying the radio schedules of Crosby and Hope cost
the studio $250,000 in delays and rescheduling during shooting of the last one.
Media and the public rose up in protest and some 75,000 irate letters were received
by Paramount before the studio waived a white flag, which read “Road To Rio.” Hollywood was changing once more,
listing back in the direction of Little Mary’s glorious legacy of control by
inmate whim. Stars of the sound era were learning to “talk” money as their
silent predecessors had. More of them were retaining financial advisers and the
need for advantageous income tax positioning was bringing about a restructuring
in the wage-slave relationship with studios. Hope and Crosby incorporated
themselves and demanded the right to have their companies invest in their films
and share in the profits. They put $350,000 into “Road To Rio,” each getting
one-third ownership which made them equal partners with Paramount. Dorothy
Lamour did not have a company and was not given a chance to participate
although Hope and Crosby did make certain she received a small percentage of
the profits, apart from her base salary. She was unhappy but no enduring breach
resulted. For The Singer, “Road To Rio”
produced the last of the memorable songs from the series, “But Beautiful,” in
the top ten four weeks. (Troubadour, page 302) Early
in 1947, Bing picked up the Los Angeles papers and read some unpleasant news
about an old friend, a trombonist and singer whom he’d known for almost twenty
years and whom he’d used in several of his pictures. The musician had become a
band leader, but times were bad for band leaders, and he was stranded in Los
Angeles without enough money to pay off his band. In addition, his wife was
suing him for divorce in an unsavory court action,
which was bringing him just that more ugly publicity. Bing, working on “The
Road to Rio” at Paramount asked the musician to come out to the studio. He
greeted him warmly and then made an abrupt about-face. “You
know”, he told the troubled bandsman, “I’m getting sick and tired of seeing
your face around here. When can you get out of here, and how much will you need
to get back to New York? Answer one at a time.” “Immediately”
was the answer to the first. “Four hundred dollars,” answered the second. Bing
turned to his stand-in, Leo Lynn and directed his next movements. “Get him $600
and put him on the next train out of here.” He turned to the musician.
“Now git! And don’t let me see you around here until you’re persona grata
with everybody. Honestly, every time my back is turned…” He winked and went
back to work whistling. When
he got back to New York, the musician told friends, “All he did was to save my
life and career. That’s all.” (The
Incredible Crosby, page 289)
Road To Rio was an entirely
different ball game for Bing and me. This time his company and mine each owned
one third of the picture, and
Bing and I were partners in other businesses as well.
We had both invested in a Texas oil venture that had brought us money by the gusher. We found another promising investment, a soft drink called Lime Cola. A promoter from Montgomery, Alabama, convinced us to invest $25,000 apiece with the promise that he was going to put Coca-Cola out of business.
The thought occurred to us: why not use The Road to Rio to help sell Lime Cola?
Why not indeed? We ordered a large sign to be displayed prominently in one of the scenes.
“You can’t do that!” argued the Paramount attorney, Jack Karp. “That’s advertising!”
“We can’t do that, huh?” I said. “Say, Bing - who owns this picture?”
“Why, you own a third, and I own a third,” Bing replied.
“Let’s see - one third and one third makes two thirds, right? I guess Paramount is outvoted.”
Lime Cola ad remained in The Road to
Unfortunately, Lime Cola didn’t put Coca-Cola out of business: Lime Cola went out of business itself. Bing’s and my 25 Gs were gone with the wind.
There was no way to remove the Lime Cola ad from the picture. When the sign came on the screen at the preview, the only thing Bing and I could do was slump down in our seats and crawl up the aisle on our hands and knees.
(Bob Hope, writing in The Road to Hollywood)
Following the 1946 release of “Road To Utopia,” described by Crowther as the funniest film about prospecting since Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush,” Paramount announced it would be the last in the series.
The studio said coordinating shooting schedules for the three stars had become all but impossible. Billboard quoted a Paramount spokesman saying the radio schedules of Crosby and Hope cost the studio $250,000 in delays and rescheduling during shooting of the last one. Media and the public rose up in protest and some 75,000 irate letters were received by Paramount before the studio waived a white flag, which read “Road To Rio.”
Hollywood was changing once more, listing back in the direction of Little Mary’s glorious legacy of control by inmate whim. Stars of the sound era were learning to “talk” money as their silent predecessors had. More of them were retaining financial advisers and the need for advantageous income tax positioning was bringing about a restructuring in the wage-slave relationship with studios.
Hope and Crosby incorporated themselves and demanded the right to have their companies invest in their films and share in the profits. They put $350,000 into “Road To Rio,” each getting one-third ownership which made them equal partners with Paramount. Dorothy Lamour did not have a company and was not given a chance to participate although Hope and Crosby did make certain she received a small percentage of the profits, apart from her base salary. She was unhappy but no enduring breach resulted.
For The Singer, “Road To Rio” produced the last of the memorable songs from the series, “But Beautiful,” in the top ten four weeks.
(Troubadour, page 302)
Early in 1947, Bing picked up the Los Angeles papers and read some unpleasant news about an old friend, a trombonist and singer whom he’d known for almost twenty years and whom he’d used in several of his pictures. The musician had become a band leader, but times were bad for band leaders, and he was stranded in Los Angeles without enough money to pay off his band. In addition, his wife was suing him for divorce in an unsavory court action, which was bringing him just that more ugly publicity. Bing, working on “The Road to Rio” at Paramount asked the musician to come out to the studio. He greeted him warmly and then made an abrupt about-face.
“You know”, he told the troubled bandsman, “I’m getting sick and tired of seeing your face around here. When can you get out of here, and how much will you need to get back to New York? Answer one at a time.”
“Immediately” was the answer to the first. “Four hundred dollars,” answered the second. Bing turned to his stand-in, Leo Lynn and directed his next movements. “Get him $600 and put him on the next train out of here.” He turned to the musician. “Now git! And don’t let me see you around here until you’re persona grata with everybody. Honestly, every time my back is turned…” He winked and went back to work whistling.
When he got back to New York, the musician told friends, “All he did was to save my life and career. That’s all.”
(The Incredible Crosby, page 289)
In the spring of 1947, Jack Teagarden was unemployed and in debt, when he received a message from Bing Crosby to call at his office the following day. Bing was well aware of Jack’s troubles and when Jack said he could not make a fresh start in California, Bing suggested that he should pick up where he had left off in New York. He then had a cheque made out to Jack for six hundred dollars for, as he put it, some fares and some snacks. When Teagarden assured him that the loan would not be for long, he was told with a smile, “I know, you’ll pay me back. Make sure that you do. I need the dough, son.”
(From Jack Teagarden: The Story of a Jazz Maverick by Guttridge)
Bing hosts the University of Illinois grid team to lunch at Paramount after they visit him on the Road to Rio set.
Bing’s 1946 income is put at $867,500. He is named the top movie box office star in the U.S.A. for 1946. In the annual poll by Down Beat, Frank Sinatra is voted top male singer of 1946. Bing is second with Perry Como third. During the year, Bing has had thirteen records that have become chart hits and also Decca has issued ten 78rpm albums of his recordings in the twelve-month period. A scholarly book Bing Crosby and the Bing Crosby Style by Dr. J. T. H. Mize has been published by Who Is Who in Music Inc. and this commences as follows:
The best-liked, best known, and best-paid singer in the world is Bing Crosby. He is the person most deserving of the appelative “a truly typical American,” or “Uncle Sam without the Whiskers,” or “Mister America.” Comparable to the late Will Rogers, Bing has truly captured the hearts of America’s millions, for his unique and flexible manner of musical utterances possesses unparalleled mass appeal, and his appeal is not confined to any class nor age. Indeed, his popularity is not confined to America, for it is validly stated that his voice has been heard by, and is readily recognized and enjoyed by, more people than any other voice in the history of the human race. Because his musical, social and cultural contributions are immeasurable, because he has achieved an unprecedented and deserved popularity in the world’s musical scene, because he has achieved this ascendancy in so many media of expression, and because his manner and style of singing, has exerted such a distinct and string influence on practically all style of singing, this Biographical Bookette is devoted to him alone: Bing Crosby and the Bing Crosby Style.
January 1, Wednesday. (9:00–9:30 p.m.) Bing’s transcribed Philco Radio Time show is broadcast by ABC. The guests are Peggy Lee and Joe Frisco.
Photoplay Gallup awards party went very smoothly by comparison with the 1946 event, thanks largely to presence of Danny Kaye at the helm. Champ Bing Crosby’s singing of “Buttermilk Sky” was amusing, especially when he ran out of words, carrying “ine” rhyme, and suggested the matter would have to be referred to “Sylvia Fine,” Kaye’s spouse.
(Edwin Schallert, Los Angeles Times, January 15, 1947)
reaches the No. 2 spot in the Billboard best-selling popular record albums chart on August 7, 1948. It is 9th in the year’s top-selling popular record albums listing.
Crosby ET Show in Steady Climb: Hooper Hits 20.6
New York, Jan. 25. Bing Crosby’s transcribed Philco show continues to climb, rating-wise, and is nearing the socko 24.0 Hooper registered by the opening show on October 16 which had Bob Hope as guest. Wednesday’s (22) session with Al Jolson guesting, registered a 20.6—giving ABC and Philco cause for rejoicing. Next Wednesday’s show (29) is also expected to hit a high mark, the groaner having lined up Hope again, with the added attraction of Dorothy Lamour. Ratings since show opened reveal an initial high rating followed by a sharp drop, in turn followed by a steady climb. Figures are as follows and include special Hooper studies made in addition to the regular Hooper taken at two-week intervals.
October 16, 24.0; November 6, 12.2; November 13, 15.8; November 20, 15.6; December 4, 13.4; December 18, 15.8; January 8, 16.1 and January 15, 20.6.
This pattern of diving and climbing bears out thinking of ABC execs who predicted such a course. Show opened on the wave of socko promotion. Weak guestars, plus a fade in the initially strong promotion helped account for the dive; and a return to a stronger guest policy plus Crosby’s strong personal draw is held accountable for the upward swing. Proponents of the transcribed feature of the Crosby-Philco operation also point out that the boost in listening audience is a strong indication that it matters little to listeners whether a program is live or disked.
(Billboard, February 1, 1947)
By common consent [Crosby] is the head man of American entertainment in just about every branch but sidewalk magic. But none of the other achievements measures up to the magnitude of his assault on the established framework of radio. For two decades the tycoons of the ether have snuffed out rebellions like so many cigarettes; it took Crosby to bring them to heel ( . . . ) That he had his way is the clearest testimony that he is the No. 1 man in entertainment—certainly, as Variety called him, ‘Mr. Radio himself.’ Radio is a tough business, and characteristically merciless to nonconformists. That the whole roster of radio stars is planning to follow Crosby’s lead next year [in transcribing their programs for broadcast on later dates] is plain enough tribute to his leadership.
(Fortune Magazine, January 1947)
A surgeon cut away a portion his stomach. Barbour survived, but stayed in critical condition for days. Lee drew comfort from her girlhood idol Bing Crosby, who had hosted her numerous times on his radio show and in turn became her friend. Crosby called her each morning to check that Barbour had made it through the night. He offered money, blood, even his babysitting services.
(James Gavin, Is That All There Is? The Strange Life of Peggy Lee, page 96)
The album quickly reaches No. 4 in Billboard's best-selling popular record albums chart on March 22, 1947 and is still selling well the following year when it reaches No. 1 in the same chart on March 20, 1948.
Aiming at maximum holiday sales, this package of five platters brings together 10 Erin faves cut at varying times by Bing Crosby, getting vocal assist on some of the sides from the Jesters and the King’s Men, while the music making belongs to Bob Haggart, Victor Young and John Scott Trotter. Der Bingle in good Erin form for each of the sides and song selections are tops ... Photo of the smiling Bing on the album cover, with notes on the singer and the songs in the accompanying booklet.
(Billboard, March 8, 1947)
Bing’s album, despite his usual graceful ease of interpretation, lacks his old fullness of voice. If Crosby is going to keep on making records with his evident sloppiness and lack of interest, it would be better if he would stop now and let his millions of fans remember him by his older and far better discs.
(Down Beat, March 26, 1947)
This is an over-ambitious attempt to coin extra-added out of Bing Crosby’s early recordings. In this instance the label is packaging Der Bingle’s Hawaiian diskings, putting 10 sides in a set. And there’s enough here for two such sets, using the same cover design of smiling Bing against a geographical picture of the islands with a descriptive booklet accompanying each set. For the first set, they are all slow and dreamy spinners, with instrumental and vocal support from Dick McIntire, Lani McIntire and the Paradise Island trio. Top faves in the first volume include Song of the Islands and Sweet Leilani…Both McIntire strumming ensembles are included in the second album, also of 10 sides, with two sides cut with Harry Owens’s full band. Second set includes several selections at a livelier beat, with Trade Winds the top song favorite…For Der Bingle and hula fans, there’s enough in these two packages to last a lifetime.
(Billboard, March 8, 1947)
Although they had no personal problems working with Crosby and Haymes—both on records and on radio—the girls were not accustomed to Haymes’ style of song arranging. He insisted on dividing segments of the song equally between himself and the sisters. According to Maxene, the trio was more concerned with the quality of the finished product rather than who sang how many lines, so they usually let the crooner have his way. One session proved troublesome, however, when the trio and Haymes joined Bing Crosby in March of 1947. Maxene recalled,
The only artist we had problems with was Dick Haymes. I guess maybe they figured we were a strange act to work with because we didn’t read music. So, when we would come into the recording session, we would have the secretary type out all of the lyrics and type out the direction of how it would go. And nobody ever disagreed. Crosby said, “Anything the girls want to do.” Dick counted lines, so he ruined a wonderful recording session that we could have had with “There’s No Business like Show Business” because he made everybody change things in it.
(John Sforza, Swing It! page 113)
Another anthology of Bing Crosby, this time packaging eight of his cuttings of western songs of early vintage but still standing up for the most part to the test of time. Supported by the music of Victor Young, John Scott Trotter and Jimmy Dorsey, plus Eddie Dunstedter at the organ for There’s a Gold Mine in the Sky, the Crosby chanting is heard again for Home on the Range, When the Bloom Is on the Sage (the Foursomes on the vocal assist), I’m an Old Cowhand, Mexicali Rose, Silver on the Sage, Take Me Back to My Boots and Saddle and My Little Buckaroo. Bing in 10-gallon hat and riding a broncho makes for the album cover design with an accompanying booklet for the folk music.
March 22, 1947, page 110)
ALEXANDER’S RAGTIME BAND - THE SPANIARD THAT BLIGHTED MY
(Billboard, April 26, 1947)
Strong material, a solid record-selling name combination—maybe not at their very best, yet good enough to be better than most—and this twosome certainly stacks up a sure-fire two-sided juke attraction. Newly hatched Decca promotion activities will be employed much in the same, and a successful manner that was applied to the Jolson-Crosby “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” on this disking and should cull for it added retail attraction. But “Tallahassee” with its very clever second-chorus Crosby-Patti Andrews duet and its strength as song material, and “Go West,” with its light-hearted lyrical ribbing of the California Chamber of Commerce given the Crosby and Andrews touch, should hardly require a fanfare to make the hit grade. Both tunes are from films, “Go West” from “Copacabana” and the other from “Variety Girl.”
(Billboard, May 17, 1947)
AI Jolson, by now an old hand at hypoing the Hooper wherever he guests, took Bing Crosby’s Philco series for a sky ride last week and sent the show soaring to its highest rating since the first disc was spun. Checkers caught the show at 25.8.
Dear Mrs. Sullivan
I’m agreeably surprised that you and your husband should consider me well-dressed. Even tho I was in my finest for Easter – don’t you know I’m notorious as the worst dressed man in show business? And I have been for years. I must be slipping.
Warmest regards, your friend, Bing Crosby
“My husband said he wouldn’t walk across the street to hear a crooner, so I had to come alone,” explained a matronly woman as she took a seat in the section reserved for navy brass at Ross stadium, Great Lakes.
Well, Bing Crosby, who was the attraction that night, is considerably more than a crooner. He’s the minstrel of the era, the No. 1 entertainer of our times, if we can believe what we hear from the movies’ box office, Mr Hooper’s radio ratings, and Jack Kapp’s Decca statistics.
The 1,800 navy men (200 of them on stretchers and in wheel chairs) who gathered to watch him transcribe his ABC radio show found him a swell guy, a great singer, a very funny fellow, and generous with his time and talents.
To us he is all that – and somewhat of an enigma too. For two weeks we had been striving without success to talk to Bing and to look in on his rehearsal. Bob Hope answers the phone himself; so does Jack Benny. And even the President of the United States meets the press. But Bing is elusive.
We were about to give up the chase when word came that radio editors would be welcome to watch Bing record his show at Great Lakes. After we reached the station we were cautioned that if we met Bing (which we didn’t on this occasion although I had met him at the Quiz Kids’ session and found him very old shoes) we were not to ask him any questions.
So we didn’t meet him but we had sandwiches and coffee with the Crosby entourage, which included Bill Morrow, his writer-producer, formerly with Benny; Murdo MacKenzie, co-producer; John Scott Trotter, that genial, courteous North Carolinian whom we have admired since his Hal Kemp days; Hank Greenberg, a pleasant fellow, and his heiress wife, and Society Kid Hogan, bon vivant, vocal coach, chronic aesthete, horse authority, and Randolph street fashion plate. (The Kid was wearing a pearl gray suit and a bright red sweater.)
A Crosby rehearsal and transcription is as relaxed as a cat lying in the sun. It has about as much tension as a piece of spaghetti and about as much hurry as a child getting to bed. An air of exaggerated carefreeness pervades the scene. Crosby leans against a piano in an attitude of complete unconcern. With his balding dome he isn’t recognized immediately by the navy men. His trade-mark – the flowered shirt – is missing. A dun colored garment hangs over brown slacks.
Groucho Marx, sans mustache and hair, in a bilious green shirt and loud suspenders isn’t easy to identify, either. Trotter carries on an amiable conversation with musicians: Greenberg, Warren Brown, and Morrow gab. MacKenzie hasn’t a care in the world. It’s a scene of contrived casualness. That apoplectic air that precedes the curtain raising of most radio shows is missing. Only Jane Hill, secretary to Morrow, seems concerned. She is rushing about, teetering on spiked heels.
Finally, well after the designated hour for starting, Bob Murphy, Chicago announcer, introduces “The Man” (That’s what Bing is called by his henchmen.)
“Sorry to keep you fellows waiting,” says Crosby, “but we had to get a few things lined up. At least we’ll know pretty soon whether they’re lined up."
The show was largely devoted to the first day of baseball – that Cub-Pirate deal in which Greenberg showed signs of earning the money Crosby pays him as a co-owner of the team. It was funny then, but won’t it be a little stale by the time the show is played on May 14th?
Bing did a wonderful job that night singing that paean to status quo, “Glocca Mora,” but even if he hadn’t it wouldn’t matter. All his songs had been transcribed earlier in the day at the Merchandside Mart and the best rendition is picked for the radio show. A transcription has the advantage that it is subject to editing and revision. And we have a feeling that some of those jokes about Groucho’s girl baseball team will get the blue pencil, but we hope that one about “a curve on every bag” will be spared.
We thought it all went off smoothly but afterwards we heard one of the Crosby crew say: “It was a hassel.” A local radio expert explained: Hassel is Hollywood for rat race.”
(Larry Wolters, Chicago Tribune, April 27, 1947)
…an auspicious launching Monday (12) of her daily halfhour gab spot which was formerly occupied by Martha Deane. Bing Crosby was her guest and he pushed the program off at a pace that’ll be difficult to match in future sessions.
(Variety, May 14, 1947)
Sixteen of golf's top professionals teed off with relief today in the Goodall round robin—for Bing Crosby and his stampeding bobby sox fans were gone from the again-pleasant acres.
Pressure is one thing and the shrill squeals and screams which rolled over the hills and echoed through the dales at Charles River country club yesterday are another. Golf etiquette was fractured beyond recognition as several thousand fans followed Bing down the road to par oblivion.
Surrounded by 17 protecting local gendarmes, Bing played 18 holes in the pro-amateur kickoff to the Goodall tournament. With him were Jimmy Demaret, host Elmer Ward and Frank Craven. Suffice it to say that Craven is club champion and shot somewhere in the neighbourhood of an 80
Nobody in the foursome got close to par but it was a neck and neck race between Demaret and Crosby for “best dressed” honors with Bing off his recaing record again, no doubt, winding up in the place spot. The crooner's ensemble was a brown hat with blue polka-dot ribbon; blue-green shirt; gold sweater; mustard slacks and brown shoes. Demaret upheld his sartorial prestige with a white cap of the gay nineties auto duster type; yellow shirt. Nile green slacks and honest-honest—green and grey alligator shoes.
“The sunlight glaring off those shoes is ruining my game,” Crosby complained as they jostled their way through a tough road show.
It was a new experience for such stars as Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Lloyd Mangrum. Accustomed to large galleries, they played practically in private. It was so upsetting that Hogan, out in five under par 31, slipped off his game and came in with a 36.
“The silence got me,” he grinned.
But there was little silence between Crosby and Demaret, who must have been substituting for Bob Hope. They heckled, sang and whistled all the way until tee shots looked like five iron pokes and three putts were the rule. And when they putted out on the 18th the crowd closed in tight.
Standing on a table, Crosby sang several songs and then told his adoring public that he was sorry he couldn’t stay.
“I’ve got to get a plane to Pittsburgh and give Hank Greenberg a rubdown.” said Bing….
(Oscar Fraley. (UP), May 29, 1947)
The Andrews Sisters: A Biography and Career Record, pages 239-240)
July 12, Saturday. Billboard magazine announces the results of its 9th. annual college poll of favorite male singers. Frank Sinatra is top with 755 votes followed by Bing (740) and Como (616).
It is announced that Bing is selling his ranch at Independence Valley and buying several ranches including the PX ranch near North Fork, sixty miles north of Elko, Nevada, from Newt Crumley (owner of the Commercial Hotel, Elko) for $221,000 cash, cattle at market, and ten dollars a ton for the hay. The ranches contain 25,000 acres and an unknown expanse of national forest. They are at an elevation of 6,400 feet and Bing runs 3,500 head of cattle there.
Packaging eight Latin lullabies which Bing Crosby cut in an earlier day, it all adds up to a likely El Bingo binge for the fans. A romantic ranchero, Crosby sings to Xavier Cugat's music for Siboney, Hasta Manana, You Belong to My Heart and Baia. For the other two records in the set, it’s the single spirited spin for Alla En El Rancho Grande with the Foursome adding their vocal harmonies and John Scott Trotter making the music just as spirited. Trotter frames the musical back for the pash Amor piping to complete the platter. For the fourth side, Crosby sings it in Spanish, with Victor Young conducting the orchestra, for No Te Importe Saber, recognized as Let Me Love You Tonight, and adds the English lyric for Flores Negras, best remembered as You’re the Moment of a Lifetime. Color photo of the singer wearing a sombrero makes for an attractive cover page, with personal notes on the piper for the inside page.
JASPER - Bing Crosby has just returned here, from a two-week hunting trip along the northern boundary of Jasper National Park. His trophies included mountain sheep, mountain goat and moose, a growth of whiskers and a deep tan.
Fresh from his victory in the annual Totem Pole golf tournament, at Jasper, Bing left September 8, with three hunter friends from the United States and outfitter Stan Kitchen.
Their pack train of 35 horses headed into the hunting country from Brule, wound through Eagle’s Nest Pass and the Wild Bay River, then to the Muskeg headwaters and along the Snake Indian to Devon.
Dr Arnold Stevens of Beverly Hills, Calif., and two hunters from Elko, Nevada, Newton Crumley and John Oldham, all bagged moose and mountain goat, but Bing was sole boaster of a mountain sheep trophy, prized Big Horn of the Rockies.
Outfitter Kitchen described the Crosby party as one of the most congenial he had ever guided, with the crooner’s tireless good humor setting the pace.
He recalled the day Bing and he were caught in a sudden high country blizzard which whipped over the mountain they were climbing and forced them to seek the questionable shelter of a rock slab.
Dusting the snow from his collar and rifle, pounding his hands for warmth, Crosby turned to Kitchen.
Only one thing I could ask for,” he shouted above the storm," “I’d give up my chance of a Big Horn if Bob Hope were up here with us.”
Leaving his trophies in Canada for mounting, Bing is now motoring homeward. The remainder of the party took off from Jasper airport Wednesday in Mr. Crumley’s Beechcraft to fly direct to Nevada.
(The Vancouver Sun, September 25, 1947)
“Ain't Doin Bad Doin' Nothin”— “Ida I Do.” (Decca).
Both sound like they were made last year, when Crosby didn't care much. But his lazy approach to “Ain’t” seems just what the tune needs: he develops a mood that seems to fit the song nicely. His version of the oldie “Ida” doesn’t carry much appeal.
(Variety, August 25, 1948)
The scoop that comes once—that’s what I got the night my camera caught Bing Crosby and his wife Dixie stepping out together.
Bing’s murder on news pictures. Once in a while he’ll let us grab a few shots. But most of the time he ducks or puts all the photogs who are around on their honor not to aim his way—so he can relax and have fun.
Because this ball, held at the Beverly Hills Hotel, was a big benefit for St John’s Hospital, the committee decided it would be better to hire just one man to take pictures. Otherwise, because the cream of Hollywood was to be there, the place would be mobbed by guys with cameras. It was my lucky day all round, I guess. I was the photographer they selected.
When I saw Dixie sitting beside Bing I didn’t think I had a prayer. It is unusual for these two to step out together.
Just the week before when they had gone night-clubbing together they’d refused absolutely to allow pictures to be taken.
But I figured I had nothing to lose by asking.
“Sure, go ahead,” said Bing. “But let’s not make a big fuss about it. Just wait your chance and grab them.”
That’s why I can’t tell you why Bing’s laughing his head off. I was so busy getting him and Dixie in focus I missed the joke.
Later Bing sang a series of parodies on the tunes he’s done in his pictures. And his performance was so easy and smooth they wouldn’t let him go. He finally had to finish with “White Christmas.”
And I can tell you that Dixie, like all the rest of us, never gets tired of hearing him. She clapped as loud and long as anybody else. And when he came back and sat down beside her, she was all smiles.
(Al Brack, I Was There)
Bing Crosby “Pretty Baby”- “Swingin' Down the Lane” (Decca). Neither is up to Crosby standards of performance, although jocks will find use for the “Baby” side in opposition to the Doris Day (Columbia) disking, which is superior, incidentally. John Scott Trotter's backing is dated (it may be that this side was made some time ago). Reverse, a reissue of an Isham Jones-Gus Kahn piece, is ineffectively done by the Groaner. It, too, seems like it was made some years ago.
(Variety, November 10, 1948)
Decca 24278 A special Decca pairing cut this week and available for the stalls Monday (15). Both tunes are currently moving along at a rapid pace on The Billboard’s popularity charts and the pairing by Der Bingle should get this platter an immediate and solid reaction. The Rhythmaires assist Crosby on the “Ballerina” side.
(Billboard, December 13, 1947)
“Blue Shadows on the Trail,” “A Fella with an Umbrella” (Decca). A corking coupling and an uncommon buy for the Crosby addict.
Bing Crosby-Andrews Sisters “At the Flying W” — “A Hundred and Sixty Acres” (Decca), Two westerns. Crosby and the trio have a lot of fun with “W” and get out a side that tops all previous disks on the new pop. Cut at a medium beat, it's real bright under the treatment. Jukes and jocks will use it. Reverse, also a newie, is a pleasant companion piece. Vic Schoen's orchestra backs both sides.
(Variety, August 25, 1948)
CROSBY SIGNS BIG
Sisters join Crosby for “You Don’t Have to Know the Language,” one of many fine
tunes written for the film by two of Crosby’s favorite songwriters, Johnny
Burke and James Van Heusen. The girls appeared perfectly coifed and outfitted
in sequined dresses. Their makeup was well done, and they had never before
appeared so attractive on screen. This appearance marked the only time that the
girls worked with Crosby in a movie, although they are often erroneously
credited with having appeared in Road to Utopia. Watching Crosby and the
sisters in Road to Rio, it is easy to see how much they enjoyed working with
each other. Crosby is playful with all three sisters at different times during
the performance, even trying to make La Verne laugh just before the song’s last
line. One flaw occurs at the very end of the number when, after completing
their final turn, Patty miscalculates her last step and collides with LaVerne
as she swings out her hip. LaVerne keeps her composure, despite the substantial
bump. The film out-grossed every other theatrical release of 1948, including
Connecticut Yankee album
Crosby’s in rare form for this album of tunes from the “Connecticut Yankee” flick. His work on the top ballad “Once” is more reminiscent of the Bing of the thirties than anything he’s done in a long while – and the song is a natural. (It’s done twice here – one by Bing as a solo and again as a reprise with Rhonda Fleming). Other tune to watch is “Stub,” which could have the makings of another “Swing on a Star”. Also represented from the original cast are Murvyn Vye, Bill Bendix and Cedric Hardwicke. If picture is as big as advance word has it, then album is in.
Also Decca has issued nine 78rpm albums of Bing's recordings in 1947.
Incidental Intelligence: To keep all ABC programs at their regular times when daylight saving time starts April 25, ABC just bought a dozen of the sensational new tape recorders which now make the Bing Crosby transcribed show actually better than a live broadcast The recorders are made by a San Francisco firm, Ampex Electrical Corp.
(Oakland Tribune, February 26, 1948)
This album would be worth a 90 rating but Decca’s pressings, leave us face it, are loaded with surface noise. This deficiency, seemingly aggravated of late, may be minor for routine “singles”; in an album the consumer kickbacks could be important. Apart from bad surface, the material here consists of all old Bing singles on which he doubled. It’s great stuff in collection. Outstanding are the Eddie Heywood-Bing pairing on “Who’s Sorry Now” and Bing with Jordan on “My Baby Said Yes”. (Retail rating 85).
Second in series of Decca packages with triple-talent peg featuring der Bingle’s former vocal wax compatriots. All disks are former single releases but album as a whole should appeal to all who are Crosby fans (who ain’t). Particularly valuable and as rhythmically appealing as when they first came out are the Mercer team-ups with Gallagher-Shean version of “Mr. Crosby and Mr. Mercer”; “Small Fry,” “On Behalf of the Visiting Firemen.” In fact whole album sparkles with the xairy, wunnerful Crosby touch.
Rev. Patrick Payton, C.S.C; Impresario of "The Family Hour," provided for the faithful on MBS Sunday afternoon (28) an hour of Easter service that was even better programwise than his reverential event of last
Christmas Eve. This session was as star-loaded as the previous one, but the music itself seemed to have a superior tonal and. emotional appeal. Interpolated between scenes from the "Pageant of the Resurrection" and
the recital of "The Rosary" were solos by Bing Crosby, Dennis Day, Eileen Farrell and Christopher Lynch, the latter two originating from New York and being the only exceptions to an all-Hollywood cast.
(Variety, March 31, 1948)
Two disk album featuring three novelty tunes and one ballad from the latest Crosby-Hope flicker, "Road to Rio," is directly aimed at the film fan market, with release date timed to coincide with national showing of pic. Previously out as single platters, all four tunes enjoyed some success with Crosby’s “But Beautiful” ballad easily taking top honors. Bing's “Language” with the Andrews Sisters will probably gain new popularity once public ganders gals and the groaner sell it on the screen.
Bing Crosby and J. Arthur Rank, ace British filmmaker, will work out plans for the Groaner's projected film stint in England while making the rounds of the Greenbrier golf course at White Sulphur Springs, Va. Rank heads for Greenbrier today (Wed.) as a guest of Robert R. Young and Crosby will join him there to play golf and talk production.
Understood that Crosby would like to play the lead in a filmization of the musical legit hit "Brigadoon" and that Rank has already sent out feelers as to the price tag for film rights. While no deal has been closed, if the price is right Rank will go for it. Crosby is committed to a one-pic" deal.
With Young hosting, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Max (Simon &) Schuster will also be in the party at Greenbrier with Rank.(Variety, April 14, 1948)
Bing Crosby celebrated his birthday and the first press party he’s ever agreed to attend when Par poured for him and the Fourth Estaters at a Rainbow Room shindig (5). All guests were allowed to bring him a present, if it didn’t cost more than 50 cents!
(Daily Variety, May 7, 1948)
purchases the 3000 acre Laing ranch near Elko from Chester and Lillian Laing, who had retired.