Chapter 8

_______________________________

 

Midlife Challenges, 1950–1959

 

 

As the fifties unfolded, Bing was still a top recording artist although the hits were less frequent. Novelty songs and then rock ‘n’ roll pushed the ballad singers into the background. Also Bing had not been helped by the death of his recording “guru,” Jack Kapp, in 1949 as this had resulted in a certain loss of structure and focus in his recording activities. In films, Bing was playing older men and his radio audience, despite still being fairly significant, was steadily declining because of the impact of television. He continued to avoid personal appearances and live shows.

          Bing’s voice could no longer hit the higher notes but the deep tones remained mellow and pleasant. He was, however, said to be losing confidence in his singing. Health problems troubled him and he was laid low for a while with first an operation to remove his appendix and then two separate major operations for kidney problems.

          Bing had apparently reconciled with his wife Dixie Lee in 1951 and her death in 1952 badly affected him both emotionally and financially. A huge tax bill had to be paid following Dixie’s death and then Bing also faced a legal battle following a car crash. His sons started to hit the headlines with various problems and it was not surprising that for a while Bing seemed to be adopting a low profile, although he continued to make films.                                    

          Bing had given two very good dramatic performances on celluloid, first in Little Boy Lost and then The Country Girl for which he was again nominated unsuccessfully for an Academy Award. His film White Christmas was to be a long-running success and the 1956 film High Society, despite his own initial misgivings, was to become a classic of its kind.

White Christmas.jpg          Somewhat reluctantly, Bing had started making television appearances, which were usually filmed in advance. In 1954, his radio show had reduced in status from a major weekly program to a daily fifteen minute show, but after the success of the film High Society and hit records such as “True Love” and “Around the World,” Bing was tempted to become more heavily involved in television. The big breakthrough came in 1957 with the live, award-winning “Edsel Show.” Afterwards, Bing settled into a routine of making at least two television specials each year, but he never really attempted to dominate the sector as he had other media. He eschewed a weekly series while singers such as Perry Como and later, Andy Williams, embraced such exposure enthusiastically with considerable benefits accruing to their record sales and to their long-term images.

          After the death of Dixie Lee, Bing had gone through a lonely spell before being linked with a number of actresses including Grace Kelly, Inger Stevens, Mona Freeman, and Kathryn Grant. After a most unusual on-off romance, Bing married Kathryn Grant in 1957. First a son and then, at long last, a daughter was born with another son following in 1961. Bing admitted that he had found real happiness again. The “old” Bing seemed to reemerge and entertaining long-playing albums of the time such as Bing with a Beat and Fancy Meeting You Here appeared to capture this.

          Bing had safely negotiated some major midlife challenges.

          In 1959, $100 was worth $589 in year 2000 terms.

 

1950

 

January 2, Monday. Bing attends the 1950 Rose Bowl football game played between Ohio State University and University of California at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Ohio State win 17-14. This Rose Bowl Game became the first bowl game to have 100,000 spectators in attendance.

January 3, Tuesday. (6:00–9:00 p.m.) Bing records “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” and “Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy” in Hollywood with Vic Schoen and his Orchestra plus Jud Conlon’s Rhythmaires. The decision to make the “Chattanoogie” record had only been taken at 11 a.m. that morning when Dave Kapp in New York called Sonny Burke in the Hollywood recording studio. By mid-afternoon, Vic Schoen and Jud Conlon had completed separate orchestrations and copied parts. As no lead sheets for “Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy” were available, the arrangers had to copy the tune note for note from other recordings. The song reaches the No. 4 position in the Billboard best-sellers list and stays in the charts for 13 weeks. Recent press comment states that Minute Maid has set up a new divisional office in Los Angeles and Bing is named as president of the division.

 

Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy

The fast impact of Red Foley’s version of “Chattanoogie,” picked in these columns two weeks ago, encouraged Decca to cut it again with Crosby. He gives it a delightfully relaxed go, with typical Crosby patter for an extra measure of charm. Vic Schoen provides a lively Dixie orking.

(Billboard, January 14, 1950)

 

The same absurdity, [“Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo”] which has a really fine march tune, has been slowed down too much in Bing Crosby’s record of it (Bruns. 04580), and the other side, I Cross My Fingers, borders on the dreary.

(The Gramophone, November, 1950)

 

January 4, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been recorded and the guest is Al Jolson.

 

Al Jolson was guest and during a sequence he and Bing were batting around badinage about Look mag recently making Crosby its cover subject. Crosby huffed a line and referred to the mag as “Life,” then quickly recovered and mentioned Look several times in atonement.

(Variety, January 5, 1950)

 

January 9, Monday. The Golf Writers Association votes Bing the year’s outstanding contributor to golf for 1949, awarding him the Richardson Trophy.

January 10, Tuesday. (4:30–4:45 p.m., 9:45–10:00 p.m.). Bing is heard in his brother Bob’s Club 15 transcribed broadcast.

January 11, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been recorded and the guests are Peggy Lee and Groucho Marx. Variety says that Bing is in the process of taping six of his radio shows in San Francisco.

January 13-15, Friday–Sunday. The Bing Crosby Pro-Am Tournament at Pebble Beach. Bing partners Cam Puget in the pro-am section but they fail to qualify for the final round. The professional competition finishes in a tie between Sam Snead, Dave Douglas, Smiley Quick, and Jack Burke Jr. There is not a play-off. The tournament is broadcast on radio coast-to-coast. The proceeds of the event are divided equally between the Sister Kenny Foundation and the Monterey Peninsula Community Chest. At the Victory Dinner, the Firehouse Five Plus Two provides some of the entertainment and is rewarded with appearances on Bing’s radio show.

January 16, Monday. Bing records a Chesterfield show at the Marines’ Memorial Theatre in San Francisco with Barbara Whiting and Gary Crosby which is broadcast on January 18. Gary is paid $25, the union rate for a ten minute appearance.

January 18, Wednesday. In the Marines’ Memorial Theatre in San Francisco, Bing records another Chesterfield show for broadcast on January 25. The guests are Peggy Lee, Joe Venuti, Jack Teagarden, and Louis Armstrong. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The guests are Barbara Whiting and Gary Crosby.

 

GARY CROSBY WILL MAKE RADIO DEBUT

Gary Crosby, 16-year-old son of crooner Bing, makes his radio debut tonight.

      “And it’s not because I’m looking ahead to old age,” protested Pop, nearing completion of two decades of popularity. “I’ll keep going for awhile,” the old groaner said, “But I hope Gary’s successful. I could even quit and be his agent.”

      Young Crosby, a student at a San Jose prep school, makes his bow at 6:30pm PST, with his pop and Barbara Whiting. He’ll sing “Dear Hearts and Gentle People,” and “be in and out” the whole half-hour program Crosby said.

      “He hasn’t heard of the big salaries yet,” said the elder Crosby.

      The show is a tape recording, transcribed Monday night on the stage of the Marine Memorial Club in San Francisco. Pop Crosby guessed as how his young one turned in a “pretty darned good” performance.

      “The cast thought he did a good job, too,” he added. The show’s producer, Bill Morrow, here from Hollywood, thought more than that.

      “He’s really got it,” Morrow said. “He’s got the same composure and easy-going qualities as Bing.” Bing said Gary really “didn’t want to go on at first—he thought he’d get razzed by his pals at school.” Crosby the elder said that Gary, oldest of his four boys, was just like the rest of the youngsters in “fooling around with music since they were babies.”

      Bath-time is “pretty noisy” he agreed, and there was plenty of harmony in the Crosby household most of the time. None of the youngsters has had any formal musical or singing instruction. As to any comparison with his dad, “Well, he favors me a little, has my coloring,” the elder admitted. But three other Crosby characteristics —on horses, bright-colored shirts and golf—drew a blank.

      “He’s conservative about shirts—follows his mother,” Bing said. “Horses? He rides ‘em a little, strictly for transportation. Golf, he fools around a little, nothing like his old man yet.”

(Oakland Tribune, January 18, 1950)

 

January 19, Thursday. In San Francisco, Bing records a Chesterfield show with Bob Hope for broadcast on February 1. Meanwhile, in Washington DC, Bing is named as honorary chairman for the 13th annual observance of National Wildlife Restoration Week (March 19-25) by The National Wildlife Federation. The Federation said that Bing “has popularized numerous songs reminiscent of nature and wildlife,” adding: “Bing Crosby is not only one of America’s most popular entertainers, but he is also interested in outdoor sports and conservation of the nation’s recreational assets, upon which recreation depends.”

January 21, Saturday. (1:30–2:30 p.m.) Bing is featured in a radio show on NBC with Bob Hope, Jimmy Durante, Phil Harris, and others to mark the opening of the Los Angeles Musicians’ Building.

January 22, Sunday. Bing takes part in the Northern California Baseball Players Golf Tournament at the Green Hills Country Club at Millbrae. He tees off at 10:00 a.m. with Frank O’Doul, Dick Bartell and George Gnau, one of Green Hills’ low handicap players.

 

CROSBY FLEES LINKS GALLERY

A fellow named Bob Mort, who did some playing for the one-time San Francisco Missions of the Coast League, is the new Northern California Baseball Players Golf Champion today. But don’t try to check with the 4,000 who traveled to the Green Hills Country Club at Millbrae yesterday to watch the Babe Ruth Cancer Fund event for an account of how Mort snared the crown.

      The man clicked off a nifty 77—a half dozen knocks over par —but only a few of the persons on the deck followed anyone but a non-baseballer, Bing Crosby, while he played. They (which means mostly autograph hounds) did such a first-rate job of shoving Bing, part owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, around that the crooner fled the scene ahead of his scheduled departure time for a Santa Barbara radio date.

      Bing traversed but half the heavy layout, nine holes, shooting a 43, which wasn’t half so bad considering the conditions that prevailed. The kids took over the place, scampering up and down, around and about the fairways, shouting and screaming and being more interested in filling autograph books than watching golf.

      Crosby, his partner George Gnau, the Green Hills champ, Lefty O’Doul and Dick Bartell tried to golf, but while Bing was along it was a tough job. Once The Groaner shoved off at the turn Gnau got to scoring a 73, the best of the day, and O’Doul and Bartell posted creditable 81’s, good enough for third place among the ballplayers.

      Bing was able to muster one smile on the half-round, rolling in a 16 footer for a par on the sixth hole. He shot seven bogies and only one other par, negotiated on the seventh hole. The expected Crosby-O’Doul clash for honors as the events most colorful entrant fizzled out once Bartell, the Alamedan, who coaches for the Detroit Tigers, took the tee. Fiery Richard showed the boys up with this costume —a screaming orange checked cap, glen plaid knickers, yellow stockings and a yellow sweater. O’Doul appeared with a dark green Tyrolean hat with a red feather and expected Bing to wear the same as he did last week in his tournament at Pebble Beach. But Crosby fell into the also-ran class with his plain brown checkered cap.

(Ed Schoenfeld, Oakland Tribune, January 23, 1950)

 

January 25, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Peggy Lee, Joe Venuti, Jack Teagarden, and Louis Armstrong.

January 26, Thursday. In Hollywood, Bing records a Chesterfield show with the Andrews Sisters and the Firehouse Five Plus Two which airs on February 22.

February 1, Wednesday. In San Francisco, Bing records a Chesterfield show with Peggy Lee and Fred Allen for broadcast on February 8. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guest is Bob Hope.  Variety states that Bing had refused to attend the opening of the new Chesterfield factory in Durham, North Carolina, on January 26 which was featured on a special extended edition of the NBC radio show The Supper Club starring Perry Como, Bob Hope, and Arthur Godfrey.

February 2, Thursday. Records a Chesterfield show with Al Jolson in San Francisco which is broadcast on February 15.

February (undated). Bing has to return to Paramount for some final scenes in the film Mr. Music but has to have a tooth extracted first.

February 8, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Peggy Lee and Fred Allen.

February 9, Thursday. In San Francisco, Bing records a Chesterfield show with his brother Bob for broadcast on March 1.

February 10, Friday. Bing and Groucho Marx film a song and dance routine for Mr. Music.

February 14, Tuesday. (9:00 a.m.–12 noon) Recording session with Bob Haggart and his Orchestra in Hollywood. Bing sings “The Dixieland Band” and “Jamboree Jones” but neither song is released.

February 15, Wednesday. (9:30–11:30 a.m.) Records “Lock, Stock, and Barrel” and “Ask Me No Questions” with the Andrews Sisters and Vic Schoen and his Orchestra. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guest is Al Jolson.

 

Lock, Stock and Barrel

Smart pop corn ditty could be a bit too sophisticated, tho there’s name power insurance here.

Ask Me No Questions

The meritorious Saxon-Wells opus, in this relaxed harmony version, could score in both pop and country markets.

(Billboard, April 22, 1950)

 

February 22, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) Another taped Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. Bing’s guests are the Firehouse Five Plus Two and the Andrews Sisters.

February 23, Thursday. In San Francisco, Bing records a Chesterfield show with Gary Cooper and Gary Crosby for broadcast on March 8.

February 25, Saturday. Larry Crosby is reported in good condition following an operation at St. John’s Hospital, Santa Monica. The short film You Can Change the World is shown on television. Father Keller is seen espousing his ideas to a number of celebrities including Jack Benny, Ann Blyth, Paul Douglas, Irene Dunne, William Holden, Bob Hope and Loretta Young. Bing sings "Early American". Leo McCarey has directed the film.

February 28, Tuesday. Back in Hollywood, Bing records a Chesterfield show with Dennis and Phillip Crosby for broadcast on March 15. Press reports state that Bing is investing in a Palm Springs golf course which Charles Farrell and Ben Hogan are going to build. This was probably what became the Thunderbird Country Club.

March 1, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guest is Bob Crosby.

March 2, Thursday. In San Francisco, Bing records a Chesterfield show with Ethel Merman and William Boyd for broadcast on March 22.

March 4, Friday. Still in San Francisco, Bing records a Chesterfield show with Carole Richards and Lindsay Crosby for broadcast on April 19.

March 5, Sunday. Another Guest Star show #154 is broadcast. It is assumed that the songs used were taken from Bing’s Chesterfield shows.

March 8, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) Another taped Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS and the guests are Gary Cooper and Gary Crosby.

March 13, Monday. Bing has an operation to remove his appendix in St. John’s Hospital, Santa Monica as it had been troubling him for several years. Dr. Arnold Stevens performs the operation. Just prior to this, he had been working out with the Pittsburgh Pirates at a training session in San Bernardino. He had checked into the hospital the previous week but checked out again to attend a baseball game.

March 15, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Dennis and Phillip Crosby. Variety magazine states:

The top U. S. singer of all time was still Bing Crosby, whose recordings had sold 75,000,000 copies in two decades. When he signed a Decca contract, to run to 1950, the following sales figures were revealed: "White Christmas." 1,700,000; "Silent Night," 1,500.000; "Don't Fence Me In." 1,250,000....


March 21, Tuesday. The Bob Hope Show with Bing as guest is broadcast on NBC. Bing sings “My Foolish Heart” and the script makes frequent mention of his recent appendectomy. Doris Day and the Les Brown Orchestra are in support. Elsewhere, the first of a series of ten half-hour movies produced especially for television by Bing Crosby Enterprises is shown. They have been filmed at the Hal Roach Studios in Hollywood and are shown under the banner of the Fireside Theater. The first film stars Irene Vernon in The Leather Heart. At the first annual awards dinner of the Academy of Radio and Television Best Arts and Sciences in New York, it is announced that Bing has won the award for top male vocalist. Dinah Shore is top female vocalist.

March 22, Wednesday. At the CBS Studios in Hollywood, Bing and Bob Hope tape the Welcome Back Baseball radio program which is broadcast on April 15. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Ethel Merman and William Boyd (Hopalong Cassidy).

March 23, Thursday. In Hollywood, Bing records a Chesterfield show with the Andrews Sisters and the Firehouse Five Plus Two which airs on March 29.

March 24, Friday. (2:30–5:00 p.m.) Records “Life Is So Peculiar” and “High on the List” with the Andrews Sisters and Vic Schoen and his Orchestra in Hollywood.

 

"Life Is So Peculiar"-"High On the List" (Decca). A strong disk with Crosby and Andrews Sisters teaming up again on a couple of Van Heusen-Burke tunes from the Paramount pic, "Mr. Music." "Peculiar" is a fine bounce tune handled brightly by Crosby with the sisters lending additional color.

(Variety, August 30, 1950)


High on the List

Ballad from the coming “Mr. Music” flicker, a Crosby starrer, is done handsomely by Bing and the Andrews. Song’s values stack up for limited appeal.

Life Is So Peculiar

The philosophical rhythm tidbit from the Crosby flicker is handled with ease and beat by Bing and the sisters. It’s a good bid but it’s short of such a predecessor as “Swingin’ on a Star.”

(Billboard, September 16, 1950)

 

March 25, Saturday. Tapes a Chesterfield show with Mildred Bailey and the Firehouse Five Plus Two which is broadcast on April 12.

 

She [Mildred Bailey] seemed to improve, and soon was on her way home. In the meantime, said [Alec] Wilder, Bing Crosby had quietly picked up the mortgage on the farm, so she could live there securely, free of anxiety about money.

Back on her feet, she went to California for an April 12, 1950 appearance on Bing’s network radio show. There’s real affection in the tone of their remarks to one another, and when she sings “Georgia on My Mind,” backed by John Scott Trotter’s orchestra, the years seem to fall away. No illness, no bitterness, no heartbreak: “Bails” is home at last.

Crosby joins her for “I’ve Got the World on a String” - and Trotter’s arrangement secures the common bond between them with a richly scored quotation from Bix’s “In a Mist”. The two singers toss phrases and quips back and forth like two old pals, once again playing catch in the Rinker family back yard.

(Richard Sudhalter, Lost Chords - White Musicians and their contribution to Jazz, page 704)

 

March 27, Monday. Bing has become involved in a charitable enterprise to raise funds for the American Printing House for the Blind and he signs a number of letters to prospective donors.

March (undated). Attends his bon voyage party in Hollywood, which Dixie avoids, before leaving for the east coast and subsequently, Europe.

March 29, Wednesday. Attends the convention of the National Association of Tobacco Distributors in Chicago and records his Chesterfield show in the Civic Opera House with guests Perry Como and Arthur Godfrey. The show is broadcast on April 5. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are the Firehouse Five Plus Two and the Andrews Sisters.

March 31, Friday. (1:15–2:00 p.m.) Bing and Vice President Alben W. Barkley are interviewed on the New York-based Nancy Craig radio program on station WJZ (an ABC station) from the home of Raymond Guest, Front Royal, Virginia. Bing goes on to a buffet supper at the Royal Hotel.

April 1, Saturday. Spends the day in Front Royal, Warren County, Virginia, celebrating “Bing Crosby Day.” Starting at 11 a.m., he leads a two hour parade through the streets in front of a crowd of 20,000 to Recreation Park for the dedication of the baseball stadium. The ceremony ends with Bing speaking briefly and leading the audience in singing “America.” During the day, Bing is made an Honorary Colonel by Randolph-Macon Academy and presented with a scabbard and sword by the cadets. He also presents the prize at a cake contest. Later, Bing appears at a special matinee for the film Riding High where he presents a short informal program to an audience of 500 youngsters. At 6:30 p.m. he takes part in the Harry Wismer network sports radio program on ABC. After attending a dinner at Senator Guest’s farm at Bayard, he goes to the Park Theater for the official world premiere of Riding High at 8:30 p.m. where he entertains the audience with several songs.

 

Combining old favorites with new and interspersing them with his inimitable humor and friendly patter, Mr. Crosby presented a program which will be long remembered. . . . He captivated his audience with his genuine friendliness and informality and brought down the house with his allusion to Front Royal when he sang, “I feel like I’m on my own home soil, when I’m down in old Front Roy’l” in his own version of “Dear Hearts and Gentle People.”

(Warren Sentinel, April 6, 1950)

 

During his appearance at the Park Theater, Bing writes out a personal check for $3,595 to bring the gross receipts of the day to $15,000. Bing goes on to a barn dance at Warren County High School where he takes part in the Rayburn and Finch “Night Shift” radio program on ABC between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. He then attends a square dance at the TWEUA hall. The Paramount newsreel of April 22 includes film of the day’s proceedings.

 

“BINGSDAY” — A GREAT JOB OF PUBLIC RELATIONS

Saturday, April 1, will never be forgotten by Front Royal, a peaceful little Virginia town of some nine thousand inhabitants, where Bing Crosby’s newest Paramount picture, “Riding High,” had its world premiere at the Park Theatre, a benefit showing climaxing a day of festivities that marked the dedication of a new Front Royal athletic field on which is to be built the “Bing Crosby Stadium.”

The dedication and premiere were planned by the State of Virginia and the people of Front Royal in connection with their official designation of April 1 as “Bingsday,” in honor of Crosby not only for his work on the screen and the radio but also for his various humanitarian activities.

From 5 A.M. Saturday morning until well after midnight a holiday atmosphere pervaded the town as more than twenty-five thousand people, drawn from the surrounding rural areas, poured into the community to pay homage to Crosby, whose appearance in person was the cause of the excitement.

The celebration started with a massive parade that was made up of some one hundred and fifty separate units, featuring high school bands, floats of fraternal, veterans and commercial organizations, the fire departments of many towns, and hundreds of school children, each carrying home-made signs hailing and welcoming Crosby.

The center of attraction, of course, was Bing himself, who brought up the rear of the parade perched on top of a fire department jeep.

The terminal point of the parade was the athletic field, where the townspeople, whose hearts Bing had captured with his easy-going, casual manner, gave him a standing ovation so filled with sincerity that it brought a lump to one’s throat. Then they outdid themselves presenting him with a gigantic key to the city and numerous gifts.

After receiving tributes from local and visiting dignitaries, Bing rushed to the Park Theatre where, prior to a special free showing of the picture for children only, he held the stage alone for a full hour entertaining them with gags and songs. It was here that Bing showed that he has a heart as big as they come, for, when he learned that approximately one hundred children had been unable to squeeze into the theatre, he insisted that the only other theatre in town be opened to accommodate them, and then repeated his entire show for them, omitting nothing.

The next stop for Bing was the Warren County High School, where he awarded prizes in a cake-baking contest, thrilling the seventy-five women participants no end as he sampled each cake and complimented them on their culinary skill.

The premiere in the evening was a gala affair. Brilliant searchlights illuminated the sky in the best Hollywood tradition, and adding to the excitement was the arrival at the theatre of such notables as Vice President Barkley and his charming wife, the Governors of Virginia and West Virginia, Senators Harry F. Byrd and A. Willis Robertson, Secretary of the Army Gray, and a host of other important people, who were greeted with sustained ovations by the huge crowds.

In the theatre, Bing, for the third time that day, put on his one-man show of songs and quips, which loudspeakers carried to the throngs outside. Here again Bing showed the stuff he is made of, for at the end of his stint, when it was announced that $11,400 had been realized for the youth fund from the premiere and the day’s different events, he modestly added his own contribution of $3,600 to make it an even $15,000.

He then rushed to a ‘teenagers’ dance at the local high school, where he put on a show for the youngsters and danced with several of the girls.

For his final appearance of the night, he went to a square dance sponsored by the Textile Workers Union, and here again he put on a complete show.

As anyone can judge from a reading of this account, Bing Crosby’s schedule for the day was a back-breaking one, but he entered into the spirit of the day with genuine enthusiasm and sincerity, obviously enjoying every minute of it. He outdid himself in every respect. When the crowd shouted, “Sing, Bing!” he grinned back and said: “I’ll sing until you’re unconscious.” And the crowd loved him for it. Even the more than fifty hardened representatives of the press and radio, who covered the proceedings, were impressed deeply by the way he gave of himself.

Bingsday” received nation-wide publicity through the press and radio, and from the angle of showmanship it is a great send-off for “Riding High.” But even more important is the fact that what took place at Front Royal stands out as one of the finest examples of good public relations for the motion picture industry. When a company like Paramount sets the world premiere of one of its most important pictures in a small community many people never heard of, and when a star of the caliber of Bing Crosby goes to such a community to participate in the festivities and to help raise funds for the benefit of the local youngsters, it is a public relations job of the first order, one that should do much to take away the bad taste left by the behavior of such personalities as Ingrid Bergman and Rita Hayworth, and by the ravings and rantings of Senator Edwin C. Johnston.

Max E. Youngstein, Paramount’s publicity chief, Jerry Pickman, his aide, and all the others on his alert publicity staff, deserve great credit for their expert handling of this event.

Above all, however, everyone in the motion picture industry may well be proud of Bing Crosby.

(Harrison’s Reports, April 8, 1950)

 

April 2, Sunday. Bing arrives in New York. An all-star benefit program for Catholic Charities is heard on NBC radio. Participants include Bing, Bob Hope, Jimmy Durante, Ann Blyth and others.

April 4, Tuesday. At the CBS Radio Theatre No. 2 on West 45th. St. in New York, Bing records a Chesterfield show with Beatrice Lillie for broadcast on April 26.

April 5, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped in Chicago and the guests are Arthur Godfrey and Perry Como.

April 8, Saturday. Starting at 10:00 a.m., Bing in New York, records “The Dixieland Band” and “Jamboree Jones” again with Bob Haggart and his Orchestra and the Tattlers. Also records “I Didn’t Slip, I Wasn’t Pushed, I Fell” and “So Tall a Tree” with Sy Oliver and his Orchestra and the Aristokats. “I Didn’t Slip” briefly charts in the No. 22 spot.

 

“I Didn’t Slip, I Wasn’t Pushed, I Fell” is a cute rhythm number while “So Tall a Tree” has a good idea which is not fully developed.

(Variety, May 3, 1950)

 

I Didn’t Slip, I Wasn’t Pushed, I Fell

Bing, with neat Sy Oliver orking, projects in his inimitable way on this catchy novelty already under way via Doris Day’s Columbia etching.

(Billboard, June 24, 1950)

 

Jamboree Jones

Wonderfully gay and light-hearted Crosby effort on this collegiate paean of Johnny Mercer’s with superb support from The Tattlers and the Haggart orking.

The Dixieland Band

Another easy-flowing, happy rhythm novelty slicing which falls into the two-beat revival trend. Der Bingle delivers a completely relaxed job to an excellent Haggart backing.

(Billboard, May 13, 1950)

 

April 9, Sunday. (9:00–10:00 p.m.) Bing takes part in The Triumphant Hour, a radio show broadcast by Mutual, together with Ann Blyth, Mona Freeman, Jimmy Durante, and many others. Bing’s film Riding High is previewed at the New York Paramount prior to the film’s formal opening the next day.

April 10, Monday. Records three Chesterfield shows at the CBS Radio Theatre No. 2 in New York with Ella Fitzgerald, Al Jolson and Fred Allen which air May 3, May 17 and May 24. During his eleven-day stay in New York, he tapes five Chesterfield shows in all and also twenty of the fifteen-minute shows for Minute Maid. Later, Bing attends the New York premiere of the film Riding High with Bill Morrow. During its initial release period in the USA, the film takes $2.35 million in rentals.

 

Inspiration is something which strikes rarely in Hollywood—and when it does, it is usually tagged “genius,” out of customary deference to restraint. But whatever you want to call it, it is certainly what hit Frank Capra hard when he thought of recruiting Bing Crosby to play a remake of the oldie, “Broadway Bill.” And it is surely what stuck with Mr. Capra—and rubbed off on Mr. Crosby, too—all through the redoing of that classic into the current “Riding High.” For this Capra-Crosby project, which came to the Paramount yesterday, is a genial and jovial entertainment that ties the original.

Indeed, with respect and affection for the sixteen-year-old “Broadway Bill,” we might even stretch an estimation and say that “Riding High” beats it by a nose—or rather, by Mr. Crosby’s casual and gay personality, which leaps to the front at the barrier and paces the picture all the way. As Dan Brooks, the vagrant horse-trainer whose loyal attachment to a nag inspires him to ditch a millionairess and follow the fortunes of his one-horse racing barn, the old “Bingle” is playing a character that fits him like a glove. Mr. Crosby has not been so fortunate in a role since “Going My Way.”

And the striking thing is that the screen play which Robert Riskin originally wrote from a tangy Mark Hellinger fable has not been perceptibly changed to fit Mr. Crosby’s personality or his natural disposition to star. Except for some clever new dialogue by Melville Shavelson and Jack Rose, it is the same yarn exactly that Warner Baxter and Myrna Loy originally played. And Bing, even limiting his singing to three or four lightly tossed off songs, takes his place like a fair and seasoned trouper in line with a briskly clamoring cast.

As a matter of fact, the warm vitality which Mr. Capra has got into this film derives as much from the others—or almost as much as it does from Bing. For the story is equally compounded, as many remember well, from the rabble of race-track flimflammers and irrepressible hangers-on with whom Dan Brooks comes into contact. And these have their places in the sun. Indeed, Mr. Capra has measured the quantities in the film so well that he has carefully employed a large number of the actors in the original cast.

Raymond Walburn is back, for instance, as the high-binding Colonel Pettigrew (here titled “ex-Professor”) whose pursuits of the elusive buck are quite as vain, though a great deal more elaborate and ostentatious, as those of Dan. And Clarence Muse, who played the stableboy and loyal flunky to Mr. Baxter years ago, is repeating that very important and thoroughly ingratiating role. William Demarest, substituting for the late Lynne Overman, is giving a varsity performance as a horse-park dyspeptic, too—and joins with Mr. Walburn and Mr. Crosby in one of the funniest scenes in the show. To attempt so much as an outline would be to take the spirit out of it.

From the original cast, too, are Douglas Dumbrille as a big-time betting syndicalist, Ward Bond as a henchman, Frankie Darro as a crooked jockey and Paul Harvey as a wealthy racing man. Coleen Gray is entirely captivating as the starry-eyed runner after Dan, and Frances Gifford is prettily haughty as the girl whom he gives the air. Several others deserve more than mention—Charles Bickford as a stuffy tycoon, Oliver Hardy in a bit as a fat horse-player and Jimmy Gleason as a track secretary—but that must do.

The final word goes to “Der Bingle,” whose lovable way with a horse—as well as with music and people—gives that quality of richness to this film that makes it not only amusing but deeply ingratiating, too. Such songs as his gay “The Horse Told Me” or “Let’s Bake a Sunshine Cake” fit in thoroughly with his character as a free-wheeling vagabond. Even though light and familiar, sentimental and even absurd, “Riding High” is his feedbox full of barley. Bing has a stakes winner in Broadway Bill.

(Bosley Crowther, New York Times, April 11, 1950)

 

Big yen by the Hollywood film factories recently for remaking past hits is bound to get another hypo when this one gets around. Frank Capra has taken Mark Hellinger’s yarn, “Broadway Bill,” which he produced and directed for Columbia in 1934, and turned it into one of the best Bing Crosby starrers that’s come along for a considerable time.

      …This time he has even more to work with, however, for the role of the guy who must choose between the gal he’s engaged to and the racehorse he loves, is just tailored for Crosby. Add to that a flock of top tunes supplied for The Groaner by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen and the top b.o. potential is evident.

      Racetrack pix have been traditionally tough to sell because they seem to lack femme appeal. That’s certainly not the story with this entry, however, for while a large part of the action takes place around a gee-gee oval, the combo of Hellinger and Capra has imbued the yarn with such humor, good-natured pathos and real heart that the track angle is strictly incidental to the bigger human angles involved.

(Variety, January 11, 1950)

 

Just when folk were wondering when Bing Crosby’s lean season was due to end along comes Frank Capra with a tailor-made story worthy of Bing’s considerable talents. Here he is all set to marry Frances Gifford and continue the management of a factory for his wealthy and crusty father-in-law-to-be until he realizes that as the owner of a handsome colt of classic pretensions he just can’t forgo his liking for the excitements of the turf. . . . Full of high spirits, as fresh as a newly-cut sward, and deliciously humorous, this is without question the best Crosby film for years.

(Photoplay, April, 1950)

 

Riding High, Bing Crosby’s new Paramount movie, is, as someone has wisely analyzed it, a Frank Capra film not a Bing Crosby picture. A remake of Broadway Bill, it is concerned largely with horses and humor, both Crosby specialties, but only incidentally with music, with which Bing also has some small connection. At the outset it seems safe to sigh with relief that Bing is once again today’s Bing, after watching him struggle with the Irish in Top 0’ the Morning, with Mark Twain in Connecticut Yankee, and with Austria in The Emperor Waltz. As time goes on—and it goes on for a lengthy and wordy one hour and fifty-two minutes—there’s less and less of the Crosby personality and more and more of the Capra hokum. Three of the four new songs by Burke and Van Heusen are fluffed off casually, especially a pretty ballad called Sure Thing; the fourth, the usual Pollyanna job called Sunshine Cake in this instance, starts out a gay pot-and-pan production involving Bing and heroine Coleen Gray but drags on much too long. Coleen is cute; Raymond Walburn, William Demarest and Jimmy Gleason are funny; Bing is charming; but long before the tearful climax you’ll long to call ‘time.’ —B. H.

(Metronome, March 1950)

 

A musical remake by Frank Capra of his 1934 movie Broadway Bill. Capra kept very close to the original Robert Riskin screenplay of Mark Hellinger’s racehorse story, even reusing a few of the old long shots, while adding some new dialogue by Melville Shavelson and Jack Rose, and songs by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen (“Sunshine Cake” scored most strongly) for Bing Crosby. The latter was more easygoing and enjoyable than Bill’s Warner Baxter as the business man with greater interest in raising horses than making money; he did both with a no-hoper which finally repaid his devotion by winning the big race, but died in the attempt. . . . It was, despite a descent into sentimental glop during the horse’s funeral, pleasing entertainment with double box-office insurance in Crosby and Capra, one of the handful of director’s names that meant something to the crowds.

(The Paramount Story, page 196)

 

April 11, Tuesday. Records “Accidents Will Happen” and “Milady” with Dorothy Kirsten and Jay Blackton and his Orchestra in New York.

April 12, Wednesday. Records “Home Cookin’” with Perry Botkin’s String Band and the Jud Conlon Rhythmaires.

 

“Home Cookin’” from the Paramount pic Fancy Pants has a light bounce that Crosby rides to a big potential. (Variety, May 3, 1950)

 

HOME COOKIN Bing Crosby, Decca 1042 Tune, refreshing homespun fare cleffed by the Livingston-Evans team for Bob Hope’s “Fancy Pants” flick, has the flavor of their “Buttons and Bows”. Crosby is at his light and lilting best, zestfully abetted by Jud Conlon’s Rhythmaires and the Perry Botkin combo.

(Billboard, May 27, 1950)

 

(6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are the Firehouse Five Plus Two and Mildred Bailey.

April 13, Thursday. At the CBS Radio Theatre No. 2 on West 45th. St. in New York, Bing records a Chesterfield show with Mary Martin for broadcast on May 10. Later, has a guest spot on Perry Como’s radio show The Supper Club for NBC. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and the Fontane Sisters are also on the show. Bing is entertained at the Stork Club by the president of Paramount Pictures.

April 14, Friday. Leaves New York shortly after midnight on the liner “Queen Elizabeth” for France with Bill Morrow, George Coleman, John Mullin, and Morrow’s secretary. Prior to departure, Bing is quoted as saying that his wife, Dixie, was a “little mad” because he had left her at home.

April 15, Saturday. Bing, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour star in a radio program on CBS Welcome Back Baseball with Pittsburgh Pirates baseball player Ralph Kiner. The show had been recorded on March 22 in Hollywood, not long after Bing’s appendix operation, and is sponsored by Wheaties.

April 19, Wednesday. The Queen Elizabeth docks at Cherbourg, France. Bing has an extended visit to Paris, staying first at the Hotel Ritz and then at the Hotel Lancaster before renting a flat. He and Bill Morrow go to Brussels in Belgium during their time in Europe and stay at the Plaza Hotel. Bing is also understood to have visited Rome. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Carole Richards and Lindsay Crosby.

April 20, Thursday. A transcribed radio program called the Catholic Charities Show is broadcast in New York featuring Bing, Bob Hope, Ann Blyth, Fred Allen, and Jimmy Durante.

April 22, Saturday. (5:30 p.m.) A transcribed radio program featuring Radie Harris interviewing Bing is broadcast over the Mutual network. Meanwhile in Paris, Bing walks along the Champs Elysees and decides to stretch out on the grass with a newspaper under his head. Three gendarmes are said to disturb him and they only let Bing go when he purports to be an American policeman on holiday and shows them a medal from the Professional Golfers Association which they take to be a police badge. The police commissioner for the district is skeptical about the story and suggests that the gendarmes must have been impostors.

April 23,Sunday. Bing is at the Ritz hotel and he is shadowed by a British Daily Express reporter for the day who duly reports what happens.


‘Boy, Am I Having Fun!’ Says Crosby The Golfer

From R. M. MacColl: Paris, Sunday.

A lean sunburnt arm stretched out towards the bedside telephone in suite 132 of the Ritz Hotel a few minutes after nine o'clock yesterday morning. The melodious voice of Bing Crosby uttered two words which he regarded as highly important - “Breakfast, please.”

“With me,” explained Crosby, “breakfast is a serious matter.” When breakfast was trundled in by two smiling waiters you could see what he meant.

First there was orange juice, made from frozen concentrate of Florida oranges. Crosby brought along a big supply from the United States. Next came a big plate of porridge. Then a dish of ham, several fried eggs, and a heap of fried potatoes. Several croissants—dainty French rolls rich in butter—filled in the gaps. The whole was irrigated with coffee.

Crosby smiled happily. “I know what you are thinking,” he said. “But as it happens my weight stays almost exactly constant—around 175lb.” (l2st. 7Ib.)

He was wearing a “sunburst” pattern suit of pyjamas. He ambled into the dressing-room. Later he reappeared in a smart blue suit, tan silk shirt, and a grey and blue tie. He gave a burst of happy whistling.

“Now I must write some letters,” he said. He sat down at a desk and started writing with a ball-point pen. He wrote quickly.

“You know, a fellow with my size family has his letter-writing problems,” said Crosby. “There are mother and father, five brothers, two sisters, and my wife and four sons.”

He went on writing. Then… “Now let's have a look at the news.” He stared at a couple of French newspapers.

“This is a little hard to figure out,” he murmured. .. But I aim to learn quite a bit of French while I am here.” He glanced at a portable, self-change gramophone.

“Hey,” he said enthusiastically, “I've got a whole lot of the latest American jazz records. I aim to give them away to the kids in London as I hear American jazz is pretty popular in England right now.”

He donned a camel-hair coat and grey trilby. Then he set out, sauntering through the spring sunshine in the Place Vendome. There was another burst of whistling. He went to a shirt-makers. Afterwards he met his friend George Coleman, who travelled with him from America.

“This fellow is a real serious golfer,” said Crosby. And he added: “I'll get a terrific kick out of playing in the British Amateur Championship. It’s my cherished desire, but it’s a big privilege that they are letting me do it. But I’ve got no illusions—it’ll be one-round Crosby.”

He· went to lunch in a famous restaurant on the Left Bank. He ordered a ham sandwich, a cup of weak tea, and an eclair. The serious business of the day followed—golf practice.

“I never practise singing. But I mean to practise golf at least two hours a day up to the time of that British Amateur.” said Crosby.

He changed into tan, yellow, and brown golfing clothes. Then off in a car to the St. Cloud course. Practice over, he went back to the Ritz to change his clothes. Five invitations to cocktail parties awaited him. He accepted one in the Auteuil district. He went to it in the car. Crosby whispered something to the waiter, who went out and returned with a glass of Scotch whisky and plain water.

“Best cocktail in the world, Scotch and water,” said Crosby. Later came dinner with five friends at Maxims. His meal consisted of lobster cocktail, veal and kidneys, asparagus, rolls and butter, and a raspberry ice.

At 11.30 he and his party went to a nightspot to hear a singing and miming act. Crosby loved it. The customers loved Crosby. Champagne—at £2 a bottle—was ordered for Crosby's friends, but Bing stuck to whisky.

One o'clock came and Crosby headed back to his hotel.

“I shall read a bit before I hit the hay—a chapter or so of a thriller. Boy, am I having fun,” he said.

(R. M. MacColl, Daily Express, April 24, 1950)



April 25, Tuesday. Bing golfs at St. Cloud, near Paris with his friend George Coleman.

April 26, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped in New York (as have the next four shows) and the guest is Beatrice Lillie.

May 3, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) Another taped Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS and Bing’s guests are Ella Fitzgerald and Al Jolson.

May 7, Sunday. Bing at Longchamps Racecourse, Paris, with a young singer named Marilyn Gerson and the Count and Countess of Segonzac. That evening Bing is seen at Maxim’s dancing with model Ghislaine de Boysson (age 23).

May 8, Monday. In Hollywood, attorney John O’Melveny and Bing’s brother Larry admit publicly that Bing’s marriage is “strained.” Bing is still in Paris.

May 9, Tuesday. Bing denies that there are any problems with the marriage and Dixie, still in Los Angeles, confirms this.

May 10, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guest is Mary Martin.

May 11, Thursday. The Security-First National Bank of Los Angeles files suit against Bing Crosby Productions Inc. and others asking for foreclosure to satisfy an unpaid loan on the film Abie’s Irish Rose. The original production loan was $370,000 and the unpaid balance is $150,615.

May 13, Saturday. Press reports state that Bing has been backstage at the Folies Bergère to tape some radio shows. He is said to have made twenty-one recordings so far in places such as golf courses and racetracks. During his time in Paris, he is reported to have been to see Edith Piaf sing and visited Notre Dame, the Louvre, and been up the Eiffel Tower.

May 17, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guest is Fred Allen.

May 20, Saturday. Bing arrives in Dover, England, from Paris, aboard the steamer Invicta. Goes on to St. Andrews in Scotland.

May 21, Sunday. Plays golf in the afternoon on the Eden course at St. Andrews with two French entrants for the British Amateur Golf championship, before meeting his opponent for the next day, James K. (“J. K.”) Wilson, local golfer, at J. McAndrews Golf School at 7:00 p.m. where photographs are taken. A crowd of several hundred follows him during his round of golf.

 

Two thousand film fans mobbed Bing Crosby when he played a practice round for the British Open golf championship on St. Andrew’s Eden course yesterday. He came by taxi from Edinburgh, and when he went out for his game he had to plead for elbow room on the first green.

Bing was clad in two pairs of trousers - one gabardine and one cotton - crocodile shoes, and knitted tam-o-shanter, which he explained, was the nearest thing he had to a Scottish bonnet, and which had been given to him by an Indian tribe at Vancouver. The first ball Bing drove was ‘souvenired’ by the crowd, and his second was trodden on. After he managed to drive off a police car attempted to control the crowd, but girls jostled each other to walk alongside Bing between shots. Continually hemmed in and scarcely able to move, Bing remained good-natured, chatting and wisecracking with the youngsters. One girl posed with Bing’s arm around her while her boyfriend took a picture. He maintained an atmosphere of gaiety throughout the 18-hole practice, and did a high step-dance before playing his last shot, which laid the ball three yards from the pin, for a hole-out in three.

Bobby-soxers clamoured for autographs and a song, and, to the horror of hardy Scots green keepers, scrambled through bunkers and over greens in an attempt to get close enough to touch Bing.

Crosby’s more ardent followers surrounded him between shots and tried to link arms with him. Bing’s score, in his own words, was “about 100.” Commenting on his admirers, Crosby said: “I don’t mind crowds - if only they wouldn’t lay on me.”

He said he had no illusions about winning - “by tomorrow night I’ll be known as ‘one-round Crosby’” - and that he had made provisional plans to return to the Continent on Monday if beaten. Crosby’s first round opponent is a St. Andrew’s stonemason, J. K. Wilson

(Unidentified paper, May 22, 1950)

 

May 22, Monday. Plays in the British Amateur Open Golf Tournament on the Old Course at St. Andrews in front of a crowd of 3,000. He is eliminated in the first round, losing three and two to Scotsman “J. K.” Wilson, and subsequently returns to London staying at the Dorchester. The proceedings are captured by newsreel cameras with Pathe showing the footage in their edition of May 25 in the UK and Paramount in the USA including it in theirs of June 17.

 

...Crosby’s gallery, which included many women, today braved misty rain and cold for hours to watch him hit off. Crosby drew most of the crowd, although the field included many noted players. He had a minor rival for the crowd in the British radio singer Donald Peers. More than 50 newspaper and newsreel cameramen photographed Bing and Wilson as they started on the first tee today.

      Bing was dressed in a tattered red jumper, with polo-necked yellow sweater, light trousers, and checked cap. He had birdies at the first three holes, and then took a six at each of the next two holes to be two up. Near the second tee he was sitting at the bridge crossing the famous Swilkin Burn waiting to hit off when another player’s ball whizzed past his shoulder. Bing jumped to his feet, waved in mock anger, and then said: “that nearly ended St. Andrews for me.”

      At the fourth he hit his third shot towards the wrong green, and Wilson apologised to him for not indicating the right direction. Wilson then squared, led at the 11th, and made it two up at the 13th hole. He missed at the 14th, but went to two up again at the 15th hole. The match ended at the 16th hole in pouring rain.

(Daily Telegraph, May 23, 1950)

 

The news that he would be appearing in the championship sent a wave of excitement through Scotland, a land in which he was a great favorite, and the morning that he teed off on his opening round, against J. K. Wilson, a carpenter from St. Andrews, dozens of buses and numberless private cars converged on that speck of eastern Fife, and approximately twenty thousand fans were soon packed along the borders of the course. Crosby did not let them down: He birdied two of the first three holes. I saw only the first birdie, and it was a beauty. . . . He eventually lost the match, 3 and 2, but I have an idea that he did not want to create such a crowd scene again—he hadn’t expected anything like it—and intentionally let a few holes slip away as the round wore on.

      I think I will always remember how well Crosby played the first hole of that championship—particularly that classic approach shot. It was a remarkable exhibition under the circumstances, but this was a rather remarkable man—a very nice man who gravitated to high standards and who kept on growing all his life.

(Herbert Warren Wind, writing in The New Yorker, May 8, 1978)

 

May 24, Wednesday. Gives an “extempore performance” at the Dorchester at the Daily Mail National Film Awards supper party.

 

Bing Crosby, in grey flannel trousers and a blue sweater, with a green monogram over the left breast-pocket, walked into the Dorchester last night to seek his “celibate couch.” He passed unrecognised through the swing doors, saw a “white tie” audience, and asked “What’s cooking?” He was told it was the Daily Mail film award party. He was brought in by Lady Rothermere and “Silver Star” winner Jean Simmons—and introduced by Leslie Mitchell—took the party by storm. “Without his hair”—as he said—Bing began to sing. He sang “Music, Music, Music.” Then a song whose words he did not know. His audience cheered. Said a hard-bitten critic: “Now let anybody try to follow that.” Said the publicity director of an Anglo-American film corporation behind his hand: “Boy, Bing would never have done a thing like this in Hollywood.”

(Daily Mail, May 25, 1950)

 

His performance leads the controller of BBC Television to write to Bing asking if he will appear on British television but nothing comes of the invitation.  Bing also declines an invitation to take part in the BBC radio program In Town Tonight.(6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show mainly consists of excerpts from earlier programs and the guests heard are Perry Como, Arthur Godfrey, and Bob Hope. This is the final show of the series. It is announced in the press that Dixie will appear on Bing’s radio show to offset the rumors about their marriage. She eventually appears on the 1950 Christmas show.

May (undated). Bing sails back to Europe on the SS Royal Albert which docks at Brussels in Belgium. On board, he meets the Glasgow Celtic football team and shares a beer with them before giving his rendition of “I Belong to Glasgow.”

May 27, Saturday. Bing and Bill Morrow tape a Minute Maid show in Belgium.

May 29, Monday. (8:45 - 9:15 p.m.) The BBC broadcast a special program introduced by Bing on their Light Programme which features his records. He accepts a nominal fee of five guineas.

June 9, Friday. Boards the Queen Elizabeth liner at Cherbourg for the return trip to U.S.A. En route, sings “Play a Simple Melody” with Irving Berlin at a cocktail party with the captain.

 

It was a day I would never forget. The phone rang and I grabbed the receiver and the appointment book. I instantly recognized the distinctive husky voice of Bing Crosby at the other end. He asked for a steam bath and massage. Could we fit him in? We would have moved heaven and earth to fit him in! Rather stupidly I asked who was calling. “Bing Crosby here,” came back the reply. He then said that he would like a bath and massage with no other passengers around and that he would like to stay for several hours. Now that really was a problem. He wanted to come in the late afternoon so we made a few telephone calls to change some booked appointments, which wasn’t easy.

Bing was due to arrive at 4.30. Can you imagine the excitement! I was about to meet the man who had been my favorite singer for more than thirty years. I had avidly collected his records and been to see almost every film. I hovered around the entrance until he arrived. I had carried a picture of him in my mind since before I went to sea in 1934 and I was surprised to find that he wasn’t very tall.

“What’s the procedure, boy?” he drawled in his deep husky voice.

I ushered him to a cubicle at the far end of the bath, took his dressing gown and handed him a towel. As I led him through to the Turkish bath he noticed our beer on the telephone table.

“Is that part of the treatment down here?” He asked.

“We get very dry in here and we find beer more suitable than the water we give our passengers but you can have one if you like.”

“OK, it’s my shout,” he said. “Order a few and I’ll try one.”

We settled Bing in the first room of the Turkish bath known as the Tepiderium, the one which is not so hot. Within minutes the beer arrived and Tommy took a pint over to him. Over the next quarter of an hour Bing progressed from room to room. The steam room was last—our guest emerged for his shower carrying an empty pint pot.

“You must have enjoyed that beer Sir.”

“It wasn’t bad but I prefer my beer to be ice cold. Have you tried our American beers?”

We all had, of course, but we preferred the English brews. . . .

Bing started to hum and as he plunged into the shower he burst into song.     

“My name is McNamara . . .” The rest of the song consisted of rather colorful lyrics which only he knew but we all tried to join in. Then came “Moonlight Becomes You,” “Now Is the Hour” and a number of others. The Turkish bath had the acoustics of a recording studio and the sound was wonderful. Tommy dried him off so that he could go back to his cubicle and relax for a while.       

(John Dempsey, masseur on the “Queen Elizabeth” liner, writing in his book I’ve Seen Them All Naked)

 

Speaking of taxis, for many years Groucho and I have harmonized the old songs at parties and restaurants and even in cabs. Our two favorites are circa 1914. One is called “Night Time in Little Italy” (author unknown but I believe Berlin), the other, “Play a Simple Melody,” which I’m sure is by Berlin. Crossing from Europe in the summer of 1950 on the Queen Elizabeth, I was invited to take cocktails with the captain along with Irving Berlin, Mischa Elman, the violinist, and others. In such a group the conversation naturally got around to music and songs and I told Irving how much Groucho and I enjoyed “A Simple Melody.I knew of course that Elman is an authority on classical music, but I didn’t know that he also knows considerable about popular music. However, he said that he didn’t remember ever hearing “A Simple Melody.” With that opening Irving and I sang it for Mr. Elman and the rest of the assemblage, our rendering being heavily laced with harmonic decorative effects. Someone remarked what a wonderful duet-tune it was, and when I returned home, the same thought struck me and I recorded the number with my son Gary, as his first venture as a recording artist, more of which later.

(Call Me Lucky, pages 279-280)

       

June 12, Monday. Still on board the Queen Elizabeth, Bing watches a boxing match on the shuffle board deck. He sends a hand-written letter to the Editor of the Club Crosby magazine.

 

Well, we’re homeward bound after a delightful experience abroad. Everywhere we went we were treated with great kindness and courtesy. The French people are particularly noteworthy in this respect. They just seem to love doing things for travelers. We took a flat in Paris the last month we were there. A flat complete with cook, maid, concierge, a fat cat and numerous little 6 and 7 year old boys and girls who came around the garden gate every once in a while for a bit of candy. We had brought a half a dozen cartons of Baby Ruth bars and, as you can imagine, they were much appreciated. Our cook was a nice old girl with great ability in the kitchen. She was actually hurt and honestly disappointed when we dined out, and the more guests we had in for dinner the better she liked it. It was a wrench to leave Paris but we surely intend to return next year.

We’ll just be in New York a day or so, before going to the Coast, so probably won’t see any of you. Perhaps next time.

Give my best to all the Group,

Yours, Bing

 

June 14, Wednesday. The Queen Elizabeth arrives at the West 50th Street dock in New York at 8:00 a.m. The Paramount newsreel of July 5 shows Bing disembarking and talking to Irving Berlin. While in New York, Bing goes to the New York Giants–Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game with Groucho Marx, but it is rained out.

June 20, Tuesday. Returns to Los Angeles aboard the Union Pacific’s “City of Los Angeles.” Goes home to Holmby Hills with press reports noting that Dixie had not been at the station to meet him.

June 21, Wednesday. (10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.) Records four songs from the film Mr. Music in Hollywood with Victor Young and his Orchestra and the Ken Lane Singers. The songs are included in a Decca album which charts briefly in 10th position in Billboard's best-selling popular albums chart.

 

Accidents Will Happen

Decca 27241—A classy ballad from Bing’s coming “Mr. Music” flicker is warbled richly by Crosby in his best crooning fashion.

And You’ll Be Home

Another high-grade “Mr. Music” ballad with a greater degree of commercial value is treated warmly by Bing and a vocal group. Disking should have added values when the flicker shows around Christmas.

(Billboard, November 4, 1950)


Album review

Seven numbers from the Paramount pic, "Mr. Music," scored by Johnny Burke and Van Heusen, are included in this strong Decca set. Crosby delivers them all, teaming up with Andrews Sisters on "High on the List." and "Life Is So Peculiar" and with Dorothy Kirsten on "Accidents Will Happen" and "Milady."

(Variety, December 13, 1950)

 

June 22, Thursday. (3:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m.) Records four songs supported by orchestras led first by Victor Young, then John Scott Trotter, and finally Axel Stordahl. Several of the songs reach the Billboard chart: “La Vie en Rose” peaks at 13; “I Cross My Fingers” reaches No. 18 and “Rudolph” gets to the No. 14 position in December 1950.

 

La Vie en Rose

I Cross My Fingers

Bing’s at his crooning best in handling rock-solid coverage of a pair of strong ballad threats. Disking’s particularly effective juke op merchandise.

(Billboard, July 15, 1950)

 

Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Available both as a pop single and kidisk package, this should be another of Bing’s hefty seasonal standards. He does a gay, light-hearted job with the bouncy item which last year was all Gene Autry’s.

The Teddy Bear’s Picnic

Coupling is another delightful item which has found kid favor in various, but not outstanding, etchings. Bing’s is the best to date and could very well be the strong side of this disking.

(Billboard, September 9, 1950)

 

The irony is that he did not like many versions of his well-known songs even if they sold very well. But his asset was as a writer, not a performer, and it was always the public that decided which songs they liked and which they did not. However, sometimes his taste and the public agreed! Of all the hundreds of performers of his songs down the years, the one he admired most was Bing Crosby. Bing was the most influential singer of his time, perhaps of any time – the king of the crooners – and sold more records in the 1930s, 40s and 1950s than anyone else. He made 12 recordings of Jimmy Kennedy songs, more than any other major artist. He made 3 different versions of South of the Border (one was for the film Pepe) and recorded The Teddy Bears’ Picnic twice.  But why did Kennedy rate Crosby so much as an interpreter? ‘That’s easy,’ he once said on an Irish radio programme, ‘I think he is the best interpreter of my songs because he sang them the way I wanted them sung. I think other writers would say the same thing. He was a wonderful song man. He sang a song the way you wrote it. He didn’t try any fancy tricks or alter it or change the tempo or mess about with it like so many other performers. He didn’t inject himself into the song. He had so much style, he didn’t have to do that. He sang the song like you’d like to sing it yourself.’ Apart from Bing’s skill as a singer, he had a tremendous knowledge of song writing, something he revealed when they met for the first time in Dublin in the early 1970s. Recalling the occasion (which had been arranged by Dublin producer George O’Reilly), my father said: ‘He knew all about my songs. He knew them all. In fact, he knew about all the writers – he could tell you who wrote this and who wrote that.’

(J. J. Kennedy, The Man Who Wrote the Teddy Bears’ Picnic:  How Irish-Born Lyricist and Composer Jimmy Kennedy Became One of the Twentieth Century's Finest Songwriters, page 244)

 

June 23, Friday. (9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.) Bing records three songs with Victor Young and his Orchestra plus the Jeff Alexander Chorus. “All My Love” has 12 weeks in the Billboard charts peaking at No. 11. (2:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.) He goes on to record “Sam’s Song” and “Play a Simple Melody” with Gary Crosby and Matty Matlock’s All-Stars. The first song becomes Bing’s twenty-first gold record and both become the first ever double-sided gold record. At night, there is a family dinner with Bing’s parents, Dixie and the four boys.

 

Friendly Islands, The

Ballad from the coming “My Blue Heaven” flicker lends itself for an ingratiating croon job by der Bingle on class material.

All My Love

Superb Victor Young orking and Jeff Alexander choral support enhance a rich Crosby warbling job on this beautiful French import. Could be the disking that might establish the song here.

(Billboard, August 19, 1950)


The Friendly Islands. "Islands," from the pic, "My Blue Heaven," is a good show number neatly vocalled by Crosby, but its pop qualities are questionable. Elaborate production on this side, almost burying the tune, doesn't help either.

(Variety, August 2, 1950

 

Bing’s eldest son, Gary, makes his disk debut in duet with his old man and makes a most impressive thing of it on both sides of this charming disking. Should prove to be a big family trade item with its universal father-son appeal. To boot, the rendition of “Sam’s Song” could shove that promising ditty into the top money.

(Billboard, July 8, 1950)

 

Finally that part of the session was over. The backup singers and most of the musicians waved good-bye to the old man. Then, after a short break, Matty Matlock, Manny Klein, Nick Fatool and four or five other good Dixieland players came back in and began rehearsing the chart of “Sam’s Song.” While they were getting it together, Dad took me off to one side, and each time they ran it down he took me through the song again, adding little details and changing the routine to make it play better. Originally he was slated to do the part with all the tricky patter, but after trying it out he decided to switch with me and sing the straight melody. “Jesus Christ, that’s too many words,” he laughed, handing me his part. “Here. You sing that. You talk fast anyhow. Don’t worry. You’ll be all right.” He kept working in close with me like that while the engineers set up the balance, so by the time the producer was ready for a take I’d been through it enough to know where I was going and could start to loosen up and enjoy myself.

      The hour and a half it took to record the two sides were one of the best times we ever had together. . . . As long as he was Bing Crosby, it wasn’t the end of the world if I made a mistake. And he was such a strong singer and laid in such a solid foundation for me to work off of that it was almost impossible not to do right. He was giving to me and that made me good enough to be able to give back to him, and the momentum of the give-and-take carried us along as if we were both riding the same wave. We were working together as a team, and for once in my life with him that made me feel useful.

(Gary Crosby writing in Going My Own Way, page 141)

 

It got tougher to keep them on an even keel later. Dixie and I were never very anxious to get our boys too deeply enmeshed in show business. Dixie insisted they get their education first, and it was with considerable trepidation that I asked Gary to make a record with me, as a kind of change of pace. What if the thing were a big hit? What if it catapulted Gary into the spotlight? What if it made him a bobby-sox favorite? How would we ever be able to control him if it did?

All these things are just what happened. The songs we recorded were “Sam’s Song” and “A Simple Melody.” The label read, “Cary Crosby and friend.I never dreamed it would hit with such impact. But as luck would have it, the record caught on in the juke boxes and landed Gary on the cover of a national magazine, to say nothing of the money that rolled in.

The Sam” in Sams Songis really Sam Weiss, a music publisher and an old-time friend of mine. After I heard the test pressings, I said to Sam, “Get a barrel! Gary’ll need one for the loot that’ll be coming his way.” I was right. He needed one to pick up his royalties.

(Call Me Lucky, pages 300-301)

 

June 24, Saturday. Bing drives his sons to the ranch at Elko for their summer holiday.

June 26, Monday. The United States goes to the defense of South Korea and the Korean War begins.

July 17, Monday. (2:30 p.m.) Bing describes Chantilly Racetrack, Paris, in a radio program on station KNX in Los Angeles. The broadcast is said to come from Bing’s ranch at Elko but it is possible that Bing taped these impressions while in Paris. Similar programs are transmitted daily on Mondays through Fridays.

 

Bing Crosby Takes Us On Tour

I don’t know how many of you have been catching “This Is Bing Crosby”, a 15-minute transcribed daytime show, dedicated to the proposition that every man, woman and child ought to drink more Minute Maid Orange Juice. Anyhow, Mr. Crosby has been devoting much of the quarter hour to a recital of his adventures in Europe with wit, charm and a surprising perceptiveness.

If you can’t fit Europe into your schedule this summer, the Crosby travel diary is about the best vicarious trip around. Even if you do manage to work in Europe this summer, you probably won’t be invited, as was Mr. Crosby, to take pot luck with Prince Ali Khan and Princess Rita at their splendiferous little abode outside Paris.

Pot luck with the Ali Khans, Mr. Crosby explained drily, was a production number out of Ziegfeld by Escoffier. Makes one wonder what a really formal dinner at their highness’ is like.

The other day, Mr. Crosby took us all to the Paris version of Annie Get Your Gun, which, he explained, Ethel Merman wouldn’t even recognize. The French-style Annie Get Your Gun, said Mr. Crosby, contains a Buffalo Bill who looks like Monsieur Beaucaire.

Sitting Bull, he said, resembled a French pastry cook who had fallen into flour barrel. The show also employed horses, mules and even elephants. Mr. Crosby’s eye for the odd anecdote, the irrelevant incident is very sharp indeed. If the voice ever wears out, I suspect he wouldn’t have much trouble landing a job as a commentator.

Anyway, this sort of thing is a welcome relief from the usual dreary flow of Hollywood trivia—the jokes about Bob Hope’s waistline, for example—and it leads to the suspicion that Europe, given the proper build-up on the air, might conceivably be as interesting as the glamour citadel itself.

(John Crosby, syndicated article, July 24, 1950)

 

July 18, Tuesday. Bing is at the Spring Creek Ranch and he writes to the Editor of the Club Crosby magazine.

 

Kindest regards to all members on the 14th anniversary of our club, which must make ours the - if not, one of the - oldest clubs, and it is quite a record!

You asked for an article for “Bingang”, but after our visits in New York and because the orange juice program has been a running account of my travels to date, I am at a loss to know what to write about.

At present the boys and I are pitching hay at the ranch near Elko, Nevada. We are up at 6 a.m. daily, and very happy to get to bed by 8:30. The boys are working real hard, developing some new muscles and, I hope, acquiring good experience. We are getting in a little fishing and hunting on the side. A sizeable creek runs through our property, and the main stream from a good lake is not far distant. There are trout of all size up to some weighing several pounds in the lake. There are deer all over the place. We don’t hunt them; however, there are plenty of sage hens for good eating.

About the first of August I will take the boys up to Hayden Lake, Idaho, for a little vacationing.

About the first of September I plan to make my annual trek for the golf tournament at Jasper Park, Alberta, Canada, taking along several golf pals from Monterey and the East.

Best wishes to all.

Sincerely, Bing

 

July 22, Saturday. (2:30 p.m.) Another broadcast by Bing on KNX is said to have come from Elko.

July 25, Tuesday (afternoon). Bing is made a member of the Western Shoshone-Paiute tribe on the Owyhee reservation, near Elko. His Indian name is “Sond-Hoo-Vi-A-Gund” (the man of many songs). This is the first time that a white man has been adopted into the tribe as a member. Bing responds with a short speech and sings briefly for the crowd of 500. The tribe later tries to have the White Horse Lake on the Owynee River in Elko County named for Bing but this is refused by the Board of National Geographic Names as it prohibits the naming of Federal landmarks for living persons.

 

Ceremony at Owyhee Is Wild But Orderly

Bing Crosby yesterday became the first white man “brother” of the one-time fierce and warlike Shoshone-Paiute tribe in a wild but orderly ceremony on the Indian reservation at Owyhee.

More than 1,000 members of the tribal council voted unanimously to take Crosby into the fold as an honorary member and, according to tribal custom changed his name to “Sond-hoo-vie-a-gund . . . man of many songs.”

Gus Garity the colorful “chief” of the western council of the tribe, honored the crooner for ‘being himself, always, all over the world.’ He dedicated the tribe in similar fashion by foregoing the usual paint and eagle feathers for everyday “American dress.” Crosby, who accepted the tribute for himself and his family, was given the “eternal right” to hunt and fish the year-round on the reservation. His extensive ranch holdings in Elko County have made him a friendly neighbor of the Shoshone-Paiutes for several years.

Unaccompanied, and without Hollywood fanfare, Crosby sang “Home on the Range” and “Blue of the Night.”

The honor was the first of its kind ever accorded a white man. Once one of the most feared tribes of the West, the Indians sought refuge at Owyhee after suffering bloody defeats in battle with the US Army almost a century ago. They fought their last major engagement at Yakima, Wash, in 1872.

Squaws and braves went into the rugged Nevada hills to gather eagle feathers used on the ornate war bonnet presented Crosby. A parchment scroll, bound in white deer hide, officially made the singer “white brother” for the concern he has shown in Indian welfare.

(United Press)

 

July 29, Saturday. (5:00 p.m.) Bing, accompanied by his son, Lindsay, arrives in Boise, Idaho by car to take part in a benefit golf match. He is formally welcomed by State Senator Herman Welker at Old City Hall in front of a crowd of 4,000. His old Gonzaga friend Sib Kleffner encourages him to sing a few bars of “Here We Have Idaho.” Bing goes out to the Plantation Golf Course to practice.

July 30, Sunday. During the morning, Bing visits Elks State Convalescent Home in Boise and talks to the patients. (1:00 p.m.) Bing and Bud Ward take on the local pair of Roy Owen and Myron Tucker in a benefit golf match on the Plantation course for Elks Crippled Children’s Hospital. Bing has a 75 as he and his partner win 3 and 2 in front of 2300 spectators. Around $5000 is raised for the hospital.

July 31, Monday. Bing and his four sons arrive at Hayden Lake, Idaho for a vacation. Dixie remains at Holmby Hills.

August 2, Wednesday. Bing hosts a lunch for Herman Welker, the Republican candidate, at the Penguin Room of the Athletic Round Table in the Desert Hotel, Coeur d’Alene. He tells the audience of 65 that his sponsorship of Mr. Welker is a “gesture of friendship but I won’t be dismayed if you take the action as an indication of my political philosophy.”

August 6, Sunday. Press coverage of the Idaho primary campaign confirms that Bing is supporting the Republican candidate Mr. Welker. During his recent visit to Boise for an exhibition golf match, Bing is said to have handed out literature for his pheasant hunting companion saying, “A vote for Welker and there’ll be a pheasant in every pot.”

August 13, Sunday. (5:15 - 5:30 p.m.) Radio station KUNI in Coeur d’Alene broadcasts a recently recorded interview with Bing in which he says why he chose to make a home in North Idaho. Later, Bing plays on a softball team with his sons in a benefit match for the Gonzaga Building Fund held at Ferris Field, Spokane.

August 14, Monday. Bob Crosby and his children join Bing at Hayden Lake.

August 20, Sunday. A radio program The Miracle of America is broadcast by CBS and Bing and son Gary make a contribution as do Jack Benny, Bob Crosby, Dinah Shore, and many others. The program is produced in co-operation with The Advertising Council, urging listeners to send for the booklet of the same name. Bing gives advice to his son Gary about girls and dating.

August 24, Thursday. (2:30 p.m.) The program from station KNX features Bing and Lindsay Crosby talking about magpies.

September 5, Tuesday. (10:00 a.m.–2:30 p.m.) Back in Hollywood, Bing records “Harbor Lights” and other songs with Lyn Murray and his orchestra. “Harbor Lights” reaches No. 8 in the Billboard Best-selling Records list and spends 13 weeks in the charts in all.

 

"Harbor Lights""Beyond the Reef" (Decca). On the current Hawaiian kick, "Lights," a late 1930's tune, is getting a lot of wax put on it. This cut has strong commercial impact, with Crosby always tops on these island type items.

(Variety, September 20th, 1950)


Harbor Lights

This lovely oldie, being revived via strong Sammy Kaye etching, is treated to one of Bing’s warmest croon jobs in some time. Should give the Kaye slicing a run for the money.

Beyond the Reef

Coupling is a smart Hawaiian flavored ballad, which is handled beautifully by Crosby, who is supported by a soft but lovely strings and vocal background.

(Billboard, September 23, 1950)

 

September 6, Wednesday. (9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m., 1:13–2:55 p.m.) Another recording date in Hollywood when Bing and his four sons record A Crosby Christmas with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra plus the Jeff Alexander Chorus. The disc briefly charts in the No. 22 spot.

 

A Crosby Christmas

This one’s a natural to sweep in the upcoming Christmas disk season. Bing and his kids cavort thru an original collection of Burke-Van Heusen material doing a thoroly delightful job which should find its way into plenty of homes enamored of the American which Crosby represents.

(Billboard, November 4, 1950)

 

The fourth disc is described as A Crosby Christmas, with all four young Crosbys singing new numbers. Lindsay Crosby, the youngest, has the most self-assurance; the twins are not so good, being out of tune.

(The Gramophone, January 1951)

 

That Christmas Feeling

A new Burke-Van Heusen seasonal ballad has a sentimental warmth which is richly brought out by Bing doing one of his finer ballad turns.

(Billboard, October 28, 1950)

 

September 7, Thursday. (9:00 a.m.–12:00 noon) Records three songs, including “Autumn Leaves” with Axel Stordahl and his Orchestra. (2:00–5:30 p.m.) Records three songs, including “Poppa Santa Claus” and “Mele Kalikimaka” with the Andrews Sisters and Vic Schoen and his Orchestra.

 

Bing Crosby / Andrews Sisters: “Poppa Santa Claus” ”Mele Kilikimaka” (sic) (Decca). “Santa Claus” is one of the better Xmas tunes brightly projected by Crosby and the Andrews Sisters. Side is tailored for the holiday season.

(Variety, October 4, 1950)

 

Poppa Santa Claus

Bing and the Andrews Sisters do a new seasonal rhythm novelty which has spirit but slight retentive qualities.

Mele Kilikimaka (sic)

In Hawaiian this title means “Merry Xmas”. Seasonal ditty with a switch dealing with the sun of Hawaii instead of the usual snow etc; done with a buoyant bounce by Bing and the Girls. Novel idea could pick up some coin.

(Billboard, October 28, 1950)

 

I’ve Never Been in Love Before

Decca 27230—Bing turns in ballad turn on the “Guys and Dolls” song. It’s an unspectacular but understanding reading

If I Were a Bell

Remarkably light and happy treatment of a cleverly carved rhythm item from “Guys and Dolls” should bring in heavy returns. Patti and Bing’s adroit sense of humor make this one of high spot diskings of the day.

(Billboard, November 4, 1950)

 

Autumn Leaves

Decca 27231—Bing turns in one of his finest ballad efforts of recent years with this extreme lovely and likely ballad. Could be a winner if the song is merchandised.

This Is the Time

Another beautiful ballad, this one more complex than “Leaves,” is handled deftly by Crosby for maximum yardage.

(Billboard, November 4, 1950)

 

…Another Sinatra co-star, and a far more substantial one at that, helped Crosby achieve one of his most beautiful ballad renderings, the 1950 “Autumn Leaves.” Axel Stordahl had been the Voice’s musical director throughout the forties, and here Crosby gets the benefit of the arranger’s impressionistic string textures. Since it’s Crosby, the beat is a bit more pronounced than in the Sinatra- Stordahl sides, although he drifts ever so slightly out of tempo for a stunningly moving second chorus— hear the way he slides into “old winter’s song” before an equally fitting, typically “small” Stordahl ending.

(Will Friedwald, A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers, page 127)

 

September 8, Friday. (9:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.) Records “Silver Bells” (with Carole Richards) and John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra. Goes on to record two other Christmas songs with Sonny Burke and his Orchestra and the Lee Gordon Singers. “Silver Bells” reaches the No. 20 spot in the Billboard chart in December 1952. “A Marshmallow World” briefly charts in the No. 24 position in January 1951.

 

It’s a Marshmallow World

Fluffy, infectious bounce ditty with a seasonal gaiety could catch on with potent publisher aid for a group of strong recordings. Bing’s is light and breezy like the Bing of old…Bing’s coupling is another airy winter tune tabbed “Looks Like a Cold, Cold Winter.”

(Billboard, October 21, 1950)

 

Silver Bells

A seasonal ditty from the “Lemon Drop Kid” flicker has a charming folksy flavor which could catch big. Bing and Miss Richards turn it out simply and unaffectedly. Could score.

(Billboard, October 28, 1950)

 

 In 1950, the songwriting team of Ray Evans and Jay Livingston were under contract to Paramount Studios in Hollywood, where they found themselves under the gun to write a Christmas song for a movie in the making, The Lemon Drop Kid, starring Bob Hope.

The fact that both men had already won two Oscars for writing Buttons and Bows and Mona Lisa carried no weight when they pleaded with the studio to be excused from the assignment. “We were certain that it was impossible to write a hit Christmas song,” Livingston said “so we asked for permission to write something else—something that would have hit possibilities.”

The producer, director and studio executives were adamant. The film took place at Christmas and they wanted a Christmas song.

So, the team set about writing the song they did not want to write. They worked to make the song as different as possible. “We put it in ¾ time” explained Livingston, “because White Christmas and most of the other Christmas songs were in 4/4.” They christened their creation Tinkle Bell.

That night, Livingston told his wife he was working on “a song called Tinkle Bell.”

“Are you out of your mind? ‘Tinkle’ has another meaning!” his wife responded.

Livingston told Evans the next day and they threw away Tinkle Bell. They liked the melody and the words so much—if only they could dream up a new name.

They changed the title and gave the song to Paramount. Even though the director, Stanley Lanfield, insisted the song be written, he didn’t have an idea about how to use it in the film. He waited until the picture was finished, then put the whole cast on risers like a choir, had them stare into the camera and sing the song. The songwriters were sure at this point that the song would be cut out of the film because it was staged so awkwardly.

The producer, Bob Welch, thought the song deserved better. They hired Frank Tashlin to write a special scene for it, and shot it on Paramount’s back lot. The result is cinema history—Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell shopping on a busy street, snow falling and all the Christmas trimmings.

Still, the song might have stopped there if Livingston hadn’t been eating lunch in the studio commissary when Bing Crosby sat down beside him. Crosby asked if he and Evans had any new songs. Livingston sang the song in the dressing room of Crosby who recorded and made it an instant holiday hit.

Now, it’s hard to find a Christmas album without this song the writers didn’t want to write, that spent time in the trash, and that nearly wound up on the cutting room floor.

The song is Silver Bells. As of Christmas 1991, it has sold 140 million records.

(Pat Luboff, The Christmas Song That Nearly Wasn’t)

 

…Crosby agreed that “Silver Bells” was best presented as a duet. He contacted a radio singer named Carol Richards and offered her a chance to record it with him. His choice of Richards was ironic, as the Illinois native had been brought to Hollywood upon winning a talent search hosted by Bob Hope. Crosby had Hope’s talent discovery in a studio to record a song written for Hope. The marriage of Crosby and Richards’ voices made for a powerful record. Released in October 1950, the song became Crosby’s third-most popular holiday hit. The single’s success prompted Paramount Studios to take another look at the way “Silver Bells” had been filmed in The Lemon Drop Kid. Hope and Maxwell were called back to the studio six months after their film had wrapped, and the duet was reshot with a much more elaborate backdrop. Although the movie was released three months after Christmas, publicity emphasized that “Silver Bells” was included in the musical score.

(Ace Collins, Stories Behind the Greatest Hits of Christmas, page 89)

 

September 11, Monday. Bing writes to Ruth Ness, the President of Club Crosby.

 

Sounds like you had quite a vacation tour, covering all the big towns in the Northeast, and I am sure you must have enjoyed visiting Virginia Keegan and the rest of those nice people.

The contribution to the Cerebral Palsy Association was very nice and will help a great cause.

We have no plans for television; in fact it is still a problem, being contrary in many departments to the fundamentals of show business.

We were very happy that Gary was so well received, but we do not plan on working him too hard at present, hoping he will concentrate on school and athletics.

You may be interested to know that we made another record for Christmas release using all the boys on a combination of songs titled “That Christmas Feeling”, I’d Like to Hitch a Ride with Santa Claus”, and “The Snow Man”.

Regards to all.

Sincerely, Bing

 

September 19, Tuesday. (7:15–9:30 p.m.) Bing records a Bob Hope show with Dinah Shore for broadcast on October 3.

September 20, Wednesday. Records a Chesterfield Show in CBS Studio B in Hollywood with Bob Hope and Judy Garland which is scheduled to be broadcast on October 4.

 

Apart from the records they had cut together, she [Judy Garland] had been a guest on his show from time to time. To demonstrate his faith in her, he not only invited her to be on the first show of the season, but in the second too, and another later in the season:

      “He called me up one morning. Bless him–he was cute. ‘Judy,’ he said, ‘I know how busy you are’ (busy ME! That was a laugh!) ‘and I was wondering if I could get you for three shows’. . . . He could get me for thirty shows, or three hundred. That moment I felt the whole world change. It was real friendship. I needed that job more than I needed money. I could always borrow money: you can’t borrow a job, you can’t borrow the chance to put faith back in yourself. Somebody else has to have faith in you first. Well, Bing had faith in me—and thank God, I didn’t let him down.”

(Judy Garland, page 261)

 

Some performers knew how to make the people in the radio studio their partners. Hal Kanter will never forget one night on the Bing Crosby show when Judy Garland was the guest star. “Judy had had a lot of bad publicity and had gone through a rough time. When she finally came out of the hospital and was going to make her first public appearance on the show, at the last minute she got stage fright and got scared to death. She said, ‘They’re going to hate me; they won’t be listening to me, they’re going to look for scars on my wrists. . . .’ She was an emotional mess, and Bing went in to reassure her. Then when he walked out on stage as usual, he said, ‘We have an old friend here tonight. She’s been away for a while, but she’s come back, and I know that you missed her because we sure did. Give her a nice welcome; make her feel—make her feel loved.’ Something like that, then ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Judy Garland.’ She walked out on the stage and that audience just put their arms around her and hugged her and kissed her . . . relaxed her. And she did a show that was wonderful. But it was Bing’s sensitivity that dictated that. I don’t know too many people who would have done that.”

(The Great American Broadcast, page 199)

 

(9:00 p.m.) Bing makes a contribution to the National Kids Day Foundation radio program.

September 21, Thursday. (3:00–6:00 p.m.) Records “Marrying for Love” and “The Best Thing for You” with Sonny Burke and his Orchestra. (6:30–9:30 p.m.) Records another Bob Hope show with Dinah Shore for transmission on October 10.

 

MARRYING FOR LOVE Perry Como Victor 20-3922 Bing Crosby Decca (no number available) Tune’s a ballad gem from the forthcoming “Call Me Madam” by Berlin, of course. Both Como and Crosby sell it mightily, and their versions and the tune itself should be around for quite a while.

THE BEST THING FOR YOU

Another heart-warming ballad from “Call Me Madam”, done to a turn by Bing and Perry.

(Billboard, October 14, 1950)

 

September 25, Monday. Bing tapes another Chesterfield show with Bob Hope and Judy Garland in San Francisco. This is broadcast on October 18. Nelson Riddle and Billy May contribute arrangements.

September 29, Friday. Bing plays golf with Bill Mawhinney. (8:30 p.m.) The opening of the Sunset Memorial Community Center in Vancouver and Bing officially opens it by a long-distance telephone call from San Francisco which is broadcast over the loudspeakers to an overflow audience. A time capsule has been buried under the Center and this is opened in 2008 when a new center is built. The day happens to be Bing’s twentieth wedding anniversary and he is reported to have sent Dixie a necklace with a heart shaped pendant, set with rubies and diamonds.

 

We opened the time capsule today.  It included some Bing memorabilia inside, including a few new photos of Bing at City Hall receiving the gold key to the City of Vancouver and a few photos from his Vancouver radio show performance.  There was also two film reels inside the time capsule.  One was a 16mm home movie on the construction of Sunset without anything on Bing.  The second one is a 35mm film which has footage of Bing Crosby around Vancouver in 1948.  He’s golfing and preparing for his radio show and there is a clip of him wearing the Indian costume.

Our national broadcaster ran a small clip from the event on the local 12 noon news.

Attached is a letter from our founding President, Stan Thomas.  Stan was the man who convinced Bing Crosby to come to Vancouver.  I thought you might find his letter from 1949 interesting.

Walter Schultz

 

To you who open the “Time Capsule”

In this container are several items which portray, to some extent, some of the many projects which contributed toward the raising of funds with which to build and equip Sunset Memorial centre.

The enclosed photographs tell their own story, but that of Bing Crosby does not tell all that that great American has done for the people of this community.

Bing and his party of twenty-one artists, musicians and technicians, travelled from Hollywood to Vancouver by train a 48-hour journey in 1948, in order to stage a benefit, show on our behalf in the Vancouver Forum (Hastings Park.) The record-breaking show was held on September 22nd.1948 and was subsequently broadcast coast-to-coast over the ABC (American Broadcasting Company) network. A transcription of the Bing Crosby Show is in the Archives of the City of Vancouver.

The show at the Forum grossed $32,000.00 and enriched our Building Fund by approximately $26.000.00. Bing would accept nothing for his services, nor to cover cost of transportation.

It has been said of Bing Crosby, that he has brought more pleasure to more people than any other living person - a fitting tribute! It is our belief that Bing’s voice may be enjoyed by those of you who open this capsule, as he is undoubtedly the most popular vocalist of our time.

Some people today, refer to this as the start of the “Atomic Age” You who open this, will know whether or not our scientists, after successfully splitting the atom, developed Atomic Power for the benefit of all mankind or - Heaven forbid - permitted its use in the destruction of present-day civilizations.

Stan Thomas, President, Sunset Community Association, December 11, 1949

 

October 3, Tuesday. (9:00–9:30 p.m.) Bob Hope’s radio show is broadcast on NBC and Bing guests with Dinah Shore.

 

Bob Hope wasn’t his usual sharp self in his “opening try” for Chesterfield. The writers didn’t give him too much to work with and he had to press most of the way—even with Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore in the guest corner. The heralded new format either failed to develop or was scrapped for the old one, which has been good enough for 14 years.

(Variety, October 4, 1950)

 

October 4, Wednesday. The California Highway Patrol stops Bing’s car as he returns from the north to tell him that his father has suffered a heart attack at his Toluca Lake home. Bing hurries to his father’s side but arrives forty minutes too late as his father dies at 2:30 p.m. Harry Lowe Crosby was seventy-nine and had been suffering from arteriosclerosis. His health had been failing for a year. Bing asks CBS not to broadcast his radio program that night and the show which had been scheduled with guest stars Bob Hope and Judy Garland is postponed until the following week. CBS fills in with an audience participation program called “A Dollar a Minute.”

October 6, Friday. A Rosary is held at the Oswald Funeral Home, North Hollywood, for Bing’s late father.

October 7, Saturday. Harry L. Crosby Sr. is buried at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery.

October 10, Tuesday. (9:00–9:30 p.m.) Another guest appearance by Bing on the Bob Hope radio show on NBC is broadcast. Dinah Shore is again the other guest star.

October 11, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Judy Garland and Bob Hope. Ken Carpenter, Jud Conlon’s Rhythmaires, and the John Scott Trotter Orchestra remain as regulars. The audience share for the season is only 10.0 and the show does not figure in the top 20 ratings as assessed by Nielsen. The top radio show for the season is the Lux Radio Theater with a rating of only 21.0 reflecting the impact of television. The Chesterfield shows are broadcast each week on Wednesday nights until June 27, 1951.

 

Those two boys - Bing Crosby and Bob Hope - with a big, rollicking assist from Judy Garland must have made this parlay pay off big on the Nielsen meters. For a getaway with Hope now picking up a little cigarette money with the Groaner, Arthur Godfrey and Perry Como, it didn’t miss far being a dream show. Every line served up by Bill Morrow, Hal Kanter and assorted aides was one long howl and the music was on the same delectable level. From the tradey prologue down to the rousing finale of the trio taking turns at parodying ‘Goodnight, Irene’ it was sock and go all the way. Even a harmless little throwaway line like, ‘Me too’ was built into high voltage humor and the usual insults generated their own yocks. As for instance, when Hope said to Crosby, ‘Men have gotten Oscars for less - didn’t you?’

         Young Gary Crosby came in for his share of the exchange, now that he is following in his father’s footsteps. Out in the provinces they must have taken the opening spot with bewildered amusement - Kanter as CBS veep, Hubbell Ackerman Jr. gave Crosby a dressing down for appearing on another network. ‘We want you to be more of a company man’, he was told, ‘Hope had his chance to come over to our network’. That nonsense out of the way, Crosby and Miss Garland dueted ‘Sam’s Song’, each took a couple of turns solo and Hope came on to kick the script around, though not as much as in the past. The only break-up was by Miss Garland who can do it better than most singers. The cigarette girl ‘bit’ was one solid round of laughs that never let up until Crosby broke into song. The ‘Irene’ parody at the close gave the show a walloping finish and sent the series away on a high note of promise. If radio is to be saved such shows as this will turn the trick. Ken Carpenter was on hand to pound the ‘smell milder, smoke milder’ slogan but he had plenty of help from the main men. If Crosby can keep banging it in, in the weeks to come as he did on the tee-off, it’s going to take some doing by the others to keep him out of the first ten.

(Variety, October 18, 1950)

 

October 12, Thursday. Bing is appointed as honorary chairman of the American Legion's “Tide of Toys” program for European children.

October 15, Sunday. The whole Crosby clan sits down for dinner together at the request of Bing’s mother. Afterwards she leaves with Bing and Dixie for Bing’s home at Pebble Beach.

 

In the early years of the Crosby family, nearly every Sunday evening found the family circle complete in an atmosphere of play, and banter, and music. After the supper dishes had been cleared away, perhaps one of the youngsters would start up the phonograph . . . that early model with the long horn, an extravagance that Dad blithely claimed someone had given him, fully-aware that none of us believed him. Or Dad would play his mandolin or guitar, warming up with a nonsensical ditty we knew only as “Sing-Song Polly Catch a Ky-mee-oh.” And soon everyone would be singing.

         And now, after the family had been scattered for many years, they were all together again, closing ranks, as they assembled at Everett’s home for Sunday dinner. Here were Mother, Larry and Elaine and their children, Molly and Jack and Jack’s wife Bea; Everett and Florence; Ted; Bing and Dixie and their four sons, Gary, Phillip, Dennis and Lindsay; Catherine and Eddie Mullin; Mary Rose, Bob and June and their Cathy; Florence’s father, George Guthrie, and Father Sugrue.

         As usual, there was much banter and kidding during the dinner and as usual, Everett and Mary Rose were generally on the receiving end, and they held their own, as of old. Someone suggested a song and the show was on, with Mother beating time much in the fashion she uses her racing program to bring in her horse.

         First Bing and Gary sang a duet. . . someone brought out a ukulele ... and a Crosby Sunday evening was in full swing as various members of the family and their children took turns at song. Phillip and Dennis sang a duet and Linny, after some coaxing, gave out with a solo with Bing backing him up. Cathy sang “Dear Hearts and Gentle People” and Bob joined in. Larry did a parody on “You Wore a Tulip,” and Mary Rose, after being teased with a chorus of “Anchors Aweigh” (in honor of her seafaring husband), joined Bing in a number. Dixie dug up “Has Anybody Seen My Gal,” Jack and Bea jitterbugged.

         Then, after dessert, when everyone moved into the playroom, Florence sat at the piano and delighted with several songs. The gathering broke up as Bing took Gary, Phillip and Dennis, and Ted and Eddie Mullin, to catch a northbound train.

         It was the kind of a Sunday evening Dad liked best... good food, music, and laughter with his family gathered around him, for he would have echoed the sentiments of the poet who wrote:

 

         “No funeral gloom, my dears, when I am gone                                                

  Corpse-gazings, tears, blackraiment, graveyard grimness;

        Think of me as withdrawn into the dimness,

        Yours still, you mine; remember all the best

        Of our past moments; and forget the rest;

        And so, to where I wait, come gently on.”

 

     Yes, there were banter and songs, but underneath and each to himself, some serious thoughts and good resolutions. To help us keep these, we have an advance man loaded with spiritual bouquets, thousands of masses, more than he needs. He will spare a few, even if he must get along with a bum string or two on his harp.

(Larry Crosby, from a private essay he wrote for the family.)

 

October 16, Monday. Bing records a Chesterfield show in San Francisco with Claudette Colbert for broadcast on October 25.

October 18, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Judy Garland and Bob Hope.

October 23, Monday. Al Jolson dies in the St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco, while waiting to appear on Bing’s Chesterfield show the following day.

October 24, Tuesday. In view of Jolson’s death, the taping of the Chesterfield show is postponed until later in the week when Dorothy Kirsten is the star guest. A new ending about next week’s guests is recorded and spliced into the show being broadcast on October 25.

October 25, Wednesday. Bing records a Chesterfield show in San Francisco with Dorothy Kirsten for broadcast on November 1. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guest is Claudette Colbert.

October 27, Friday. The long-running Minute Maid morning shows in which Bing presented records ends.

October 30, Monday. Bing records a Chesterfield show in San Francisco with Dick Powell for broadcast on November 8.

November 1, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guest is Dorothy Kirsten.

November 6, Monday. Bing records a Chesterfield show at the Marines’ Memorial Theater in San Francisco with Toni Arden and Bob Crosby for broadcast on November 15.

November 8, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) Another taped Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and Bing’s guest is Dick Powell.

November 9, Thursday. Bing records a Chesterfield show in San Francisco with the Firehouse Five Plus Two and Ella Fitzgerald for broadcast on November 29.

November 13, Monday. Bing records a Chesterfield show in San Francisco with Paul Douglas for broadcast on November 22.

November 15, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Toni Arden and Bob Crosby.

November 22, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) Another taped Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and Bing’s guest is Paul Douglas.

November 25, Saturday. At CBS Studio B in Hollywood, Bing tapes a Chesterfield show with his wife, Dixie, and their four sons for transmission on December 20.

November 29, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The guests on the taped show are the Firehouse Five Plus Two and Ella Fitzgerald.

 

Some of the brightest portions of Bing’s current season’s schedule have been the appearances of the Firehouse Five Plus Two, a highly individual jazz band made up of Walt Disney artists and writers who began playing jazz music as a hobby. Bing discovered this group last year, when the boys were invited by brother Larry to play for the Victory dinner at Bing’s Pebble Beach Golf Tournament. The Firehouse Five have since appeared on the radio show five times.

         Bing’s singing with the group has drawn a tremendous flood of fan mail, most of which makes the point that he sounds more youthful with them. According to Ward Kimball, Firechief and trombone player, this is actually the case.

         “We play in a higher key than most of Bing’s current arrangements,” he explains, “so he sings like he used to long ago.”

(From an article in Modern Screen magazine, April, 1951)

 

December 1, Friday. Bing writes to film reviewer Milton Shulman in England who had not been impressed by Mr. Music.

 

I hope the film has a good reception in England. My last three or four efforts haven’t been too successful over there, or over here for that matter.

I’m beginning to wonder if the public is getting wise to me, or weary of me, or if the stories had been susceptible to criticism or what. Possibly a combination of all these factors. After all, I’ve made 40-some pictures, I believe, and my talents are limited and it’s pretty difficult to come up with anything original or new when faced with me as a leading man.

But we’ll keep trying, and maybe we’ll be able to develop another story, such as Going My Way, before they cast me aside entirely.

 

December 2, Saturday. At the Vine St. Playhouse in Hollywood, Bing records a Chesterfield show with Judy Garland which airs on December 6.

December 3, Sunday. Bing is thought to have made a guest appearance in The Big Show a 90-minute NBC radio program hosted by Tallulah Bankhead. During the series, he is heard frequently as a spokesman for Chesterfield who sponsors the show.


December 6, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) Another taped Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and Bing’s guest is Judy Garland.

December 9, Saturday. At the Vine St. Playhouse in Hollywood, Bing records a Chesterfield show with Peggy Lee and Hopalong Cassidy which airs on December 13.

December 12, Tuesday. (7:15–9:15 p.m.) Bing tapes a guest appearance on the Bob Hope show for broadcast on December 26.

December 13, Wednesday. (3:00–6:00 p.m.) Records “A Perfect Day” and “May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You” in Hollywood with Ken Darby and his Orchestra.

 

A Perfect Day – Decca 27404—Der Bingle’s at his warmest for this mellow mood slicing of the Carrie Jacobs Bond classic.

May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You Crosby delivers one of his finest chants of recent times on this glowing Meredith Willson theme. Should be a big current and standard item for the crooner.

(Billboard, January 13, 1951)

 

[Bing] is on Bruns. 04657 in a pleasant record of “A Perfect Day,” but on the reverse, “May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You,” while doubtless sincere, is rather too sugary.

(The Gramophone, April, 1951)

 

(6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Peggy Lee and Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd).

December (undated). Records “Talking Christmas Cards” for the Armed Forces Radio Service.

December 14, Thursday. In CBS Studio B in Hollywood, Bing records a Chesterfield show with Dinah Shore, Louis Armstrong, and Jack Teagarden which airs on December 27.

December 14–February 1951. Films Here Comes the Groom with Franchot Tone, Jane Wyman, and Alexis Smith. The film is produced and directed by Frank Capra who comes in $61,000 over budget with total expenditure of $2.1 million. Musical direction is by Joseph J. Lilley. Ray Evans and Jay Livingston provide most of the song material instead of the usual arrangement with Burke and Van Heusen. The switch is said to be for “budget consciousness rather than displeasure with Burke and Van Heusen.”

 

Here Comes the Groom.jpg“You could do things with Crosby that you couldn’t do with anyone else; coordination, my goodness, he could juggle balls and play scenes at the same time—unlike most actors who can only do one thing at a time. He was the most un-actorish actor. One must never underestimate that it took great talent to do what he was doing. A tremendously talented man in singing, acting, performing—he was truly irreplaceable. He was so easy and wonderful to get along with, so able. Everybody knew he was the best popular singer ever, but he was also an outstanding actor—he could make you cry, make you laugh.”

(Frank Capra, as quoted in Gord Atkinson’s Showbill, page 52)

 

A secret war plant couldn’t be guarded more closely than the nearby Here Comes the Groom set. I find myself watching “The Groaner,” Bing Crosby, working on dance steps. He and Jane Wyman are about to complete a complicated routine in a lavish office belonging to Jane’s boss, Franchot Tone. It is night and he is absent.

Der Bingle says he is ready and I note that director Frank Capra gives the go-ahead sign to THREE cameras. One is focused on their entrance, a second on the closeups and the last on the overall picture. Capra is crouched under the central camera. At his side is a tiny figure—his son. This is too good to miss.

The cameras role and a record starts playing “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening.” This is a real rhythm number written by Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael. Bing and Jane, out of camera sight, start to feel the beat and as her cue sounds, they bound into the set. Jane gracefully twirls to the far side of the desk and Bing, believe it or not, leaps through the air in swanlike fashion and lands squarely on the soles of his feet.

Jane picks up a large pair of shears and clamps the handles on her nostrils. She looks like she’s sporting a lorgnette and at the same time sings in a nasal and corny tone. Bing uses a fireplace shovel as a banjo and accompanies her lyrics with harmonizing “plunk-a—plunk-a-plunks.” Bing leans back in a huge revolving desk chair. As he does so, the chair whirls backward and Bing falls to the floor. This is NOT in the script. Capra shouts, “Cut!”

Crosby is momentarily stunned by the fall and is absolutely speechless. Barney Dean breaks up the deathly silence and yells: “Bing, next time stay down for a count of nine.” Bingle makes a quick inventory of his bones—all is okay and they prepare for another take. This time all goes well.

Jane puffs by and tells me, “We’ll all be cripples before this picture’s finished. I was lucky, I didn’t break anything.”

Crosby also seeks refuge in his dressing room. “I guess I’m a lousy hoofer,” he says, “but at least I’ve got the beat.” He glances at Jane and wryly comments: "Hmmmmm, so you’re tired of dramas.”

(Harrison Carroll, Los Angeles Evening Herald Express, January, 6, 1951)

 

I thought Here Comes the Groom, made in 1951, was a funny picture. Frank Capra, who directed it, starts with a good script, but if he feels like it, he varies it as he goes along. If an inventive mood strikes him, he’s quite likely to think up something better, as he did in It Happened One Night.

He has an unusual feeling about the music in his films. He won’t allow any of it in one unless it comes in naturally. He says that in real life people don’t carry orchestras around with them. To his audiences it appears that a character in a Capra picture actually makes any music they hear on the sound track. If Frank wanted me to sing a song while I was riding a horse, he’d have me playing a guitar or banjo or an accordion and accompanying myself, or hed have somebody ride beside me playing. For this reason, hes had many fights with music departments and with song writers who like to hear their songs supported by a big string orchestra. Me, I take a neutral position. But it seems to me that if its O.K. to score a picture for music, it should also be permissible to use an unseen orchestra when somebody’s singing. On the other hand, the way Capra staged the song, “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening,” written by Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer for the film Here Comes the Groom, helped it win the Academy Award as the best song sung in a motion picture in 1951.

(Call Me Lucky, page 181)

 

Here Comes the Groom was noteworthy to me because of a song, the launching of a fourteen-year-old Italian girl’s career, and the charming chemistry that developed from the performances of Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman. First, the song.

Much to my delight I discovered that Jane Wyman—short nose, long legs, big heart, and all talent—had a rarely used flair for singing and dancing (in films she started in the chorus line, second row). I had to have a great song for Jane to do with Bing. But you don’t just find great songs lying around on shelves. Oh, no? We did.

Joe Sistrom (one of my earlier “fiddlers three”) said: “Frank, got just the song you want. Been in Paramount’s dead letter files for years. Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael wrote it for a Betty Hutton picture I was going to make about Mabel Normand, till it got the Balaban ax. I’ll dig it up for you.”

Back he came to my office and put a small try-out record on my record player. A gravelly voice scratched out: “This is Johnny Mercer singing ‘Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening,’ lyrics by Mercer and music by Hoagy Carmichael.” Then Hoagy played the piano intro and Mercer sang: “In the cool, cool, cool of the evening,/Tell ‘em we’ll be there . . .”

That was it! Bing liked it, Asher liked it. It would be our big gag-comedy number. I hired my pal, dance director Charlie O’Curran (Patti Page’s worse half), to work out a wild dance routine.

The news about “Cool, Cool” (it won the Academy Award for Best Song) was not that we recorded, simultaneously, the orchestra in the music stage and Bing and Jane on the live sets (with tiny radios in their ears to pick up the orchestra from antenna loops on the floor)—although Film Daily said we set a precedent: “Marking a first, Paramount’s full orchestra yesterday recorded on the scoring stage while Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman simultaneously recorded Johnny Mercer’s ‘Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening’ blocks away on Frank Capra’s shooting set. . .”

Nor was the news about the song the intricate technical job of photographing and recording Bing and Jane as they started their song and dance in a plush upstairs office, then, without a break, clowned and sang down a corridor, to the elevator, out the main lobby to the lighted street, and down the street to Jane’s car. All in one take. All on one sound track—cameras and mikes in the office, the corridor, the elevator, the lobby, and the street, picking up actors as they came into view a la TV coverage—a distinctive bit of staging the actors and crews were deservedly proud of.

No, the news about the song was Jane Wyman—the way she traded in her crying towel for a glamour-girl’s raiment, and became a dish to behold!

(Frank Capra, writing in his book, The Name above the Title, page 420)

 

December 16, Saturday. Bing’s recording of “White Christmas” makes its annual appearance in the pop charts, peaking at number thirteen over a four-week period.

December 19, Tuesday. While in Hollywood, Bing is interviewed by Martin Block in New York by telephone. The interview is used in a two hour “Salute to Bing” tribute on station WNEW on December 20

December 20, Wednesday. Bing’s film Mr. Music has its New York premiere at the Paramount Theater. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Bing’s wife Dixie Lee (for the first and only time) and the four Crosby boys. It is Dixie’s first professional appearance since 1936. (8:00-10:00 p.m.) Radio station WNEW broadcasts its “Salute to Bing” tribute live from the Paramount Theater, New York. Those taking part include Martin Block, Guy Lombardo, Ella Fitzgerald, Jimmy Dorsey and Dorothy Kirsten.

 

      Despite a contrived story, the ingredients are sufficiently well mixed to make “Mr. Music” a box office winner.

      …The crooner-star does a good job in a role wherein he fits in easily, and might well have been a truly convincing characterization if not snarled by the cliché elements. By and large, however, Crosby makes the part breathe.

      The Burke-Van Heusen songs aren’t of that at-first catchy quality but have greater durability and come through pleasingly under the easy-singing Crosby style of thrushing. “Life Is So Peculiar,” “High on the List,” “Then You’ll Be Home,” along with “Accidents,” get solid airing.

(Variety, August 30, 1950)

 

To brighten the Christmas season, our old friend, Bing Crosby, is in town in a role (and an entertainment) that fits him—and he it—like a glove. In Paramount’s “Mr. Music,” which came to the Paramount yesterday, Der Bingle (which rhymes with Kris Kringle, we trust you will incidentally note) plays an easy-going song-writer who is coaxed into composing a musical score by a provokingly persistent young lady hired particularly for this job. And with newcomer Nancy Olson spreading much charm in the latter role; with Tom Ewell, Ida Moore, Charles Coburn and even Groucho Marx and Dorothy Kirsten lending assists and with one of the nicest sets of new songs that Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke have ever turned out, this “Mr. Music” is certainly one of the cheeriest and brightest of current films.

There’s no point in being coy about it: Bing has not been too fortunate in the general characteristics of his roles in his past three or four films. But in this light, romantic entertainment, based on Samson Raphaelson’s play, “Accent on Youth,” he acts the sort of droll, informal fellow that he himself happens to be. And since Bing’s genial songsmith in this story takes more joyously to golfing than to work, it’s the sort of job that our hero can well wrap his golf clubs around.

Fortunately, Arthur Sheekman has turned Mr. Raphaelson’s play into a lively exercise with words and music that ambles gaily across the screen. True, there are times when the action, confined largely to a penthouse drawing-room (where Mr. Crosby toys with his golf clubs just as happily as he does on the course) tends to lag slightly and grow feeble. Even with Miss Olson as vis-a-vis, the sparring of boss and slave-driver drags just a bit now and then.

But regularly Mr. Sheekman catches up the lag with a nice bit of comic invention that Director Richard Haydn grabs upon and uses to keep the whole show going in a generally sophisticated style. It is notable that little condescension to the so-called juvenile taste is evident here. And the songs are adroitly integrated into the natural flow of the script so that Bing and the cast can get into them without pointing when they do the most good.

Best of the lot, for our taste, is a lightly philosophic rhapsody, “Life Is So Peculiar,” which is done in several different ways. Bing and Peggy Lee sing it one time at a pent-house jamboree, at which the elastic young Champions, Marge and Gower, dance it spinningly. The Merry Macs also sing it in the ultimate musical show, put on as the songwriter’s triumph, and Bing does it in a skit with Groucho Marx. This latter, incidentally, is a winning but strangely skimpy highlight of the film.

Next best is a smoothly melodious song of wistful love, “Accidents Will Happen,” which Bing, after tinkering throughout, sings in a pleasing duet with Dorothy Kirsten. And “High on the List” is that, too. Otherwise “Wouldn’t It Be Funny,” “You’ll Be Home” and “Wasn’t I There” are in the category of wholly agreeable tunes.

Miss Olson, who will be remembered as the young lady in “Sunset Boulevard,” here demonstrates a thorough ability to handle a fragile romantic lead, and Charles Coburn is familiarly amusing as a harassed producer of musical shows. Ida Moore is chirpily comic as a starry-eyed chaperone, while Mr. Haydn, the commendable young director, is very funny in an asthmatic bit.

“Mr. Music” may not stack up with the best of the Crosby films, but it is certainly a contemporary achievement that the master may lean happily upon.

 (Bosley Crowther, New York Times, December 21, 1950)

 

Just before Christmastime, audiences caught one of their last glimpses of the Barbours together. Bing Crosby had thrilled Lee by recommending her for a cameo in his latest film. Mr Music. At a penthouse party, surrounded by revelers, she and Crosby, accompanied by Dave’s combo, sing Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen’s homespun slice of philosophy, “Life Is So Peculiar.” Lee had grown in confidence since her nervous appearances in The Powers Girl and Stage Door Canteen, and she and Crosby prove a perfect match—a rising minimalist alongside the king of nonchalance.

(James Gavin, Is That All There Is? The Strange Life of Peggy Lee, page 121)

 

I’m just like the Mr. Averages in the audience who watch the glamour boys on the screen and listen to the little woman at their side sighing like a furnace.

That was why the title Mr. Music, which Paramount gave to a picture I made in 1950 with Nancy Olson, made me uncomfortable. The picture didn’t do too well at the box office, and I’ve always thought it was because its title was unfortunate. Any time you name anybody Mr. So-and-So, you’re in trouble. It sounds as if the one named is claiming more than he’s entitled to. I fought against that Mr. Music title because I thought it would put me in a position of claiming to be a leading figure in the music world. But the studio thought otherwise. In fact, that “leading figure in the music world” angle was the one their ads and their exploitation played up.

I think it soured a lot of people on me. Pin a name on a stage or screen actor like America’s Boy Friend or The Orchid Man, or Mr. Music on a singer, and he’s behind the eight-ball. People go to see him with a “he’s-gotta-show-me” attitude. It’s easy to turn such a label into a gibe. It can bounce. That Mr. Music title took in too much territory for anybody, especially me, since I know relatively little about music.

(Call Me Lucky, page 147)

 

December 22, Friday. Bing and Jane Wyman rehearse a scene in "Emmadel's Office" on Stage 17 involving a dance routine.

December 23, Saturday. The Here Comes the Groom production is shut down as Bing has a broadcast commitment.

December 24, Sunday. Bing guests on Louella Parsons’ transcribed ABC radio show and sings “Silent Night.” Hopalong Cassidy also appears. During the day, Bing records a Chesterfield show with Fred Astaire which airs on January 3, 1951.

 

“We used to do jokes about Bing’s lack of hair or his quickly receding hairline. Very seldom did Bing ever say anything about a script or ever complain. But we had Fred Astaire as a guest on one show, and we had a joke. Fred said to Bing, ‘You used to be taller,” and Bing said, “Yeah, well, I used to comb mine up.” And Fred evidently didn’t care for the joke; he did not want to admit that he wore a piece, whereas [to] Bing it didn’t make any difference.”

(Hal Kanter, as quoted in The Great American Broadcast, page 177)

 

December 25, Monday. The Here Comes the Groom production shuts down for the Christmas holiday.

December 26, Tuesday. (9:00–9:30 p.m.) Guests on the Bob Hope radio show on NBC with Carole Richards and Jack Kirkwood.

December 27, Wednesday. Bing and Jane Wyman sing “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening” on the Paramount set of Here Comes the Groom accompanied by a full orchestra on the scoring stage. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Jack Teagarden, Dinah Shore, and Louis Armstrong.

December 30, Saturday. The Here Comes the Groom production shuts down as Bing records a Chesterfield show with Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden, and Toni Arden which airs on January 17, 1951. Billboard announces a major marketing drive.


20 Years-and Boom for Bing!

NEW YORK, Dec. 23. — One of the most extensive promotions in show business history is being readied for the month of January to herald Bing Crosby's 20th anniversary and to push Der Bingle’s new film, Mr. Music. The anniversary marks Crosby’s first appearance as a single entity in show business, tho his actual tenure in the field dates back even further to his days as a member of Paul Whiteman Rhythm Boys. The promotion is a five-way deal between Decca Records, Paramount Pictures, the Columbia Broadcasting System, Chesterfield Cigarettes and Famous-Paramount Music Publishers…Hub of the Decca drive will be the largest single of Crosby disks – 8 new albums – to be marketed at one time. Albums will cover songs Bing has done in his pictures…The diskery will also issue 12 new 45 r.p.m. albums, 10 of which have appeared on 78 and LP and two completely new – a collection of current Broadway show tunes  and an Irish songs album. Diskery will gift Bing with a platinum record of his White Christmas which has sold over 7,000,000 copies.

(Billboard, December 30, 1950. Pages 20 and 27.)


Bing comes third in the U.S.A. movie box office stars poll. John Wayne is first. During the year, Bing has had eleven records that have become chart hits.

 

1951

 

January 1, Monday. Attends the Rose Bowl game between the Michigan Wolverines and California Golden Bears at Pasadena. Michigan wins 14-6. The Here Comes the Groom production has shut down for the day.

January 2, Tuesday. Another scene for Here Comes the Groom is filmed in "Emmadel's Office".

January 3, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guest is Fred Astaire.

January 7, Sunday. Bing is interviewed on radio station KMPC’s “Salute to Bing Crosby” which is transmitted over the Liberty Broadcasting System. Also, Bing records four songs with Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra in Hollywood.

 

You Gotta Show Me

Decca 27461—A light rhythm piece benefits tremendously from the blend of a relaxed Crosby with the beat-ful inclinations of T. D. Surefire deejay fare and likely, if only for the name power.

Then You’ve Never Been Blue

Bing croons a fine oldie, T. D. blows a bit of it on his horn; result is a nice disking for dancers. A pleasant, tho unspectacular, coupling.

(Billboard, March 3, 1951)

 

Without a Word of Warning

Decca 27801—Crosby here has put to wax one of his finest croon jobs in recent years on a fine ballad oldie by Gordon and Revel. T.D. contributes a taste of his own tram style and furnishes a simple dance setting for the disking.

The Girl Friend

Bing, backed by a bright Dorsey dance orking, does a winning job with a brilliant sample of Rodgers and Hart.

(Billboard, November 3, 1951)

 

I was frankly disappointed by Bing Crosby (Bruns 04704), even when assisted by Tommy Dorsey’s Orchestra, for “Then You’ve Never Been Blue” sounds too much like a “borrow” from “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.”

(The Gramophone, June, 1951)

 

January 8, Monday. (starting at 6:30 p.m.). Bing records a Chesterfield show with Bob Hope and Bob Crosby in CBS Studio B. The show airs on January 10.

January 9, Tuesday. Is honored in “A Salute to Bing Crosby,” a transcribed CBS tribute to his twenty years (as a single) in show business.

 

The Groaner’s 20th anniversary as a single entity in show business, being widely heralded by Paramount Pictures and Decca Records, was handed its send-off by CBS in a fully packed, half-hour, all-star salute. It was one of those shapeless, back-slapping presentations which could invoke nausea of heard more frequently than once every 20 years. Certainly, this particular tribute was breezier, tastefully handled and even entertaining to a certain degree above and beyond the usual run of this sort of thing. Transcribed, pasted together and run off for a studio audience with Art Linkletter serving as the emcee, the show turned up a host of talents linked at one time or another with Crosby. These included Mary Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden, Amos ‘n’ Andy, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Dorothy Kirsten, Judy Garland and Bob Hope. CBS Chairman of the board, William S. Paley made a brief appearance to deliver the web’s best as well as take a bow as Bing’s “discoverer.”  The tribute, appropriately enough, was topped off with the initial radio appearance of the singer’s mother, Mrs. H. L. Crosby Sr.

(Hal Webman, Billboard, January 20, 1951)

 

January 10, Wednesday. This has been designated “Bing’s Day” by the media and Bing is at a luncheon at Paramount Studios at which disc jockeys and radio editors see him presented with a plaque from ASCAP. Dorothy Lamour is also present. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Bob Crosby and Bob Hope. (9:45 p.m.) Bing appears on Bob Crosby’s Club 15 radio program.

January 12-14, Friday–Sunday. Phil Harris and professional E. J. (Dutch) Harrison win the pro-am best-ball section at the Bing Crosby golf tournament. The professional winner is Byron Nelson. Bing does not play as he says that Paramount will not allow this while he is working on a picture. On the Friday, Bing’s film Mr. Music is shown at the Carmel Theatre and Bing is thought to have made a personal appearance. The grand climax of the tournament is the stag party at the Monterey-Peninsula Country Club on the Sunday night.

 

The more a fellow thinks about Crosby’s golf tournament on the Monterey Peninsula, the more it is realized that here is a big league operation. There isn’t a bushy feature to the entire show - and the Sunday night stag dinner for tournament officials, players, and press is a fitting climax to an outstanding event.

         The entertainment numbers at the stag dinner are something which must be seen to be believed. Crosby as an emcee, with his hair figuratively down and no radio microphone but only a loud speaker in front of him, is excruciatingly funny. And amazingly clever. No script either. All ad lib.

         At that, two professional golfers came close to stealing the show. Dutch Harrison, whose normal conversation is more hill-billy than Lil’ Abner’s, threw the 350 spectators into an uproar with his droll observations on golf in general, Crosby in particular. Jimmy Demaret, who has a rare sense of humor and an excellent singing voice, was another unscheduled star. Demaret gagged with Crosby, later sang “Home, Home on The Range” with old Silver Pipes. With a bit of training Demaret could get by as a professional warbler; He’s good.

         If the real hit of the program had to be picked by this writer the choice would settle on the Firehouse Five, the hottest, most melodious, toe-tapping, spine-tingling band in the country. And who comprises the Firehouse Five, you ask? Actually there are seven instead of five. The original five are employed by Walt Disney, all high salaried animators or officials. They play only for fun. A sixth musician is with the Los Angeles police department, the seventh, a resident of Santa Monica introduced by Bing Crosby as “a high class beachcomber”.

         No wonder every professional golfer in the country, and almost every amateur, seeks an invitation to the Bing Crosby tournament. There is nothing like it in the country, in the world. For the information of those who have dreams of receiving invitations to next year’s stag dinner, it should be explained that bids to the soiree are tougher to obtain than a formal presentation to the King and Queen of England. The dinner, it can be added, is much more fun than being presented to the King and Queen. And you don’t have to dress formally either.

(Alan Ward, Oakland Tribune)

                 

January 13, Saturday. Bing tapes his Chesterfield show at Fort Ord (northeast of Monterey) before an audience of army personnel at the U.S. Army Infantry Training Center. The venue is close to Pebble Beach and Bing’s annual golf tournament. Bing’s guests are Toni Arden and the Firehouse Five Plus Two. The show is broadcast on January 31.

January 17, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Toni Arden, Jack Teagarden, and Louis Armstrong.

January 18, Thursday. Stars in the Screen Guild Players radio version of The Birth of the Blues with Dinah Shore and Phil Harris on ABC. Music is supplied by Red Nichols and his Five Pennies.

January 20, Saturday. Billy Rowe's Notebook in the Pittsburgh Courier alleges that Bing refused to let a colored golfer named Teddy Rhodes play in his pro-am. Larry Crosby responds in a letter dated April 10, 1951. Bing records a Chesterfield show with James Stewart and Toni Arden which airs on January 24. At night, Frank Sinatra has a transcribed conversation with Bing on Frank’s television show and the setting is the lobby of a theater displaying Mr. Music on its marquee.

January 22, Monday. Press reports indicate that Bing has recently moved back into his Holmby Hills home with Dixie. He had been spending much of his time at his home at Pebble Beach.

January 23, Tuesday. (9:00–9:30 p.m.) The Bob Hope radio show is transmitted by NBC and Bing guests with Jimmy Demaret and Connie Moore. This has been recorded at Fort Ord.

January 24, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Toni Arden and James Stewart.

January 27, Saturday. Tapes another Chesterfield show with Judy Garland which is broadcast on February 7.

January 29, Monday. Bing sends a telegram to General Eisenhower at Columbia University.

 

March of Time importuning me make short film subject covering my visit abroad last spring and pointing up benefits E.C.A. and Marshall plan. I don’t wish to become involved politically but would abide by your opinion as to the continuing merits of these operations confidential and in some haste

Bing Crosby 9028 Sunset Blvd

 

The General’s assistant replies on February 5.

 

General Eisenhower, although he has now returned to Columbia from Washington, continues immersed in a series of conferences and meetings that leaves him no leisure whatsoever. However, this morning, he did get a chance to read your telegram. He directed me to write immediately, thanking you for the compliment implicit in it and assuring you of his favorable opinion on the continuing merits of the two operations you named.

 

January 31, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) Another taped Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and Bing’s guests are Toni Arden and the Firehouse Five Plus Two.

February 1, Thursday. (9:00 a.m.–12:25 p.m.) Records two tracks with the Andrews Sisters and Vic Schoen and his Orchestra in Hollywood. In the afternoon, Bing records two Irish songs with Matty Matlock’s Orchestra and The Mellomen.

 

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Bing, in high spirits, turns on his winning Irish brogue for a sparkling etching of a new St Patty’s ditty of superior quality. Add another solid standard item to the lengthy Crosby list.

With My Shillelagh Under My Arm

Performance-wise, the same level of spirit and vigor is accomplished here but the song isn’t quite as strong as topside’s.

(Billboard, March 24, 1951)

 

The Yodelling Ghost

Decca 27631—A plodding item focussed around some echo effects resists the highgrade talents of himself and the girls.

Black Ball Ferry Line

This collaboration on the sea-going trolley song is pleasant, but doesn’t have the flash of the earlier cutting by Percy Faith.

(Billboard, June 30, 1951)

 

February 2, Friday. Records “Silver Moon” and “Sentimental Music” with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra.

 

Crosby comes through with one of his standout vocals on “Sentimental Music,” slating it for heavy jock and juke spins

(Variety, February 28, 1951)

 

Sentimental Music Relaxed slicing of a fine ballad which has been threatening to bust out but hasn’t quite made it so far. This is Bing, the old crooner, at work.

(Billboard, March 17, 1951)

 

Silver Moon

Another rich Crosby go on the fine old Romberg standard.

(Billboard, April 7, 1951)

 

Bing Crosby, usually so fine, gets out of his depth with some low notes in “Silver Moon” (Bruns. 05062) and does better in “Betsy” verso though the Andrews Sisters are quite unnecessary.

(The Gramophone, April 1953)

 

February 3, Saturday. (starting at 5:45 p.m.) Tapes another Chesterfield show at the CBS Radio Playhouse, 1615 North Vine, Hollywood.

February 4, Sunday. Bing takes part in a celebration commemorating Louella Parsons’ twentieth anniversary in radio. Among the many other celebrities paying tribute to her are Marion Davies, Mary Pickford, Claudette Colbert, Dick Powell, and Jack Benny.

February 5, Monday. Bing records four Latin American songs, including “Granada” and “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas” with the Bando Da Lua.

 

Bing Crosby turns in two neat Latin American tunes, “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas” and “Maria Bonita,” for Decca.

(Variety, April 11, 1951 )

 

Bing Crosby: “Granada” “It Had To Be You” (Decca). The oldie “Granada” is one of Crosby’s best efforts in some time. He gives the Latino fave a lilt that could kick off a revival. Pairing of Crosby’s crooning and Red Nichols’ corneting breathes new life into “It Had to Be You.”

(Variety, August 5, 1953)

 

Quizas, Quizas, Quizas

Decca 27536—This lovely Latin piece draws Bing’s finest effort in moons; the Bando Da Lua contributes that extra spark which could send this slice soaring.

Maria Bonita

More relaxed, charming, crooning Crosby on a pretty Latin ballad. But the side hasn’t the punch of “Quizas.”

(Billboard, April 21, 1951)

 

“Quizas, Quizas, Quizas” – “Here Ends the Rainbow” (Brunswick 04749)

The latter-day accompaniments on Bing Crosby’s recordings have been singularly uneventful. A happy exception to the general rule is provided by the instrumental backing to “Quizas” (perhaps better known as “Perhaps”). Here, the Bando Da Lua, heard on so many sides by Carmen Miranda, has been employed with telling effect. The lightly rhythmical support this group gives to Crosby’s relaxed vocal is altogether delightful. In fact, I would nominate this as one of the best Bings I have heard in recent years. “Here Ends the Rainbow,” which is given mild Hawaiian treatment, contains none of the vocal or instrumental distinction that mark the reverse performance.

(Laurie Henshaw, Melody Maker, September 8, 1951)

 

Granada

Decca 27951—The Latin standard is beautifully treated by Der Bingle, in sock voice here, with a scintillating backing from the Bando Da Lua, Carmen Miranda’s great combo associates.

Copacabana

Another Latin standard of more than passing merit is handed a thoroughbred go by Crosby and the Bando Da Lua. Bing’s real relaxed as he unloads a real croon job.

(Billboard, February 9, 1952)

 

February 7, Wednesday. Another recording session with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra at which Bing sings five songs. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guest is Judy Garland.

 

Any Town Is Paris When You’re Young

Lovely new ballad, rich ork-choral backing and a crooning Crosby makes up a lovely waxing which should do at least a substantial fan business.

(Billboard, March 17, 1951)

 

Bing Crosby hits nicely on "More I Cannot Wish You," from the "Guys and Dolls" score.

(Variety, March 21, 1951)


More I Cannot Wish You

Decca 27568—One of the lesser known items from “Guys and Dolls” —and one of the prettiest—is sung warmly, tho deliberately by Crosby.

(Billboard, April 7, 1951)

 

The Loneliness of Evening

Decca 27768—Bing spreads warmth and mood as he croons a pretty Rodgers-Hammerstein ballad, which is kin to their “Bali H’ai.” Pretty ork-chorus setting rounds out an altogether lovely etching.

I Will Remember You

Bing does another pretty ballad and again sings in his wonderfully relaxed crooning style. Should please his collectors no end.

(Billboard, September 22, 1951)

 

Bing Crosby is well on form in Indian Summer (Bruns. 04947) but rather misses fire as an old-time vaudeville comedian in Row, Row, Row verso;

(The Gramophone, August 1952)

 

February 8, Thursday. Records two tracks with the Andrews Sisters and Vic Schoen and his Orchestra in Hollywood. “Sparrow in the Tree Top” hits the No. 8 spot in the Billboard list and stays in the charts for 15 weeks. Bing then tapes a Chesterfield show with the Andrews Sisters and Nat “King” Cole which is broadcast on February 28.

 

Sparrow in the Tree Top Bing Crosby-Andrews Sisters Decca 27477

Bing and the girls, with Patti stepping out for some solo chores, ring up a buoyant treatment of a promising folksy ditty.

(Billboard, February 24, 1951)

 

Forsaking All Others

Country waltz takes on pop potential via the slick Crosby-Andrews waxings. String backing makes it country material, too.

(Billboard, March 17, 1951)

 

February 9, Friday. Bing records three songs, including “Here Ends the Rainbow” with Lyn Murray and his Orchestra. Betty Mullin sings on two of the tracks.

 

Bing Crosby-Betty Mullin: “With This Ring I Thee Wed”-“Here Ends the Rainbow” (Decca). “I Thee Wed” is a tasteful adaptation of the marriage ritual phrase, with Crosby and Miss Mullin handling the lyrics in simple and effective style.

(Variety, May 23, 1951)

 

With This Ring I Thee Wed

Decca 27595—A beautifully glowing reading of a recent ballad which will probably end up a standard of its type. And this will probably be the standard waxing of it. A new thrush named Betty Mullin harmonizes sweetly with Bing on the second chorus.

Here Ends the Rainbow

This is an Americanized version of a Hawaiian wedding song. Bing and Miss Mullin do a warm job with it. Makes the coupling a strong catalog bet.

(The Billboard, May 26, 1951)

 

February 10, Saturday. (11:00 a.m.) Bing narrates “If Fight We Must,” the second in the American Legion four-program dramatization series Land of the Free on NBC. Later, starting at 5:45 p.m., he records another Chesterfield show at the CBS Radio Playhouse, North Vine, Hollywood, this time with Tallulah Bankhead and Peggy Lee, which airs on February 21.

February 12, Monday. Bing has major surgery at St. John’s in Santa Monica for a kidney ailment. Dr. Frederick Schlumberger  performs the operation. Dixie visits him every day at the hospital.

 

While Crosby was not a hypochondriac, he had reason to be concerned about his health. He suffered with gall stones and during attacks he would turn angrily on anyone who was close by, especially his sons. Everyone was relieved when he finally decided to have an operation. He was on the operating table and about to be anesthetized, when he sat up, got off the table, dressed, and walked out of the hospital. Two years later, with the pain becoming unbearable, he finally had the surgery.

(Sheilah Graham, writing in her book My Hollywood, page 45)

 

February 14, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guest is Dorothy Kirsten.

February 21, Wednesday. Leaves hospital. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) Another taped Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and the guests are Peggy Lee and Tallulah Bankhead.

February 27, Tuesday. Bing makes a filmed contribution to the television show “American Red Cross Fund Campaign” which is also broadcast on radio at the same time. No doubt the filming had been done before Bing’s recent hospitalization.

 

For the performers—the talented men and women who put their careers, their reputations and their egos on the line every single time they reach out to an audience—the switch from radio to television was, in a word, terrifying. “Only one thing seems consistently apparent to me, and that is you just have to be twice as good on television as on any other medium.”

         The man who wrote me that in a letter in 1949 was perhaps the best-known, most beloved star of radio and the motion pictures at the time: Bing Crosby. He had signed up to return to CBS radio and I had written to him in California proposing that he consider a television variety series. His reply made the point: Anytime you let down (on TV) for an instant you’ve lost your audience’s interest, and it’s a struggle to recapture it again.” He turned down my offer, but said that he might “take a fling at it” in another year or so. He was sure he could do a good show, he said, but it would take a lot of work.

         What bothered Crosby and many other stars was that in those days most television was live. Unlike the movies, one couldn’t cover mistakes by retakes or choose between good, better, and best performances on successive takes. Bing had always preferred to use recordings for his radio performances. From any performer’s point of view, live telecasts were akin to walking on a high wire without a net. And videotape would not be introduced until the mid-fifties.

         Crosby was right to hedge at the start. A series is a weekly grind with a high risk of failure. Failure would diminish his drawing power in both movies and personal appearances. Nevertheless, I pursued him on the subject and Bing took his “fling,” making his television debut on CBS in February 1951. But it was only a one-shot appearance. Not until 1964 did he consent to a weekly series, and that was as an actor in a domestic situation comedy on ABC, which lasted only one season. Thereafter, he confined his television performances to guest appearances and hosting “specials’” which were videotaped.

(William S. Paley, writing in As It Happened)

 

February 28, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are the Andrews Sisters and Nat King Cole.

March 1, Thursday. Dixie flies to New York en route for a three month tour of Europe with Dr. and Mrs. George Hummer plus Georgina Hardwicke.

March 2, Friday. Larry Crosby testifies against four men accused of operating a song-publishing racket which defrauded ambitious amateur song writers of an estimated $200,000. The four used pictures of Bing on sheet music and advertisements without permission.

March 4, Sunday. (9.00-10.00 p.m.) A TV tribute to Richard Rodgers on his 25th anniversary as a composer is transmitted from New York by NBC and Bing makes an audio contribution from the Coast.

 

America Applauds – An Evening for Richard Rodgers

…Bing’s delightful chat (by audio from Hollywood) with Celeste Holm (charmingly visible and audible) on the topic of Rodgers—men and tunes. Bing’s remarks were characteristically pertinent, breezy and touching, winding up with his singing Easy to Remember.

(Jerry Wexler, Billboard, March 17, 1951)

 

March 5, Monday. Bing records a Chesterfield show with Judy Garland which airs on March 7.

March 7, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guest is Judy Garland.

March 10, Saturday. Records another Chesterfield show in Los Angeles with Judy Garland who has been paid $2500 for her appearance. The show airs on March 14. "Billy Rowe's Notebook" in the Pittsburgh Courier again accuses Bing of bias agiannst the colored golfer Teddy Rhodes.

March 14, Wednesday. Bing is in San Bernardino to see the Pittsburgh Pirates lose 10-6 in an exhibition match with the Cleveland Indians. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) Another taped Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and the guests are Judy Garland and Jack Pepper.

March 17, Saturday. Bing records a Chesterfield show in Hollywood with Judy Garland, Les Paul, and Mary Ford. The show airs on March 21.

March 21, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. Bing’s guests are Judy Garland, Les Paul, and Mary Ford.

March 22, Thursday. Recording session in Hollywood. Bing sings two duets with Gary Crosby (“Moonlight Bay” and “When You and I Were Young Maggie, Blues”) supported by Matty Matlock and his All Stars. The disc peaks at No. 8 in the Billboard chart, spending ten weeks in the charts in all.

 

Bing & Gary Crosby: “When You And I Were Young Maggie Blues”- “Moonlight Bay” (Decca). Crosby and his eldest son have come up with a solid sequel to their “Sam’s Song” click of last year. Crosby in fact, seems to be working with more zing in these family waxing sessions…

(Variety, April 4, 1951)

 

Gary and friend are back with a super side in “Moonlight,” complete with patter in a relaxed, beguiling performance. Flip, with two lines going simultaneously, should get plenty of turnover action.

 (Billboard, April 7, 1951)

 

March 24, Saturday. Another Chesterfield show is transcribed and the guest is Judy Garland. The program is broadcast on March 28.

March 28, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) Another taped Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and the guest is again Judy Garland.

April 3, Tuesday. Having not been allowed to play golf until recently, following his operation, Bing shoots a seventy-one at the Thunderbird course in Palm Springs.

April 4, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped at Palm Springs, probably to tie in with Bing’s convalescence following his operation in February. The guests are Dinah Shore and Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd).

April 9, Monday. (10:00 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.) Records four songs from the musical The King and I with Victor Young and his Orchestra in Hollywood.

 

Bing Crosby: “I Whistle a Happy Tune” “Getting to Know You” “Hello Young Lovers” “Something Wonderful” (Decca). Four tunes from the Rodgers & Hammerstein score of “The King and I” delivered by Crosby in his best relaxed style. “Happy Tune” is the most commercial side…

(Variety, May 2, 1951)

 

Something Wonderful

Decca 27588—Fine, warm Crosby on one of the striking Rodgers-Hammerstein ballads from “The King and I” score. Victor Young’s orking is effectively plain.

Hello, Young Lovers

The “King and I” ballad most likely to succeed is wrapped up handsomely in the mellow Crosby manner to assure Bing of a big share if the song catches.

I Whistle a Happy Tune

Decca 27589—The airy lilt from “The King and I” is warbled and whispered with an appropriate lightness by der Bingle. A most effective slicing which could stir pop action for the Disney-ish song.

Getting to Know You

Another catchy bouncer from the same show score is done lightly and in straight-forward fashion by Crosby.

(Billboard, May 12, 1951)

 

In 1951, Crosby and Victor Young commemorated their twentieth year of occasionally working together with a winning quartet of tunes from the current Rodgers and Hammerstein smash, The King and I. Crosby proves that “Getting to Know You” was wasted on all those stiff-upper-lipped British babes who’ve sung it in the show’s various incarnations. Rather, he approaches it so easily and so convincingly that it’s not difficult for us to believe that it is precisely his cup of tea.

(Will Friedwald, A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers, page 127)

 

April 10, Tuesday. Articles in the Pittsburgh Courier on January 20 and March 10 had alleged that Bing refused to let a colored golfer named Teddy Rhodes play in his pro-am. Larry Crosby writes an impassioned defense of his brother making it clear that Rhodes did not enter for the tournament and that Bing would not have been consulted anyway as Larry deals with such matters. Larry sends a copy of his letter, dated April 10, to J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI.

April 11, Wednesday. General MacArthur is dismissed from all of his posts by President Truman. In Hollywood, Bing records a Chesterfield show with Gary Crosby which airs on April 18. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Marilyn Maxwell, Lindsay Crosby, and Louis Armstrong.

 

I dropped in on Bing Crosby’s taping session for his Wednesday evening show to watch Der Bingle give his youngest son, 12 year-old Lindsay, another lesson in microphone technique. I think Bing lost the bout, however. Everything was done in the typical casual air of Palm Springs. Bing was attired in his familiar off-the-hips sport shirt, which was topped by the casuals worn by announcer, Ken Carpenter and musical director, John Scott Trotter. Lindsay staggered onto the stage in cowboy boots obviously, a couple of sizes too large for him. He was the hit of the show for the audience standpoint with a duet of “Moonlight Bay” with his famed dad. You can hear the show on Wednesday, at 6.30 on KNX.

(Walter Ames, Los Angeles Times, April 10, 1951)

 

April (undated). Bing films a cameo appearance in The Fifth Freedom, an advertising film made by Chesterfield Cigarettes and sings “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”

April 18, Wednesday. Records a Chesterfield show with Bert Wheeler and Walter O’Keefe. The show is broadcast on May 2. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) Another taped Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and the guest is Gary Crosby.

April 19, Thursday. Bing tapes a Chesterfield show in Hollywood with Louis Armstrong which is subsequently broadcast on April 25. He sings “Old Soldiers Never Die” as a tribute to General MacArthur. Records “Gone Fishin’” with Louis Armstrong and John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra for Decca prior to the radio taping. The record briefly charts, peaking at No. 19.

 

Gone Fishin’

A pop tune, which didn’t make it a year or so back, gets a brand new lease on life in a happy gab-fest treatment by Croz and Satch.

(Billboard, May 26, 1951)

 

Then there is Bing Crosby “Gone Fishin’” with Louis Armstrong. This is gentle humor, all too rare these days, and there is a fine family affair between Bing and his son Gary on the other side, a modernised ‘Moonlight Bay’ (Bruns. 04781).

(The Gramophone, November 1951)

 

Old Soldiers Never Die

Taken off one of his broadcasts, Bing uses the “wiffenpoof” (sic) approach to the Macarthur-inspired ballad revival. Should get a big share of whatever action the song stirs.

(The Billboard, May 26, 1951)

 

April 21, Saturday. Bing records a Chesterfield show with Fred Astaire and Teresa Brewer which airs on May 9.

April 25, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Rose Marie and Louis Armstrong.

April 28, Saturday. (5:00 p.m.) Guests on the Hedda Hopper radio show with Lionel Barrymore and Florence Bates.

May 2, Wednesday. Dixie celebrates Bing’s “fiftieth” birthday in southern France. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Walter O’Keefe and Bert Wheeler.

May 5, Saturday. Bing records a Chesterfield show with Helen O’Connell which airs on May 30.

May (undated). Bing sends a hand-written letter to his sister Mary Rose from his Pebble Beach home.


Dear Mary Rose

Thought you might like some tickets for yourself or some of your friends to our shows being done in S. F. during the next week or so - Thursday and Monday, to be exact, guests unselected as yet, but hope to have someone clever.

Mother seems pleased with her new teeth and is trying to keep them in as much as possible. Her health remains as good as can be expected at her age.

Dixie is touring Europe on a broad scale - in Switzerland now.

Love, Bing


May 9, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) Another taped Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and Bing’s guests are Fred Astaire and Teresa Brewer.

May 10, Thursday. Records a Chesterfield show at the Marine Memorial Auditorium in San Francisco.

May 11, Friday. Bing again guests on the Hedda Hopper radio show. Possibly a transcribed broadcast. Bing sends Bob Hope a clipping about Danny Kaye being the uncrowned king of British vaudeville following a recent appearance at the London Palladium. Hope is about to undertake a European tour and play in the British Amateur Golf Championship. The hand-written letter accompanying the clipping reads as follows:

 

Dear Flab

Don’t come home until you’ve won the title back from this upstart. Do I have to send Oscar Lorraine over to top him? Or Council Berneirci? Or Fradkin or Taradash? Good luck in the Tourney, old boy. Hope you win some matches – Stay out of Paris – that’s my town!

Love to all, Bing


      May 14, Monday. Records another Chesterfield show at the Marine Memorial Auditorium in San Francisco.
     May 16, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfieldis broadcast and the guests are Burl Ives and the Cass County Boys. The show had been taped in San Francisco at the Marine Memorial Auditorium.
     May (undated). Bing is fishing at Jackson Lake, Wyoming.

May 19-20, Saturday-Sunday. Bing and his party spend the weekend at the Sportsman's Lodge, Ennis, Montana, fishing on the Madison river. Included in the party are Bill Morrow and John Eacret.

May 21, Monday. Bing, Bill Morrow and John Eacret drive to the Flathead Lake Lodge in Montana for more fishing.

May 22, Tuesday. Fishing on Flathead Lake from Irv Ohmsted's cruiser.

May 23, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) Another taped Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and the guests are Jack Teagarden, Louis Armstrong, and Teresa Brewer. The show had been taped at the Marine Memorial Auditorium in San Francisco. Bing arrives at his Hayden Lake home and goes fishing on Lake Pend Oreille.

May 26, Saturday. Bing drives into Spokane to speak at the Gonzaga Alumni buffet luncheon in the Gonzaga canteen. During his time in Idaho, Bing records a special record to be played at a stag dinner for Jimmy Demaret which is to take place at Toot Shor's in New York City on June 5.

May 28, Monday. Bing and Bill Morrow drive from Hayden Lake, Idaho to Vancouver, Canada, and as Bing is unshaven and wearing a leather jacket with dungarees and boots, he is initially turned away by the hotel night room clerk at the Hotel Vancouver at 7:00 p.m.. Fortunately the bellhop notices this and stops Bing from driving away. The bellhop takes Bing and Bill Morrow up the freight elevator to the seventh floor and allocates them two rooms. Bob Hope later hires the hotel night room clerk for a bit part in his film Son of Paleface.

 

All a Mistake: Art Cameron, night clerk at the Hotel Vancouver in Vancouver, B.C., gave a brush-off to a “bum” who sauntered in wearing a leather jacket, dungarees, boots, and “no shave.”

“Fix me up with a couple of singles with baths, will ya, boy?” the man asked. Cameron gave him an icy stare and said the hotel was hooked solid. But a bellhop, Ray Morrison, recognized the “bum” as Bing Crosby and quickly installed him in twin suites, with his producer, Bill Morrow. “I thought they were a couple of bums or Indians from up north,” Cameron explained. “It was all a mistake.” Crosby, who had driven to Canada with Morrow on a fishing trip, said: “It’s the first hotel I ever got kicked out of before I got in.” His clothes, he added, would have been “all right for a full-dress affair at home.”

(Newsweek, June 11, 1951)

 

En route up and down and around and about, I’ve had a few misadventuresbut I have taken no more of a jerking around by hotel people and the constabulary than most people who travel a lot. However I have jounced over a few such thank-you-marms which the press has thought newsworthy. Why they thought so, I dont know.

On a visit to Vancouver a room clerk at a hotel didn’t want to let me in, and it was blown up into a front page story. I’d been fishing in the Rockies with Bill Morrow. We reached Vancouver with a substantial stubble on our faces. We had on clothes wed worn for three or four days and we must have looked like a couple of loggers coming to town lonely and loaded, seeking a skid-row flop.

The Vancouver Hotel is a fine hotel and it does such a big business it’s generally hard to get a room there. But I thought it was so late in the season that we wouldn’t have much trouble. We drove up, got out of our car, went into the lobby, approached the clerk at the desk, and asked for a room. He looked us over with halibut eyes and asked incredulously, “You want a room here?

“That’s why were here,” we said.

“I don’t think we have anything available,” he said.

I began to steam a little. I said, “There should be no doubt in your mind. Either you have something or you havent.

“We run a very exclusive hotel here, you know,” he said.

I said to Morrow, “Let’s blow.”

Walking out we passed a bellboy at the door who had been there when we’d stayed there the year before. Remembering Morrow and how lavishly hed tipped, he was loath to see us leave, so while we walked to our car, he ran quickly to the manager’s office. Apparently he told him that a human Comstock Lode was making his departure, for the manager came out with the bellboy, apologized, and took us back and got us a room.

That was all there was to it, but when the newspapers and the press associations got through with it, it took on the proportions of an international incident. You couldn’t tell who had insulted whom or why, but,it all blew over without the U.N. taking it up.

(Call Me Lucky, page 281-282)



May 29, Tuesday. (4:00 p.m.) Bing goes to the Sunset Memorial Community Center in Vancouver where he sings an unaccompanied chorus and verse of “Blue Skies” to an audience of 1,000 teenagers. The mayor had apparently sent a car for him but Bing makes his own way to the center which causes some confusion to the civic party.

May 30, Wednesday. Bing goes to Horseshoe Bay for a fishing trip to Long Bay in Home Sound with Danny Sewell and Bill Morrow. At night, Bing dines in Chinatown. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Charles Durand, Guy Brion, and Helen O’Connell.

May 31, Thursday. Bing and Bill Morrow leave Vancouver and drive to Seattle where they stay at the Olympic Hotel.

June 1, Friday. Dixie returns to Los Angeles. Bing is in Seattle where he interviews four Seattle University stars with a view to signing them for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bing and Bill Morrow then start the long drive back to California where they go to Rising River for more fishing.

June 4, Monday. At the Marine Memorial Auditorium in San Francisco, Bing tapes a Chesterfield show with George Jessel and Martha Tilton which is broadcast on June 6.

June 6, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are George Jessel and Martha Tilton.

June (undated). Films a brief guest appearance in Angels in the Outfield, a baseball film featuring Paul Douglas and Janet Leigh, which is shot at the Pittsburgh Pirates ballpark. Bing’s spot comes from a golf course.


June 8, Friday. Recording date in Hollywood with Dave Barbour and his Orchestra when Bing sings “Shanghai” and “I’ve Got to Fall in Love Again.” The disc charts only briefly in the No. 21 spot. Decca Records masters “Row, Row, Row” which Bing had recorded for his radio show.

 

Bing Crosby: “Shanghai”-“I’ve Got to Fall in Love Again” (Decca). Crosby has one of his better recent sides in “Shanghai,” a bounce number with a clever lyric. It’s a relaxed vocal in a rhythmic vein which could hit big for Crosby.

(Variety, June 20, 1951)

 

Shanghai

Decca 27653—Fast and strong coverage on the bounce ditty. Der Bingle hands it a neat, relaxed reading.

I’ve Got to Fall in Love Again

Bing sounds fine on an excellent bounce ditty from the Burke and Van Heusen pens.

(Billboard, July 7, 1951)

 

...on 04764 he essays Shanghai and sounds as young as ever, pairing it with Black Ball Ferry Line, with the Andrews Sisters. It’s quite a good performance but I feel the point of much of it will be lost on British audiences.

(The Gramophone, October 1951)

 

Row, Row, Row

Bing belts thru a delightfully simple and rhythmic treatment of the good oldie.

(Billboard, July 28, 1951)

 

June 9, Saturday. Bing and Dixie attend Gary’s graduation at Bellarmine Academy, San Jose. Bing gives Gary a car (“a brand-new shiny white ’51 Mercury”) and later says that it is the biggest mistake he has made.

 

The summer couldn’t have started out better.

The first thing to happen was that I got my own car. Mom and Dad came up to San Jose for my high school graduation, and when I met them back at the room, after dropping off my cap and gown, Dad threw me half a smile and said, “Okay, Gary, I have a little surprise for you.” I knew that parents usually gave their kids some kind of gift for making it through high school, but 1 wasn’t expecting much, not after the big blowout earlier that year. A few months afterwards Mom had asked me what I wanted for a graduation present, and I had told her, “Gee, I know there’s not much chance of getting it, but I sure would like a car.” When she backed off with an “Uh-huh, well, we’ll have to see,” I figured that was that and forgot about it. But now Dad pulled a set of keys from his pocket, placed it in my hand and told me to have a look outside.

I took the dormitory stairs four at a time, burst out the front door and there it was, parked by the curb, a brand-new, shiny white ‘51 Mercury, all molded and low and round, just aching to be thrown into gear. For the moment the anger still lurking in my heart was overwhelmed by gratitude, and 1 thanked him profusely, then hunted up a couple of the guys and whipped them off for a shakedown cruise around the block. It wasn’t too much longer before Dad began using the car as a weapon by threatening to take it away if I didn’t knuckle under, but right then that little white devil was my passport to freedom.

(Gary Crosby, writing in Going My Own Way, page 153.)

 

June 13, Wednesday. Bing records a Chesterfield show with Tommy Dorsey, Joe Venuti, and Teresa Brewer which airs on June 20. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Teresa Brewer and Bert Wheeler.

June 14, Thursday. Gary Crosby has reconstruction surgery on his shoulder in St. John's, Santa Monica following a shoulder dislocation.

June 15, Friday. Lindsay Crosby graduates from the Beverly Hills Catholic School.

June 16, Saturday. Bing tapes a Chesterfield show with Ken Murray and Burl Ives. The show is broadcast on June 27.

June (undated). Bing Crosby Enterprises Electronics Division opens a laboratory to develop a videotape recorder. The project is under the control of John T. Mullin.

June (undated). Bing and Bob Hope film a cameo appearance in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Greatest Show on Earth.

June 20, Wednesday. (9:00–11:45 a.m.) In Hollywood, Bing records “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening” with Jane Wyman plus other songs from the film Here Comes the Groom. Musical support is shared by Matty Matlock and his All-Stars and also by John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra. The disc reaches No. 11 in the Best-sellers list and spends 6 weeks in the charts in all. During the day, Bing tapes 24 spots for various charities, the gratis blurbs plugging everything from the Iowa State Fair to a Canadian charity drive. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Joe Venuti, Teresa Brewer, and Tommy Dorsey.

 

In late June, she went into a recording studio with Bing Crosby and the duo cut their first record. Accompanied by Matty Matlock’s All Stars and the singing group Six Hits and A Miss, Jane and Bing recreated “In the Cool Cool Cool of the Evening.”  Bing recorded “Misto Christofo Columbo,” also from the film.

Here Comes the Groom was soon released and with this picture Jane Wyman had finally found another blockbuster. It was an even bigger hit than had been anticipated at a time when few movies were registering really big grosses. And there was a further dividend—after fifteen years Jane Wyman was suddenly discovered to be “a singer”! “Cool Cool Cool of the Evening” became a hit record throughout the country.

Jane’s reviews for the picture were excellent. The fact that she could hold her own with Crosby as a singer astonished everyone. Suddenly, singing offers poured in. The London Palladium wanted to sign Wyman for a personal appearance. Jane even signed a recording contract with Decca.

(Joe Morella and Edward Z. Epstein, Jane Wyman – A Biography)

 

“In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening”

This one is a bright and happy ditty which Der Bingle and Miss Wyman do in their forthcoming motion picture “Here Comes the Groom”. Cleffed by Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer, the tune sports a clever lyric and an infectious melody.

(Billboard, July 7, 1951)

 

Misto Cristofo Columbo

The co-stars turn in another fine go on a material ditty from the flick. Song’s not as effective as that on the topside

(Billboard, July 14, 1951)

 

Bonne Nuit

Decca 27679—Bing croons this quite attractive and pleasant ballad from his coming flicker with his casual warmth. A pretty effort which could score of the song does.

Your Own Little House

Another neat ballad entry from the Crosby flicker is done with characteristic charm by Bing.

(Billboard, July 14, 1951)

 

June (undated). Bing and three of his sons leave Hollywood for Elko. Gary Crosby remains in Hollywood to convalesce following his shoulder operation and then goes with his mother to the bungalow at Lake Tahoe.

June 27, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and the guests are Laurie Anders, Ken Murray, and Burl Ives. This is the final Chesterfield show of the season.

Elko Levi's2.jpgJune 30, Saturday (afternoon). At Elko, Bing takes part in the second day of the Silver State Stampede and members of the Elko Silver State Stampede present him with a special tuxedo made by Levi Strauss so that he is not turned away by a hotel again. Inside the coat is a leather patch signed by the president of the American Hotel Association as follows:

 

Notice to Hotel Men Everywhere

This label entitles the wearer to be duly received and registered with cordial hospitality at any time and under any conditions.

 

Bing donates an engraved silver trophy to be given annually to the outstanding cowboy of the Silver State Stampede.

 

The largest second day crowd in the history of the four-year-old Stampede was on hand to see Der Bingle receive the suit which has received nationwide publicity. . . .When Bing got his suit he said “Hell’s fire, ain’t that a whizzard.” Then he sang a song for the crowd, to the tune of “On Top of Old Smoky.” It went: “Way up in Elko they know what to wear. The next time I come here I’ll have to bring my hair.” He tipped his cowboy hat to the crowd, showed his bald pate and received a tremendous hand. . . . Crosby was watched by three of his sons from an official box, Lindsay, Phillip and Dennis being present. Gary was unable to be here.

(Elko Daily Free Press, June 30, 1951)

 

July 1, Sunday. Bing takes part in the radio program “Freedom Under God.”

July 29, Sunday. More than one-hundred press, radio, screen, and political dignitaries start descending on Elko for the world premiere there of Bing’s film Here Comes the Groom. The first planeload arrives at 7:50 p.m. and is welcomed by Dorothy Lamour and Mayor David Dotta on behalf of the organizing committee. A crowd of over 3,500 is present.

July 30, Monday. The many official guests are entertained by travel tours, fishing, and riding. At 7:30 p.m., a street show commences outside the Hunter Theater and the stars start arriving in front of a crowd of 3,000. Ted Husing is the master of ceremonies for a radio show which is being recorded and he greets the stars as they arrive. The proceedings are broadcast by CBS nationally on July 31. Bing, accompanied by his sons Phillip, Dennis, and Lindsay, drives through the city on a buggy. At 8:00 p.m., a stage show starts at the Hunter Theater with Bing acting as MC and introducing Dorothy Lamour, Connee Boswell, Cass Daley, songwriters Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, Joe Venuti, Perry Botkin, and the Cass County Boys. Bing sings “Home on the Range”. Following this at 8:45 p.m., the premiere of Bing’s film Here Comes the Groom commences. The stage show then moves across to the nearby Rainbo Theater where Here Comes the Groom is also shown. After the showing of the film, the guests are entertained at a cocktail party and buffet supper in the lounge of the Commercial Hotel.

July 31, Tuesday. During the afternoon and evening, the guests attend a real ranch-style barbecue at the Orvis Stock ranch twenty-eight miles south of Elko and Bing, Cass Daley, Dorothy Lamour, Alexis Smith, and the Cass County Boys entertain. Bing donates a 1200-pound steer which is raffled. He leads a softball team of Hollywood stars and they lose to a team of visiting newspapermen by twenty-two to twenty-three in three hilarious innings played in a pasture. The various events in Elko over the three-day period raise $10,000 for the hospital building fund. The Paramount newsreel of August 22 includes film of the proceedings.

 

I remember the 1951 premiere of “Here Comes the Groom” very well, not specific details but in all the “once-in-a-lifetime” factors.

It was the first and only engagement I ever did with Bing, also the first and only time I saw Elko and enjoyed the real Far West quality of the life, something I never previously experienced. The people in Elko were enthusiastic and friendly. The “just-folks” atmosphere of the casinos had me feeling I was at a neighborhood social, rather than a gambling house.

I can’t recall details of all events or how we spent our time, except for one affair. Part of the celebration was having a softball game on a field remembered as being a sort of cow pasture not meant for softball. I think Bing pitched and his sons, who were there (they were good athletes) all played. To me this was a chance to shine and “make a name for myself.”  Being an avid softball player and in good shape, I decided to give my ego full play! Imagine my embarrassment when one of the publicity men in charge whispered not to try so hard as this was all in fun; just part of the hoopla and not a contest to determine Olympic ability. So, I cooled down and participated only for fun.

People left the premiere showing humming, “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening,” which won the Oscar that year for best song. Unfortunately we did not write it! We composed all the other songs for the picture. ”In The Cool” was a song that Paramount owned, originally written for a Betty Hutton movie which never was filmed. Somehow it got into the score of this movie and turned out to be the hit. However, we were happy with our songs, “Bonne Nuit” (the title was Bing’s idea), “Your Own Little House” and “Mister Cristofo Columboeven though they weren’t big hits. But we had our “Oscarand our “hits” by being able to work with Bing Crosby and Frank Capra, and to have participated in that wonderful premiere junket to Elko, Nevada.

(Ray Evans, writing in BINGTALKS magazine, April 1992)

 

Bing was named Honorary Mayor of Elko, and I was tabbed Honorary Governor of Nevada, for 48 hours. Connee Boswell sang, and Bing and Jane Wyman reprised their “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening” (which copped an Oscar for Best Song that year), even though in those days he never liked to get up on stage. As I look back, I think he was a very shy, insecure man. The world looked upon him as one of the great talents, he just never saw himself in that light.

(Dorothy Lamour, My Side of the Road, page 182)

 

August 1, Wednesday. With two associates (George L. Coleman and Kenyon Brown), Bing purchases FM radio station KSNI in Salinas, California, for conversion into a television broadcasting outlet. Bing and his associates already own the nearby radio station KMBY.

August 2, Thursday. Bing and Phillip, Dennis and Lindsay leave Elko and go to the Hayden Lake, Idaho home where they are joined by Dixie and Gary.

August 22, Wednesday. The Coeur d’Alene newspaper gives details of a radio appeal made by Bing on behalf of the Red Cross Drive for Flood Relief. There have been severe floods in Kansas.

August 23, Thursday. Bing is in the Davenport Hotel in Spokane.

August 30, Thursday. Bing has a 73 as he qualifies for the Inland Empire Golf Tournament at Hayden Lake Golf Club.

September 1, Saturday. Bing is eliminated in the first round of the Inland Empire Golf Tournament at Hayden Lake Golf Club by Buddy Moe who wins 4 and 3 despite Bing's par golf.

September (undated). Gary Crosby starts his studies at Stanford University, located between San Francisco and San Jose in California.

September (undated). Lindsay Crosby enrolls at Loyola High School, Los Angeles.

September 10, Monday. Bing is featured on a recorded radio show for the United Red Feather Campaign of America with Jane Wyman, Dinah Shore, Jimmy Durante, and many other stars. Meanwhile, Bing is on a fishing trip with Bill Morrow at Comox Bay on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. While there, he joins the Tyee Salmon Club. Press reports indicate that he catches a 48 lb. Tyee salmon in the waters of Comox Bay after a 30-minute battle.

September 11,Tuesday. Bing and Bill Morrow check in again at the Hotel Vancouver in Vancouver, British Columbia and this time they are greeted by a brace of bellboys and whisked to their fourth floor suite.

September 20, Thursday. The film Here Comes the Groom has its New York premiere at the Astor Theater and goes on to take $2.55 million in rentals during its initial release period in the USA. Bing is nominated for a Golden Globe Award for an “actor in a leading role - musical or comedy” but does not win.

 

Paramount has a topnotch piece of comedy diversion in Here Comes the Groom. It is the sock picture both Bing Crosby and Frank Capra have needed and tops all of their more recent entries. The boxoffice response should be as hearty as its laughs, particularly after strong word-of-mouth potential gets going.

      …Crosby is at his casual best, nonchalantly tossing his quips for the most effect. Miss Wyman is a wow as the girlfriend who makes him really work to win her. The two join on the Hit Parade tune, “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening,” by Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael, in a socko song-and-dance session.

      …Score includes three Jay Livingston-Ray Evans songs, all likeable. They are “Your Own Little House,” “Misto Cristofo Columbo” and “Bonne Nuit,” latter a lullaby sung to the orphans by Crosby. “Columbo” is a novelty number done on the States-bound plane from France by Crosby, the kids and such guest stars as Dorothy Lamour, Frank Fontaine, Louis Armstrong, Phil Harris and Cass Daley.

(Variety, July 11, 1951, following tradeshow)

 

Again the calculated coincidence of Frank Capra and Bing Crosby combined to produce and direct a picture and star in it, respectively, has resulted in a light, breezy item, nicely marked with the genial Capra touch and adorned with the cheerful disposition and the casual vocalizing of Bing. There isn’t a great deal of substance to the gentlemen’s “Here Comes the Groom,” which they jointly turned over to Paramount for delivery to the Astor yesterday. As a matter of fact, a fair-sized zephyr or a few harsh words might blow it away, and it barely survives the burlesque antics that occur in it from time to time. But the idea of it is amusing and the writing is clever and glib. Mr. Capra and Mr. Crosby have both worked harder and done worse.

Being a Crosby picture in this certain day and age, it has to have children in it—and children mean sentiment. The children in this particular instance are a couple of orphaned French tots whom Mr. Crosby, as a roving reporter, culls from a batch of same. And the sentiment is that he finds them so essential to his life, and he to theirs, that he brings them to America with him. A complicating factor, this.

For in order to hang onto the children, Mr. Crosby must be married within five days, and the girl with whom he thinks this most convenient is about to be wed to someone else. Indeed, she is about to be married to a fine Boston millionaire who is more handsome, more wise, more athletic but not more charming or clever than Bing. And so the main purpose of the picture is to show how Bing maneuvers and connives to break up the prearranged marriage and snag the lady just in time—which he does.

Somehow, we have a feeling that we have seen all of this before—or so many things so much like it that it has a familiar look. But, even so, clever Mr. Capra has kept it moving along so well and he has got so many likely people in it, other than Bing and the kids, that it rolls.

Bing, of course, is the big thing, and there’s no use describing him—except to note that he looks a little thinner and a little wearier under the weight of the years. Pretty soon Mr. Crosby will have to stop playing carefree scamps and he’ll have to side-step such frisky numbers as “In the Cool Cool, Cool of the Evening,” which he plugs here. He’ll have to stick to the less exhausting efforts such as “Your Own Little House” or “Bonne Nuit.” Hopping around and play-acting sort of takes the wind out of him.

But Jane Wyman still can scamper, and she does plenty of it here, as does Alexis Smith as her rival—and wrestling opponent—for the millionaire. The latter is suavely developed by a slyly smiling Franchot Tone into something nice and entertaining in the stuffy Bostonian line. James Barton and Connie Gilchrist as the parents of Miss Wyman are fetching, too, and Jacky Gencel and Beverly Washburn are appealing as the French kids.

Additional music is provided by Anna Maria Alberghetti, an Italian miss who sings the “Caro Nome” from “Rigoletto” and then quietly slips away, and also by Louis Armstrong, Phil Harris, Cass Dailey and Dorothy Lamour, who assist Mr. Crosby in delivering “Misto Cristofo Columbo” while fellow-passengers of his in a plane. With all due respect to these worthies, they are obvious “ringers” in this film. It could get along just as well without them.

And it’s better than television, as someone says.

 (Bosley Crowther, New York Times, September 21, 1951)

 

As a comedy team, Jane Wyman and Bing Crosby are sensational in Frank Capra’s warmly human, screwball movie, Here Comes the Groom. The picture, which opened yesterday at the Paramount Hollywood and Downtown theaters, is Crosby’s best in ages and is dedicated to only one goal—glowing entertainment. Bing’s casual charm never was shown off to better advantage than as the globe-trotting reporter here of the current story. Jane is a delight as the girl back home who waits and waits for him and then finally gets mad and accepts the proposal of Franchot Tone, heir to $40,000,000. Just before the wedding, Bing returns home from Europe with two French war orphans whom he has adopted but can’t keep unless he gets married within five days.

(Harrison Carroll, Los Angeles Evening Herald Express, September 7, 1951)

 

September 21, Friday. Tapes a Chesterfield show in San Francisco with Jane Wyman which is broadcast on October 10.

September 23, Sunday. Records another Chesterfield show, this time at the U.S. Naval Air Station at Alameda. Jane Wyman and Hoagy Carmichael are the guests.

September 24, Monday. Bing takes part in the Lux Radio Theater program “Movietime USA” on CBS and presents an extract from the film Here Comes the Groom with Jane Wyman.

September 25, Tuesday. Bing plus Gary, Phillip and Dennis record a radio program in San Francisco called "Youth Crusade with the Crosbys". They are photographed signing a Freedom Scroll.

September 28, Friday. (11:00-11:30 a.m. EDT) Bing and his four sons are featured in a nation-wide half-hour radio program on NBC entitled “Youth Crusade with the Crosbys.” The show was a combination entertainment and solicitation program. Bing asked his youthful listeners, “Are you willing to give up three pieces of bubble gum?” He explained that “three cents will buy one brick for a new Radio Free Europe station to carry the truth behind the Iron Curtain.” He urged them to sign the Freedom Scrolls, which had been sent to schools throughout the country, and to contribute a few cents to the Crusade for Freedom. A young Czech boy living in Munich, Germany, was interviewed for broadcasting in the Crosby show. The show closes with Bing singing"America the Beautiful". The program is re-broadcast in schools on October 3 as this has been designated "Youth Crusade Day".

 

…The choice of the Crosby family to get over the message of Democracy is most fortunate. Crosby himself has become a symbol of Americanism, is loved by the general populace. Further, he and the Crosby youngsters, make the show an entertaining half-hour—entertaining, that is, while still delivering with impact the program’s story…Nobody in the broadcasting field is quite as adept as Der Bingel in establishing and rapid and close accord with a radio audience. He does this on “Crusade,” creating an atmosphere of urgency and charm.

(Billboard, October 6, 1951)

 

September 29, Saturday. Takes Dixie to the Cocoanut Grove for their twenty-first wedding anniversary. He gives her nine custom-made gowns as an anniversary present.

October 1, Monday. Records “Christmas in Killarney” and “It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas” in Hollywood with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra.

 

Christmas in Killarney

Decca 27831—one of the promising late entries of last season is dished up again in a Bing-fully warm, holiday style.

It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas

A delightful Christmas tune by Meredith Willson offers something for the entire family. Bing does it in great spirit.

(Billboard, October 27, 1951)

 

One can rely on Bing Crosby for some Christmas cheer, and on Bruns. 04838 he sings “Christmas in Killarney” and “It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas.” Both these are Bing’s style entirely, and so for that matter are “My Own Bit of Land”, a nostalgic, homey song of great appeal, and “With This Ring I Thee Wed”, quite delightful.

(The Gramophone, January, 1952)

 

October (undated). Lindsay Crosby makes two solo records for Decca accompanied by John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra. The song “That’s What I Want for Christmas” (Decca 27812) is said to sell over 200,000 copies but this may well have been publicity talk. The other side of the record was “Dear Mr. Santa Claus”.

 

“Dear Mister Santa Claus” (Decca). The youngest of the Bing Crosby clan registers with a pleasing simplicity on these Xmas tunes. The immaturity of his pipes blends well with the tunes, particularly “That’s What I Want for Christmas,” which was originally written for a Shirley Temple pic.

(Variety, October 31, 1951)

 

That’s What I Want for Christmas

Decca 27812—Bing’s youngest son is the major attraction of this seasonal disking. His presence alone should assure this waxing of plenty of action, tho it is not a particularly sterling etching. Tune’s perfectly suited to the youngster.

Dear Mister Santa Claus

Same story for this side, tho the material is a shade less appealing.

(Billboard, November 10, 1951)

 

October 2, Tuesday. (9:00–9:30 p.m.) Bing guests on Bob Hope’s transcribed radio show on NBC with Jane Russell and they take part in several sketches including one called “The Road to New Orleans”. Bing sings “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening”. Les Brown and his Band of Renown provide the music. The program was taped at Long Beach Naval Base.

 

…Hope’s quintet of writers didn’t do right by him on his opener, and there were only a few of the gems of Hope’s halcyon days. Pace picked up a bit when Bing Crosby entered the scene, as Hope was in better form berating Brother Crosby’s obesity, miserliness and personal appearance…

(Variety, October 3, 1951)

 

October 3, Wednesday. Forms Bing’s Things Inc. to sell a score of items ranging from toys to clothing. (Starting at 6 p.m.) Bing tapes a Chesterfield show at the CBS Radio Playhouse at 1615 North Vine, Hollywood. The guests are thought to have been Bob Hope and Martha Tilton. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped at the U.S. Naval Air Station at Alameda, and the guests are Jane Wyman and Hoagy Carmichael. Ken Carpenter, Jud Conlon’s Rhythmaires, and the John Scott Trotter Orchestra remain as regulars. The shows continue on Wednesday nights until June 25, 1952, and Bing receives $16,000 per show out of the budgeted $30,000. The show does not reach the top 20 Nielsen ratings and the most highly rated radio show for the season is the Amos ‘N’ Andy program with 17.0.

 

Bing Crosby is probably one of the most affable performers in radio. Year in and year out, he’s held a commanding position on the air by virtue of warm, easy verbiage and a song style that’s made him the number one pop-singer. His return to the airways after a summer hiatus indicates that Crosby will maintain his audiences. It’s a delightful show, easy on the ears, in a program that provides a maximum of relaxation. Crosby indicated that he is still to warm up to his assignment. He hasn’t hit his stride, as yet but there’s no doubt that his Wednesday night stanza will be strong enough to give listeners the kind of show they want.

         The guest stars, Jane Wyman and songwriter, Hoagy Carmichael lent themselves, admirably to Crosby’s scheme of entertainment. With Miss Wyman, Crosby did an unusual amount of kidding, putting in a few ribs of Louella Parsons and winding up with ‘Cool of the Evening’. Carmichael, in addition to the usual line of banter, did his own composition, ‘Buttermilk Sky’. The Groaner’s other assignments included renditions of ‘Row, Row, Row’ and ‘There Was a Girl’ (sic). Ken Carpenter also worked as a foil for Crosby and John Scott Trotter handled the music department excellently. The Chesterfield ‘Sound Off’ commercial is a catchy rhythmic item. As always Bill Morrow and Murdo MacKenzie have produced an excellent show even though the initial session had the proceedings formularised a bit too rigidly. Morrow’s writings are order-built for the Groaner’s effortless delivery.

(Variety, October 10, 1951)

 

October 4, Thursday. Bing records “When the World Was Young” and “Domino” with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra in Hollywood. “Domino” charts for six weeks, peaking at No. 15.

 

BING CROSBY coos “Domino,” French tune imported by Lou Levy and equipped with English lyrics by Don Raye, effectively enough to make it a mid-hit. He’ll have to slug it out with another good version cut for Victor by Tony Martin for top sales honors, tho.

(Variety, October 19, 1951)

 

Domino

Decca 27830—Bing should ring the bell with his rendition of a striking waltz import with a Gallic-gypsy feel. The competition is heavy but Bing, singing at top form, should be in there with the big winners.

When the World Was Young

Bing does splendidly by an unusual Frenchie, adapted to English poetically by Johnny Mercer. The recitatif verses make this a toughie commercially. But, this splendid rendition could pick up some action.

(Billboard, October 27, 1951)

 

October 10, Wednesday. Bing tapes a Chesterfield show in Hollywood which is broadcast on October 24. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped in San Francisco and the guests are Bill Thompson and Jane Wyman.

 

…Current Crosby series wisely features more music than ever, with el Bingo warbling five numbers, including “Come-On-A-My House,” “Shanghai,” “How High the Moon,” “Because of You” and “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening.” On latter he teamed up with movie actress Jane Wyman, his “Groom” co-star. The airer’s spontaneous sounding pace hit a snag on their mike patter, tho, with the supposedly “gay” banter about Paramount and Bob Hope coming over as contrived and awkward scripting. Crosby was much better solo when he ribbed TV at the beginning of the show. Chesterfield commercials featured the cig’s outfit “Sound Off” parody and Crosby’s usual personal plug.

(June Bundy, Billboard, October 20, 1951)

 

October (undated). Bing puts his Pebble Beach home up for sale.

October 17, Wednesday. (Starting at 6 p.m.) Bing tapes a Chesterfield show at the CBS Radio Playhouse at 1615 North Vine, Hollywood. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) Another taped Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and the guests are Martha Tilton and Bob Hope.

October 19, Friday. Records “I Still See Elisa” and “A Weaver of Dreams” in Hollywood with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra. (8:30–9:00 p.m.) Guests on the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis radio show on NBC with Sheldon Leonard. Music is provided by Dick Stabile.

 

I Still See Elisa,

Decca 27852—Bing sings this “Paint Your Wagon” ballad free and easy in his croon style. It’s a tough ballad and doesn’t figure to catch more than a limited trade.

Weaver of Dreams, A

A lovely new Victor Young ballad loses some of its effectiveness at the rapid beguine tempo in which Bing sings it. The Ned Washington lyric is pleasurably off the beaten track.

(Billboard, November 17, 1951)

 

Bing also sings “I Still See Elisa” (Bruns. 05048) from Paint Your Wagon and “Any Town Is Paris When You’re Young” in his slow pensive style that no one has yet successfully imitated.

(The Gramophone, March 1953)

 

October 22–December 20. Films Just for You with Jane Wyman, Natalie Wood, Bob Arthur, and Ethel Barrymore. The director is Elliott Nugent with Emil Newman as musical director. The film is originally titled “Famous.” It is said that Judy Garland had originally been sent a script as she was being considered for the female lead, but she apparently decided not to proceed with the project. Location scenes are filmed at Lake Arrowhead, near San Bernardino, California and at Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino National Forest.

 

Crosby had similarly high standards on the set. “What was really surprising about Bing Crosby to me was that he really was a very, very, bright man. He knew everybody’s lines and knew everything about the camera. He always came across as this relaxed performer but he was far from relaxed.”

(Bob Arthur as quoted in Natasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood, page 94)

 

You know I worked with Bing Crosby when I was a kid, about 13. It was a movie filmed in the mountains, at Lake Arrowhead. I was very nervous acting with him and he was sort of retiring. He didn’t say very much and I was so nervous. He kept to himself between scenes. I don’t remember him singing at all, which would have been nice. But he was real kind to me, relaxed, did everything pretty much on one take. I wish I would have gotten to know him, but I was so scared and he was such a big, big star that I didn’t have much to say.

(Natalie Wood, interviewed on The Merv Griffin Show)

 

I noticed that when Ethel (Barrymore) was rehearsing her scenes for our picture, apparently she was not concerned with her lines, the business, or the props. But when the director finally said, “Let’s take it,” her first take was perfect. Past experience with other actresses hadnt prepared the director for such perfection, and he asked for another take as a matter of course. The more the scene was shot the worse Ethel became. Like any true champion, she’d built herself for one major effort, and that was it. She was amazed that the director insisted on taking the scene over and over.

“Is he making a collection of these things?she asked me with some puzzlement.

(Call Me Lucky, page 185)

 


October 24, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Paul Douglas and Anna Maria Alberghetti.

October 27, Saturday. June Crosby (Bob’s wife) gives birth to a daughter, Junie Malia.

October 31, Wednesday. (Starting at 6 p.m.) Bing tapes another Chesterfield show at the CBS Radio Playhouse at 1615 North Vine in Hollywood. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) Another taped Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and Bing’s guest is Dinah Shore.

November 7, Wednesday. (Starting at 6 p.m.) Bing tapes another Chesterfield show at the CBS Radio Playhouse at 1615 North Vine in Hollywood with James Stewart and Anna Maria Alberghetti which is broadcast on November 14. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

November 9, Friday. John T. Mullin and Wayne R. Johnson of Bing Crosby Enterprises demonstrate a primitive video recorder.


Crosby Ent. Previews New Magnetic Recording Device; Cost Slash Seen For Films

In a preview of things to come, The Reporter Friday afternoon witnessed the first tape-recorded images seen through the use of a newly developed magnetic recording system which threatens to revolutionize methods of televising, and the making and distributing of motion pictures.

A new “magnetic recording head,” capable of absorbing pictures, sound and color on a single plastic tape, took pictures off a home television receiver of a motion picture film being televised over one of the local channels and faithfully transmitted the sequences onto a quarter-inch tape for rebroadcast later.

(The Hollywood Reporter, November 12, 1951)


November 14, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and the guests are Anna Maria Alberghetti and James Stewart.

November 21, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) Another taped Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. Bing’s guests are Bert Wheeler and Alexis Smith.

November 27, Tuesday. Bing is thought to have recorded a Chesterfield show with Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong which is broadcast on November 28.

November 28, Wednesday. Bing records a Chesterfield show with James Stewart which airs on December 5. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and the guests are Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

November 29, Thursday. Dixie executes her last will. It was reported that she was losing weight at the time and that her abdomen was distended.

December 3, Monday. Bing makes an appeal for UNICEF greetings cards in the 15-minute radio program The United Nations Today.

December 5, Wednesday. Bing tapes a Chesterfield show for broadcast on December 12. The guests are Alexis Smith and Bert Wheeler. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Toni Arden and James Stewart.

December (undated). Takes Gary’s car away from him because of his son’s poor grades at Stanford. Gary buckles down to his studies and when his grades improve, Bing lets him have the car again.

 

The biggest mistake I’ve ever made with my boys was giving Gary a car as a high school graduation present. It did him no good at Stanford. I guess its too much to expect of a college freshman that he’ll hit the books when there’s a car outside the dormitory and opportunity to use it up and down a shore highway. Gary had eight years of grade school with the sisters and four years of high school with the Jesuit fathers. A considerable amount of restraint is a part of both these educational systems. They go in for supervised study at night, and no freedom except on Saturdays and Sundays—even then only until ten p. m.

But when Gary reached Stanford with an automobile at his beck and call, he fell apart. Like any other university, Stanford expects its students to be self-reliant and to face up to responsibilities when they enter college. Sooner or later a fellow has to accept the restrictions of maturity, and he might as well start when he’s a college freshman. A good way to begin is to realize that nobody’s going to take him by the ear and make him study.

I didn’t know how serious Gary’s situation was until he came home at Thanksgiving and I heard him telling one of his pals how easy it was at Stanford; nobody cared whether you went to class or not, and everything was a cinch. That wasn’t what Id heard about Stanford. I began to worry, and after he went back to Palo Alto, I took a week end off and went up to talk to his professors—particularly to the Dean of Men—to find out what was going on.

When I asked the Dean how Gary was doing, he said, “You won’t have to worry about him, because he wont be here after Christmas.”

“Wherell he be?I asked.

I dont know,” the Dean said, “but he wont be here.”

I got hold of Gary, and had a talk with him. I pointed out the seriousness of the situation, took his car away from him, put it in a garage and went home to talk to his mother. Quite naturally, Dixie was upset. I think we ought to write him a strong letter,” she said.

You write him a letter,” I suggested.

She did. She told him that if he hadnt made up his grades by Christmas, that if he was bounced by Stanford, we’d arrange for him to work digging ditches for the city when he came home. It was no empty, blustering, parental threat. When it came to discipline, Dixie didn’t fool, and Gary knew it. She added that she didn’t think hed have to dig ditches very long, for she was sure the Army would reach out and tag him shortly after he left Palo Alto.

Her letter must have carried impact. He knuckled down, survived the weeding out of the lamer brains after Christmas, and made a really good showing in the spring quarter.

(Call Me Lucky, pages 298-299)

 

December 11, Tuesday. Bing lunches with Jane Wyman and journalist Leo Lerman at the Paramount commissary.

December 12, Wednesday. Mildred Bailey dies. Elsewhere, Bing records a Chesterfield show with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour which airs on December 26. At the recording, the show runs for just over an hour and it has to be extensively edited. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and the guests are Bert Wheeler and Alexis Smith.


December 16, Sunday. Tapes a Chesterfield show with Trudy Erwin and Lindsay Crosby which is broadcast on December 19.

December 17, Monday. Takes part with Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra in the Long Beach Press-Telegram's annual Christmas show for patients at the Veterans Administration Hospital. Part of the proceedings is taped and broadcast on December 25 as the Bob Hope Show.


There was a great show in town last night.  Its headliners were Hope, Crosby and Sinatra, and it would have taken an adding machine to keep count of the gags. Les Brown was there with his orchestra, and a parade of shapely Hollywood beauties wore out the whistles of the males in the audience.

All of that—a million dollars of talent—and it didn’t cost the spectators a copper.

For it was the Press-Telegram’s Christmas show for patients at the Long Beach Veterans Administration Hospital, the second annual affair of the kind since the VA Hospital moved down here from Birmingham.

 It was a huge success, and we at the P-T are mighty pleased.

An hour of the uproarious doings was taped and you can hear it on KFI on Christmas night – Tuesday – starting at 9 o’clock, as the Bob Hope Show. But it went on for two or three hours beyond that to give the men and women of the hospital a terrific evening, topped off with refreshments of ice cream, cookies and coffee before they returned to the wards of the big institution at Seventh and BellFlower.

The radio show was, of course, from script, but the rest of it was ad libbed and highly informal, and the stars were at their best then. The gang got a real bang out of Crosby getting help from the audience on his lyrics, Hope knocking over a Christmas tree and Sinatra asking Brown to change the pitch.

That made a party of it.

…Before the show, Hope, Crosby and Sinatra, as well as the girls from the Paramount “golden circle” toured the hospital wards and visited with the patients.

(Malcolm Epley, Long Beach Press-Telegram, December 18, 1951)


December 18, Tuesday. Plays Santa Claus at the Hollywood Women’s Press Club party at the Beverly Hills Hotel and is presented with a Golden Apple Award by Anne Baxter. (9.00 p.m.) Guests on Bob Hope’s radio show on NBC with Vera Vague and Jo Ann Greer.

December 19, Wednesday. Records “At Last! At Last!” and “The Isle of Innisfree” with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra in Hollywood. Also records a Chesterfield show with Monica Lewis and Hopalong Cassidy which airs on January 2, 1952. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and the guests are Trudy Erwin and Lindsay Crosby.

December 22, Saturday. Bing’s recording of “White Christmas” makes its annual appearance in the pop charts, peaking at number thirteen over a three week period.

December 23, Sunday. Appears on The Joyful Hour radio program on Mutual with Ann Blyth, Pat O’Brien, Jimmy Durante, and Licia Albanese. Also appears on Louella Parsons’ radio show which is her last for her sponsor, Jergens Woodbury.

December 25, Tuesday. (9:00–9:30 p.m.) Guests on the Bob Hope radio show on NBC with Jack Kirkwood, Benny Rubin, and Frank Sinatra. The show has been recorded at the Long Beach California Veterans Administration Hospital.

 

…In view of Hope’s sock talent line-up, this show was a disappointment. Hope and Crosby indulged in their usual insult routine about latter’s excess profits and poundage, but the gags were pretty stale. With the exception of Crosby’s vocals, the rest of the show was equally dull. Billed as a “surprise visitor,” Sinatra didn’t show up until the last three minutes of the broadcast, and then he didn’t have anything to do.

(Billboard, January 12, 1952)

 

December 26, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Dorothy Lamour and Bob Hope.

December 31, Monday. (12:05-12:45 p.m.) Bing guests on Kate Smith’s radio show.

Bing is fifth in the U.S.A. movie box office stars poll for 1951. John Wayne is again at number one. During the year, Bing has had eight records that have become chart hits.

 

1952

 

January 2, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Monica Lewis and Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd).

Greatest Show On Earth.jpgJanuary 5, Saturday. Starting at 6 p.m., Bing tapes another Chesterfield show at the CBS Radio Playhouse at 1615 North Vine, Hollywood.

January 9, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and there are no guests as Bing sings nine popular songs from 1951. Bing leaves hospital after his annual check-up.

January 10, Thursday. The film The Greatest Show on Earth is released.

 

There’s a sock laugh when two intent, peanut-eating bleacherites prove to be Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. (Variety, January 2, 1952)

 

January 11-13, Friday–Sunday. Plays in the Bing Crosby Pro-Am Tournament at Pebble Beach. The weather is so bad on the Monterey Peninsula Country Club course that the second day’s round has to be called off, restricting the tournament to thirty-six holes. The professional winner is Jimmy Demaret and he and Bob Hope finish in third place in the pro-am section. Other celebrities taking part include Phil Harris, Johnny Weissmuller, Gordon MacRae, Dick Arlen, Dennis O’Keefe, Ben Gage and Lefty O’Doul.

January 11, Friday. After playing his round during the morning at nearby Cypress Point, Bing tapes his Chesterfield show at Fort Ord in the afternoon and evening. The guests are Bob Hope and Monica Lewis. The show is broadcast on January 16.

 

For Fort Ord Clambake Bing Crosby, in addition to John Scott Trotter’s orch, has assembled a crack Dixie combo for the show he is staging for Army trainees at Fort Ord Saturday night and the dinner program following the annual Bing Crosby Invitational Golf Tournament at Monterey Peninsula Country Club Sunday evening.

(Variety, January 9, 1952)

 

January 13, Sunday. The Victory dinner takes place at Monterey Peninsula Country Club.

January 15, Tuesday. The Bob Hope radio show is broadcast on NBC and Bing guests with Jimmy Demaret and Jerry Colonna. The show has been recorded at Fort Ord. Bing sings “Slowpoke” before dueting with Bob on “Undecided”.

January 16, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped at Fort Ord and the guests are Bob Hope and Monica Lewis.

January 23, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and the guests are Helen O’Connell and Paul Douglas.

January 27, Sunday. Bing records a Chesterfield show with Bob Burns and Patti Page which airs on January 30.

January 30, Wednesday. (Starting at 6 p.m.) Tapes a Chesterfield show at the CBS Radio Playhouse, 1618 North Vine, Hollywood, for transmission on February 6. The guest is Fred Astaire. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) Another taped Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS and Bing’s guests are Patti Page and Bob Burns.

January 31, Thursday. (10:35–11.00 p.m.) Contributes to Eddie Cantor’s birthday show on NBC-radio.

February 2, Saturday. Bing records a Chesterfield show with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall which airs on February 13.

February 6, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and the guest is Fred Astaire.

February 7, Thursday. Bing records another Chesterfield show with Patti Page and the Mills Brothers which airs on February 20.

February 13, Wednesday. Records a Chesterfield show in Hollywood with the Bell Sisters (Cynthia aged 16, and Kay aged 11). The show is broadcast on February 27 by CBS 

February 14, Thursday. Bing records “Just for You” and “A Flight of Fancy” with Camarata and his Orchestra in Hollywood.

 

Bing Crosby: “Just For You” “Flight of Fancy” (Decca). Bing Crosby’s decline as a factor on disks is traceable to the switch of tastes away from the practitioners of the relaxed vocals and, equally important, to the failure of the material...

(Variety, June 11, 1952)

 

Just For You

Decca 28217—The Groaner just isn’t up to par on this light new tune from the flick of the same name. Ork backing by Camarata is good.

A Flight of Fancy

Bing comes thru, with a smooth performance on this appealing item from the movie “Just for You,” over attractive ork support. Deejays can use.

(Billboard, June 21, 1952)

 

February 16, Saturday. Thought to have taped a radio program for New York Catholic Charities with Bob Hope, Ann Blyth, Jimmy Durante and Ruth Hussey.

February 17, Sunday. Bing is the guest host on the Walter Winchell Time radio program on ABC in Winchell’s absence due to ill health. Bing manages to plug his Chesterfield show. The program has been recorded in advance and uses recordings from Bing’s radio show.

February 19, Tuesday. Records three songs in Hollywood with Perry Botkin’s String Band and the King’s Men.

 

TWO SHILLELAGH O’SULLIVAN” and “THAT TUMBLEDOWN SHACK IN ATHLONE” (Decca). Bing Crosby’s annual St. Patrick’s Day pairing this year is so well sprinkled with Shamrock sentiment it will get roundly played by jukes and jox in the next few weeks.

(Variety, March 7, 1952)

 

Rosaleen

Decca 28061—The groaner is effective and warm on this sweet ditty about a coleen from the Emerald Isle. Also a good d. j. item

Don’t Ever Be Afraid to Go Home

Bing turns in a good vocal on this lively item with its own folksy moral. The Kings Men and the ork back the warbler well. Deejays will spin.

(Billboard, April 5, 1952)

 

Bing Crosby (Bruns. 04921) also tries some impressions — Irish, of course, in Two Shillelagh O’Sullivan and That Tumbledown Shack in Athlone. The former is probably funny if you like that sort of fun, and the latter is as much of a wallow deep in nostalgia as it looks.

(The Gramophone)

 

February 20, Wednesday. Bing records a Chesterfield show for transmission on March 5 with Bob and Cathy Crosby. Increasingly, takes from earlier shows are being reused. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific.) A taped Chesterfield show with the Mills Brothers and Patti Page airs on CBS.

February 21, Thursday. (8:10–11:45 a.m.) Records “I’ll Si-Si Ya in Bahia” and “The Live Oak Tree” with the Andrews Sisters and John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra in Hollywood. The tracks are included in the Decca album "Just for You".

 

Bing Crosby, Andrews Sisters: “I’ll Si-Si Ya In Bahia” “The Live Oak Tree” (Decca). Bing Crosby Andrews Sisters tandem produces fair results on a pair of tunes from the forthcoming Paramount pic, “Just For You.” “Bahia” is a slick Latino flavored novelty…

(Variety, July 23, 1952)

 

I’ll Si Si Ya in Bahia Decca 28256 — To a mambo tempo the Andrews Sisters and the Groaner tell about Bahia. Tune is from the flick “Just for You,” and the singers give it a good whirl. The ork backing is top flight.

The Live Oak Tree

Another item from “Just for You” receives an adequate vocal from Mr. C and the gals. Novelty tune is pleasant.

(Billboard, August 2, 1952)


Review of album

With the title flicker still to open and run what promises to be a long course, this album of ditties featured in the film figures to do right well over the counter. Crosby and Miss Wyman, of course, star in the pic. While the Andrews Sisters do not appear in the movie, their efforts on this disk add plus values… Liner carries a synopsis of the film and fairly detailed biographies of the artists featured on the disk.

(Billboard. October 4, 1952)

 

February 27, Wednesday. Tapes another Chesterfield show in Hollywood and the guests are Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. "Miss Kangaroo Contest" presents Bing with a baby kangaroo. The show is broadcast on March 12.

February (undated). In Palm Springs, Bing, Bob Hope, Ben Hogan, Phil Harris and Ralph Kiner take part in the filming of Faith, Hope and Hogan which is produced by Father Keller and televised on his Sunday religious program. Bing sings a chorus of “One Little Candle” accompanied by Perry Botkin.

 

A couple of years ago I went to Palm Springs to relax. My phone rang and a voice said, “This is Father Keller.” Father Keller is the big mind behind the Christopher Movement. The Christophers are trying to spread religion in general. They don’t make any special effort to spread the Catholic Religion, they just try to spread good to the whole world. . . .

      “I’m making a little movie short for the Christophers with Ben Hogan,” he said, “I’d like to have you come over and say a few words. . . .”

      The next day Bing and I joined him there [at the golf club]. The “few words” wound up as an hour and a half of dialogue between golf shots. The entire country must have seen this film by now because every time Hogan wins a tournament, they run it on television.

(Bob Hope, Have Tux, Will Travel, page 272)


February 29, Friday. Bing plays in the Founder's Day Championship at Tamarisk Country Club in Palm Springs. Others playing are Bob Hope, Phil Harris, Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Dennis Morgan and Ralph Kiner.

March 1, Saturday. The second round of the Founder's Day Championship. Bing Crosby Enterprises introduces “Bing Crosby Ice Cream.” This is a special interest of Everett Crosby and it licenses the use of Bing’s name in national advertising of ice cream.

March 2, Sunday. Bing and Bob Hope are filmed at Palm Springs by Paramount News plugging the current drive for the Braille Institute. Bing later takes part in a recording of Bob Hope’s radio show which is subsequently broadcast on March 11.


With Bing Crosby as special guest, Bob introduced such other personalities as Danny Kaye, Frank Sinatra and Martha Stewart.  The show was taped for a delayed airing in the near future; however the follow-up show for the Sister Kenny Fund enjoyed a complete sell-out.

(Tom E. Danson, Long Beach Press Telegram, March 7, 1952)


      March 3, Monday. Bing is in San Bernardino and attends the Pittsburgh Pirates training session. An AP wire photo pictures him with Ralph Kiner.

March 4, Tuesday. Press reports state that a recently concluded deal involving over $4 million has made Bing Crosby Enterprises the largest producer of films for television in the country. A new subsidiary known as Lancer Productions has been formed.

March 5, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Bob Crosby and his daughter Cathy. The Paramount newsreel used that day shows Bing working out with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

March 6, Thursday. Bing records a Chesterfield show in Palm Springs at the Plaza Theater with James Stewart and Fran Warren which airs on March 19.

March 8, Saturday. Bing and his son Lindsay attend a Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Browns spring training match at Burbank.

March 11,Tuesday. Bing makes a guest appearance on Bob Hope’s radio show on NBC which was recorded in Palm Springs on March 2. Other guests are Marilyn Maxwell and Charles Farrell. Bing sings “Anytime.”

March 12, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart.

March 17, Monday. Bing has been at his Spring Creek ranch near Elko and he sends a hand-written letter to Art MacKay (? bit illegible) in Fossil, Oregon.


Dear Art

It’s good job you got out when you did. We’ve had a foot and a half of snow since you left. I just got out today. Some of our neighbors in bad straits, and we moved 900 head up to our hay about 6 miles from headquarters. They belong to our herd next door and would have been in a bad way in a couple more days.

Johnny will call you when it goes down some and he can book these cattle. He wants to get them there before the 1st.

Yours, Bing Crosby


March 19, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) Another taped Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and the guests are James Stewart and Fran Warren.

March 20, Thursday. At the Academy Awards ceremony at the RKO Pantages Theater, Danny Kaye and Jane Wyman sing “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening”; the song by Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer from the film Here Comes the Groom wins an Oscar. Robert Riskin and Liam O’Brien have been nominated for “Best Motion Picture Story” for their work on Here Comes the Groom but they lose to Paul Dehn and James Bernard for Seven Days to Noon.

 

“Crosby” Kaye joining Jane Wyman in a socko selling on “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening”. Kaye’s Bing Crosby takeoff was solid.

(Variety, March 21, 1952)

 

March 22, Saturday. Snow continues to be a problem at Elko and the Reno Evening Gazette reports:


…An example of the situation was Bing Crosby’s Elko ranch. Snowdrifts up to 35 feet covered the crooner’s haystacks. Hay was abundant on his ranch but approximately 300 head of his cattle were stranded because they could not be reached by accessible roads…


March 23, Sunday. Bing records “Just a Little Lovin’” in New York working to a track prepared by Grady Martin and his Slew Foot Five in Nashville.

 

Bing Crosby and Grady Martin have a neat rhythm side in “Just a Little Lovin’ “ (Decca)

(Variety, June 18, 1952)

 

March (undated). While in New York, Bing goes to the El Morocco night club with Jackie Gleason and sings many songs with the band.


. . . Bing Crosby, Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Cagney, George Raft - all the Hollywood crowd used to hit Toots’ place when they came to town. Bing, known to have taken a drink or two in his time, always met Gleason there. One day in 1952, Jackie and Bing drank through the cocktail hour and supper at Toots’ and then went over to El Morocco, the ultra-chic watering hole for a late night drink.

         “As soon as Bing walked into El Morocco,” Jackie recalls, “the house band started playing ‘Where the Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day,’ Bing’s theme song. When Bing heard that, he walked up to the bandstand and started singing with them. By the time he was through, he had sung about twenty of the songs he had made famous through the years. What a night that was for the customers of El Morocco. I never heard of Bing doing that anyplace else.”

(From How Sweet It Is - The Jackie Gleason Story, by James Bacon)

 

March 26, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped in San Francisco and the guests are Marilyn Maxwell and Anna Maria Alberghetti. Miss Maxwell is paid $1000 for her services.

March 28, Friday. Tapes a Chesterfield show in San Francisco with the Bell Sisters and Gary Crosby.

April (undated). Signs to make the film Little Boy Lost.

April 2, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and the guests are the Bell Sisters and Gary Crosby.

 

Four months after Dad blew up at me he came back up north to transcribe his radio show in San Francisco and brought me on as a guest. When I read through the script the day before the broadcast I was appalled. It made me uncomfortable enough to see the jokes that cast me as some kind of teenage heartthrob. I’d cut two more duets with him by now -“Moonlight Bay” and “Maggie Blues”- and they’d done all right, but I sure as hell wasn’t a heartthrob to any teenagers I knew. It was Dad’s fans who were buying the records, and if I did have a few of my own, they certainly weren’t enough to justify the heavy hype. The main thing that got me, though, was the fact that the script made my humiliation at Stanford public. “Oh, Christ,” I groaned when I saw the dialogue, “now he’s gonna be broadcasting over national radio that I’m damn near flunking out of college so everyone in the country can hear about it.” But I did what he wanted and read my lines as written.

(Gary Crosby, writing in Going My Own Way, page 167)

 

April 5, Saturday. (Starting at 2:00 p.m.) Bing, who has been staying at the Rogers ranch in Palm Springs, puts on a two-hour benefit show at the Polo Grounds in Palm Springs with Bob Hope, Kay Starr and the Bell Sisters as part of the annual Desert Circus celebrations. Some of the proceedings are used as a Chesterfield Show which is broadcast on April 9 but the Bell Sisters’ segment is not used.

April 8, Tuesday. A federal judge in San Francisco orders Bing’s appearance as a witness in the Henry Von Morpurgo trial. Bing was supposed to have appeared that day and an order for his arrest is prepared if he does not appear on April 10.

April 9, Wednesday. Back in Hollywood, Bing records a Chesterfield show with Helen O’Connell and the Bell Sisters which airs on April 16. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and the guests are Kay Starr and Bob Hope.

April 10, Thursday. Arriving at the Federal Court in the post office building at Seventh and Mission at 10:00 a.m., Bing testifies for about an hour as a government witness at the mail fraud trial in San Francisco of Henry Von Morpurgo who is charged with diverting $93,000 from the Sister Kenny Foundation for his own use. Bing had acted as fund-raising chairman for the Sister Kenny charity in 1945 and 1946 and his name has been used without his authority in a number of telegrams designed to raise funds in Northern California. It emerges that while Bing had performed entertainment activities to raise money for the charity, all lower echelon administration matters had been handled by Larry Crosby. Bing omits to collect his court expenses of $74.80.

April 14, Monday. Bing and Dixie sign a promissory note for $655,000 to Citizens National Trust and Savings Bank.

April 16, Wednesday. Bing appears on radio station KFI’s anniversary special. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and the guests are the Bell Sisters and Helen O’Connell.

April 20, Sunday. (4:00-4:45 p.m.) Bing records a Chesterfield show in CBS Playhouse No. 2 at 6126 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood with Kay Starr and the Bell Sisters. The show airs on April 23.

April 21–July. Films Road to Bali with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour. The director is Hal Walker with Joseph J. Lilley as musical director.

 

There are other pleasant things about owning part of a picture. In The Road to Bali there was a beach scene for which tons of beautiful white sand had been trucked in from Pebble Beach. I had just put in a one-hole golf course at my house on Moorpark Street in North Hollywood. I had four sand traps standing empty, with nothing in them in which my friends could leave their hoof prints. When I saw that sand a light switched on in my head.

We own two-thirds of this sand, dont we? I asked.

Sure, Bing said. Why?

Well, I replied, Id like some of it for my course at home.

When he said, Why not? I called the prop man and said, Take ten truck-loads of this sand out to my house when were done with it.

No dice, he said. This is Paramounts sand.

Bing and I had another talk with the boys in the front office. As a result, part of The Road to Bali is in my back yard.

(Bob Hope, This Is On Me, page 124)

 

April 23, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and Bing’s guests are the Bell Sisters and Kay Starr.

April 24, Thursday. Bing overdubs “Till the End of the World” onto a track prepared by Grady Martin and his Slew Foot Five in Nashville. The disc charts for six weeks and peaks at No. 16.

 

Just a Little Lovin’

Decca 28265—Crosby hands the ballad a neat reading replete with whistling variations mid-disk. Backing by the Western band is dandy.

Till the End of the World

The Groaner is in fine voice as he reads the bouncing ditty with appealing spirit. Support by the Martin combo is bouncy. Crosby fans will like.

(Billboard, June 28, 1952)

 

Though Bing by himself (04970) is still Bing, albeit accompanied by the most horrible alto saxophone this side of the average village-hall band of thirty years ago, Bing’s whistle in “Just a Little Lovin’” redeems the side, and the melody of “Till the End of the World” is very attractive. But oh! that accompaniment!

(The Gramophone, September 1952)

 

April 30, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast. The guest is Donald O’Connor.

May 2, Friday. Dixie gives a surprise birthday party for Bing at their home with 175 guests and he is visibly moved on his arrival home from the studio that evening.

 

When I left for the studio that morning, all was as usual. Linny was getting ready for school, Dixie was at breakfast, the rest of the household bustling about their usual tasks.

When I got home at seven that evening, the Crosby manse had been transformed into a veritable tropical garden. A great marquee stretched from the back patio to the far end of the lawn. There were tables under the marquee, each bearing candles in a red and white tropical floral centerpiece. Palm trees had been temporarily planted around the patio, which had been made into a huge dance floor. At the far end of the garden was a bandstand with Les Brown and full orchestra aboard, playing “Happy Birthday to You.

As I stepped into the foyer, this was the sight that greeted me, along with about one hundred seventy-five guests, who had come to wish me well. As Dixie came up to me and put her arms around me, I am not ashamed to admit that my eyes were swimming.

(Call Me Lucky, page 326)

 

May 7, Wednesday. Bing records a Chesterfield show with Marlene Dietrich which airs later that day between 6:30 and 7:00 p.m. Pacific.

May 8, Thursday. Records more songs from the film Just for You in Hollywood with an orchestra directed by Nathan Van Cleave. Ben Lessy joins him on “On the 10:10 from Ten-Ten-Tennessee” while Jane Wyman duets “Zing a Little Zong.” “Zing” reaches the No. 18 spot in the Best-sellers list and remains in the charts for six weeks. Leo Robin wrote an opening verse which was not used in the film or the commercial recording but it does help to set the scene and explain the use of the last letter of the alphabet.

Let’s imagine we’re in Holland and we’re underneath the moon,

Let’s walk a little, talk a little, kiss a little,

Cling a little, sigh a little, sing a little tune…

Zing a Little Zong

Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman team up for a sock waxing of this cute novelty ditty from their flick “Just for You”. Bing sounds more relaxed than he has in a long time and the thrush carries her part in fine fashion. The Jud Conlon Rhythmaires help out spiritedly. Side should get a lot of plays and spins due to impact of movie.

(Billboard, July 19, 1952)

 

May 11, Sunday. Tapes a Chesterfield show with Teresa Brewer and David Niven which is broadcast on May 14.

May 14, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are David Niven and Teresa Brewer.

May 16, Friday. (11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) Records “The Moon Came up with a Great Idea Last Night” and “Watermelon Weather” with Peggy Lee and Vic Schoen and his Orchestra in Hollywood. “Watermelon Weather” briefly charts in the No. 28 position.

 

BING CROSBY-PEGGY LEE WATERMELON WEATHER DECCA 28238— Bing Crosby and Peggy Lee team up on this light, summery ballad and turn in a smooth, quiet reading making it a listenable item. If the Perry Como-Eddie Fisher waxing goes anywhere this one will share in the loot, altho the Crosby-Lee names will create action on their own among the deejays.

THE MOON CAME UP WITH A GREAT IDEA LAST NIGHT Another frothy, novelty tune receives a slick, quiet warble from the pair. Not exciting, but pleasant. Deejays should use.

(Billboard, June 14, 1952)

 

“Watermelon Weather,” taped with Peggy Lee, weighs in as Crosby’s most remarkable duet of the late Decca period. Crosby and Lee had sung together dozens of times on the radio but, thanks to competitive label affiliations, had not gotten the chance to do so commercially until 1952. Laid back as an old hound dog, these countrified cadenzas could be described as “Gone Fishin’” spelled sideways. Crosby and Lee sing it so vividly you can practically taste the watermelon juice as it drips.

(Will Friedwald, A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers, page 127)

 

May 18, Sunday. Tapes material for three Chesterfield shows with Judy Garland which are broadcast on May 21, May 28, and June 4.

May 21, Wednesday. Bob Crosby films his guest spot in Road to Bali at Paramount. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and the guest is Judy Garland.

 

Bob Crosby checked in at Paramount yesterday to make a “surprise” guest appearance with brother Bing, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour in “Road To Bali.” He’ll play himself in a gag sequence set in a jungle. It’s first time the brothers have worked together in a pic.

(Variety, May 22, 1952)

 

May 26, Monday. Bing records a Chesterfield show with Rosemary Clooney which airs on June 11. Rosemary receives a fee $1000.

May 28, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) Another taped Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and Bing’s guest is again Judy Garland.

May 29, Friday. Bing and Dorothy Lamour host a birthday party for Bob Hope on the set of Road to Bali.

May 31, Saturday. Bing makes a short guest appearance on the NBC radio program Silver Plus Five to pay a tribute to Red Nichols who is celebrating thirty years in show business.

June 2, Monday. Tapes a Chesterfield show with Peggy Lee which is broadcast on June 18.

June 4, Wednesday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guest is again Judy Garland.

June 7, Saturday. Bing and Dixie see Dennis and Phillip Crosby graduate from Bellarmine College Preparatory, San Jose.

June 11, Wednesday (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific). Another taped Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast and the guests are Joe Venuti and Rosemary Clooney.

June 15, Sunday. Bing records a Chesterfield show with Peggy Lee which airs on June 25.

June 17, Tuesday. Records “You Don’t Know What Lonesome Is” and “Open Up Your Heart” with Perry Botkin, the Cass County Boys and the King’s Men in Hollywood. The disc briefly charts, peaking at No. 22.

 

You Don’t Know What Lonesome Is

Decca 28470—This is a rather unusual item, telling of a lonely reflective cowpoke, and his solitary life on the plains. Bing hands it a meaningful reading, and the backing retains the lonesome and melodic mood. Jocks should hand it spins.

Open Up Your Heart

The Groaner turns in a happy vocal on this fast-tempo effort, with the chorus and ork backing him neatly. Side is not extraordinary, but may catch some spins.

(Billboard, December 27, 1952)

 

June 18, Wednesday. Dixie has major exploratory abdominal surgery. The surgeon is Dr. Arnold Stevens. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are Joe Venuti and Peggy Lee.

June 20, Friday. Bing records “To See You Is to Love You” with Axel Stordahl and his Orchestra.

 

Even the presence of MD Axel Stordahl fails to make “To See You”—a Road to Bali song—stimulating listening.

(Laurie Henshaw, Melody Maker, January 3, 1953)

 

June 21, Saturday. (8:00 p.m.–10:30 a.m. on June 22) Bing joins Bob Hope to host a fourteen-hour telethon broadcast jointly on the NBC and CBS television channels to help finance the American Olympic team. This is Bing’s first live television appearance and the show comes from the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, with stars such as Frank Sinatra, Dorothy Lamour, Dean Martin, and Jerry Lewis taking part. Over $1M is pledged but ultimately only about $200,000 is collected.

 

fa_695_crosbyhopelamour1_600[1].jpgIt was an occasion for some major TV “firsts,” including foremost the long-awaited debut of Crosby as a video personality. He demonstrated (toupee and all, a la the pix Crosby as distinct from the hat-toting, sports-attired, pipe-smoking Bingle of the radio studio audience) that he’s a natural and “sure bet” in the transition to TV, adding an affirmative addenda to the current wholesale jockeying among the top bankrollers in TV to latch on to his services for the upcoming semester.

(Variety, June 25, 1952)

 

The Bob Hope-Bing Crosby “telethon” to raise funds for the United States Olympic Fund, which probably kept a good part of the nation up for most of Saturday night and Sunday morning, was quite a financial feat. A total of $1,000,020 was contributed or pledged over a fourteen and one-half hour period, which is a formidable achievement now that these marathon performances occur so frequently on TV.

         Theatrically, the chief news of the “telethon” was that it marked the video debut of Bing Crosby. If there ever was any doubt about it, the word is that the groaner can make the medium his own whenever he chooses. Still youthful as ever in appearance and in good voice, Bing’s relaxed style and easy-going ways were made to order for home viewing. The Bing is in.

         Otherwise, however, the long show was something of a disappointment. Perhaps the “telethon” stunt is just becoming too familiar, but much of yesterday’s program was far from exciting and more akin to a succession of personal appearances than a real show. Viewers must have been particularly disappointed that Bing was so sparing with his vocal wares. During the ten hours that this department watched he did only one complete song.

         The “telethon” was staged at El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles and was carried by both the Columbia Broadcasting System and the National Broadcasting Company television. From the outset Bob and Bing made it clear that for the night they would be intent on the business of raising the needed funds to transport the American team to Helsinki. Accordingly, their participation consisted chiefly of reading figures and the names of contributors, a chore in which they had the help of Dorothy Lamour. This inevitably made for considerable repetition and, while some of their byplay was fun, the show as a whole moved pretty slowly.

         Part of the program’s lack of pace could be attributed to the staging, which was more in the style of radio than television. The guest artists were forced to work in front of a microphone, which is the old-fashioned way of doing things now, and this imposed severe limitation on the variety of acts.   The emphasis was mostly on singing and instrumental solos, with hardly any representation of dancing or sketches.

         In the early morning hours the madcap team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis injected some life into the proceedings and the studio audience really came alive. Unfortunately, Jerry somewhat overstayed his welcome, but Bing’s attitude of superiority toward the comedy duo was a mite surprising.

         Another star making his TV debut during the “telethon” was Phil Harris, the veteran of the Jack Benny program. He showed to good advantage in two lively numbers and his vitality came over very effectively on TV. Frank Fontaine and his son, Bobby, also had an amusing comedy act during the morning portion of the show.

         Bob and Bing deserve the country’s thanks for pitching in at the last moment to assure adequate finances for the Olympic team, and it must be hoped that those who made pledges will keep them. With past “telethons” the actual cash finally received was only a small part of the total pledged and many of the “contributions” turned out to be just cheap and thoughtless bids for free publicity. It’s probably just as well that Bob and Bing rescued the Olympic Committee from its financial plight before the “telethon” format is worn out.

(Jack Gould, New York Times, June 23, 1952)

 

Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and scores of other personalities went to bat for the 1952 U.S. Olympic team yesterday and smashed a sizzling home run – worth more than $1,000,000.

The two stars sang and joked their way through a 14 1/2 hour television marathon which was beamed to a nationwide audience estimated at 50,000,000. And their efforts – plus those of hundreds of other persons responsible for the show – raised the Olympic fund well over its goal.

Two television networks – NBC and CBS – carried the show by microwave to 68 stations in 48 cities from coast to coast. The telethon, staged at NBC studios in the El Capitan Theater, began at 8 p.m. Saturday and ended for the tired performers at 10:30 a.m. yesterday after switching to New York for appearances by several noted sports figures.

Crosby, who teamed with Hope to answer hundreds of telephone calls and introduce the more than 250 actors, dancers and singers on the program, was making his television debut on the record-breaking telethon.

He and Hope deserted the cameras for three or four hours early yesterday morning to freshen up but were back on the stage for the finale and exchange comments with the New York end of the show.

Avery Brundage, president of the U.S. Olympic committee, opened the program Saturday night with an announcement that the Olympic fund was still nearly $500,000 short of the money it needs to send the nation’s athletes to Helsinki this summer. Fourteen and a half hours later, just three minutes before the show ended, contributions donated and pledges across the nation as a result of the program were announced as $1,000,020.

Officials said this figure, however, probably will be swelled by many thousands of dollars this week as mail contributions are received ….

Hope and Crosby, obviously weary after their long stint before the cameras, were still joking as they posed with Miss Lamour after the show.

“Well, Bob, ready for a fast 18 holes. Where’ll it be? Lakeside or Riviera?” Crosby cracked.

(Los Angeles Times, June 23, 1952)

 

It took Bing Crosby a long time to get around to making his personal appearance on television but, once there, he settled down for a straight 14½ hours. Last week the aging (48) groaner co-starred with TV Veteran Bob Hope on an all-night show to raise the $500,000 still needed to send the U.S. Olympic team to this summer’s games at Helsinki, Finland. Conceived by Sport Writer Vincent Flaherty of the Los Angeles Examiner, and obviously patterned after the annual Milton Berle TV marathon for the Cancer Fund, the Hope & Crosby show was a mixture of guest stars (Ezio Pinza, Phil Harris, Martin & Lewis), appeals for money, and the reading of interminable lists of contributors.

Crosby, complete with his Hollywood toupee, was as pleasantly relaxed and as glibly polysyllabic on TV as he is on radio and in the movies. He traded familiar insults with Bob Hope; exchanged small talk with Guest Dorothy Lamour; moaned in true TV-Comic fashion whenever the studio audience seemed lukewarm, and crooned such songs as Home on the Range. When the Telethon ended its allnight, two-network (CBS and NBC), stand, Hope, Crosby and friends had collected pledges for more than $1,000,000. Crosby also seems assured of a lively and profitable TV career whenever he wants it. Said Bing: “Well, I guess I’m off on the road to vaudeville—again.”

(Time magazine, June 30, 1952)

 

For all that, he was certainly encouraged in his hunger for affection: He and Dean made a cameo appearance in Road to Bali that winter, popping up in a dream sequence—necking, even!—in order to return a (contractually agreed) favor Hope and Crosby had done them earlier by appearing in a similar cameo in Scared Stiff.

…It’s telling, by the way, that Hope and Crosby never actually appeared on screen with Dean and Jerry. In June 1952 Hope and Crosby hosted a U.S. Olympic team telethon on NBC and had Martin and Lewis as guests; Dean and Jerry came out so full of piss, vinegar, and anarchic energy that they literally drove Hope and Crosby off the stage—Hope in a joking, confident fashion, Crosby quite literally, out of fear, Jerry later learned, that these insane upstarts would strip him of his toupee.

(Shawn Levy, King of Comedy, The Life and Art of Jerry Lewis, page 153)

 

June 23, Monday. Records “Hoot Mon” and “Chicago Style” with Bob Hope and Joe Lilley and his Orchestra in Hollywood.

June 24, Tuesday. A recording session for Bing and Bob Hope as they duet “The Road to Bali” and also join in “The Merry-Go-Run-Around” with Peggy Lee. Both songs are from the film Road to Bali. Sonny Burke and his Orchestra provide the accompaniment. Decca issues a 10" LP containing the songs.

 

The Merry-go-run-around – The Road to Bali

More attractive is “Merry-go-run-around,” a musical triangle of some appeal. This, like the reverse, comes from The Road to Bali. Both songs, however, probably sound more effective in their filmic context. Unfortunately, all four of these Brunswick sides are marred by an excess of surface noise.

(Laurie Henshaw, Melody Maker, January 3, 1953)

 

June 25, Wednesday. Dixie goes home from hospital. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guest is Peggy Lee. This is the final Chesterfield broadcast as Bing has been dropped by the sponsor. The General Electric Company becomes Bing’s sponsor in the autumn.

 

Bing Crosby and his writer, Bill Morrow, thought they’d have a little fun by playfully baiting a sponsor for next Fall. The humor of it didn’t appeal to the client, however, and three pages of script were ordered deleted.

(Variety, June 26, 1952)

 

June (undated). Filming of Road to Bali is completed. Around this time, Bing and Bob Hope film a scene for the Martin & Lewis film Scared Stiff.

June 26, Thursday. Bing purchases a 12-acre site on the west shore of Hayden Lake for a reported $11,000. It is located at English Point in a secluded area about three miles from his existing home. He plans to build a new house upon it.

June 27, Friday. Bing attends the opening of the Silver State Stampede in Elko, Nevada.

June 28, Saturday. Bing is photographed with Miss America (Colleen Kay Hutchins) at the Silver State Stampede.

June 30, Monday. Writes to Irv Kupcinet of the Chicago Sun Times.



Dear Kup:

Thanks for your complimentary comment on the Telethon. It was a lot of fun and the success of the function of course is directly attributable to the organization work of Mr. Hope’s outfit, plus the wonderful assistance we received from so many generous and talented people.

Something over a million dollars was pledged, but people experienced in these affairs tell me that you can anticipate about a 20% shrink. If this is true, the balance would not be any more than enough to take care of this year’s Olympic team’s necessities. There is of course a possibility that the response by mail will be considerable and if so this would more than make up for the shrink, in which case your suggestion that we donate the surplus to some worthy charity is a good one. I believe it would create a good feeling among the American people for the Olympic committee and the sponsors of the Olympic Games. I am going to relay your suggestion on to Jack Hope, who has been more or less my contact in connection with the arrangements for the Telethon.

I am dictating this letter from up in the vastnesses of Elko, Nevada, where we are currently spending six or seven weeks teaching the boys the value of a buck and the importance of manual labor. I don’t know how successful we are, but I am confident it provides a defining contrast to the fleshpots of Beverly Hills, and maybe some little germ of an idea will be implanted in their subconscious which will serve them in good stead when they grow up and become citizens. It’s healthy for them anyhow. It was 28° here this morning when I got up and here it is almost 1st of July. In fact tomorrow will be 1st of July.

From what I hear over the radio, it’s been a little warm back in Chicago.  I hope you get some relief before the Convention. I should like to be there because from all indications the Republican caucus is going to be exciting affair, but this is more important right now to me.  

Will be looking forward to seeing you possibly in the fall. Say hello to Frankie Harmon and Society Kid Hogan if you see them.

As ever, your friend, Bing


July 9, Wednesday. General Electric close a deal with CBS to sponsor Bing for radio the upcoming season. The deal calls for 39 weeks of AM plus options on whatever TV Crosby is willing to perform. (Variety, July 11, 1952). Other prospective sponsors were U. S. Rubber and Coca Cola.

July 12, Saturday. Margaret Crosby (nee Mattes, Ted’s second wife following his divorce) gives birth to a son, Howard Mattes, at Deaconess Hospital in Spokane.

July (undated). Helen Delores Crosby (Ted’s daughter, also known as ‘Dixie’) enters Holy Names as Sister M. Catherine Joan.

July 22, Tuesday. Dixie undergoes an abdominal operation at St. John's, Santa Monica. Bing has flown down from Elko to be with her. This is thought to be the first time he has flown since WW2.

      August 4, Monday. Dixie comes home from hospital. She soon tells Bing to take the boys to Hayden Lake.

August 8, Friday. Bing arrives at Hayden Lake with Phillip, Dennis and Lindsey. Pete Martin visits Bing during his stay at Hayden Lake and work commences on Bing’s life story which is to be published in the Saturday Evening Post. Bing ultimately receives $75,000 for the autobiography, Call Me Lucky. His words about television are apposite:

 

I need no crystal ball to tell me that television looms big in my future, as it does in the future of any entertainer. The principal reason I haven’t had a go at it is that radio, recordings, picture-making and the other businesses in which I’m involved take up so much of my time and mean so many trips away from home that the time to do it right just isn’t available. Then, too, there are a lot of things I like to do aside from business, like golfing, and fishing, and hunting, and if I did TV, when would I so indulge myself?

TV is here to stay, and it will be here when I get ready to go into it. There’s a question in my mind as to what TV format would be best for me. I’m investigating the possibility of a filmed half-hour show, employing motion-picture techniques the way a big studio films a short subject. But the expense would be tremendous. It might cost so much to make that it wouldn’t be practical. I’m not sure I could find a sponsor who could get up the large bundle of coin such a show would cost. But given the right format, television doesn’t frighten me. I should be able to get by, doing what I’ve done in pictures, in camp shows, and in vaudeville—entertain.

I do think this: anybody who goes into TV should be sparing in how much work he does. No entertainer who’s in everyone’s home once a week can survive very long. His welcome can’t be stretched that far. If a new motion picture of mine were released each week for fifty-two weeks—or even for thirty-nine weeks—I soon wouldnt have many friends coming to the theaters to see me. And they’d drop the flap on me at home, too. They’d weary of my mannerisms, my voice, my face.

Three years ago the price for my complete radio package was twenty-seven thousand five hundred dollars a broadcast. This included my salary of seven thousand five hundred dollars a week. For my 1951-52 (sic) radio broadcasting season I made a package deal with General Electric at sixteen thousand dollars a week. This same contract stipulates that so long as I’m doing a radio show for G.E. I will not do a TV show of my own - except for General Electric. I have no agreement on price with G.E. but there are indications that a big show on television would be worth up to fifty thousand per week.

In view of this, it may be cause for wonderment on the part of some that I don’t succumb to the lure. Naturally, I am toying with the idea—who wouldn’t at such prices—but I’m content to take my time. After all, I’m doing reasonably well now, and I don’t have to work at all if I don’t want to. The reason I don’t quit is that I’ve stayed in the entertainment business so long I’ve become a squirrel on a treadmill. I can see no end to my road, so I can’t jump off.

(Bing Crosby, writing in Call Me Lucky, pages 328-329)

 

Bing Crosby is the luckiest thing that ever happened to me. My writing life has been divided into two periods: Before Crosby and After Crosby. I was bucketing along, writing pretty much anything anybody suggested, from Jeffersons home in Monticello to Leary’s secondhand bookstore in Philadelphia, when Bings life meshed with mine.

It was not Bings idea. My editor, Ben Hibbs, announced one day at a meeting of the Post editorial staff that he was low on multi part nonfiction series and would we please all go back to our cells, put on our thinking caps and see what we could come up with. I went back to my desk and sat there asking myself, whos the best liked and the best known personality in the entertainment field we haven’t already done?

It wasn’t very skull-stretching. The answer popped to the top of my mind like a cork: Bing Crosby. The only problem was to get Bing to hold still for it. Bob Fuoss, the managing editor, talked to him on the phone. Price was no problem, although the amount we suggested seemed a sizable one to me.

The sum agreed upon was $75,000. In Bing’s income bracket that meant he netted about $7,500which he later blew on a Mercedes-Benz in Germany. Within a week after he brought the Mercedes home to California, he collided with a carload of Mexicans coming home from a wedding. It was the end of the Mercedes.

But back to the conversation Fuoss had with Bing.

Bing objected that millions of words had been written about him, that there was nothing left to say. Fuoss countered with two notions (and I couldnt have agreed with him more): First, a personality’s story hasn’t been told unless he’s told it himself. Second, it hasn’t been told unless it has appeared in the Saturday Evening Post.

These ideas gave Bing cause for thought. Finally he agreed to give it a whirl.

Not long afterward I found myself in the golf club at Hayden Lake, Idaho. Bing was spending the summer there. Bill Morrow, Bings radio and TV writer, was talking to me when I gradually became aware that a pair of speculative blue eyes had been studying me from across the room. Those eyes were trying to figure out whether I had an angle to shoot, an ax to grind, whether I was a right guy or a wrong guy. Finally they made up their mind.

Bing walked over, sat down and talked to me.

We made a date to go to work the following afternoon. We worked every day for two hours from then oneven in the stateroom on the Liberte when Bing was headed for Englanduntil we were finished.

There is this about Bing. Once he makes up his mind youre a right guy it’s hard to change his point of view. He’s been a friend of mine ever since.

(Pete Martin, writing in Pete Martin Calls On)

 

August 10, Sunday. Press reports state that Dixie is feeling much better and she has "shooed Bing and the boys back to their Hayden Lake vacationing."

August 12, Tuesday. Golfs at Hayden Lake and then plays host to 60 boys from Grosse Point, Michigan high school who are on a western tour.

August 13, Wednesday. (7:00–7:30 p.m.) Bing is the host for “Action Was Limited,” a Family Theater drama broadcast over the Mutual network. Kathryn Grandstaff is signed by Paramount Pictures. She subsequently changes to her name to Kathryn Grant and marries Bing in 1957.

August (undated). Dixie, who is still recuperating from her operation, flies to Hayden Lake, Idaho (near Spokane), in a specially chartered plane. Bing and his four sons join her there from Elko.

 

When she flew up to Hayden Lake in a chartered plane in the middle of August, she hadn’t seemed any worse than usual. She was terribly thin - you could see the bones sticking through her hands and shoulders, and the skin around her face was drawn tight - but she’d looked like that for a while now. I was used to her being a semi-invalid. Even before the operation she hardly ever got out of her bathrobe or left the house, and her routine now was just about the same. As always, she moved very slowly, with her back hunched over, yet with a certain grace. About the only difference was that she didn’t seem to be drinking, and even that wasn’t all that extraordinary. Over the years I’d seen her stay off the booze for weeks and even months at a time, only to climb right back in the jug again once the pressure got to be more than she could handle.

(Gary Crosby, writing in Going My Own Way, page 170)

 

August 23, Saturday. Bing withdraws his entry for the Canadian Amateur Golf Championship, which is due to commence on August 27 at the Capilano Golf Club, Vancouver, because of other commitments. No doubt this was because of Dixie’s health problems.

August 27, Wednesday. (7:30 p.m.) Bing contributes to a radio program about Washington State which is broadcast by KFI.

August 28, Thursday. Bing, with a round of 70, again qualifies for the Inland Empire Golf Tournament at Hayden Lake Golf Club.

August 30, Saturday. Plays in the first round of the Inland Empire Golf Tournament at Hayden Lake Golf Club and beats Bill Moore 7 & 6.

August 31, Sunday. Bing loses one up to Buddy Moe in the second round of the Inland Empire Golf Tournament. Bing is scheduled to go to Paris to film Little Boy Lost but delays his departure until September 12 because of Dixie’s illness.

September 1, Monday. Bing drives his sons back from Hayden Lake. Press reports indicate that Dixie is up and around again after her operation and Bing feels able to fulfil his filming commitment in France.

September 3, Wednesday. Bing records material for his first two General Electric shows with Jane Wyman, Helen O’Connell, and the Bell Sisters which air on CBS on October 9 and 16.

 

Bob Phillips also provided a fascinating look at the behind-the-scenes activities concerning Bings radio programs from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. After leaving the Kraft Music Hall in 1946, Bing steadily transitioned from live radio broadcasts, to live performances that were simultaneously recorded for subsequent editing and later transmission, and eventually to performances that were completely pre-recorded under studio conditions and were significantly edited before being aired. In fact, according to Bob Phillips, many of Bings Chesterfield and General Electric programs that were heard by the radio audience never actually took place at all. Instead, marathon recording sessions at times lasting from early morning to late at night would separately create Bing’s musical selections for many programs, the separate songs and dialog with Bing’s guests, and even the various audience reactions (laughter, applause, etc.). Then a team of engineers, including at one time Bob Phillips, under the direction of Murdo MacKenzie would work to “create” the actual broadcasts through a complicated editing process. Bob said that it often took a full week of work by the editors to perfect a single 30-minute radio program. In response to a question, Bob replied that Bing did not personally participate in the editing process. Bing left all of that to Murdo MacKenzie and his team while he was off and running to other activities.

Another aspect of this process was that the musical pre-recordings for Bing’s radio shows, first with John Scott Trotter and later with Buddy Cole, were made under the same studio conditions as his commercial recording sessions for Decca Records. Thus these radio recordings were of the same high quality as those released from Bing’s regular studio sessions.

(F. B. Wiggins, reporting on a lecture by Bob Phillips, in BING magazine, winter 2011)

 

Bob (Phillips) said that Jack Mullin was a fantastic editor. He was a stickler for quality and top class equipment was used throughout the process. Bob would be used as an additional tape editor on occasion and this was during 1952/53. Every 6 weeks or so, depending on Bing’s schedule, a recording session would be held which might run from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. when Bing and the guest stars would record songs and dialogue. An audience would come in for a section of the session although the show done with the audience would never be heard on the air. Mullin had put together 42 different audience reactions which could be added later and sometimes there would be big arguments about what reaction was appropriate. Murdo Mackenzie was the show’s producer and he would sit on a stool during the editing process and use a French taxi cab’s horn he had brought back from Paris to stop the arguing!

Sometimes it might be necessary to update dialogue that had already been recorded and Bing would tape this wherever he was, be it at Elko or elsewhere. This usually was merged with the dialogue of the guest star or announcer. Often different studios with varying acoustics might be used. The editors could create medleys by taking parts of different songs. These might be in different keys and the keys would have to be matched by speeding the tape up or down. It took a long time to edit the shows to the required time. Murdo Mackenzie would supervise the editing and there would be bits of tapes hung up on a string in the studio. Mackenzie would have to use a spreadsheet setting out the different parts of show in order to pull it all together. A big library of music was held with artists and songs all appropriately catalogued.

I asked about the shows which purported to come from Paris in 1953 and Bob confirmed that they were taped in California before Bing’s departure although it was possible that some updated dialogue might have been flown back from Europe later. The editing for the radio shows was done in LA weekly; however, there were shows aired that were done in Paris at the end of the trip. Bob had wanted to go with Bing to Paris but he was told firmly by Mullin that he had been recruited to work on the video recorder and he had to remain in Los Angeles with Mullin.

Bob Phillips told me that Bing was “technical” and took a real interest in the editing and all the other processes. Bob said of Bing, “He was great, a very nice person. He was very easy to work with and he had a good sense of humour.” Bob first met him at the BCE Christmas party in 1951 when everyone had to take a present and Bob drew out Bing’s. Bob was about the same age as some of Bing’s sons; so he remembered Bob for being like his sons.

A list was maintained of people to whom Bing wanted to be helpful and this included Judy Garland, Rosemary Clooney, Louis Armstrong and Les Paul. One Saturday morning a phone call was received from Bing saying that Judy Garland wanted to record her contribution to the show that afternoon at a downtown theatre. Everything was immediately dropped to fulfil the request. I marvelled at this and wondered how John Scott Trotter could have coped with the short notice. JST was under contract to BCE and while he had some key musicians he would call in session players to fill out the orchestra. Bob said that it was a bitter sweet moment when the half-hour show ended.

(Article by Malcolm Macfarlane in BING magazine, winter 2011)

 

September 5, Friday. (8:30 a.m.–12:10 p.m.) In Hollywood, Bing records with the Andrews Sisters for the last time singing “Cool Water” and “South Rampart Street Parade.” Matty Matlock and his Orchestra provide support.

 

Bing Crosby / Andrews Sisters: “South Rampart Street Parade” Bing and the Andrews Sisters team up on a snappy slice of a Dixieland number which should get juke spins. It’s a mid-hit possibility.

(Variety, October 15, 1952)

 

SOUTH RAMPART STREET PARADE . . . Bing Crosby-Andrews Sisters ..Decca 28419 The Groaner and the Andrews Sisters come thru with a sock rendition of the Dixieland oldie, over a driving backing by the Matty Matlock crew. TV star, Steve Allen, penned the lyrics for the fine side.

(Billboard, October 25, 1952)

 

South Rampart Street Parade

Decca 28419—The dixieland oldie, with a fresh set of lyrics, is socked thru powerfully by Crosby and the fem combo. They generate plenty of aural excitement and the platter could well become a winner. Deejays, especially, will appreciate.

Cool Water

The fine evergreen is given a persuasive performance by Bing and the Andrews Sisters. Tune and beat are haunting and the side could easily step out.

(Billboard, October 25, 1952)

 

The more I listen to modern popular vocalists, the more I am convinced that they are moulded to a set pattern. This, of course, does not apply to Bing Crosby, whose “Cool Water” (Bruns. 05019) is right up his street, and even the Andrews Sisters do not obtrude, though I could have enjoyed “South Rampart Street Parade” verso much more without them.

(The Gramophone, March 1953)

 

In October, Decca released the last recording, Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters would make together, “South Rampart Street Parade” and “Cool Water”. Variety gave it a lukewarm review. Predictably, Metronome did not like the sisters’ part of the record and offered one of its most vitriolic of the trio:

I’m sorry but I just can’t take those sisters. I know they hate me for it, but there’s something about concentrated, unshaded shouting that will always strike me as being completely unmusical. It’s a shame that they had to interfere here, because musically speaking, Bing and Matty Malneck’s (sic) jumping Dixieland band had a fine side going as they strode down the street together. But those kibitzers from the side lines! And there was a nice warm mood going on Cool until the gals started polluting that water. That’s not music, that’s all.

I disagree with Metronome and think “South Rampart Street Parade” is one of the enduring songs of the Andrews-Crosby collaborations. The sisters’ seasoned brassy voices become loud instruments within the equally loud, brassy Matty Matlock Dixieland jazz band. Perhaps more than any other song they recorded, their performance illustrates their early claim that they wanted their voices to sound like three trumpets. Indeed their raucous rendition backed by the Matlock band almost blasts Crosby out of the record. Steve Allen, who wrote the lyrics of the song, said the Crosby-Andrews recording was “the biggest thrill” of his songwriting career.  “South Rampart Street Parade” never made the charts, but it is still good Dixieland listening.

(H. Arlo Nimmo, The Andrews Sisters: A Biography and Career Record, page 296)

 

September 6, Saturday. Bing tapes material for a General Electric show with Connee Boswell. They sing “That’s a Plenty” together. The show is eventually broadcast on November 27. Bing also records a GE show with James Stewart for transmission on October 23.

September (undated). Dennis and Phillip Crosby enter Washington State College at Pullman.

September 11, Thursday. Bing arrives in New York.

September 12, Friday. Bing is on the liner “Liberte” which sails for Europe at noon from the dock at West 48th Street.

September 18, Thursday. The “Liberte” arrives at Plymouth, England. Bing has been working on his life story with Pete Martin during the voyage. Goes straight to Temple Golf Club, Maidenhead, where he plays with James Perkins, managing director of Paramount Pictures in Great Britain. Bing has a 76, four over par including two birdies. Meanwhile Bill Morrow flies out to meet Bing in Paris with a story treatment for a proposed film Road to the Moon.

September 19, Friday. Golfs with Bob Hope, Charles Graves, and Bob Foster at Temple Golf Club, Maidenhead, as practice for a charity match on September 21.

September 20, Saturday. (7:15–7:45 p.m.) Appears on the In Town Tonight BBC Home Service radio program with Bob Hope. They sing a parody of “Road to Morocco” promoting their golf match due the following day. Bing asks that his nominal fee of £6 be given to charity and it is passed to the National Playing Fields Association.

 

Once Bing Crosby walked into the IN TOWN TONIGHT studio alone and unannounced. I was rehearsing, and it was some time before I spotted the blue-blazered, balding man quietly smoking a pipe in the corner by the piano. Usually when a star walks into the studio surrounded by the theatre’s Press representative, his own personal publicity officer, agent, manager, secretary, plus an assorted corps of hangers-on, the effect is that of a charabanc of trippers descending on a peaceful country pub. As intended, the entrance causes a stir.

      I stopped what I was doing and went over to Bing. We had not prepared a script, because I knew his ability as a comedian quite equalled his reputation as a singer. In an American studio I saw a leading comedian refuse to do an ad-lib interview with him, because he was quite aware that in an easy, effortless throwaway manner, Bing would chop the heads off his best gags with faultless precision-timing.

      “What would you like to do for us?” I asked.

      “Peter Boy,” he replied, putting a hand on my shoulder, “this is your show, you are the producer. You tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.”

      It takes a great artist to show such courtesy, and great artistes are those who pay the same meticulous attention to a three-minute broadcast as to an hour’s performance at the top of the bill. I knew that Bing would have the whole routine worked out in his mind, so contented myself with explaining that as I had asked his father to join in the broadcast, would he please try and be polite to the old gentleman.

      I was fixed with a withering stare. “Young man, you are not referring to my father, but my grandfather.” Bing nodded towards the studio door where Bob Hope was entering in the normal manner, scarcely visible among his escorts. “You see, he can’t even be let out alone.”

      It was the day before their famous charity golf match with Donald Peers and Ted Ray. While the rest of the program proceeded, Bing and Bob sat in the corner scribbling some words on the back of old envelopes. They finished just in time to come to the microphone for their interview, and at first I wondered if the envelopes had anything to do with the broadcast. Then they began to sing the tune “We’re off on the Road to Morocco” but the words, read with much pantomiming from the scraps of paper, were a skit about the golf match, which they put over with all the verve of a couple of youngsters fooling about at a piano.

(Peter Duncan, In Show Business Tonight)

 

September 21, Sunday. Golfs at Temple Golf Club, Maidenhead, with Bob Hope, Ted Ray, and Donald Peers to raise money for the National Playing Fields Association. Huge crowds mean that the match has to be cut short. Newsreel cameras capture the proceedings and Pathé include footage in their September 25 edition in the UK.

 

In September of 1952 we played a match against two English opponents, Donald Peers and Ted Ray, at the Temple Golf Club in Maidenhead, England. The contest raised seven thousand and six hundred pounds for the English Playing Fields Fund.

After three or four holes the match turned into quite a block party. Maybe Hope reminded them of the loins of pork or the roasts of beef they don’t see so much of these days, for when ten thousand or twelve thousand spectators planted themselves in front of us and we asked them, “How about giving us a little elbow-room; we’d like to shoot down your way,” they yelled, “We don’t want you to shoot! We want to look at you!”

As we ducked under and around the crush, and when we could get our breath and some attention, Hope and I essayed an occasional jocosity, but the most amusing remark of the day was made by one of our opponents, Ted Ray. Ray is an English comedian with a ready wit. At the sixth hole the gallery left us an alley only fifteen feet wide down which to drive. None of us were very expert and that sea of faces leaning over the ropes, peering down at the tee and watching us didn’t make us feel more accurate.

Ray addressed his ball, waggled his club a few times and looked down the narrow lane of bodies. “Either stand back a little,” he hollered, “or shut your mouths! I’ve had four balls swallowed today.”

A London journalist, Charles Graves, wrote what seemed to me a funny story about our match. He treated it as if we were a party shooting grouse on the moors. “Hope got three,” he wrote. ”Crosby got a brace, but one of Crosby’s was winged on the rise, which is a really sporting shot.”

We did wing a few people, but, luckily, nobody was hurt. For one thing, we didn’t hit the ball hard enough to injure anyone. Besides, it was a chilly day and almost everybody had on extra garments. You could fire a squirrel gun into the kind of coat called a British warm and never pink the wearer.

I think we got in eight or nine holes over a three-hour stretch, although the players were seldom simultaneously on the same hole. At the conclusion of the confusion it grieves me to record that Peers and Ray were one up, and the annual rout of the British Walker Cup team was partially avenged. My handmaiden and I want them again, though, alone and at Lakeside.

It did give me a warm feeling to know that such a great, good-natured crowd of well-wishers would journey far into the country to cheer and applaud actors from another land. Of course they say an Englishman will do practically anything to get out into the country.

(Call Me Lucky, pages 227-229)

 

Crosby I found to be a kind and very gentle man. He was “three” handicap and as we walked arm in arm down the fairway, I noticed that he had his signature inscribed on all of his clubs. “Don’t tell me you actually manufacture golf clubs, Bing,” I said. “Oh yes,” he replied with a grin, “I’ll do anything for money . . . steal even.”

      What a lovely bloke he turned out to be, and what a fine golfer. Unfortunately he like myself, was getting worried about the encroachment of the spectators. The stewards just couldn’t control them. They were breathing down our necks and you couldn’t take a backswing for a short putt!! As we played the tenth hole where we were “all square” it was decided that we should pack it in. Someone sent for a car and we piled in and drove off to the eighteenth tee. Eleven thousand people hared after us, but we managed to drive off and Peers got a four to decide the match.

(Ted Ray, Golf–My Slice of Life)

 

That night, at around 10:30 p.m., Bing makes an unbilled guest appearance in “Sunday with the Stars,” a Variety Club benefit in aid of Camberwell’s Clubland and the Midwife Teachers’ Training College, at the Stoll Theater, London. He walks on unannounced while Bob Hope is talking to the audience and there is a tremendous spontaneous ovation. Bing ad-libs with Hope for a while and then, although unprepared and unrehearsed, has a short solo spot.

 

When Crosby found himself alone on the stage at the end, his impish grin faded. . . . The crowd gave the nonplused Bing plenty of advice: “Sing ‘Please,’ ‘White Christmas,’ ‘Blue of the Night.’” The most practical help came from Pat Dodd who, at the stage piano, was a relic from Hope’s act. He started playing. It was the intro to “It Had to Be You,” we hoped he’d picked the right key. . . .

      Bing got through the first set of couplets, then found himself groping for the others. But he merely grinned and explained, in song and rhyme, that he’d forgotten the words. Pat Dodd prompted him with “Pennies from Heaven,” “Thanks,” “Love in Bloom,” and “Don’t Fence Me In.” We heard a snatch of each. The Crosby memory is definitely not in the Pelman class. He did better with “Blue Skies” and “Somebody Loves Me” and I fancy that he enjoyed doing these the most. He certainly didn’t give out much in the others. His last number was “White Christmas.”

(Melody Maker, September 27, 1952)

 

The Coliseum performance was a fully rehearsed show, but Jack [Buchanan] sometimes found himself ad libbing in charity shows where a previous run through was impossible. One such occasion was at the Stoll Theatre on 21 September 1952, when the Variety Club of Great Britain presented Sunday with the Stars. Bob Hope - who was appearing at the Palladium - organised the cast which included Pat Kirkwood, Jerry Desmonde, Donald Peers, Peter Sellers and ‘additional surprise stars’.

         As Bing Crosby was in Britain at the time, there was speculation as to whether he might be one of the guests. When the curtain went up, however, the first surprise of the evening was revealed as Jack strolled on to the stage. Prevented from wearing ‘stage costume’ by Sunday theatre regulations, Jack was in a lounge suit and bow tie as he began his work as compere for the evening. His reception was warm - the usual Buchanan welcome - made all the friendlier by the audience’s knowledge that he had literally popped in from Hollywood between tests and the start of shooting of The Band Wagon.

         Jack introduced the turns with his usual charm but there was a feeling of anticipation which made it hard for the earlier turns - great artists though they were - to distract the audience’s mind from the obvious question - when would Bob Hope appear and would Bing Crosby be with him?

         As the orchestra struck up ‘Thanks for the Memory’ Bob Hope made his expected appearance. He and Jack began to trade the wisecracks and insults which had worked well in their radio and television programmes. But it soon became clear that their ad libbing had an almost frenzied purpose in keeping the show going until Bing could be found. ‘The Old Groaner had agreed to appear but, typically, had been delayed on the golf course.

         As the show went on until, by now, a late hour, the audience appreciated to the full Jack and Bob’s ability to keep them entertained without a script or prior rehearsal long after their loosely planned routine was due to end. Finally, to the strains of ‘Where the Blue of Night meets the Gold of the Day’, Bing appeared. Casually dressed in blazer and flannels, he had not bothered with his toupee and offered his left side to Jack, Bob and the photographers with ‘I’ve got more hair there’.

         It was planned that Bing would simply appear to take a bow at the final curtain. The audience, by now, was in no mood to let the three Kings of comedy, song and dance leave without performing for them. There were hurried consultations; what number, if any, did all three and the orchestra know well enough to tackle ‘cold’? Eventually, Jack announced that ‘Carolina in the Morning’ would now be rendered - perhaps literally - and ‘everyone should feel free to leave!’

         No one showed the slightest interest in doing so and - for the first and last time on any stage - Bing, Bob and Jack went into their song and dance routine. The singing was easy enough but the dance routine depended heavily on Jack with flashes of Bob’s early ‘buck and wing’ training and Bing’s total faking. At the end of the number, the two greatest all round American entertainers showed their appreciation to link man Jack with a kiss from each side which, happily, the photographers were there to catch.

Recalling this occasion at his home in California in 1976, Bing Crosby said:

That night at the Stoll certainly was off the cuff. I never got to see either of the others until I arrived at the theatre. We didn’t even have a few minutes together in the wings. All of a sudden I was on. There were a lot of things Bob and I had been doing in the army camps but it is always very difficult to go on cold. That was where Jack was so clever. Hope and I knew each other’s work pretty well but Jack just fitted in with the wise-cracks and the song and dance as though we had all been working together for years. I was in awe of Jack. He was such a distinguished looking fellow and he had such a variety of talents. It was like Laurence Olivier today. That was what he represented to me. He was very crisp and spruce. I just liked his style. He was my idea of a great English actor.

 Bob Hope, too, has the happiest memories of working with Jack. This - as we have seen - was not confined to charity shows but to radio and television work in Britain and the United States. Still the supreme variety artist himself, early in 1977 Bob Hope summed up his impressions of Jack:

 He had a great and immense talent with a comedy and musical style all his own and he had a great sense of humour. Those spots with Jack and Crosby at the Stoll in 1952 were genuinely ad lib and there were a lot of unprogrammed activities going on, but working with two people like that, I felt pretty secure out on stage.

(Top Hat and Tails - The Story of Jack Buchanan, pages 221/222)

 

…That night we pulled another fifteen thousand pounds into the Playing Fields Fund with a show in a London theater. The theater deal was Hope’s venture, but I did a guest appearance for him, sang a few songs and “hopped the buck” a little. Taken all in all, we thought it a pretty satisfactory day’s work for a worthy cause. Every time I’ve even been in England, which is three, Ive had a royal time, and the friendliness of the English people, their eagerness to let you know how glad they are to see you, is a very heart-warming thing to me.

(Call Me Lucky, page 229)

 

September 22, Monday. Attends the wedding of Lieutenant and Mrs. Thomas Boardman and then flies to Paris to film Little Boy Lost with Nicole Maurey, Claude Dauphin, and Christian Fourcade. The director is George Seaton with Victor Young handling the music score. Location work is filmed at Montfort-L’Amaury. The Paramount newsreel of October 20 shows Bing selling lottery tickets in Paris to assist with the restoration of the Palace of Versailles.

 

boylost1s[1].jpgIt’s always a wonderful experience to awake in Paris and look out of the window at postal card views in every direction. But Paris, on this occasion, was to be secondary, because we were awaiting a message from Bing’s agent about where he’d be shooting scenes for the movie. Hardly had we had our tea and crumpets when the telephone rang and we were told to meet Bing at the Ponts du St Michel bridge.

         When we arrived, no one was in sight! Now, we thought, where would one find Bing in the entire city of Paris? Presently a car pulled up near the bridge, and Bing alighted. He waved a greeting, and walked over to us. He wore a grey hat, light brown raincoat and matching brown suit, and he wore the thick screen makeup. Bing, as you may know, is an excellent subject to interview. We didn’t have to ask him questions, because he fired inquiries at us in a steady stream. He asked about movie making in England, what stars are popular, what American films have been drawing good audiences, what the rank and file of the English population thinks about Hollywood, and how his latest film, Just for You, had been doing at the box-office.

         Then Nicole Maurey, the pretty French girl who plays his wife in Little Boy Lost, arrived and the director called to them to start the scene. It took place on the boulevard opposite the bridge, and Bing and Nicole got into the car and drove down the avenue. Suddenly the car stopped and Nicole rushed out, with Bing following her, calling her name. When he reached her, she stopped and they broke into an argument. As they quarrelled, they failed to notice a priest nearby, until he touched Nicole’s arm and shook his finger at her. This ended the spat, and arm in arm Nicole and Bing returned to the car.

         The scene was done five or six times, and then the company broke for lunch. We made short work of eating, and Bing announced, “Next station is the Boulevard Haussman, so come along with me and ride in my car.” On the way over, Bing asked about the reception given The Emperor Waltz, and he sang a few bars from the well-known “Blue Danube.” Since the death of Mrs. Crosby, Bing has been closer than ever to his sons. We asked him if he had a picture of the boys. He said, almost sadly, “Too bad I don’t have them with me today. Yesterday I was carrying a whole batch of the kids’ pictures. It would have been nice to show them to you.”

         Bing doesn’t speak any German, but he has a wonderful command of French. When we mentioned how agreeably surprised we were, he laughed, “You don’t believe everything you read in the papers, do you?”

         The scene at the Boulevard Haussman was a short one, with Bing and the small boy who meets him outside a glove store. Next we went to Montmartre, where Nicole, Bing, Claude Dauphin and a French girl worked in a picture-snapping scene. Bing had several golf balls which he autographed. Presenting them to us, he said, “Here’s a souvenir of the day, and if I shouldn’t see you again, goodbye and auf wiedersehen. Give my regards to everyone in London.”

         But, luckily, we did see him again two days later when Bing was shooting at Montfort-l’Amaury. We drove out to Montfort, a dreamy little spot in the country. We didn’t have to search long for Bing, because there was only one square in the town and a noisy fair was going on. It was near luncheon time, so we sat at a sidewalk cafe, watching the activity while we nibbled sandwiches and coffee. Soon Bing came along and stopped at our table, and a sudden thought struck him. Since we were reporting on his weekend of acting, he said, “Why don’t you do this thing up right and do bit parts as people at the fair? Then, when the movie shows in your neighborhood you can ask the theatre manager to put your name on the marquee as ‘Also Starring Angie Gurlitt.’”

         When Bing finished the final take on the scene he came and paid us, explaining, “Now you can’t sue me for unpaid services.” Since nothing had been said about pay of any kind, it was like found money and we decided we’d simply frame the francs as another memento of the weekend.     

         I’d been told that Bing was a difficult man to interview, simply because it was an impossibility to set a date with him. Our weekend of cooperation from him certainly disproved this. That a star of his stature would have devoted so much time to a visitor, including her in his plans for several days running, even giving her a small spot of acting in his film, was most unusual. I had heard, too, that Bing tended to be a nonconformist, and yet the only proof I saw of this was in the clothes he wore He couldn’t have been more agreeable or patient on the set, doing scenes over and over, and talking with everyone from bit players and crew members to bystanders watching him work.

         Finally, my mental picture of Bing has always included a pipe in his mouth and yet during the weekend, I saw him smoke a pipe only once, and then only for a short time. All of which brings to mind a rephrasing of a quote from Bing: “You shouldn’t believe everything you read, nor should you believe everything you see!

(Angie Gurlitt, writing in an unidentified European magazine)

 

…But it is undoubtedly Bing Crosby who proved to be the co-star who most marked Christian Fourcade and helped shape his life. When I finally managed to establish contact with Christian, who had the kindness to reply to my query and invited me to meet with him in Normandy, where he lives with his wife and son Paul. I was surprised to learn that upon retirement from the screen, he had chosen to move away from Paris and settle in Normandy to raise race horses.

Certainly Bing played a role in his career choice, as Christian very proudly showed me the correspondence he had kept up with Bing until his death. In the letters, Bing regularly inquired about Christian’s stable, indeed sent him a subscription to a horse-raising periodical which he recommended. Then, too, every Christmas without fail there was a gift for Christian that arrived in the mail.

As for the making of Little Boy Lost, Christian has very happy memories of working with Bing. He describes him as a simple and kind man who ended up becoming as much of a father to Christian in real life as he does in the film.

Christian also told me about the several months he spent living in Los Angeles, where much of the film was shot on Paramount’s back lot, where the Montfort-Mere train station had been partially reconstructed. Christian remembers how his mother, who plays a brief role in the film, refused to let him live in a hotel room for fear that he would take on the bad habits of the local American boys whom she had seen on drug store floors reading comic books. She also wanted to ensure he would eat properly and not grow fat on hamburgers, the American dish that had not yet arrived in France.

Even with his mother’s home cooking, Christian ended up putting on a bit of weight, so much so that the film’s make-up specialist had trouble making him look as thin as the sickly 1948 postwar orphan he was supposed to portray. As for the train station, Christian told me that it was in Montfort, in front of the real train station, that Bing received the telegram from his doctor announcing to him his wife’s terminal cancer. It explains why Bing seems to be authentically moved in one of the final scenes of the film, when he awaits the train to Paris, having concluded that Christian was not his child. If Bing looks so pained at being unable to decide whether Jean is in fact his son, it is in large part because of the pain caused upon learning of impending death of his real-life spouse.

Christian also introduced me to another of his co-stars, Binkie, his toy dog - today a bit moth-eaten - who plays a central part in the film. It is Christian’s recognition of Binkie in the closing moments of the film that makes Bing realize that Jean is indeed his true son and that he need not return to Paris and America empty-handed.

Christian also helped me locate another of the movie’s principal actors, Nicole Maurey. I’d spent months unsuccessfully attempting to locate Nicole in Hollywood, where she had spent much of the 1950s not only starring in Little Boy Lost but being directed by the likes of Blake Edwards. She had also spent some time in England, where she had a successful career as a television actress.

After I told Christian about my discouragement over not having been able to locate Nicole, he took out his address book, pointed to her name, and noted that she lived in the same village I did, Marly-le-Roi, a suburb of Paris with a population of 17,000. As it turned out, she lived only a couple of streets away in a house in front of which I’d run regularly during my nightly jogging jaunts.

I later had the chance to meet Nicole, whom I’d already noticed without knowing who she was, in the street and at some of the local stores. Today, almost 50 years since she portrayed Lisa, Nicole is as beautiful and lively as she was in Little Boy Lost, the film where I first spotted her at the age of five. I’ve never forgotten some of those scenes. Most importantly, she proved to be my very first contact with le femme francaise.

Nicole, who continues to play small roles in French made-for- TV movies, revealed something to me that I don’t believe she has ever told anybody else: the role she was originally supposed to play was that of Nelly, the sexy vamp-like niece of the Montfort-Amaury hotel owner, played in the movie by Colette Dereal. When Nicole showed up at Paramount’s Paris offices for casting, however, it was decided she would play the role of Bill Wainwright’s wife, the mother of Jean. To this day, Nicole says she doesn’t really understand why she was given the more important role, and anybody who has seen Nicole in her subsequent films will certainly agree that she would perhaps have been better suited to the role played by Colette Dereal. It is Colette, a professional singer who died in Marseilles in 1988, whose voice you hear when Nicole sings her duet with Bing at the opening of the film.

(Paul R. Michaud, writing in BINGANG magazine, winter 2001-02)

     

September 25, Thursday. In Paris staying at the Hotel Ritz. Later receives a letter stating that Dixie has terminal ovarian cancer although she has not been told.

 

The crunch came, director Seaton revealed, during the shooting of a minor scene: “It was just simply Bing walking from a small-town bus to the railroad station. We were lining up for the shot and someone came out from the hotel with a letter for him. Bing sat and read it, and I said to him, ‘Sorry Bing, we’re ready now—the light’s right.’

      He put the letter in his pocket and the shot was to be merely him getting off the bus carrying a suitcase, having left this child he wasn’t going to adopt because he was convinced it wasn’t his. The walk wasn’t more than thirty yards. But the way he carried that suitcase. He had the whole weight of the world on his shoulders. When he got to the platform I yelled ‘cut’ and looked around to find half the crew were crying.

      It was so beautifully done, I went up to him, put my arms around him and said, ‘Bing, that’s the most magnificent moment of film that I’ve seen in years.’ And he took the letter out of his pocket. It was from his wife’s doctor. He’d just found out that Dixie had cancer.”

(Bing, The Authorized Biography, page 170)

 

October 8, Wednesday. The film Just for You has its New York premiere at the Capitol Theater.

 

Just For You, a Bing Crosby-Jane Wyman musical which Paramount has set for national release in September, should prove a stout factor in bringing back that “lost audience.” For this Technicolor film has a rousing, melodic score and a logical story well acted by a fine cast. With such basic ingredients, the picture will not only satisfy the “under 35” trade but will recapture some of the older public who have temporarily lost the film-going habit.

      …Musical sequences run the gamut from “Zing a Zong,” duetted by Crosby and Miss Wyman on the modest stage of an Air Force base in Alaska, to “I’ll Si-Si Ya in Bahia,” an opulent production number. Particularly effective is “The Live Oak Tree,” a novelty tune warbled by Crosby in an outdoor campfire setting in company with a flock of young teen-age girls.

       With fine material to work with, Crosby socks across one of his best portrayals.

(Variety, August 6, 1952, following New York preview)

 

Bing Crosby’s well-known reputation as an amiable father of boys may have no bearing whatsoever on his new picture, “Just For You,” but it is notable that, in this song-plugged fable, he plays a father who has trouble with his son.

Solemnly, anxiously, benignly, the greying Bingle appears as a widower dad who is torn between sparking Jane Wyman and squaring himself with his 18-year-old lad—who also turns out, as the story develops, to be interested in Jane. And by the time it is ended, the genial papa is not only jake with his son, but he is locked in the arms of Miss Wyman and has got his ‘teen-age daughter into a fancy finishing school.

Whether the line of procedure arranged by the writer of the script of this new Paramount picture at the Capitol would be approved by the real Crosby Pere is open to question, however—and we seriously doubt that it would. For the real Bing, they say, is realistic—and this little story is not.

The son, played by Robert Arthur, is supposed to be 18, but his mental processes and behavior are those of an adolescent boy. He gushes, he pouts, he fumbles feebly and painfully with words and he acts toward the debonair Miss Wyman as though she were his teacher in the sixth grade at school. And Bing, who is usually imperturbable and takes childish matters in his stride, worries and ponders over this one in the most unpaternalistic way. Indeed, he actually ducks the whole problem, by courtesy of Robert Carson, who wrote the script. In the showdown, it is the Air forces that make a man of the boy.

Meanwhile, as casually and lightly as he is solemn with respect to the lad, the old fellow arranges matters for his daughter to enter the finishing school. And this he does by soft-talking the headmistress, Ethel Barrymore, and enchanting an alumnae tea-party by singing “On the 10:10 from Ten-Ten-Tennessee.” As for his romance with Miss Wyman, that works out naturally. After all, the two were thoroughly warmed up in last year’s “Here Comes the Groom.”

Put this one down as an endeavor in a generous cause that fails to come off entirely because it lacks sharp direction—and a script. Elliott Nugent’s staging and pacing is as rigid and uninspired as the stiff and conventional plotting in Mr. Carson’s script. And the songs and song numbers, while pleasant, are nothing to set the screen on fire.

Best of the lot is that favorite of the disk jockeys, “Zing a Little Zong,” which Mr. Crosby and Miss Wyman handle in a gentlemanly and ladylike way. And a big dance production number, done to a Spanish serenade, has strong visual style and vitality in the Technicolor in which the picture is made. For the most part, however, the ideas are worked out in pretty tedious talk, which we rather image Mr. Crosby, as a practicing papa, would eschew.

 (Bosley Crowther, New York Times, October 9, 1952)

 

As the comparative mildness of the forties (which, despite its faults, had given us some of the best songs and most creative singers the music profession has ever known) reluctantly gave way to the prevailing gimmickry of the fifties, Bing Crosby’s image began to change almost imperceptibly from a romantic singing leading man into something resembling a favourite uncle—but a very swinging uncle nonetheless. He was now nudging fifty and this fact was reflected, quite fetchingly, in his 1952 film Just For You in which he was cast as a middle-aged theatre producer with greying temples and sporting a receding toupee. The role fitted him well and while it didn’t exactly tax his acting ability, he made the transition quite painlessly. He was again fortunate in having Jane Wyman as his leading lady. The film’s score, by Leo Robin and Harry Warren, was excellent in every way except one—it did not yield any outstanding hits, except for the cleverly conceived ‘Zing a Little Zong’ which the writers had originally intended as a throw-away item. While it did not reach quite the heights of acceptance that the previous year’s ‘Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening’ had achieved, it still notched up considerable sales as a single—thanks once again to a well-staged on-screen treatment by Bing and Miss Wyman.

(Ken Barnes, The Crosby Years, pages 90-91)

 

 October 9, Thursday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific). Bing’s new transcribed radio program for General Electric commences, still on CBS, but now on Thursdays. The shows continue until July 2, 1953, and the audience share for the season is 6.5 which enables the program to scrape in to twentieth position in the Nielsen ratings. The top show is Amos ‘N’ Andy with 14.2. Bing is said to be paid $16,000 per week which makes it one of the most expensive shows on radio. This figure also has to cover the cost of staff and guests. Guests in the opening show are Jane Wyman and Joe Venuti. Ken Carpenter, Jud Conlon’s Rhythmaires, and the John Scott Trotter Orchestra continue in support. The show is produced by Bill Morrow and Murdo MacKenzie.

 

Bing Crosby is back for another semester in radio and this time, flying the General Electric colors. Chesterfield gave him the go-by at the wind up of last season, along with Bob Hope, considering the weekly tab too high. The Hollywood and Vine reports have it that, as with Jack Benny before him, the production, accoutrements and bankroll on Bing’s showcase have been trimmed in keeping with the ‘radio re-appraisal’, if so, GE has grabbed itself a good deal. For there is no perceptible change - so far as the listener is concerned - either in Crosby or his entourage. If the opening stanza lacked some of the sharpness and the brittleness of the Crosby romps in the past, the track record is sufficient warranty that in another couple of weeks the Thursday night 9.30 to 10.00 slot on CBS will be rockin’ to the customary Crosby mastery. Not that one needed too much reassurance on his first time out, last week. His brief encounter with Joe Venuti (leading up to fiddlin’ virtuosity), his by-play with announcer, Ken Carpenter; his soloing on ‘Auf Wiedersehn’ and his dueting with Jane Wyman on, ‘Zing A Little Zong’ (on reprise from their Par film click ‘Just For You’) were all grooved to the Crosby touch and manner, even though some of the dialogue spark was lacking. Significantly, The Groaner tipped on his GE preem that he’ll be TV bound, (presumably under the same sponsorship auspices) when he winds up a film chore in Europe. The only despondent note in the show was the heavy handed and trip-hammered GE plugs with both Crosby and Carpenter equally guilty.

(Variety, October 15, 1952)

 

October 16, Thursday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for General Electric is broadcast by CBS. The show has been taped and the guests are the Bell Sisters and Helen O’Connell.

October 19, Sunday. Bing is featured in Guest Star #291, a transcribed radio show. It is assumed that the songs were dubbed from Bing’s radio shows.

October 21, Tuesday. Bing arrives back in New York on board the Queen Mary liner.

October 23, Thursday. (6:30–7:00 p.m. Pacific) The Bing Crosby Show for General Electric is broadcast and the guest is James Stewart.

October 25, Saturday. Bing returns to Los Angeles and Dixie is there to greet him at Union Station. Apparently Dixie has disobeyed the orders of her physician, Dr. John Davis, in order to meet Bing.

October 26, Sunday. Dixie suffers a relapse.

October 27, Monday. Dixie is received into the Roman Catholic Church by the Rt. Msgr. Patrick Concannon, pastor of the Church of the Good Shepherd.

October 28, Tuesday. Dixie goes into a coma. Bing’s four sons are brought back from their studies to be at the family home.

 

The sound of his voice spooked me immediately. It was full of emotion, wavering around the edges as if he were about to burst into tears. I’d never heard him so vulnerable, so overwhelmed by human feeling, and didn’t know what to make of it.

“Gary, listen, I got bad news for you,” he said. “Your mom is dying. Its cancer. She’s in a coma, and the doctors don’t think she’s gonna pull out of it. You better come home right away.

And then he started to cry.

I put down the phone, walked out to the car and drove straight to the nearest bar. I stayed there, getting myself good and whacked until I ran out of money, then climbed back in and headed south.

The old man’s news came as a complete shock. I had no idea Mom was sick with cancer, much less that she was so far gone. Three months ago, just a few weeks after I’d finished my first year at Stanford, she’d been taken to St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica for stomach surgery, but it hadn’t sounded all that serious. When Dad told us about it at the ranch, he just casually mentioned out of the side of his mouth, “Well, your mother went to the hospital today for a little operation, but don’t worry about it. It’ll be all right. She’ll be up at Hayden Lake at the end of the summer…

It had been decided that my brothers and I weren’t to see Mom in the coma, so we were kept out of her bedroom. We were hardly kids anymore but were still looked on as babies. For the next three days we drifted aimlessly around the house, waiting for the inevitable to happen as she gradually slid downhill into the arms of God.

Every few hours Georgie or Dad or the doctor would walk downstairs and issue a report on her progress. Often there were tears running down Dad’s face, and he didn’t seem to care who saw them. The display of emotion coming out of the old man was so totally foreign that it put me on edge. I didn’t know how to handle it. Over the years I’d come to think about him tough and hard and deal with him tough and hard like a convict does with the warden, and now suddenly the warden was doing something so human that I wanted to put my arms around him - and that scared me. I didn’t trust the feeling, didn’t dare lower my guard, so I held myself in check and made sure I stayed as mean and hostile as ever.

“Well, what do you know,” I thought to m