Chapter 9

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The Elder Statesman, 1960–1974

 

At the outset of the sixties, Bing appeared to lose weight, and he did not look at all well. In fact, he was probably in constant pain with kidney stone problems. Major surgery was necessary again in 1962 and in 1963, and even then the problems continued. As always though, Bing maintained his usual public face and as the years passed his reputation as an elder statesman of show business grew. His distinctive speaking voice was often in demand as was his ability as a raconteur. The occasional television specials continued and drew good audiences. The frequency of Bing’s film work declined, although he enjoyed considerable commercial success with his last Road film and some critical acclaim as the drunken doctor in the remake of Stagecoach. Recordings became less frequent as well although he did manage to make Hollywood Palace.jpgcommercial recordings in each year. Bing remained very faithful to his fans and was always willing to give time to meet them and reply to their correspondence.

He gradually reduced his work schedule to about ninety days a year, which gave him plenty of time for his various sporting activities and for his family. Bing had always felt that he had not given enough time to the children of his first marriage, and he tried to make sure that he did not repeat that mistake with the three children of his second family. Religion became even more important to him as he got older. While his public persona was perpetuated, in his private life it appeared that he had tired of being “Bing” Crosby and was quietly slipping back into being ordinary Harry Crosby. As a result, it was as hard to track his movements during this period as it was in his early years in Spokane. He traveled constantly and spent much time at his new home in Las Cruces in Baja California. After several years of indifferent health, Bing amazed almost everyone in 1964 when he agreed to appear in a weekly situation comedy series on television. The series was pleasant, although not a great success and Bing then picked up a steady job as one of the regular hosts of the Hollywood Palace which gave him very useful exposure. His televised Christmas shows frequently attracted record audiences, but it seemed that Bing was content to gradually fade into semiretirement. Then in 1974, he became very seriously ill and after a major operation, part of one lung was removed. There were doubts about him ever singing again, and it was probably with some trepidation that he returned to the recording studios to work with British producer Ken Barnes.

Equivalents of $100 in year 2000 terms– 1960: $580, 1974: $348.

 

1960

 

January 6, Wednesday. Bing and Kathryn throw a party for Lindsay Crosby’s birthday. Thirty of his friends attend.

January 10, Sunday. Bing arranges for Leo Lynn to pick up Perry Como as he arrives at Los Angeles Airport and drive him to his hotel bungalow where Bing calls in to see him. Perry and Bing have dinner together.

January 11-15, Monday-Friday. Tapes The Bing Crosby Show with Perry Como, the Crosby Brothers, Elaine Dunn, and Sandy Stewart. The show is transmitted by ABC-TV on February 29. Bing takes the place of Gary Crosby in the Crosby Brothers song “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho”

    

When Variety Was King: Memoir of a TV Pioneer chronicles the exploits of veteran television writer/producer Frank Peppiatt who, with partner John Aylesworth, wrote and produced shows for such stars as Judy Garland, Julie Andrews and Andy Williams and Sonny and Cher. They also created Hee Haw and Hullabaloo.

Peppiatt was once asked to create a special for Jackie Gleason which would include a golf match between The Great One and Arnold Palmer. It was envisioned that Bing would announce the game and banter with Gleason. Alas, the show never materialized. Peppiatt, however, did succeed in working with Bing on one memorable occasion.

Just after Christmas, 1959 TV icon Nick Vanoff called. “I need your help. I’m producing and directing a big special with Bing Crosby and Perry Como.” Peppiatt eagerly replied, “That is big.”

Although Peppiatt and Aylesworth were busy in New York working on a series named Music ’60, the team could not resist the blandishments of plane tickets, a suite in Beverly Hills and five thousand dollars each. Vanoff met them upon arrival in Los Angeles, and accompanied them in a small prop plane to Bing’s country club in Palm Springs. Once there, a clerk summoned them to a large closed circuit TV set. There was Bing on the screen. “Mr. Crosby is just teeing off on 18. He should be here in twenty minutes.” The star-struck writers anxiously waited in a spacious dining room, noticing Ray Milland at the next table. Soon, Nick whispered, “Here comes Bing.”

Peppiatt remembered Bing’s “soft, singsong voice” as he greeted them. “Well, well, well. Nick and the scriveners are here.” As they became acquainted over lunch Bing insisted on some ground rules. “My last two specials had themes like glass and wood and I was sort of the second banana. I’m a crooner, not a carpenter or a glass blower, so let’s keep things straight ahead and simple.”

Aylesworth piped in. “And we must remember that the pairing of Crosby and Como is very special, like Ethel Merman and Mary Martin. People have never heard you sing together.” Peppiatt was inspired. “Music lovers all over the world will literally want to stick their microphones into the proceedings.” Vanoff ran with the ball. “And we will see to that! Fifty or more microphones will pop in over your and Perry’s heads and we go on from there, okeydokey?” Bing was thumbs – up. “Okey – damn - dokey!”

Emboldened by Bing’s enthusiasm, Peppiatt brought it to the next level. “It’ll be a Crosby – Como crooning contest!”  Bing modestly added, “I’ll bring my pipes along and proudly participate.” As he escorted them back to the Palm Springs airport, Nick exclaimed, “We got the old man geared up. Good job, guys. Now you can start working on some patter to get us into the medley and start putting a medley together. Okeydokey?”

The duo was invited to a lavish New Year’s Eve party hosted by Frank Sinatra, but missed this golden opportunity because they overslept in their hotel room. They consoled themselves by working for three straight days as the new decade dawned. “We finished a good first draft of the medley scene with the fifty microphones. Nick was thrilled with the spot, suggested a couple of changes and it was ready to take to the musical director [Vic Schoen]. Perry Como arrived, and he and Bing hit it off right away. They both loved the medley, and John and I started filling in the rest of the show.” Peppiatt was called back to work on Music ’60 so he didn’t see the final show. “John said the taping had gone well and he brought thanks from Bing, Perry and Nick.”

This special, The Bing Crosby Show for Oldsmobile, would be aired on Leap Day, 1960. Perry was so pleased with the “scriveners two” that he asked them, along with Vanoff, to take charge of Perry Como’s Kraft Music Hall the following fall. One can just imagine their answer. “Okey – damn – dokey.”

(Martin McQuade, writing in BING magazine, summer 2013)

 

January 21-24, Thursday–Sunday. The nineteenth National Pro-Am Championship at Pebble Beach is played in very bad weather. The winner is Ken Venturi. Bing and Jimmy Demaret act as commentators during the television coverage which starts at 2:30 p.m. on ABC-TV on the final day. Celebrities playing include Bob Hope, Desi Arnaz, Ed Sullivan, Dean Martin, Ernie Ford, Fred MacMurray, Ray Milland, George Gobel, Burt Lancaster, Randolph Scott, Phil Harris, and James Garner. Phil and Lindsay Crosby also play as does Moe Dalitz (see January 16, 1959). Bing and his three younger sons from his first family entertain at the dinner after the tournament.

 

An impromptu song-and-dance routine by the Crosby Clan highlighted last night’s Victory Dinner and Clambake winding up the 19th annual National Pro-Amateur Golf Tournament.

Host Bing Crosby “subbed” for son Gary Crosby as he joined Phil, Lindsay and Dennis for “The Battle of Jericho” and a subsequent soft-shoe number.          

Earlier, Phil, Lindsay and Dennis had warbled two folk songs – “Scarlet Ribbons” and “Town-Oh!” – for the 700 or so golfers, tournament officials, volunteer workers and press representatives.

The “Bing and His Friends” portion of the program also included a rendition of “Mack the Knife” by comedian Phil Harris, again an amateur entrant in the tournament. And, there was a sedate jam-session involving amateur golfers George Gobel (guitar) and Curt Massey (piano) as accompanists for some New Orleans cornet work by pro-golfer Lionel Herbert.

Award ceremonies were run off with dispatch as Bing doled out the checks to the winning pros and the trophies to the contributing amateurs.

Bing also served as master-of-ceremonies for the regular Victory Dinner show. He introduced Buddy Cole and his Orchestra, dancer Jim Slade, jugglers Ursula and Gus, magician Del Rey, ventriloquist Rickey Lane and Velvel, singer Sandy Stewart and comedian Paul Gilbert.

Gilbert was a last-minute substitution for comic Joey Bishop.

Finally, Bing sang his traditional “Now Is the Hour” and the 19th annual Bing Crosby Golf Tournament was rather water-logged history.

(Monterey Peninsula, January 25, 1960)

 

January 21, Thursday. Bing is elected as chairman of the board of the First National Bank of Holbrook, Arizona.

January 28, Thursday. Records four songs with Bob Thompson and his Orchestra for RCA Victor Records in Los Angeles. Two are released but the other two songs remain unissued until 1967 when they appear on an Australian extended-play record.

 

The Music of Home – It’s a Good Day

“The Music of Home” is a lovely ballad from Frank Loesser’s Greenwillow. Crosby renders the pretty tune warmly over a lush orchestra backing. He reads “It’s a Good Day” smartly over a bright orchestra assist. Both are fine sides that should please.

(Billboard, February 8, 1960)

 

February (undated). Bing and Rosemary Clooney record two advertising jingles for Eastern Products for use on their forthcoming radio show. Bing also records songs with Buddy Cole & His Trio for radio use at the CBS Studio in Hollywood.

February 1–June. Films High Time for Bing Crosby Productions with Fabian, Tuesday Weld, and Nicole Maurey. The director is Blake Edwards with Henry Mancini looking after the musical score. Initial location filming takes place at the College of the Pacific in Stockton, California. Completion of the film is delayed due to an actors’ strike. As part of his contract, Bing is released for the period from March 12 to March 17 inclusive so that he can take part in a TV show with Perry Como.

February 6, Saturday. Lindsay Crosby marries Barbara Frederickson at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Westwood, and the reception is held at Bing’s Holmby Hills house.

February 7, Sunday. Bing’s mother’s “ninetieth” birthday party (she was really only eighty-seven). All of her seven children, including Ted, who has apparently been regarded as the “black sheep” of the family attend, as does Father Peyton. The whole family goes to the 11o’clock mass prior to the party. Kathryn later writes to her parents.

 

…Well, Barbara and Lindsay were married on Saturday and all went well. There wasn’t one fistfight in the whole reception. I was pleased beyond words because Bing for the first time got to see one of his children marry and in church – the reception was here and my angel husband let me know he was happy, which of course always pleases me.

Florence and Everett came out from New York for the wedding and for mother’s birthday party which was Sunday, February 7. We had for the first time in about fifteen years the whole family together – all seven children and their maids. It was a pretty big bite for me to chew off but it came off beautifully. Larry and Elaine were so very helpful – they kept Mary Rose and Catherine and Ed Mullin at their home. Then Bob and June were also delightful, they brought Ted and Margaret from the train on Glendale and kept them at their home. So with Everett and Florence here we were all together most of Sunday. Mother behaved like a 20 year old. She was perky and cute and enjoyed herself all day. She was bright from about 7 o’clock in the morning when she rose and grandly descended to breakfast in her robe until about 9 o’clock that night when Florence topped off a beautifully exciting day with a wonderful concert…

 

February 19-21/26-28. Kathryn plays the leading role of “Cordelia” in Shakespeare’s King Lear at Immaculate Heart College.

February 20-22, Saturday–Monday. Bing is at Squaw Valley, Idaho, with Buster and Stevie Collier for the Winter Olympics. Gives an interview for Radio Moscow about athletics and other matters which is broadcast on April 8 and noted in the FBI files. He sings a few bars of "How Deep Is the Ocean".

February 23, Tuesday. Bing returns to the High Time set.

 

On Tuesday Bing returned to the set of High Time, and Blake Edwards took him to task in front of the assembled company. “That’s the least professional thing I can imagine. We were all waiting to work on Saturday. You have wasted three days for the entire cast and crew. Why didn’t you at least come back so we could shoot on Monday?”

Bing’s innocent blue eyes gazed soulfully back at his director: “But Blake, there I was trapped in a broom closet with twenty-nine gypsies and a hot guitar. What could I do?” The star shrugged his shoulders and slouched back to his canvas chair to await the next scene.

Blake confided, “I’ve been a writer all my life, and that is the single funniest line I’ve ever heard. Imagine! ‘Trapped in a broom closet with twenty-nine gypsies and a hot guitar.’ It defused me completely, and sent the whole company right back to work.”

(Kathryn Crosby, writing in My Life with Bing, page 153)

 

February 28, Sunday. Bing at home at Holmby Hills with most of his sons and their wives. Then he and Kathryn go to Palm Springs for two days.

 

But now Sandy, Pat, and I began organizing a new pattern of Crosby living, starting with Sundays at home. On the first one after Bing’s return, Sandy and Phil arrived bright and early with asparagus and beans. Pat and Dennis brought salad and French bread. I fixed a ham. Harland Svare, a friend of the boys, joined us with a date and a football. Gary brought the ice cream. Harry, Mary Frances, Dennis Jr., and Phillip’s daughter Dixie Lee tumbled around in the sunny back yard with half-a-dozen delighted Labradors.

Bing basked in one of the lawn chairs, threw a few footballs, and seemed happy in his new role of resident patriarch, demonstrating an easy rapport with all his children and grand-children. Thus I was all the more surprised when my supposedly newly-domesticated spouse suddenly announced that the party was over, and that he was leaving immediately. While the clan scattered, I packed posthaste and shared the drive to Palm Desert, where he practiced golf for two days and visited with Phil Harris and Alice Faye.

(Kathryn Crosby, writing in My Life with Bing, page 153)

 

February 29, Monday. (12:40–1:00 p.m.) The Crosby–Clooney Show, a twenty-minute daily radio show premieres on CBS. It continues until September 28, 1962, and uses items from a library of songs recorded with Buddy Cole and his Trio. Bing and Rosemary Clooney record new linking dialogue periodically.

 

BING CROSBY-ROSEMARY CLOONEY SHOW

CBS is forever trying to revive the good old days of radio, and this time, by some magic of economics or persuasiveness, they’ve got a highly respected pair of performers to help them. Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby, aided by Ken Carpenter (a strong trio if ever there was one), began their daily turn for the network on Monday (29). Program was not inspired but it was fun, and might just attract a respectable audience. Format was simple: Miss Clooney and Crosby sang and exchanged a few glib rehearsed “ad libs.” They were aided by the small Buddy Cole group, whose sound included an organ and an electric guitar, which may have been tinny but was nonetheless competent.

(Variety, March 2, 1960)

 

I started with Rosemary Clooney in 1953. She was on another network (NBC) but eventually she came over to CBS and we put Crosby and Clooney together and that’s the way it is today. I’m so thankful for this Crosby show that got started and I would break my back to stay on it all of my life. I wish I could be assured of that, I might have a little more hair than I have right now—but it’s a wonderful show to do. I go into a studio to record a basic track with Bing, or with Rosemary or both if they are doing duets. Now what I mean by that is just the rhythm, just the bass, guitar and drums and I’ll play piano or celeste or as little as I have to put in to give them some background. We do maybe 4, 6, 8, 10—I’ve done as many as 20 songs in a day with Bing. A lot of these were head arrangements, not written. I write every one that I possibly can, you have to for things that are concerted, because then we come back at our leisure the next day or two or three days later. We play these things back through a speaker or on a headset and then set about adding instruments and other sounds. We can add—we can multiple all the electric guitar, organ, kettle drums, shot guns, chimes, whatever you want to add, sometimes we even sing!

That’s why we are able to maintain a pretty good balance on the show. I have a pretty good control over it . . . But anyway, that is the way we do the show and at this point I would say we have between 250 and 300 tunes in the can with Bing and about 200-odd with Rosemary plus about forty duets. These can be drawn upon at any time and Murdo Mackenzie puts the shows together. He gets the dialogue, and every word that Bing has ever uttered into the tape recorder microphones is filed away where he knows right where to get it. If he needs a “Yes” or a “No” or a “Thank You” or a “Go to Hell,” he’s got it catalogued. Then we’ll take these tunes other times and we’ll edit them, make them one chorus or change the introduction or sometimes fill in a thing instrumentally or run underneath the dialogue.

(Buddy Cole, in a tape recorded message to Crosby fan Stan White, as reproduced in Crosby Post, August 1962)

 

(8:30–9:30 p.m.) The taped Bing Crosby Show is transmitted by ABC-TV with Perry Como as the principal guest. Vic Schoen is the music director and William O. Harbach is producer-director. The writers are Bill Morrow, John Aylesworth and Frank Peppiatt. The Trendex ratings go to an incredible thirty-three.

 

Pairing Perry Como with Bing Crosby may not be change of pace casting but the two stars are masters of the song craft and joined together for a consistently pleasing and of course, always relaxing musical session. It was the first that they had worked together and now, Crosby is slated to play the Como show March 16 on NBC-TV on a home-and-home guest arrangement.

      It was, perhaps, inevitable that the Como-Crosby tandem would invite a script that laid on both performers’ easy-going, if not somnolent, style. A couple of nifty laughs were extracted from this angle but it was accented somewhat too heavily through the hour. Overall, however, the scripting team, headed by Crosby’s veteran phrasemaker, Bill Morrow, turned out some typically smooth-riding persiflage for Der Bingle and his guest.

      In their song stints, done mostly in duet, C & C delivered with their trademarked casualness, with no effort to bowl over the viewer. The backgrounds were minimal, with some chorus boys used as occasional transitions as the baritone crooners worked through several long standard medleys. Included were a collection of ‘lazy’ songs, a Maurice Chevalier wrap-up midway and a random sample of oldies for the finale.

      Also part of the guest line-up were three of Crosby’s four sons who contributed a couple of nifty folk songs, ‘Scarlet Ribbons’ and ‘A Fox Went A’Hunting’, joining with their pere in a slick version of ‘Joshua Fit De Battle of Jericho’. They bowed off after engaging in an amusing display of way-back hoofing.

      The guest line-up was completed by a couple of good-looking talents, singer-dancer, Elaine Dunn and songstress, Sandy Stewart. Their intro routine via some cross talk between Crosby and Como was slightly too cute but the girls handled their assignments expertly.

(Variety, March 2, 1960)

 

The show received a massive boost early in 1960 when Como and his singing idol, Bing Crosby, agreed to a guest swap. It was Como’s only “trade” of the season and in January 1960, Como flew to Los Angeles to deliver the first part of the deal as a guest on Crosby’s show. Crosby was there to meet him at the airport and over two days, 11–12 January 1960, the two singers plus three of Crosby’s four sons taped a one-hour Bing Crosby Show for Oldsmobile.

The show aired on February 29. Crosby was by now the elder statesman of the music business, but a succession of singers who guested on his shows, including Sinatra and Dean Martin, all paid respectful homage to the man who, in Sinatra’s words, was “the father of their careers.” Crosby’s writers came up with some clever dialogue that enabled Como to pay his dues while also having fun with his comatose image. As Crosby greeted him on a bare set, Como asked why there were no stools or chairs.

Bing: Anyway, I think you’ll sing much better standing up.

Perry: You want me to sing much better?

Bing: Well, no, not too much—I trust you’re not gonna be a show-off here tonight and sing much better than me.

Perry: Oh, I wouldn’t do that—even if I could.

Finally, the pair moved into a medley of “Lazy” songs, hanging from a pair of subway straps. “Pairing Bing Crosby and Perry Como may not be change of pace casting,” said Variety, “but the two stars are masters of the song craft and joined together for a consistently pleasing and of course, always relaxing musical session.”

(Malcolm Macfarlane and Ken Crossland, Perry Como – A Biography and Complete Career Record, pages 109-111)

 

March (undated). Nicole Maurey comes to the Holmby Hills house for dinner with Bing and Kathryn.

March 2, Wednesday. Bing writes to Club Crosby representative, Priscilla Koernig.

 

Sorry to hear of your illness. Hope by the time you receive this that you will be back at work and in fine shape.

Glad you liked the single record of “Music of Home”. It’s a pretty tune. They tell me the show’s quite good too, and looks like a definite hit.

I have no other new albums coming out except the big one called “How the West Was Won”, with Rosie Clooney, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and other artists. This is quite an ambitious project, and I hope you like it when you hear it.

I made a couple of other singles too. One is an Hawaiian song, rather pretty. The name eludes me just now, and it’s rather nice.

We’re just finishing our location work at Stockton. Go back to the studio where I believe we’re going to run into a strike, so don’t know what will happen after that.

Nice hearing from you again.

All best good wishes, Bing

 

March (undated). Shoots college scenes for the film High Time at Wake Forest College, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

March 7, Monday. The Screen Actors Guild strike starts. Ronald Reagan is the president of the Guild.

March 8, Tuesday. Bing and Kathryn are at the Golden Globes dinner at the Cocoanut Grove in the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles. Bing receives the 1959 Cecil B. DeMille Golden Globe Award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for “outstanding contributions to the entertainment field throughout the world.”

March 13, Sunday. (2:00–4:00 p.m.) Bing is in New York and rehearses for a forthcoming Perry Como show at Dance Players, 1233 Sixth Avenue.

March 14, Monday. (2:00–4:00 p.m.) Further rehearsals for his appearance with Perry Como this time at Carroll Drum, 157 West 49th. St.

March 15, Tuesday. (12 noon). Bing reports to the Ziegfeld Theatre at 1347 6th Avenue for a further rehearsal with Perry Como. (1:30–2:30 p.m.) The entire company has a dry run through for the Como show. (4:00–7:00 p.m.) Bing and Perry continue to rehearse while the camera blocking takes place.

March 16, Wednesday. Tapes a tribute to Paul Whiteman to be used on March 24. (4:00–7:30 p.m.) Run through and dress rehearsal for the Como show at the Ziegfeld Theatre. (9:00–10:00 p.m.) Appears live on Perry Como’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC-TV. Other guests are Genevieve and Peter Gennaro. Mitchell Ayres conducts the orchestra and the Ray Charles Singers provide support. Bing is paid $7500 for his appearance, the rate probably being low to reflect the swap with Como who had recently appeared on Bing’s show.

 

The flip side of the C & C songalog is just as good as the original. Which means that Bing Crosby and Perry Como, in taking up last Wed. (16) on Kraft Music Hall just about where they left off a couple weeks previous on the Bingo ABC special, had themselves another ball as they cavorted through a mile-wide repertory. Practically half of the full-hour showcase was strictly from duet—and a more engaging earful would be hard to come by. They ranged all over the lot, from the “crazy songs” of the ’20s as their forepart contribution, to an updated 15-minute roundelay as the closer. All told it was a melodic and a tasteful production, geared for sight values and dressed up in NBC’s finest compatible hues, with an appropriate genuflecting to St. Pat as Crosby, Como and guest star Genevieve frolicked on the tinted green. Genevieve’s Gallic tempoed tunes and charm, whether she was working solo or in concert with Crosby and/or Como, framed themselves favorably around the display. It was an infectious kind of fun with some supplementary contributions by Peter Gennaro in the terp department and fine choraling by the Ray Charles mixed group. Basically this was Bank Night for C & C. fans.

(Variety, March 23, 1960)

 

Two weeks later, Crosby turned up as the guest on Como’s Kraft Show in New York. Once more, the camaraderie between the two was apparent, Crosby opening the show instead of Como and singing Como’s “Dream Along with Me” theme. When Como appeared at his side, Crosby enquired, “Are you in show business?” “Not for the past five minutes,” said Como in reply. “The pair,” said Variety, “had another ball as they cavorted through a repertoire a mile-wide.”

A feature of both shows was the making of a would-be Crosby-Como LP. Some viewers thought that the album was for real and eagerly awaited its appearance in stores. Copyright and permission issues precluded any such release, but the ruse made good television. It also gave Como the chance of a lifetime to sit on a stool and watch Crosby up close. At one point, as Bing launched into his familiar mannerisms while singing “Gigi,” Como sat transfixed. “Now you can see why I took that style,” he said to the camera, before picking up his own part of the medley. After the show, Crosby—never comfortable with any directly expressed praise or emotion—chided him for the remark. “Don’t say those things,” Crosby told him. Como continued to tell that story almost until he died and despite the admonition, the two singers parted as the best of friends, the Crosbys heading to Florida to stay in the Como’s newly acquired second home there.

Como never lost his admiration for Bing. When he began working in Las Vegas in the seventies, someone asked him how he killed the time between shows. “I put on some Crosby records to see if I’m doing it right,” was his reply.

The shows captured the two singers at the top of their form. By 1960, Crosby sometimes appeared bored, with the geniality that had sustained his image coming across as a little forced. With Como, he genuinely seemed to enjoy himself, displaying the naturalness that was the hallmark of his peak years. The two medleys each contained around 25 songs and ran over 10 minutes—two of the longest unbroken medleys ever seen on TV. It was no surprise that the shows achieved high ratings, the Crosby show capturing, remarkably, one viewer in three, according to the definitive Trendex ratings.

(Malcolm Macfarlane and Ken Crossland, Perry Como – A Biography and Complete Career Record, pages 109-111)

 

After the show, Bing is guest of honor at a party given by Perry Como at Danny’s Hideaway.

March (undated). Kathryn and young son Harry go with Bing to Florida where they stay at Perry Como’s house in Jupiter.

March 20, Sunday. Bing golfs at the Seminole Club at Juno Beach with George Coleman.

March 21, Monday. Bing and Ben Hogan golf at Tequesta.

March 22, Tuesday. Teeing off at 12:21 p.m., Bing and Gardner Dickinson with a best ball score of sixty-three are joint winners with two other teams of the Latham Reed Amateur-Pro Tournament at the Seminole Golf Club. Because the competing professionals had been delayed at St. Petersburg, the tournament is restricted to one day instead of the usual two. Afterwards, Bing sings for his golfing friends at the Celebrity Room during a party that goes on to 6 a.m. the next day. Kathryn joins him in a duet of “Sometimes I’m Happy”.

March 24, Thursday. Bing makes a guest appearance on the CBS-TV program Revlon Revue honoring Paul Whiteman’s fiftieth anniversary in show business and also his seventieth birthday. Bing’s spot was recorded during his visit to New York to appear on the Perry Como show.

 

The stanza was strictly routine and a frequently listless run-down of tunes associated with Whiteman. Bing Crosby, one of the Rhythm Boys in the Whiteman band, during the late 1920’s, turned up on the show, via a tape sequence, to do a fast ‘Happy Birthday’ chorus to the man who launched him on his crooning career. Like the rest of the show, Crosby’s accolade to Whiteman was devoid of real warmth…

(Variety, March 30, 1960)

 

March 27, Sunday. Phillip, Dennis, and Lindsay Crosby open at the Chi Chi in Palm Springs with their new act, which omits Gary Crosby.

March 28-30, Monday–Wednesday. In Jamaica with Kathryn and son Harry, staying at Round Hill near Montego Bay. They meet William Paley and Lillian Hellman. Bing golfs on March 28 and has a seventy-seven. He also considers buying a property on the beach.

April 3, Sunday. Bing and Kathryn arrive in Aiken, South Carolina, and stay at a private cottage.

April 4/5, Monday/Tuesday. Bing plays in the Devereux Milburn Memorial Trophy Golf Tournament at Palmetto Golf Club, Aiken. The other members of his foursome are Bobby Knowles, George Coleman, and James C. Brady. The team of Bing and George Coleman score a best-ball 146 (71 and 75) which leaves them outside the prizes.

April 7-10, Thursday–Sunday. Takes Kathryn to the Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta, Georgia. Arnold Palmer wins. Bob and June Crosby are also there. While Bing is in Aiken, he goes into St. Mary’s Church to ask if he can sing with the choir. He is not recognized and the nun in charge refuses permission. Kathryn spends some of her time learning to ride on horseback.

April 11, Monday. (3:45 p.m.) Bing and Kathryn are seen off at Aiken Airport by their hosts Mr. and Mrs. Conrad Ruckelshaus. The Crosbys fly to Atlanta and then catch a plane for Houston, Texas, where Kathryn stops over to pick up Harry and Mary Frances. Leo Lynn has also been in Aiken and he has to drive Bing’s station wagon back to California.

April (undated). The three Crosby Brothers (excluding Gary) make an LP for Project Records which is released in the fall. Two tracks are released as a single.

 

The Crosby Brothers – Dennis – Philip – Lindsay Crosby (MGM); “Dinah” (Mills*), a hip version of the oldie, makes a promising disk bow for this trio of Bing Crosby offsprings. “The Green Grass Grows All Around” (Marfran*) is a bright ensemble of this folk tune.

(Variety, June 8, 1960)

 

April 15, Friday. “Patterns of Life,” a radio program narrated by Yul Brynner which seeks to raise funds for refugees, is broadcast and Bing makes a spoken contribution.

April 19, Tuesday. Bing is back at the film studios making High Time and in one scene he has to dress as a woman as part of a fraternity stunt. The three Crosby Brothers open at the Desert Inn, Las Vegas. Phil Harris is also on the bill. At some time during the next few weeks, Bing gives an interview on the High Time set to Tony Thomas of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation who broadcasts it on his radio program.

 

One evening Bing invited me to join him on the set, observing enigmatically that I might find it colorful. I arrived in blue jeans, only to discover that the cast was in evening gowns and tuxedos. Feeling embarrassed amid all the elegance, I was stumbling about the elaborately-decorated stage looking for an exit, when I chanced upon the moon of my delight, supposedly involved in a fraternity initiation stunt. While I watched he finished shooting, took his place in a camp chair, crossed his legs, and lit his pipe.

A familiar scene, nicht wahr? Nein, meine Herren, for the legs were clad in gorgeous nylons, the derriere in the canvas seat was wearing a hoop skirt, the torso was half covered with an off-the-shoulder, full-busted bodice, and the blue eyes peered forth from under absurd false eyelashes and a long, blond wig. From time to time America’s sweetheart absently waved the pipe smoke away with a perfectly darling fan. The gays had queued up three ranks deep, but Bing seemed happily oblivious of all but his own discomfort.

“How in hell do you stand these waist-pincher things?” he offered in lieu of greeting.

“Cincher, dearest,” I corrected as I wiped the tears from my eyes.

He waved an evening paper. “And this just hit the streets. What will mother say?” He pointed-to a front-page study of la belle Bing in full drag.

Personally I couldn’t wait to find out, so I relieved him of the publication, lit out for home, and raced upstairs to say good night to Mrs. Senior.

“Have you seen the evening paper?” was my opening ploy.

“I never bother with the silly thing.”

“Well, here’s a picture that might interest you. Take a good look.”

Obediently she held the paper up to a strong light and studied it attentively. Finally she nodded solemnly and observed, “You’re quite right. I think I used to know this woman.”

(Kathryn Crosby, writing in My Life with Bing, page 163)

 

April (undated). Bing learns he has bursitis in both of his shoulders (inflammation of the small fluid-filled sac that reduces friction between joints). He goes to Palm Desert.

April 26, Tuesday. Bing writes to Red Nichols and refers to Phil Harris as “Wonga”.

 

Went down to Palm Springs the other day, and found a package awaiting me there from you.  I was dazzled when I opened it. Wait till Wonga sees this – he’s going to be livid with envy. I’m going to save it for one of those really big functions at Thunderbird, where I want to come on real strong. Thanks a lot, Red, for thinking of me.

Wonga opened at the Desert Inn a week ago, on the same bill with my three boys. I haven’t seen the show yet but everyone says it’s a riot. We took Buddy Cole and a small group up, and augmented them with the regular band there at the Desert Inn.  They say he was very nervous opening night, but is now in good form, and is a tremendous success. Now if he could just stay away from those tables, he might bring home some money. They’re paying him a fabulous salary.

Hope to see you when you get back,

Warmest regards, Bing

 

May 2, Monday. The three Crosby Brothers guest on Perry Como’s television show. Bing returns to Holmby Hills from Palm Desert.

May 12, Thursday. Elvis Presley guests on the Frank Sinatra TV show to highlight his return from his service in the Army. The show gains a 41.5 Trendex rating representing a 67.7% audience share.

May 16, Monday. The call sheets for the film High Time indicate that Bing films exterior shots at UCLA and on stages 8 (verandah) and 16 (exterior Helene’s house) at Twentieth Century studios today. This is the 54th day of shooting.

May 20, Friday. Press comment states that Gary Crosby is preparing his own solo act with the help of Harry Crane and Sammy Cahn.

May 27, Friday. Bing goes to Santa Barbara for a practice round at the Valley Club of Montecito.

May 28, Saturday. Bing takes part in a golf tournament at the Valley Club of Montecito and he and Kathryn dance at the club at night.

June (undated). Bing and Rosemary Clooney record seven duets for use on their radio show.

June 4, Saturday. Bing golfs in Palm Springs with the Marx Brothers, Gummo, Zeppo, Harpo and Groucho. They are photographed with a bevy of young ladies.

June 9, Thursday. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce presents Bing with a platinum record of “White Christmas” which bears a plaque indicating that he has sold more than 200 million records.

June 11, Saturday. Is advertised to take part in National Golf Day at the Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio but it is not known whether he actually did.

June 15, Wednesday. Bing completes the film High Time at the Twentieth Century-Fox studio and while there, also films a cameo with Yves Montand in an hour for Let’s Make Love. Bing does not receive a fee for the latter film but asks that a donation of $10,000 be sent to Gonzaga University. He then drives across town to Columbia Studios to film a scene with Cantinflas in Pepe, thus finishing three films in one day.

June 16, Thursday. Bing goes to Mexico alone.

June 21, Tuesday. Arrives back in Hollywood.

June 22/23, Wednesday/Thursday. Records the El Senor Bing album with Billy May and his Orchestra at United Recorders, Hollywood, for release by MGM Records. Bing’s performance is uneven and the album is not released until October 1961.

 

EL SENOR BING Bing Crosby. MGM E 3890

Crosby is in good voice on this package of swingy standards, arranged and cut by Billy May and recorded by Crosby’s Project records, Inc., for release on the MGM label. The album features Latin treatments of 20 great oldies — each fine deejay programming —including “In the Still of the Night,” “Marta,” “Again,” “Ramona” and “Cuban Love Song”.

(Billboard, October 9, 1961)

 

And finally we come to EL SENOR BING, that long awaited LP from MGM which has at last made its appearance. This is one of Bing’s very rare solo LPs these days. Bing likes to hide himself away in choruses and with other artistes just now, and whoever persuaded him to make this solo album is deserving of deepest gratitude and thanks. Here is Bing we love to hear, all by himself, and with a batch of great standards.

(Frank Murphy, Crosby Post, December, 1961)

 

I like the “El Senor Bing” LP very much, a nice selection of songs and Bing has been recorded very nicely and very similar to American Decca methods of recording. I myself consider it was a blow when Bing packed it up with Decca. I’m talking of technical reasons. Had Bing still been with them, the recordings would have presented him with that superb deep masculine voice as on “Gigi”. However for me, I really go for the present day rich deep tones of Bing; these are evident on “El Senor Bing” and make up for the one or two songs that Bing seems to have taken on a little too high a key.

(Leslie Gaylor, Crosby Post, December 1961)

 

All the songs, with one exception, have only a single chorus which, in the circumstances, is no bad thing as Crosby is distinctly off form and at times shows an uncharacteristic lack of confidence. He is not helped by accompaniments that are consistently pretentious and the original intentions of the songs are unrealized. It has been suggested that this was Crosby at his nadir and it would be difficult to remain this side of idolatry and argue otherwise. It all sounds very much the result of fatigue.

(Fred Reynolds, writing in The Crosby Collection, 1926–1977, part four, page 288)

 

Billy May wasn’t just the go-to arranger for the punchiest of big-band material, he was also the best man to call when a vocalist desired to travel south of the border. He was co-billed on Mel Tormé’s wonderful Latin LP of 1959 (Olé Tormé), and he helmed Bing Crosby’s similar affair, El Señor Bing, during a pair of 1960 sessions. The results are excellent, pure delight for anyone who loves to hear one of the best American voices take on “Malagueña” and “Andalucia,” along with a few decidedly domestic titles like “How High the Moon” or “Pagan Love Song.” May’s charts are very similar to his work with Tormé, emphasizing brass, flutes, and vibraphone. Interestingly, Bing tackles two songs during each track, making the record a series of medleys that causes the record to move as smoothly and effortlessly as possible (the transition from “In the Still of the Night” to “I Could Have Danced All Night” is poetry). Though Crosby’s voice wasn’t as light and supple as Tormé’s, his relaxed sense of swing is an excellent counter-balance for Billy May’s smart, punchy arrangements.

(John Bush, Allmusic.com)

 

June 28/29, Tuesday/Wednesday. Records the Bing and Satchmo album with Louis Armstrong and Billy May and his Orchestra at United Recorders, Hollywood, for Project Records with eventual release by MGM Records. Johnny Mercer writes new lyrics for many of the songs and also sings a few lines on “Lazy River.”

 

“Bing and Satchmo” is the title of a new M-G-M Records album that brings together two veteran talents, Bing Crosby and Louis (Satchmo) Armstrong. Billy May arranged and conducted and Johnny Mercer did most of the adaptations on a group of nostalgic tunes that provides excellent easy-listening programming. Included on the LP are “Muskrat Ramble”, “Dardanella” (both tunes were released as a single), “Way Down Yonder in New Orleans”, “Brother Bill”, “Rocky Mountain Moon”, etc.

(Billboard, October 31, 1960)

 

“Bing and Satchmo” (MGM). Teamup of Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong provides a lot of listening pleasure. Both are masters of their craft and know how to pack a vocal punch with seemingly little effort.

(Variety, November 30, 1960)

 

Bing & Satchmo (MGM): “Dardanella” (Fred Fisher) brings together two vet talents, Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong, in a standout performance of oldie which should get a big play via this side. “Muskrat Ramble” (George Simon) is another classic delivered with some new lyrics.

(Variety, October 26, 1960)

 

Bing Crosby joins forces with Louis Armstrong on MGM C844 in a hilarious set of numbers that includes that brilliant version of “Dardanella” I praised last month, some of them featuring Louis on trumpet, very mellow, and a pleasant change from the high-up stuff with which he made his name.

(The Gramophone, March, 1961)

 

If you can locate a copy, listen to the recording of a song called “Rocky Mountain Moon,” made by Crosby and Louis Armstrong. We are accustomed to thinking of Armstrong primarily as a trumpet player, and of Louis the singer as a kind of gravel-voiced joke. Actually, Armstrong was a marvelous singer who had a great influence on all the singers who came after him, including Crosby and Sinatra. On that recording, Crosby sings the first sixteen measures. Armstrong comes in on the bridge, and then Crosby finishes it. You will hear, first of all, how Crosby used the microphone (Armstrong knew how to use it, too); secondly, you will hear Crosby using the Afro-American style very well, and then Armstrong using it better. They lag behind the beat, they anticipate the beat, and they stretch it out. Popular singers, as a rule, do not count time. They think in four-and eight-measure arches and are guided by the chord changes. They put the words on the notes where they feel they should go to be appropriate to the text. This is probably what Caccini was talking about as “graceful negligence.” It produces a much more oratorical, speaking kind of communication than is possible when a singer is thinking in terms of “one-and, two-and.” I would encourage teachers to listen generally to recordings by Waters, Bailey. Holiday, Sinatra, Crosby, Fitzgerald, Vaughan, and Peggy Lee to discern such interpretive vocal techniques as the use of appoggiatura, tempo rubato, slur, portamento, glide, cadenza. singing on consonants, phrase carry-over, and virtuosic improvisation.

(Henry Pleasants, Music Educators Journal, May, 1973)

 

The octave B-flat to B-flat in Bing’s voice at that time [1930s] is to my ears, one of the loveliest I have heard in forty-five years of listening to baritones, both classical and popular. It dropped conspicuously in later years. Since the mid-50s, Bing has been more comfortable in a bass range while maintaining a baritone quality, with the best octave being G to G, or even F to F. In a recording he made of “Dardanella” with Louis Armstrong in 1960, he attacks lightly and easily on a low E flat. This is lower than most opera basses care to venture, and they tend to sound as if they were in the cellar when they get there.

(Henry Pleasants from his book The Great American Popular Singers, page 132)

 

June 30, Thursday. Kathryn Crosby is released from her contract with Columbia Pictures at her own request.

July 3, Sunday. Phillip Crosby and his wife Sandra have a son who is named Brian Patrick. (Note: Brian is killed in a motor cycle crash on August 19, 1978)

July 9, Saturday. Bing and Kathryn, accompanied by Phil Harris and his wife Alice Faye, arrive at 1:23 p.m. at the Calgary Municipal Airport, Alberta, Canada. They take part in a press conference and then go on to stay with Max Bell.

July 11, Monday. Starting at 9:00 a.m., the Calgary Stampede Grand Parade takes place with Phil Harris acting as grand marshal. Bing and Kathryn also ride in the parade which is seen by a crowd of 130,000. Bing attends the stampede president’s luncheon with Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. The proceedings are captured by various newsreels and featured in Pathe News in the UK on July 25.

July 12, Tuesday. Bing and Phil Harris golf at Banff Springs. At Banff School of Fine Arts, Kathryn Crosby meets her former drama teacher, B. Iden Payne, who is now Shakespearean director of the school. In the evening, Bing and Kathryn attend a rehearsal of Twelfth Night at the school. The Crosbys stay at the Banff Springs Hotel.

July 13, Wednesday. The Crosbys check out of the hotel and Bing pays the bill by using a hotels counter cheque drawn on the Citizens Bank, Beverly and Fairfax. They travel back to Calgary and at around 4:45 p.m., Bing is at the Victoria Park racetrack in Calgary to present the trophy for the Bing Crosby International Handicap. In the evening, Bing and Kathryn, together with the Max Bells and the Phil Harrises, are at a party at the Mervyn Duttons home.

July 14, Thursday. Bing cashes a check for $100. The check is again drawn on Citizens National Trust and Savings Bank of Los Angeles, Beverly-Fairfax branch and is annotated ‘Calgary trip’ by Bing.

July (undated). Bing is at his Rising River ranch and then fishing around Seattle.

July 21, Thursday. Gary Crosby opens as a single act at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. Subsequent press comment suggests that he seems exhausted and it is said that Bing offers to break his fishing trip to be with him.

 

Flamingo, Las Vegas. Songs 30 Mins.

Gary Crosby’s opening line in his new act is “I lost a little weight since last time I was in Vegas…went on a diet and lost three brothers.” Gary lacks the humility which personified Phil, Dennis and Lindsay, and because his stage personality comes across in a more extroverted, aggressive manner, it’s just as well he’s now doing a single. First-niters caught him with a case of jitters and the act is overlong, but with proper editing, Crosby should have a smooth nitery turn

(Variety, July 27, 1960)

 

July 22, Friday. The three Crosby Brothers open at a nightclub in Ottawa for a week’s engagement.

July 29, Friday. Bing flies to Las Vegas to see Gary Crosby’s act at The Flamingo and he is called on stage to duet “Play a Simple Melody.”

 

His dear old dad was right there to give him moral support. “Bing Joins Gary on Vegas Stage” said the headline of the local paper, along with a photo and caption that read: “Crosby Duet.” Because Uncle Bing had never stepped onto a stage in Las Vegas before, this seems to have created big news. That night Gary had gone through his regular routine of mimicking his father when he took the microphone, and introduced him by saying, “there’s a man in the audience who taught me all of this.” It caught the Flamingo showroom crowd completely by surprise.

Bing rose from his seat and walked toward the front of the room. After climbing a few steps, he strolled onto the stage. He stood next to Gary, sharing the one and only microphone, and appeared more casual than usual. Without his toupee that evening, few people sitting near him in the audience recognized the crooner until he was under the spotlights. Although it was the peak of the summer heat in Las Vegas, back in the 1960s the better restaurants and showrooms had a dress code that required men to wear a jacket. Even someone as well-known as Bing would not have been admitted if he arrived in one of his famous Hawaiian shirts. Thanks to air conditioning, Gary’s dad looked very sharp indeed wearing a linen sport coat and tan trousers.

The two men started off with some light-hearted banter and a bit of clowning around. Assuming that was to be the end of it, Uncle Bing started to exit the stage, not wanting to steal Gary’s big moment. Besides, Bing had never worked a Vegas nightclub crowd before and wasn’t at all sure what to expect and he had made some noise about not wanting to perform in Las Vegas when he was interviewed some time before. So now he was caught in the crosshairs, feeling a bit unsure of the situation, when Gary tugged on his arm and asked him to “stick around.” Bing stood there with his hands in his pockets, looking like someone who had just been pulled out of the audience by a magician to take part in a knife-throwing act. But the old master quickly recovered and joined Gary in a duet of their popular recording, “A Simple Melody.” Bing was in good spirits and the father-son team did some additional ad-libbing on stage; the people loved it. “I’m glad to see you’re finally working,” Bing said to his oldest son. It was a packed house for the dinner show that night, and even Uncle Bing’s pal Phil Harris was sitting ringside.

(Carolyn Schneider, Bing: On the Road to Elko, Page 23)

 

August 3, Wednesday. Representatives of ABC-TV and the BBC discuss a possible eve of St. Patrick’s Day special for 1961 to be filmed by Bing in Dublin. There are no developments until 1966 when the show is made without BBC involvement.

August 12, Friday (12:30 p.m.) The funeral of film director Frank Lloyd is held at Forest Lawn. Bing is an honorary pallbearer although it is not known whether he actually attended.

August 25, Thursday. Records “The Second Time Around” and “Incurably Romantic” with Pete King and his Orchestra at United Recorders, Hollywood. The songs are released by MGM Records.

 

BING CROSBY

The Second Time Around — MGM 12946 — a fine tune from the upcoming Crosby film, “High Time.” The side gets a mighty pretty backing by the Pete King ork. Song is well suited to Crosby and the side can grab a lot of play.

Incurably Romantic — from the pic, “Let’s Make Love,” with Marilyn Monroe and Yves Montand, comes this ballad, nicely intoned by Crosby. Flip would appear to have an edge.

(Billboard, October 3, 1960)

 

“‘The Second Time Around’ is one of the most important songs I’ve written, because when people say to me, “You’ve written my song”, they invariably mean “The Second Time Around”. It is a hymn if hope for failed romance or whatever. That song was written for the film, High Time, in which Bing Crosby plays a widower who has achieved everything in life. He goes back to college - it’s the same plot as Rodney Dangerfield’s “Back to School” - and he meets a French teacher who’s a widow. I said to Van Heusen, “What are we going to write for a widower and a widow? “I’m glad that you’re dead, you rascal you”. “You’ll be the death of me”? We kicked around some funny song titles and I said to him, “Are we going to be the only team that couldn’t come up with a ballad for Bing Crosby? What do you think of the title, ‘The Second Time Around’? ‘Love is wonderful the second time around, just as beautiful with both feet on the ground’.” He said, “No, ‘Love is wonderful the second time around, just as wonderful with both feet on the ground.’” The song was then written very quickly. We sang it to Bing Crosby and he just nodded. The great, great artists know that you are doing your part, so it is very simple to write for them.”

(Sammy Cahn, as quoted in Brother Can You Spare a Rhyme?, page 82)

 

August 29, Monday. Bing tapes a television show with Rosemary Clooney, Johnny Mercer, and his three youngest adult sons, which is shown by ABC on October 5. The show is directed by Bill Harbach and has been in rehearsal for six straight days. Bing writes to Canadian broadcaster Gord Akinson.

 

The boys are rehearsing with me this week for a television show, and they have been most enthusiastic about the wonderful hospitality they received at your hands while they were in Canada.

Pete Petitto also told me how nice you were to him, and to them. They also were tremendously pleased with the way Ottawa audiences received their act. 

They worked very hard on this act, Gord, and I think the results are demonstrated in what they’re doing.

Thanks very much for sending me the tape of the interview, and the copies of the OTTAWA CITIZEN. Be nice souvenirs to have of the engagement.

They have a little tour booked up in the Northwest, I believe, next, and then they go on to New York to do a show with Como and some more personals. Got to keep these fellas working so they keep out of trouble, and keep in practice, you know.

Thanks again, Gord. All best wishes,

As ever, Bing

 

Mr. Harbach secured head writer Herb Sargent, a colleague from The Steve Allen Show, to help him with the program. Mr. Sargent would later lend his talents to the first several seasons of Saturday Night Live, eventually becoming president of the TV Writers Guild. Sargent was aided by fellow scribes Saul Ilson, James Elson, and Sheldon Keller.

“Shelly was a pistol. He also worked on the Allen shows with me.”

 Sargent, who just passed away in May, 2005, put together the medleys for the show, the most outstanding being The Song Writers. This remarkable round-robin, performed by the cast sans The Crosby Boys, begins with an Irving Caesar lyric, I Want to Be Happy, from which is spun an ordered sequence of standards, ending with another Irving Caesar composition, Swanee. Never has the continuum of American popular music been better illustrated.

 “That was wonderfully fashioned. I loved the way it returned to center one. It was very tricky. The tempo never changed. We rehearsed the hell out of that because they had to do little moments and say, ’What do you think of that?’ and then jump into the tempo. Of course, Bing was such a pro. He could hear something twice, and it’s in. He’s got it.”

In my estimation this exhilarating number is even more remarkable because it follows, without a break, the lengthy opening production number in which Crosby introduces the entire cast to the tune of On the Street Where You Live.

 “I’m glad you noticed that! That seamlessness is just what I wanted. I thought, ‘Let’s have no dialogue, let’s keep everything musical.’ It was so exciting. It just kept going, like a snake.

 I asked Johnny Mercer to guest. Johnny was not only a great friend of mine, but also of Bing’s. They knew each other for a thousand years. In fact, Bing used to date Johnny’s wife, Ginger, while he was in the Whiteman band, before he even knew Johnny, even before he met Dixie. Bing and Johnny were so close. It was so cozy with them.

 It was Bing’s idea to have Rosemary Clooney on this show. He had so much fun with her. They had gone back so far before the show. They were like old tennis shoes. Carol Lawrence was hired because she was hot, just having finished appearing in West Side Story on Broadway.”

 Danny Daniels, whose TV credentials had included The Martha Raye Show, was chosen as dance director.

 “Rosie’ Rosenberg got Nelson Riddle. He had worked on a previous Oldsmobile show (March 2, 1959). Nelson was the sweetest guy. I asked him once, ‘How is it to work with Frank Sinatra’ ‘Very exciting, but you have to change your underwear a lot.’ That’s perfect! Bing was so relaxed. They were as different as night and day.”

 Bill Thompson, choral director on several recent Crosby LP’s, was brought on board to arrange two intergenerational ensembles: a do-wop version of Please, and a rousing Mississippi Mud. How did The Crosby Boys get along with their father?

 “I had the feeling they were always front and center. They weren’t relaxed. They wanted to do well, naturally, and they worked very hard and long with Thompson to get things right. They were darling kids. Don’t get me wrong. There was a lot of chemistry. They just seemed a little terrified, maybe because Bing was so strict.”

 Mr. Harbach was reminded that at one point in the show Lindsay refers to his and his brothers’ fear

“That was no ad lib. It was in the script.” 

Were the boys perhaps intimidated by their father’s high standards?

“Yes, perhaps they could not measure up. Well, I hear they were hellions. Anyway, it was a completely different atmosphere with the second family.”

The most unique moment in the show is when three Bing Crosbys sing in tandem.

“That again was Herb Sargent’s idea. That was the first time that three voices had ever been blended like that before. It was difficult since it involved not only singing, but walking. We used a matte insert. It took a day and a half to do that. I regret that the sound is just OK. Murdo may have been responsible for that. He was Bing’s sound man from radio. I think that at times the sound overpowered the singers. The balance of sound to singing was not too good.”

How was Bing to work with?

“He was a joy, and ultra professional. He was always early. I’d say ‘9 or 10 am tomorrow, Bing?’ and he’d say, ‘Fine.’ In fact, he was always ahead of time. If you would tell him to be at rehearsal at 6 am, he would show up at a quarter to six. In the afternoon, if we’d be waiting for the lighting or something of that nature, and he’d say, ‘Hey, Wilbur’- he used to call me Wilbur - ‘what time tomorrow?’ I’d know he was tired. I’d say ‘10 a.m.’ and he’d say, ‘You got it’ and go home. That was the way he controlled what he had to do. I asked Mr. Harbach how much rehearsal time was needed for the special. Two weeks would be de rigueur.”

(Martin McQuade, detailing an interview with Bill Harbach, in BING magazine, spring 2006)

 

August 30, Tuesday. Bing and Kathryn board a jet airliner in Los Angeles for a flight to London.

August 31, Wednesday. Arriving in London in the early morning, they stay at Claridges where Bing practices golf in a corridor. Finds he needs reading glasses. Leaving the hotel at 3 p.m., Bing visits his tailor and orders five suits. He then does some sightseeing with Kathryn, visiting Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey. Bing also calls in at the U.S. Embassy to see his friend, Jock Whitney, the U.S. Ambassador. At night, Bing and Kathryn go to see Fings Ain’t Wot They Used to Be at the Garrick Theater.

September 1, Thursday. Bing meets Frank Murphy and other members of the British Crosby Society at Claridges. Is interviewed by a reporter from Disc magazine.

September 2, Friday. Flies from London airport to Rome to see the Olympic Games with Kathryn. While in Rome, Bing discovers the song “Domenica” and writes English lyrics for it. Is interviewed for radio by Harry Thurillier.

September 3, Saturday. A son, David, is born to Lindsay Crosby and his wife Barbara Frederickson in Queen of Angels Hospital, Hollywood.

September 6, Tuesday. Gary Crosby marries Barbara Stuart, a Las Vegas showgirl, at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. Don Rickles is the best man. Barbara has a five-year old son named Steve from her previous marriage and in due course he rejoins his mother and is formally adopted by Gary.


When I notified the old man about my wedding plans he was about to leave for Rome. He fired off a quick note advising me to take my time and be sure I'd made the right choice.

Well, I hadn't taken my time, and I wasn't sure about much.

Oh, I was sure I loved Barbara and wanted to marry her, but I didn't think it would last. I figured it might take her a month or two to get tired of me and then she'd dump me real quick, so I played the whole thing for laughs. I rented the Bugsy Siegel Suite at the Flamingo Hotel for the ceremony. Don Rickles was my best man. When we went to buy the wedding bands he was so nervous he dropped a trayful of rings on the floor and was doing one-liners while we were down on our hands and knees trying to put them back. Then he had me bouncing off the walls with his tummel to the jewelry store owner.

"Want a ring at a discount. The kid doesn't have much. His old man's got all the money. You're gonna have to wait for the big score. Come on, landsman, haven't you got something nice at a better price?"

When the elevator carrying Barbara and her maid of honor up to the ceremony broke down, I was certain she had run out on me. Rickles and I were pacing the carpet in our suits, watching the minutes tick by, when he turned to me and wisecracked, "Well, I think she got smart. I think somebody told her something at the last minute, and she's on her way to Mexico." "Probably," I answered, trying to conjure up a smile. Finally she arrived, and the judge married us.

(Gary Crosby and Ross Firestone, Going My Own Way, page 267)


September 7, Wednesday. Bing and Kathryn visit the US Olympic team at the Olympic Village in Rome and Bing is photographed with gold medalist boxer Wilbert McClure.

September 8, Thursday. The film Let’s Make Love starring Yves Montand and Marilyn Monroe is released in the USA.

 

…Another highlight is a comedy sequence in which Montand brings in Milton Berle, Bing Crosby and Gene Kelly (playing themselves) to coach him in the musical comedy arts.

(Variety, August 24, 1960)

 

September 9, Friday. Monsignor Ryan, the secretary of state for the Vatican, guides Bing and Kathryn through the Sistine Chapel and Vatican City. They have an audience with Pope John XXIII at the Vatican.

September 12, Monday. Bing and Kathryn go to Florence, where they find the “Ristorante Bing Crosby” and are regally entertained by the proprietors.

September 16, Friday. Bing and Kathryn arrive in Venice and they stay at the Gritti Palace Hotel. Meanwhile in the U.S.A., the film High Time is released by Twentieth-Century-Fox.

 

High Time.jpgHigh Time is pretty lightweight fare for a star of Bing Crosby’s proportions, and all the draw of the Groaner, who only trills twice, will be required to sell it. . . . Crosby handles his role in his usual fashion, perfectly timing his laughs, and delivers a pair of Sammy Cahn-James Van Heusen songs, “The Second Time Around” and “Nobody’s Perfect.” (sic).

(Variety, September 21, 1960)

 

It has been a long time since Bing Crosby was seen in a college comedy, sporting the customary beanie and crooning romantic melodies. But things haven’t changed much in the colleges favored by Bing in all those years, to judge by the one he is attending in his latest picture, “High Time.”

Bing is again attending college? Do you start in some amazement at the news? We don’t wonder, considering the old groaner is a trifle worn for a college career. But, sure enough, he is back on the campus as a middle-aged student in this Twentieth Century-Fox color film, which opened yesterday at the Warner. And it’s the same old Hollywood college, so far as we can see.

To be sure, the taste of the students in music has slightly changed. The once-favored jazz of the redhot era has been replaced by rock ‘n’ roll. The co-eds are much more casual about visiting in boys’ rooms. And Mr. Crosby’s erstwhile beanie has been abandoned — for a sensible toupee.

But Pinehurst U., which he is attending as a middle-aged millionaire who thinks it high time that somebody in his family get a college degree, is in other respects the institution of higher learning that Dick Powell and Betty Grable used to roam. Their places are simply taken by the likes of Fabian and Tuesday Weld.

Football, basketball, picnicking and shooting-the-breeze are still the principal subjects taught, and much is still made of building the bonfire that precedes the big game. The major concern of the male students is still making the right fraternity, and outrageous pranks are still demanded of the fellows who get in.

For instance, Mr. Crosby, who is delighted when he makes Xi Delta Pi, is forced to attend a swanky party in a fine old mansion disguised as a southern belle. This, of course, creates much amusement among the fellows who are in on the prank, and let’s Mr. Crosby, at long last, try his hand at a bit from “Charley’s Aunt.”

And although Pinehurst U. appears a huge place, as huge as the University of California at Los Angeles, it has but a president, an athletic director (who coaches football, basketball and the Phys. Ed. class), a chemistry professor and a teacher of French, so far as we could see. The last is fortunately female, pretty, widowed and amiable. Needless to say, she hooks up with our middle-aged student. She is played by Nicole Maurey.

Thus Mr. Crosby, still pretending to be youthful, goes to college again, but a few necessaries are lacking. One of them is a script. The other is youth. The screen play by Tom and Frank Waldman, based on a story by Garson Kanin, is awfully sad, awfully burdened with hackneyed situations. And Mr. Crosby, alas, is no kid.

He tries hard to be casual and boyish, to prove modestly that he’s in the groove, to match the animal spirits of the swarming youngsters, such as Fabian and Miss Weld. But as much as director Blake Edwards has tried to help him with a lively beat that keeps the action thumping and gives an illusion of vitality, at least, there is a terrible gauntness and look of exhaustion about Mr. Crosby when the camera gets close and peers at his face.

We don’t blame his children (in the film) for objecting to his going to college. He should have stayed at home with his feet to the fire.

 (Bosley Crowther, The New York Times, September 17, 1960)

 

September 17/18, Saturday/Sunday. Sightseeing in Venice and at Torcello Isle. Kathryn writes to her parents.

 

…Don’t get too excited Daddy, but Bing is trying very hard to get you to the World Series. Can you, without telling anyone anything, arrange for a substitute? And Mama, could you too – just in case Bing can get two sets of tickets? We don’t know whether we will be able to go yet, so you would probably be on your own, but it should be fun, just the same.

The food in Italy is so good – I’m having a terrible time trying to hold my own; it’s a good thing I lost ten lbs. before we started – I’ve gained back twelve!

Bing and I are having such fun! He is truly beloved all over the world; people have been so nice to us; the little people, like we are.  The big fashionable people eat too late and drink too much, but we get on fine with the paisanos. And both of us like it that way…

 

September 20, Tuesday. Bing and Kathryn reach Treviso in Italy where Bing plays golf. They stay the night at Velden and then go to Vienna, Austria for several days, staying at the Hotel Sacher. They attend the opera most nights. Kathryn sends a post card to her parents.

 

Velden (Our next stop to Vienna)

It’s more beautiful that I believed possible. Florence I loved, and Rome - but Venice, even in the rain, is unique. Water streets, much walking, no cars at all. Bella!

We got a fountain in Florence! It will fit in the fish pond – and the tiny copper boy is modestly covered (for Mrs Sr). I think we miss the series.

Love Kathryn & Bing

 

September 25, Sunday. The Pittsburgh Pirates win the Pennant in the National League and qualify for the World Series to be played between October 5 and 13.

September 26, Monday. Bing and Kathryn are thought to have been at the Club Mittersill, Salzburg in Austria.

September 28, Wednesday. Bing and Kathryn stay with Princess Honeychile Wilder in Mittersill, near Salzburg. Bing wins the Invitational Golf Tournament at Mittersill.

 

I’m sure that the Pope would have been sorry to hear it, but September 28 was the height of the tour for Bing. Finishing with a brilliant series of sub-par holes, he dominated the annual Mittersill Invitational Golf Tournament, winning first prizes for both low net and low gross.

(My Life with Bing, page 175)

 

October 5, Wednesday. (10:00–11:00 p.m.) The taped Bing Crosby Show with Rosemary Clooney, Johnny Mercer, Carol Lawrence, and the Crosby Brothers is shown by ABC-TV. Nelson Riddle and his Orchestra provide the musical support. William O. Harbach is the producer-director.

 

Bing Crosby, in his first special of the new season, was the front man of a neat musical stanza, last Wednesday night (5th). Keyed by Crosby in his customary relaxed groove, the session framed an excellent roster of supporting performers in a swinging format. The quartet of scripters supplied a breezy continuity which didn’t get in the way of the music, while the production mountings were imaginative without being pretentious.

      The music was pegged to a series of flexible medleys which permitted Crosby and company to work ensemble and solo. After Crosby’s, ‘On The Street Where You Live’ opener, Rosemary Clooney, Johnny Mercer and Carol Lawrence brought on in a ‘singing game’ involving a chain of cleffing collaborations. It started with the Irving Caesar-Vincent Youmans, ‘I Wanna Be Happy’ to Youmans-Billy Rose’s, ‘Great Day!’ to Rose-Warren’s, ‘I Found a Million Dollar Baby’ etc. It was a clever device for running through about a dozen great standards.

      The Crosby sons, minus Gary, contributed a bright, ‘Limehouse Blues’ and then joined with papa on a couple of numbers, including a rock ‘n’ roll take-off on, ‘Please’. Crosby’s ‘old master’ quality was vividly, on display, in this contrast with the younger generation’s derivative talent. Crosby also teamed with Miss Clooney in a nifty piece of material cut from ‘Aren’t You Glad You’re You?’ and then worked with Mercer in a nifty creation of the old days of radio…. Miss Clooney handled one solo number, ‘There’ll Never Be Another You’, in classy style against an appropriately formal background.

      For the wind-up, Crosby delivered a medley of his past hits, playing against two other Crosby images, in a cleverly and precisely executed process of film super-impositions. Nelson Riddle’s Orchestra cut the show sharply, throughout.

(Variety, October 12, 1960)

 

Bing Crosby’s first special of the season, an attraction on Channel 7 last night, was a highly tuneful outing of very considerable style and imagination. Dispensing with the Palm Springs chatter that had grown a trifle wearing last season, the Old Groaner concentrated this time on a variety of medleys done in different styles with Rosemary Clooney, Johnny Mercer, Carol Lawrence and his sons, Dennis, Phillip and Lindsay. It was unpretentious, relaxed and musically fresh. Admittedly, the individuals in charge of the sound portion of the show were not at their most efficient. At the outset a mixture of delightful standard numbers was all but obscured by Nelson Riddle’s orchestra...The show’s final number involved a triple exposure, which had three different Bing Crosby’s in different costumes, singing simultaneously. It was a real technical feat and interesting and amusing to watch. The three Crosby sons, once the brats of video, have come a long way, the number with their father, adapting “Please” to a Presley rhythm was fine.

(Jack Gould, New York Times, October 6, 1960)

 

October 8, Saturday. Bing and Kathryn stay another night in Salzburg, Austria.

October 9, Sunday. They arrive at the Hilton Hotel, Berlin.

October 12, Wednesday. Bing and Kathryn go on to Paris staying at the Trianon Palace Hotel.

October 13, Thursday. The Pittsburgh Pirates win the World Series for the first time since 1927. Bing has to listen to the games on the radio while in Paris.

 

There we stayed in the Trianon Palace Hotel, sightseeing and shopping each day, and listening to Bing’s Pirates play in the World Series at night.

      On the evening of the final game we dined at a friend’s house while we listened to Armed Forces Radio. When Mazeroski came to bat in the ninth inning, the meal was over and Bing had started to fix himself a drink. He picked up an unopened bottle of Scotch just as his hero laid into the ball.

      The bottle dropped from Bing’s numbed fingers and the Scotch ran into the fireplace. Fumes sprang up and threatened to engulf the room. All the while he was doing his version of an Apache war dance and screaming “We win ten to nine. We win ten to nine!”

      I helped our hostess extinguish the flames while she murmured something about men who turn destructive when excited. Since our popularity seemed to be on the wane, we left for the Ritz Bar, Fouquet’s, and finally an enormous victory bash sponsored by Monsieur Dubonnet. All in all a great evening, but no rival to Bing’s triumph at Mittersill.

(My Life with Bing, page 177)

 

October 14, Friday. They arrive at the Savoy Hotel in London. Later, Bing is interviewed by Derek Hart for the BBC-TV program Tonight at Sunningdale Golf Course, Berkshire. The interview is shown on October 19.

October 15, Saturday. (10:00 a.m.–12:50 p.m.) Bing records four songs at Decca’s West Hampstead, London studios with Malcolm Lockyer and his Orchestra for the Holiday in Europe album but they are not used. Michael Holliday watches and arranger Bob Thompson is present too. Bing is interviewed by Wilfrid Thomas for the BBC radio program “Roundabout” (broadcast on the Light Programme on October 17) before going on to play golf with impresario Val Parnell at Coombe Hill. Later in the day at the Savoy, he meets Crosby fan Les Gaylor for the first time.

 

The first three numbers (“C’est Si Bon,” “Under Paris Skies,” and “Morgen”) were in the can in scarcely no time. In each case, the number was given one brief run-through, followed by three takes on tape, punctuated by such remarks from Bing as: “Let’s take it just a whisker slower, Malcolm, huh?” and “Just one more take for luck.”

      The ease and confidence with which Bing slid into his work was summed up for me by just one incident. He pulled out a new packet of cigarettes from his pocket, tore off the cellophane, extracted one, inserted it in his holder, and lit up—all while he was actually recording “C’est Si Bon.”

      ...Now, it was time to return to the studio to cut the fourth number. This was a tune that Bing didn’t know titled “Melancolie”. While he was trying it through for the first time, I climbed up into the control box only to come face to face with Bing’s greatest fan, Michael Holliday. Mike apparently wasn’t able to resist the urge to see Bing at work and, although it meant invading a rival company’s premises he had shown up at Decca’s West Hampstead studios.

...Not surprisingly, because he hadn’t seen the number before, Bing had a shade more trouble in mastering “Melancolie” than with the first three. In fact, when he’d hit the wrong note on three successive occasions, he gave out with a string of colourful epithets which reduced the entire studio to helpless laughter. But this proved a minor handicap, and it wasn’t many minutes before “Melancolie” too was satisfactorily recorded.

(Derek Johnson, New Musical Express, October 21, 1960)

 

The following year, Bing turned up in London en route from the Olympic Games in Rome. No sooner had Mike seen the picture of Bing and Kathryn in the Daily Express than he was on the phone to Bing’s hotel. The telephonist was a Holliday fan, more in awe of Mike than Bing and was prepared to break the rules of ‘no calls’ and put Mike through to Bing’s room.

      Mike had the phone hooked into his tape machine and recorded the conversation. When Bing recognises his voice with the words ‘Hiya Michael, how are ya’, Holliday is like a schoolboy who has just discovered that there really is a Santa Claus. ‘Oh boy!!’ is all he can say.

      The call was brief, Crosby explaining that he was in London to make some recordings. Holliday was almost speechless. It had been one thing to meet his idol at the golf club in California, but the idea of seeing Bing at work was on a different plane altogether. Crosby had not performed in England since the war years and latterly, the famous crooner seemed to have settled for semi-retirement, focusing his attention on the second family that he and Kathryn were producing. Mike had asked him when they met in California whether he had plans to make some new recordings and received what seemed to be the standard, dismissive reply.

      From the moment that he put the phone down, Mike had only one thought in his head. If Bing was making records, Michael Holliday was going to be there to see it. He called Patrick Doncaster, the record correspondent of the Daily Mirror who Holliday knew well. Within minutes, Doncaster was back on the phone. Crosby’s session was taking place at the Decca studios at West Hampstead. ‘But they might not let you in,’ joked Doncaster, ‘you work for the competition, you know.’

      Mike had no intention of allowing commercial rivalry between Decca and EMI Columbia to get in the way of seeing Bing at work. Within an hour, he was sitting in the control booth, transfixed as Crosby went through the process of making a gramophone record, something he had first done 34 years ago, since when his global sales had reached a staggering 250 million.

      Once the session was over, Crosby took time out for two radio interviews and then came into the booth. ‘Is that old Holliday over there?’ he said, seeing Mike in the comer of the room. Mike was thrilled to be recognised and the two of them chatted for a few minutes. Crosby had by now reached the stage in his career where it was debatable whether he was a singer who golfed, or a golfer who sang, and sure enough, he had some golf lined up that afternoon. He was playing at Coombe Hill, he told Mike, so why didn’t he and Margie come along. Mike needed no second invitation, nor indeed did Margie. Later in the afternoon, Mike and Bing struck up a conversation with the impresario Val Parnell, the man behind TV’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium. Crosby assumed, wrongly, that Parnell and Mike had not met, although by then Holliday had already made his debut on the Sunday night show.

      ‘You should put him on the Palladium,’ Bing said to Parnell nodding in Mike’s direction.

      ‘No, no,’ said Mike to Parnell pointing to Bing, ‘I want you to put him on the Palladium.’

      ‘Me? Naw, I’m through,’ was Crosby’s self-deprecating reply.

      Bing and Kathryn flew back to the USA a few days later. Few would have forecast that of the two stars who stood chatting at Coombe Hill that October afternoon, the then septuagenarian Crosby would be the one who would sell out the Palladium in the mid-1970s, not the young pretender. When Mike and Margie had returned from the USA in 1959, the only question seemed to be how brightly Michael Holliday’s star would shine. The real question was how long.

(The Man Who Would Be Bing - the life story of Michael Holliday, page 121)

 

October 17, Monday. Bing goes to Hurst Park races.

October 20, Thursday. At the Savoy Hotel, Bing is presented with an engraved silver cigarette case in gratitude for his large donation to a West Indian association which is forming a rehabilitation center in London. At around 4:15 p.m. he has tea with opera singer (and Crosby fan) Stanley Cooper.

October 21, Friday. Bing and Kathryn fly back to the U.S.A. Bing goes on to Palm Desert and then the Rising River ranch.

October 24, Monday. Kathryn commences duties as a probationer student nurse at Queen of Angels Hospital, Los Angeles.

October 29, Saturday. Bing writes to Canadian broadcaster Gord Atkinson.

 

A little late making reply to your letter of August 12 I know. It’s been on my desk ever since my departure for Europe, and I’ve only gotten back a day or two now and catching up on my letter writing.

      I’m glad that you enjoyed meeting the boys, and that they were a success there in Ottawa. Since then, they’ve had several very successful engagements, doing good business, to good audiences, and to good critical reaction in Hollywood, Reno, Dayton, Buffalo and some other towns. They’re now in New York, I believe, getting ready to do a Como show. They have a few dates after that, but will be home for a month or so around Christmas and then take off again up through the Northwest. They have an album coming out which sounds pretty good to me. I hope it meets with some success when it’s released.

      Thank you for sending me the tape of your interview. It sounded great. Also the copies of the OTTAWA CITIZEN column, which proved very interesting.

      I hope that you and your family are in good health and spirits.

As ever—your friend,

Bing

 

November 5, Saturday. Mack Sennett dies.

November 9, Wednesday. John F. Kennedy is elected president of the United States.

November 16, Wednesday. The death of Clark Gable occurs.

November 19, Saturday. Still at his Rising River Ranch, Bing writes to pianist Ralph Sutton in New York, with a copy to Si Rady.


Dear Ralph

Got your card, and also the announcement that you’re going to be at Condon’s for awhile, so I thought I’d drop a note to say hello.

I have been around a bit since we were last in touch – two month trip to Europe, and since then have visited Palm Springs, some work in Hollywood, and am now up at the Rising River Ranch for a couple of weeks in Northern California, shooting some ducks and geese. Will go back to Los Angeles around the first of December, taping a television show the week of 13th through the 19th, with Rex Harrison, Carol Lawrence, Chevalier, and an Italian singer we discovered in Rome. Sort of a semi-classical singer, but with a great deal of sentimental appeal, I believe.

Ralph, I’ve been wondering about the possibility of our doing an album. I have a company now. Si Rady is running it for me. It’s called Project Records. We make up an album and then distribute it through whatever company we can get the best deal out of – Columbia, MGM, Warners, Victor – it really doesn’t matter.

I wonder if you have any ideas what kind of album we could do. There’s only one rather confining factor. I’m not allowed to record anything for any company that I’ve ever done for Decca. Sometimes this poses serious problems, but after all, there are lots of songs which I’ve never sung, and which are great.

I’m thinking in terms of something like what we did with Bob Scobey, with a little more emphasis on songs such “Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” – things of that type – where we could feature a great deal of piano and maybe use a small group.

Si Rady is very thorough about something like this, and has no hesitancy in spending a great deal of time in preliminary discussions and plannings. When you consider it realistically this is, after all, the only way to get a good album. The day is past, for me at least, when I can go in and knock off twelve songs without some preliminary run-throughs and rehearsals, and get anything worthwhile as the ultimate product.

Pursuing this suggestion, why don’t you dig up some titles and send them to me, and I’ll talk to Si about them and see what he thinks, and we’ll try and uncover a few. If the material can be found and developed, I think we could get a worthwhile album.

I suppose now that you’re in New York, you’re seeing Artie Lynch once in awhile, if he hasn’t gone to Florida. He generally goes there just as soon as the wintry winds start howling around Manhattan Island. If he should be still in town, send him my regards.

Be expecting to hear from, Ralph, when you have time.

All best regards to you and your family –

As ever, Bing



November 23, Wednesday. The Three Crosby Brothers appear live on Perry Como’s Kraft Music Hall show on NBC-TV.

December 3, Saturday. Now in Palm Desert, Bing replies to Ralph Sutton's letter in which he suggests titles for a possible album. Again, the letter is copied to Si Rady.


Dear Ralph

Thanks for your note. I have noted contents, and will await receipt of some more titles. “My Fate Is In Your Hands” sounds like a very good suggestion.

From the review, the paper sounds like you’ve got a helluva quartet together. I’m glad it’s working out so well. We might use the whole group, if we can get this album promoted.

The important thing, Ralph, is get something worked out on each number so that we just don’t go in there and do choruses, and I mean worked out instrumentally. I’ll have to work out some things vocally, too. That’s the only way we have a chance of getting the album to move – if it has some novelty, and because of this novelty, some appeal.

I’m doing an album next week which should be a dilly. I don’t know whether it will sell or not, but it’s going to be quite an effort – 101 songs. Of course, I don’t sing all of each song, but a good part of it. They’re mostly standards, gang songs, old chestnuts of one kind or another. The tracks are already made, and it will be a question of me going in there and working to horns. Looks like a two or three day job.

Made one called “Sing Along With Bing” which had a remarkably good sale, and it’s in much the same character. We use a vocal group, and a big band. Well, away we go, anyhow.

Hope the engagement at Condon’s is coming along nicely, and they’re not working you too hard. Say hello to Eddie for me. His daughter is my goddaughter, you know.

All the best, Bing


December 4, Sunday. (10:00 a.m.) Bing, James Garner, Phil Harris and Randolph Scott fly into Tucson, Arizona, and later, starting at 1 p.m., they play in a benefit golf exhibition for the Beacon Foundation at El Rio Country Club.

 December 9, Friday. Bing records a program for the BBC linking his records which is broadcast in the UK on December 26 on the Light Programme at 6pm. He asks that his fee of £100 be given to the National Playing Fields Association.

December 11, Sunday. Bing tapes his A Christmas Sing with Bing radio program with Rosemary Clooney, Jose Ferrer and Kathryn Crosby.

December 13, Tuesday. Bing and Rosemary Clooney pose for publicity photos for the Christmas Sing broadcast.

December 13-19, Tuesday - Monday. Records an ABC-TV show with Maurice Chevalier and Carol Lawrence which is shown on March 20, 1961. Bill Harbach, the director, recalled the show in 2005.

 

“All summer long I tried to come up with a smashing idea - not just another song and dance show. There’s got to be some point to it. What can I do that is different? I was coming back from a weekend in Westhampton, Long Island. While passing La Guardia Airport – it’s funny how you remember things – I said, ‘I got it. I got the perfect show for Bing. Wham!’ We would have Mr. England, Mr. France, and Mr. USA – Rex Harrison, Maurice Chevalier, and Crosby – singing about the women they have known and how they handled them.

Chevalier was thrilled by the suggestion and Harrison’s people thought it was sensational because he hadn’t done anything since the London production of My Fair Lady. Nothing much was going on with him professionally, and his agents thought that starring him with Bing and Maurice would put him right back. Bing reacted like a stage two rocket. He said, ‘My God, What an idea.’ Well, Rex wouldn’t do it! He said, ‘I can’t sing like Bing.’ I said, ‘You don’t have to – you just sing like you did in My Fair Lady.’     

Harrison’s agent said, ‘Bill, you got to make Rex do it, for his own good.’ I pleaded with Harrison, but he remained adamant. ‘No, No, No – Crosby and Chevalier are too good. I’m not going to embarrass myself.’ Well, my writers (Bill Morrow, Saul Ilson, and George Foster) helped me create a show which became Mr. France and Mr. USA. Can you imagine what that show would have been like with the three of them? I get goose bumps just thinking of it.”

This tantalizing possibility was briefly entertained, but Mr. Harbach was assured that, even without Mr. England’s participation, the show remains a triumph of showmanship and style, notwithstanding the involvement of singer Aldo Monaco.

“Aldo Monaco had nothing to do with Crosby and Chevalier – or anything! Bing had heard him in Venice and was so crazy about him, he promised him a spot. I didn’t want to hurt Bing’s feelings, but I had to tell him that Monaco had nothing to do with the original plan. After all, he was no match for the two stars, so he wasn’t going to sing about his Italian girlfriends. Well, Bing insisted on featuring him. It killed me. I wanted the idea to stay close to the original. All that survived of it was the little black book medley.”

But what about the finale medley, which includes September Song, Young at Heart, I’m Glad I’m Not Young Anymore and concludes with I Wish I Were in Love Again? Didn’t this impart a wistful accent upon the philandering theme? Mr. Harbach lit up.

“Yes, Yes - and I thought I would use ‘Yesterdays’ which dad wrote with Jerome Kern for Roberta. It perfectly wrapped up the whole concept.”

 How did these two icons get along?

“Bing and Maurice hit it off from the very first day of rehearsals. Maurice politely said, ‘Bing, it’s so nice to see you.’ ‘You too, Maurice.’ They got along beautifully.”

At this point in our discussion, Mr. Harbach produced a photo of him giving directions to a grinning Crosby and laughing Chevalier. There is no better example of the comity that existed among the three men.

“Bing enjoyed working with Carol Lawrence on the previous show, so he wanted lightning to strike twice. Hugh Lambert was hired to choreograph. His dancers were frequently featured on The Ed Sullivan Show.”

 I signaled out Flattery, a number which displays the terpsichorean talents of Crosby and Lawrence.

“Oh, Bing moved so well. He was a very good dancer. But then, he could do anything well. Bing also wanted Nelson Riddle to work again on this show since he was so pleased with his work.  Incidentally, Nelson thought that choral voices were needed, especially for Chevalier.”

Mr. Harbach mentioned that Henry Mancini’s wife, Virginia, was a member of the chorus which Joseph Lilley assembled.  Mr. Harbach is justly proud of this special.

“Do you know that we made the cover of Life Magazine?”

Mr. Harbach showed me a facsimile of the March 10, 1961 issue which showcased Crosby and Chevalier on the cover, heralding, Two Old Pros in TV Songfest.

This certainly was no hype. Broadcast on March 20, 1961, it garnered high ratings.

(Martin McQuade, detailing an interview with Bill Harbach, in BING magazine, spring 2006)

 

Bob (Wynn) worked on a number of Bing’s TV specials before becoming the producer of the 1961 Xmas show from London. He recalled the special in March 1961 when Maurice Chevalier was the guest and Bob was the Unit Manager. Chevalier had arrived at the studio looking a very old and tired man, which was a great disappointment to Bob.  However, once he was performing in front of the cameras, the ‘real’ Chevalier reappeared and he gave a great performance. After the show, Bing gave Chevalier a wonderful party. Bob recalled that Bing could be a little careful with his money and sometimes a ‘party’ consisted of some cheese and some cans of beer, but on this occasion, it was top class.

(Author interview with Bob Wynn, August 1, 2007)

 

December 19, Monday. At Chasen’s Restaurant, Bing meets his son Gary (and his new wife) for the first time since Gary’s marriage. Meanwhile, Bing’s album Merry Christmas enters the album charts and goes on to reach number nine. It remains in the charts for three weeks. Also, his recording of “White Christmas” again enters the charts and peaks at number twenty-six during its two-week tenure.

 

When Dad and Kathryn returned from Europe, I took Barbara to their house in Holmby Hills to meet them for the first time. It had to be done, but I was more than a little apprehensive.

“Honey, y’know, he’s kind of a cold fish,I told her on the drive over. He’s not warm like you are. So don’t be grabbing and hugging at him like you usually do with people. That’s not his style. She laughed and answered, “Well, I’ll try. If I can remember, I’ll keep my hands to myself.” Before I could even finish the introductions, she threw her arms around him and gave him a big bear hug. He was as embarrassed by the display of affection as I knew he would be and tried to back off. But she wouldnt go for it. She went right up against his coldness like it wasn’t there and destroyed it on the spot. On the way home she told me he even hugged her back a little when they said good night, but I dont know.

(Gary Crosby, writing in Going My Own Way, page 268).

 

December 20/23, Tuesday/Friday. Records sing-along tracks for the album 101 Gang Songs at United Recorders, Hollywood, for release by Warner Brothers Records. The chorus and instrumental accompaniment are conducted by Jack Halloran.

December 24, Saturday. A Christmas Sing with Bing radio program is broadcast by CBS. The international format is dropped this time and Bing is joined by Rosemary Clooney, Jose Ferrer, and Kathryn Crosby. The program is again sponsored by the insurance company, INA.

 

This was the sixth ‘Christmas Sing With Bing’ and the Yuletide Eve special is well on its way to becoming an institution which is all for the best since Crosby has that special sense of hominess and belonging that adds an extra kind of warmth to a season when the Christmas song-fests tend to lose their individuality. The ‘Sing with Bing’ remains something special, to look forward to each year. A change to format was offered this year, Crosby dropping the international flavor of season’s past for a stay at home session with Rosemary Clooney, his regular CBS radio partner, her hubby Jose Ferrer and his own wife Kathryn as they swing, happily, through a wide category of Christmas songs from the newer pop standards right down to old-fashioned carols. The music was fine. Crosby and Miss Clooney were in top form and Miss Grant displayed a small but pretty voice. Ferrer added a reading of ‘Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus’ – the 1897 ‘New York Sun’ editorial that was effective and overall the show had a fine sense of restrained gaiety. Two negatives however. One, was the fact that there was far too much talk and not enough music – at least in the first half of the show and Bill Morrow’s rapid-fire dialogue tended to be a little over cute. Second – Far too many commercials for Insurance Company of North America and pretty hard sell at that. ‘Sing with Bing’ being almost an institution it seems about time the commercial aspect of it be accorded appropriately similar treatment.

(Variety, December 28, 1960)

 

One of the warmest, and unquestionably, the brightest entertainments of the holiday was “Christmas Sing with Bing”. This old tar puffed contentedly on a huge Christmas stogie, which looked like a smokestack on our old battleship, as he enjoyed this annual Sing with Bing. The highlights of the party were the Groaner’s baritoning of “Silent Night” and “White Christmas,” and Ferrer’s reading of the famous newspaper editorial, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” which for pith and point is peerless. It is a classic of the Fourth estate.

(Daily Mirror, December 27, 1960)

 

December 27/28, Tuesday/Wednesday. Bing completes the recording of the 101 Gang Songs album. The album is originally issued in two parts “Join Bing and Sing Along” and “Join Bing in a Gang Song Sing Along”.

 

JOIN BING IN A GANG SONG SING ALONG

Bing Crosby & His Friends. Warner Bros. W 1322 —

Bing’s second sing along album is as bright and spirited as his first, which was a sock seller for the label. This set contains 50 favorite tunes, and Bing and his gang sell them with the zing and gusto they deserve. Among the songs are “Shine on Harvest Moon,” “Hello My Baby,” “Little Liza” and “Annie Laurie.” As with all sing-alongs, the lyrics are included. Good wax, good fun, and good sales indicated here.

(Billboard, July 24, 1961)

 

Bing Crosby is slowly moving into Mitch Miller’s territory. Crosby’s first sing along package did quite well in the market and this compilation of 50 faves has a good chance to do even better. The formula is light and simple and with Crosby leading the way the songalog is easy to follow.

(Variety, August 2, 1961)


Mitch Miller may have started (or at least resurrected) the "sing-along" craze, but it has taken the Old Master to supply the definitive triumph of this genre. He's in his jauntiest form here, leading an usually robust chorus, backed by a vigorously steady rhythm section in performances which imperiously demand participation.

(High Fidelity magazine, 1961, Vol. 10, issues 7-12)

 

Bing Crosby is still tops, and at present a welcome visitor to this country. He is heard again in a “Sing Along” LP set on Warner WM 4034 which drags up all the old chorus numbers in the now familiar Mitch Miller formula.

(The Gramophone, September, 1961)

 

Bing Crosby has another sock sales item in his third Sing-Along album for Warner Brothers. This one spotlights 51 oldies, which Warner Brothers claims is “the greatest number of sing-along hits on any record ever.” Crosby is in exuberant, warm vocal form and is strongly backed by a group of heart voices. A strong package.

(Billboard, January 20, 1962)

 

December 28, Wednesday. Following a jury trial, Dennis Crosby is ordered to pay $100 per week for support of a three-year-old daughter born out of wedlock to Mrs. Marilyn Miller Scott on November 24, 1957. He also has to pay legal fees of $7,500 for Mrs. Scott. The child grows up to be an actress named Denise Crosby who appears in the Paramount television series Star Trek—The Next Generation and other productions.

December 31, Saturday. Dennis Crosby and wife, Pat, become the parents of a second child, Patrick Anthony.

 

1961

 

January (undated). Bing and Kathryn at their home at Palm Desert.

January 3, Tuesday. An article by Joe Hyams about Gary Crosby is syndicated in many newspapers.

 

HOLLYWOOD (HTNS)—My favorite Crosby—Gary—came to lunch the other day at the Beverly Hills Hotel with his beautiful blond wife Barbara on his arm and announced that after four months of marriage he’s never felt better, never been happier.

“I never knew what marriage was until I got married,” Gary said, pausing to nuzzle his wife’s cheek. You can’t tell a bachelor that marriage is wonderful but I’ll tell you I’m happier than I’ve ever been.

“I’m having myself a real ball getting up early in the morning, spending the day working around the house or playing with our son Steven (Mrs. Crosby’s five-and-a-half-year-old by a previous marriage.)

“…We had Christmas with dad and my brothers, their wives and kids. It was a real clambake. And my career is picking up. I just finished a picture and I have a record coming out.”

The picture Gary recently completed for 20th Century Fox is entitled “The Right Approach” in which he stars with Frankie Vaughan. The record he cut last week is called “Jenny, Oh Jenny.” And he’s in the process of cutting an album for his father’s company, Project Records.

I asked Gary if he and his father were on good terms again after some widely publicized disagreements.

“We’ve never gotten along so well as now,” he said. "It’s just great. Everything’s great.”

(Joe Hyams, The Blade, Toledo, Ohio, January 3, 1961)

 

January 13, Friday. Gary Crosby fails to fulfill an engagement at Gallagher’s, Milwaukee. Attorneys for Gary later agree to a reported settlement of $4,000 for the singer’s no-show.


January 19-22, Thursday–Sunday. At the Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach which is won by Bob Rosburg. The weather is good this time. James Garner, Ernie Ford, Gordon MacRae, Guy Madison and Phil Harris are among the many celebrities playing.

 

Crosby not only supervises the selection of those who get the precious bids to his tournament but he also tries to chat at least briefly with every one of the golfers he knows personally. In addition, he tapes radio shows, works in a few parties at the houses of friends in the neighborhood and often does a show for the Fort Ord soldiers. On Sunday night following the final round he gives an enormous steak dinner for all the competitors at which he himself awards the $50,000 worth of prizes that go to the pros and the hand-wrought silver pitchers and bowls and plates that go to the winning amateurs. That done, Crosby emcees a show that money couldn’t buy. Phil Harris gets the laughs started, Jimmy Demaret sings, Lionel Hebert plays his horn, Don Cherry croons, Bob Hope clowns it up and the host himself delivers the kind of melody that made all this possible in the first place.

Year in and year out the Crosby is most likely the wettest, ruggedest golfing test in the country. But the 50,000 people who turn out to watch, and the more than 4,000 amateurs who always apply for the 150 starting places have learned how to overlook the elements. To them the Crosby is winter’s real treat.

(Sports Illustrated, January 23, 1961)

 

January 24, Tuesday. The three Crosby Brothers open at the Chi Chi in Palm Springs for eleven days. They stay at Bing’s home in Palm Desert.

January 25, Wednesday. Bing takes part in the Lucky International Golf Tournament at Harding Park, San Francisco, in pouring rain, partnered by Doug Sanders.

February 1, Wednesday. Bing plays in the first round of the Palm Springs Golf Classic pro-am held on the Indian Wells course.

February 2, Thursday. The pro-am moves to the Thunderbird course.

February 3, Friday. (Starting at 10:44 a.m.) Bing plays in the third round of the pro-am on the Bermuda Dunes course.

February 4, Saturday. The final day of the pro-am competition at the Thunderbird course. Bing and Kathryn are staying at their Palm Desert home. The Crosby Brothers act is at the Chi Chi Starlite Room until February 4.

February 8, Wednesday. Flies into Reno with his children Harry and Mary Frances en route to a vacation at Squaw Valley, Idaho. Kathryn joins him on February 9.

March 2, Saturday. Delbert E. Grandstaff (Kathryn’s father) is one of seventy-one people who pay their $50 filing fee in Texas in order to run for the U.S. Senate.

March (undated). Bing Crosby Enterprises has its Ben Casey series accepted for the 1961-62 television season.

March 8, Wednesday. Bing attends a luncheon for General Eisenhower at the Thunderbird Country Club in Palm Springs. Others present include Bob Hope, Phil Harris, Danny Kaye, Randolph Scott, Edgar Bergen and Freeman Gosden.  Bing then goes to Palm Beach, Florida, while Kathryn helps her father campaign for the senate in Texas.

March 9, Thursday. The three Crosby brothers (Phillip, Dennis, and Lindsay) open at the Fairmont Hotel’s Venetian Room in San Francisco.

March 11, Saturday. Bing has flown to Nassau in the Bahamas for a short holiday and the local paper of this date gives brief details of his recent arrival. He stays at the Cotton Bay Club at Eleuthera. While in Nassau, he fishes at Water Cay and takes part in a golf tournament for charity.

March 17, Friday. A legal dispute involving contractual small print regarding Carol Lawrence’s appearance on Bing’s television special, due to be shown by ABC on March 20, is resolved. It is mentioned that the show cost $450,000. Meanwhile, Bing flies into Fort Myers, Florida, the spring training ground for the Pittsburgh Pirates and watches the Pirates beat the Milwaukee Braves at Terry Park.

 

The crowd gave out one of its biggest rounds of applause of the season early in the game when it was announced that movie, radio and TV star Bing Crosby was in the press box. Crosby, a vice president of the Pittsburgh club, flew into Fort Myers just before the game and left at the end of the 8th inning to return to Miami.

(The News-Press, March 18, 1961)

 

March 20, Monday. (9:30–10:30 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show is transmitted by ABC-TV with guests Maurice Chevalier and Carol Lawrence. Nelson Riddle and his Orchestra provide the musical background. The producer-director is William O. Harbach.

 

Bing Crosby keeps topping himself. His latest semi-annual ABC-TV romp for Oldsmobile, with Maurice Chevalier as his singing partner and Carol Lawrence as an added starter, was a zestful, fast-hour with wit, warmth and good humor.

      Crosby and Chevalier made a fine team, not so much in their vocal meshing as in their wonderfully reactions to each other. And since producer-director, Bill Harbach and his three writers played the hour as a sort of ‘fun with music’ show, the Crosby-Chevalier pairing played off, incandescently.

      The twosome got their best licks in, during a pair of medleys, one pegged on femme names in a ‘little black book’ sequence of memorabilia which gave them a crack at ‘Louisa’ (sic), ‘Mimi’, ‘Gigi’, ‘Ida’, ‘Candy’ and several more, done with appropriate tongue in cheek and camaraderie. And a second, more sentimental, turn pegged to ‘I’m Glad I’m Not Young Anymore’ and ‘I Wish I Were in Love Again’. Both were top-flight in performance and effect.

      Miss Lawrence got her licks in, vocally and dancewise….and her turn with Crosby, a cute piece of fluff titled, ‘Flattery Charges My Battery’ was pure fun. Monaco is a Crosby discovery, an Italian tenor with a remarkable control of his vocal nuances plus lots of lung power.

      Other high points of the show were Chevalier’s solos on ‘Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries’ and ‘Pigalle’ and Crosby and Chevalier with a femme chorus on the jazziest version of ‘Alouette’ yet. Nelson Riddle Orchestra backed with verve and distinction.

(Variety, March 22, 1961)

 

March 26, Sunday. Starting at 1.30 p.m., Bing plays in a benefit golf match in front of 1,000 fans with Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, and Jimmy Demaret at the Seminole Club at Juno Beach. The match is to raise funds to help golfing star Ed (Porky) Oliver defray expenses in his battle with cancer.

March 27-28, Monday-Tuesday. Bing and Ben Hogan compete in the Latham Reed Amateur-Pro Tournament at the Seminole Golf Club. Their best ball score of 138 leaves them unplaced. Bing’s handicap is now five.

March 31, Friday. Bing golfs at the Palm Beach Country Club with President Kennedy, his father Joseph Kennedy, and Chris Dunphy (chairman of the Greens Committee at the Seminole Golf Club).

 

Kennedy’s Golf Praised By Crosby

OAKLAND, Calif. President Kennedy “is a pretty good golfer who could become a very fine one if he had the time to play,” Bing Crosby said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

A match between Kennedy and ex-President Eisenhower would “be pretty even now,” Crosby told sports writer Ed Schoenfeld of the Oakland Tribune. The crooner is in Hollywood, Calif.

“But Kennedy could do a lot better if he had the time. He hits a longer ball off the tee than Ike.”

Crosby based his analysis on 13 holes as the President's partner at the Palm Beach Country Club in Florida and his own experience as a golfer. The singer said the President was a good needler on the links but he was most impressed with his tee shots.

“He was out 240 or 250 yards,” Bing said.

Crosby said Kennedy is serious about his golf “when he gets ready to hit the ball. Between shots he enjoys himself.”

In their match, Crosby said, Kennedy “was about five over par, which isn’t bad for a fellow who hasn't played a great deal lately.”

(The Daily Iowan, April 5, 1961)

 

April 4, Tuesday. Delbert Grandstaff is unsuccessful in his bid to become a senator, coming eighth out of seventy-one contestants. The senatorial seat is won by John Tower.

April 5, Wednesday. Bing writes to British journalist Charles Graves.

 

Thanks for your note of March 11th. I’ve just gotten back from Florida and the Bahamas. Played a lot of golf out there, and did some fishing.

I played in a couple of tournaments with Arnold Palmer and I must say that he is at the peak of his form, and is going to win an awful lot of tournaments.

Hogan is striking the ball better than he ever did in his life, but putting has become a mental block with him and unless he can overcome it, I don’t see how he’s going to win any major championships before he retires. It’s really quite a shame to hit the ball as good as he’s hitting it, and not be able to get it in the hole when he gets on the green.

As usual, Charlie, picture schedules being what they are, our picture has been postponed a couple weeks, and it now appears we won’t be over there much before the first of July. I won’t be able to go to Ascot with you. This saddens me, because I’ve never been to Ascot, and on such a week, it surely must be something to see.

The Irish spectacular is still under consideration, but we haven’t really finalised any plans for its consummation. Maybe in the next month or so we’ll be able to arrive at some sort of a definite decision.

The big question, of course, is the time. We’d need a week or ten days to prepare and tape the show, and how I would get that much time away from the picture, I just can’t at this moment conceive. If we wait until after the picture is finished, which would probably be now around the 1st of October, we would be running into the possibility of bad weather again. But the project hasn’t been abandoned, and it won’t be until all the possibilities have been thoroughly explored.

I’m glad to hear that your golf is going well. Wish I could say the same. I’m still sort of scraping it around. Have a good round now and then, but no consistency as of yore.

I think I’ll go fishing again - this time in Mexico.

All the best to Peggy. Kathryn joins me in sending fondest to you both.

Always yours,

Bing

 

April 12, Wednesday. The Russians put a man, Yuri Gagarin, into space.

April 17, Monday. Bing attends the Academy Awards presentation at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and sees his song “The Second Time Around” lose out to “Never on Sunday,” from the film of the same name, for the Oscar for “Best Film Song” of 1960.

April 26, Wednesday. The three Crosby Brothers appear at the Latin Quarter in New York.

 

Bing’s Boys Sing out in Latin Quarter Debut

Music in harmony, clear and sweet and rhythmic, approached intelligently, often humorously and always with a timing that is a thing of beauty in itself, is the essence of an act starring Phillip, Dennis and Lindsay Crosby, three of Bing’s sons, which E. M. Loew and Ed Risman presented last night at the Latin Quarter. Advance notices from Las Vegas, where the boys were enthusiastically received, do not exaggerate. It is no fly-by-night act, built on a father’s reputation. Rather, does it subtly recognize talent handed down to another generation that carries on in its own proficient way. Much credit is due John Bradford and William Friml, who added some apt lyrics for the opening “This is a Lovely Way to Spend an Evening” and the following “You’re a Good Group.” The numbers are the boys’ introduction of themselves to the audience, and they are solid.

      The next two numbers “Mamselle” and “Dinah,” are purely the harmony, indicating the range of each voice and pinpointing the personalities in little ways. There isn’t a solo all night, but each boy takes a brief turn in introducing a segment or singing a few bars. Charles O’Curran staged and produced this superior act of the Crosby Bros., Bill Thompson did the orchestration and vocal arrangements and drummer Lloyd Morales sat in with Joe Lombardi’s orchestra as Fred Otis conducted from the piano.

      A folk medley of “Scarlet Ribbons,” “Little White Duck,” “Old Dan Tucker,” “Lil’ David” and “Joshua” made up the second segment of the act, with each number interpreted in an original manner. Then came the finale, as the boys did excerpts from about 30 songs made famous by their father. This could have been an ear-bending, wearying number without proper editing. As they present it, it is a closely woven tapestry of song and sentiment, bringing the past to the present with taste and skill. As they closed, in tribute to Bing, with “The Blue of the Night,” I felt deeply moved and awfully glad I attended the opening. Earlier, before and during the show, I realized the familiar antics of Frank Libuse, the mad “waiter,” as well as other variety acts and the beautiful girls in Fred Wittop’s scintillating costumes. The Crosby Bros. and the Latin Quarter have a rare treat for all comers.

(Robert W. Dana, New York World Telegram and Sun, April 27, 1961)

 

April (undated). Bing goes to Baja Sur, on Mexico’s California Peninsula, and buys a house in La Paz for an orphanage which is called Colina de la Cruz.

May 5, Friday. Alan Shepard becomes the first American in space.

May 7, Sunday. The Crosby Brothers appear on the Ed Sullivan television show.

May 8/9, Monday/Tuesday. Bing records the Holiday in Europe album at Radio Recorders, Hollywood, using orchestral tracks recorded by Malcolm Lockyer and his Orchestra in London. The LP is released by Decca Records.

 

In an indie master deal with Project Records, Bing Crosby comes under the Decca banner once again. The package peg is a global song roundup which has Crosby working his way through such entries as “Under Paris Skies,” “Morgen,” “Never on Sunday” and “Domenica”. It’s flavorsome and pleasing.

(Variety, October 17, 1962)

 

Here’s a pleasant package from Bing with the old groaner singing such favorites as “Under Paris Skies,” “April in Portugal,” “Never on Sunday” and “C’est Si Bon.” Good listening and good programming for the faithful.

(Billboard, October 20, 1962)

         

Many of you must, like me, have wondered “can Bing do it”? An album full of ballads, just six a side and with full orchestra backing? After the multi-tracked El Señor Bing and the Singalongs we were bound to have worries - but we need not have had for this is Bing’s best album yet released of new material. It's Bing 1962, right bang up-to-date.

(Frank Murphy, Crosby Post, December 1962)

 

May (undated). Records another interview with Tony Thomas which is broadcast on CBC on May 14.

May 10, Wednesday onwards. Bing flies back to La Paz, Mexico, with Kathryn and then cruises down the coast to Palmilla on his forty-five-foot cruiser “The Kingfisher”. A storm forces them to take refuge in Los Frailes for three days before they can sail back to Las Cruces. Kathryn returns to Los Angeles (and discovers she is pregnant again) while Bing stays on.

May 13, Saturday. Gary Cooper dies.

May 14, Sunday. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation transmits an hour-long radio program in which Bing is interviewed in depth by Tony Thomas. The program had been recorded in advance and excerpts are later issued on a long-playing record titled Conversations in Hollywood. Elsewhere, the Crosby Brothers appear on the What's My Line? CBS-TVshow in New York as the mystery guests.

June 2, Friday. Bing returns to Los Angeles and tells Kathryn that he has decided to build a home (eventually known as Casa Crosby) at Las Cruces on Baja Sur. He then comes down with the “flu” and has to retire to bed.

June 3, Saturday. Gary Crosby’s wife, Barbara, takes an overdose, and when she recovers from this, she threatens suicide again and has to be taken to the hospital in a straitjacket.

June 12, Monday. Bing sells his house at Pebble Beach.

June 19, Monday. Gary Crosby, appearing at the Tradewinds nightclub in Chicago, is unable to continue with his performance as he is dead drunk. The nightclub takes legal action against Gary for his walkout with two nights to go on a ten-day engagement. Subsequently, Gary checks into a dry-out clinic called Silver Hill in Connecticut. Bing is said to have paid for the treatment for his son’s alcoholism, and Gary stops drinking.

 

Predictably, the more insane I got with the booze, the more I messed up at work. I disappeared on my way to a gig in Milwaukee, and the club sued me for not showing up. When the audience at the Trade Winds in Chicago didn’t laugh at one of my jokes, I told them to go fuck themselves and stormed offstage.

The owners called Barbara in L.A. and told her, “Listen, you better come get him right this minute. We don’t want him around anymore.” She was so terrified by the prospect of what might happen if she left me alone that she headed straight for the airport and arrived in Chicago in the middle of the night. When she walked into the hotel room she found me in bed with a woman. I was too drunk to remember I was married until I saw her. Then I got so crazy with guilt I shoved her out into the hallway without so much as a hello. And, of course, my guilt gave me good reason to drink even more… 

…Silver Hill was a rich man’s dry-out clinic. I had a beautiful room. My window overlooked flowers and rolling lawns. Each week I stayed there cost a bundle. Barbara told me later that the old man footed the bill, but he never did own up to it.

I had gone there to placate Barbara, so I’d still have a wife and son when I came back home. But a lot of things about the place made sense. The first thing they did was put me on a regular schedule. I got up and went to bed the same time every day. I ate my meals at a certain time, went to the workshops and played sports and saw the shrink at a certain time. Gradually I got back on the same timetable as the rest of the world, and that felt good. I began to remember what sunshine looked like and how food tasted. I even painted a picture and made a pretty good tray in woodworking shop. When my head hit the pillow at 10 P. M. I fell right off to sleep.
(Gary Crosby, writing in Going My Own Way, pages 274, 277)

 

June 23, Friday. (10:30-11:00 p.m. EDT) Phillip, Dennis and Lindsay Crosby are interviewed by Charles Collingwood on the Person to Person CBS-TV show.

July (undated). Bing is fishing at his Rising River ranch in north California. He writes to freelance journalist Frank Dufresne.

 

I think the piece you did about the fishing at Rising River is one of the most charming things I’ve ever read. I wouldn’t change a word, except to correct a couple of inaccuracies. The lady who ties the flies at Cottage Grove, Oregon, is Mabel Thompson, not Madison, and the fly I use quite often up there is the “Goofer Bug”, not “Goofus Bug”.

I'll be looking forward eagerly to receipt of some pictures. I know that you must have gotten some beautiful things that day, even though the action was a little slow.

We’ll be off for England on Tuesday, but when I return in the fall, will be in contact with you about the possibility of you and your wife going to Las Cruces. I’m sure we can set up transportation, etc.

All best wishes, Frank, and thanks so much for coming to the ranch, and for doing the piece. I know it will be very well received when it appears in the magazine.

 

July 15, Saturday. (Probably) Sees the three younger Crosby brothers perform at the Desert Inn, Las Vegas. The brothers give two shows nightly during their run at 8:15 p.m. and 11:45 p.m.

July 18, Tuesday. Records twelve songs with Rosemary Clooney for use on their radio show.

July 19, Wednesday. Arrives in London to film The Road to Hong Kong, sends for Kathryn and Harry and they join him on August 3. They live at Cranbourne Court in Winkfield, Berkshire, with Bob and Dolores Hope, plus their children. Pending their arrival, Bing stays at the Savoy in London.

July 24, Monday. Golfs with Bob Hope. Meanwhile, Bing Crosby Enterprises buys a new sixty-foot Chris Craft Constellation yacht, which is named True Love, for Bing’s use.

July 26, Wednesday. The Crosby Brothers appear on the I've Got a Secret CBS-TV show and teach the panel how to lip sync.

July 30, Sunday. Records an unpaid guest spot on a Peggy Lee ABC-TV spectacular Big Night Out with David Kossoff, Sammy Cahn, and Jimmy Van Heusen which is shown on the British Independent Television Network on August 26. Bob Sharples conducts the musical support.

August 2, Wednesday. Bing and Bob Hope begin filming The Road to Hong Kong with Joan Collins and Robert Morley at Shepperton Studios in England. Dorothy Lamour has a cameo spot only which leads to some controversy. The director is Norman Panama. Musical direction is by Robert Farnon with the Bill McGuffie Quartet. During the filming, Bing arranges for many British fans to visit the set and meet him. Lord Mountbatten is another visitor.

 

Strapped to a chair in what was clearly intended to be a spaceship was Bob Hope. I gathered that it should have been a monkey in the chair, because milk and bananas were being fed to Bob Hope down an automatic feeder. Then the mechanism went wrong and Hope kept getting an earful of bananas and a faceful of milk. Bing Crosby was watching, which gave us an opportunity to chat. What a joy to talk to such great characters, and all so entirely unexpected. Both these great actors were as funny off set and we all had a great time. Bing Crosby was in tears like the rest of us at Bob Hope’s reaction to this crazy scene.

(William Evans, My Mountbatten Years: In the Service of Lord Louis)

 

August 3, Thursday. Bing and Bob Hope are interviewed by Kenneth Alsop for the BBC-TV program Tonight.

August 4, Friday. Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin film their guest spots in The Road to Hong Kong with Bing. Bing and Bob Hope are interviewed by Tony Bilbow for the BBC radio program In Town Today which is broadcast on August 9. Bing takes his fee in golf balls.

August 5, Saturday. Goes to Epsom to see the racing. Returns to London in time to take part in a fifteen-minute rehearsal for The Rosemary Clooney Show in which Bing then makes an unbilled (and unpaid) live appearance on the British ATV network and sings “Fancy Meeting You Here” with Rosie and then Dave King.

 

Bing Crosby sprang a surprise last Saturday, when he made an unheralded guest appearance in ATV’s “Rosemary Clooney Show.” This was his first live variety appearance on British television. In the Clooney show, Bing joined Rosemary for a duet, taken from their “Fancy Meeting You Here” MCA album and cracked ad-lib gags and sang with Dave King, who was also guesting on the show.

(Melody Maker, August 12, 1961)

 

August 9, Wednesday. Lord Morrison of Lambeth, the chairman of the British Board of Film Censors, visits Bing and Bob Hope on the set at Shepperton Studios.

 

My Wonderful Day at Shepperton

My visit to Shepperton had been arranged about a week in advance but when I reached there, Les Gaylor had already arrived. I’d no idea that he was going, and he told me he had arranged it only the day previous.

I had several sessions with Bing in between takes for the film, and he told me several interesting things about the film. He gave me some autographs. We met and chatted to Bob Hope, Miss Joan Collins and Howard Keel, and Robert Wagner who also came on to the set. We had photographs taken with Bing, Bob and Joan. I gathered from some of the technicians that Bing was in great form when he recorded his songs for the film.

One or two amusing incidents worth noting: Bing went on to the set with the wrong trousers so he just peeled them off and stood there in his underpants waiting for the right ones with Bob and everyone chuckling…but Bing was quite unperturbed. Then when Bing was signing Les’s items the workmen started to move his portable dressing room and disconnected the lights…there was Bing in the dark with his pen and trying to sign, and Les on his hands and knees trying to find his discs.

A group of us moved outside for a breath of fresh air, and when Les came up to us, Bing said to Bob, “This is one of my fans from an island about 70 miles away.” Bob cracked “My fan club should be on an island,” to which Bing replied “Yeah, Alcatraz.” I think Bing’s little reference to the island prison fortress was a real good crack and Bob had to laugh.

It was a grand experience to see these two great stars walking around singing and whistling just as if no one was there. Les had to go about 6 o’clock to get his train, but after they’d taken the last shots for the day Bing stood there singing “…my pretty bubble has burst, somebody else saw you first…” (from “I Guess It Had to be That Way”) and he was whistling away there…really a great treat for me.

One or two other points of interest…I was told that of all the films they’d done at Shepperton none has created more interest than this and never has there been such a number of requests from people to visit,

Bing said they would have liked some of the sequences to have been in colour, but the part with Sinatra and Martin had already been done in black and white. He also said that he was going over to Ireland to George O’Reilly, and in fact I’d had a letter from George earlier in the week telling me the same thing.

By the way, Bing hopes to record an LP of Christmas songs before he returns to the States.

(Fred Reynolds, writing in Crosby Post, October, 1961)

 

August 25, Friday. Bing, Kathryn, and young son Harry fly from London airport to Nice, on the Cote D’Azur, France. Bing meets a Shell Petrol executive on the plane and agrees to do a television commercial for the company.

August 26, Saturday. The filmed Peggy Lee television spectacular Big Night Out with Bing, David Kossoff, Sammy Cahn, and Jimmy Van Heusen is shown on ABC-TV in the U.K.

 

ABC TV’s ‘Big Night Out’ which had previously suffered delusions of grandeur, not justified by the outcome, at least lived up to its sizeable handle in this offering. The show was built around Peggy Lee, quite an edifice in herself and its chief guest was Bing Crosby, who’d groaned his way over from the local movie studios where he’s making another ‘Road’ picture with Hope.

      It was Peggy Lee’s first outing on British TV and she scored with a relaxed and polished selection of standards, sprinkled with the odd novelty…..There followed a neat tour of waxworks, to the accompaniment of ‘The Look Of You’ (sic), at the end of which, Bing Crosby, who was pretending to be a dummy, took life.

      A gay interlude introduced songwriters, Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, who strung along some of their past hits, such as, ‘Swing (sic) On a Star’ and ‘Second Time Around’, with Cahn striding out with his amateur pipes. Peggy Lee gave snatches of ‘All the Way’ and the whole thing was agreeably informal.

      Crosby, in faltering vocal form, reminisced with numbers from past ‘Road’ movies and joined the assembled company in a final ‘High Hopes’. It was one of those guestings when it seemed more important to be there than to bring a contribution.

(Variety, September 6, 1961)

 

August 27, Sunday. Still on the Cote D’Azur, Bing golfs with Joseph Kennedy, father of the U.S. President on the Nice-Biot course. Later, Bing and Kathryn have drinks with David Niven and Gregory Peck plus their wives. Bing takes Kathryn to Casa Madrid but they are turned away as they do not have a reservation. They later dine at a little inn called La Ferme instead.

September 9, Saturday. Back in England, Bing goes to a Sandown Park race meeting for Variety Club Children’s Charities and presents the Ladbroke Gold Cup. He is photographed with Billy Butlin, a former Chief Barker. The proceedings are captured by various newsreels and featured in Pathe News in the UK on September 14.

September 10, Sunday. (8:25–9:25 p.m.) Walks on unannounced to sweep the stage in cap and apron during Bob Hope’s act on the Sunday Night at the London Palladium Associated Television show.

 

The big draw was its star, Bob Hope, who was given 20 minutes of the running time and deserved 10. He was content with a string of cracks about TV westerns, golf and Crosby, all of which seemed vaguely familiar….A surprise finale brought on Bing Crosby, in cap and apron, to sweep the stage but groan nothing. It was a good mechanical act but others could have read the gag book, too.

(Variety, September 12, 1961)

 

September 15, Friday. Visits Ireland for the first time, arriving in the evening at Dublin Airport. The American Ambassador, Grant Stockdale, is there to greet him and the Artane Boys Band plays “The Bells of St. Mary’s”. He is interviewed by Telefis Eireann.

September 16, Saturday. Golfs in a charity game at Baltray Golf Club, County Louth, in the morning where he plays nine holes in very windy conditions. He is presented with a case of Irish whiskey in an informal ceremony. Is interviewed in the clubhouse by Anne Gregg for Ulster television. Goes to Leopardstown races in the afternoon with Grant Stockdale (the U.S. Ambassador) and his wife, arriving at 3:15 p.m. Spends the evening at the ambassador’s residence in Phoenix Park.

September 17, Sunday. Attends services in old Dublin Castle Church with George O’Reilly. Golfs at Woodbrook at 2:30 p.m. in front of a crowd of 2,000 with Grant Stockdale, Harry Bradshaw, and Christy Greene to raise funds for the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Is interviewed on Radio Erin during his round of golf. Afterwards, gifts of Waterford Glass are given to each player. Bing addresses the crowd and sings snatches of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”, “White Christmas” and “Galway Bay”, as well as telling several amusing stories. He sends a postcard to President Kennedy reading as follows:

 

Stockdale has laid it on very [illegible word] for me here at the embassy. We’re playing a golf match today for charity, and, which is a novelty I’m sure, it’s a gorgeous day. Met and supped with a great many of your friends and supporters—[illegible name], [illegible name], et al. Hope you’re getting some golf in now and then—when, if ever time allows.

Bing Crosby

 

September 18, Monday. (5 a.m.) Bing leaves Dublin and flies back to England. The Artane Boys Band is there at Dublin airport to see him off and plays “Come Back to Erin”. Dorothy Lamour flies in to London film her part in The Road to Hong Kong.

September 20, Wednesday. Bing writes to his friend George O’Reilly in Ireland.

 

I am enclosing herewith my check for $200.00 -- a sum which seems sufficient to cover the price of the gift to the Stockdales, my obligation to Mr. Fogerty, and if there is anything left over, you can apply it against what I am sure must be a substantial sum you have incurred in my behalf for stamps, telephone calls, and so forth.

As I told you on the phone, Cy Rady had queried me about whether or not you and the Irish Record Factors Incorporated were connected. Based on your affirmative response, I am going to tell Cy to go ahead and allow the release of the eight singles under this label. I hope that it will be profitable for the factors and for your interests.

With regard to the staff for California, we are looking here and I think it would be a good idea for you to put out some queries there also. Maybe Kitty would have a little available time to interview some people. To clarify our requirements, we want an upstairs maid, a butler who can drive and a cook. These could be single people—we have found in the past that the butler married to the cook sometimes causes difficulties, but it’s not an obstacle which couldn’t be overcome. I will call you in a week or ten days and see if there is anything you’ve been able to develop.

Again, I must thank you and Kitty for one of the most wonderful experiences in my career. I’m sure you are glad that my visit wasn’t of any longer duration or your ulcers may have multiplied and re-multiplied.

With love to all,

Bing

 

September 22, Friday. The death of Marion Davies in Los Angeles at the age of sixty-four.

September 23, Saturday. Bing goes to Ascot races.

September 24, Sunday. (8:00–9:00 p.m.) The Crosby Brothers appear on the Ed Sullivan Show which is broadcast on CBS-TV from Las Vegas. (10:00–11:00 p.m.) A television special about Harold Arlen called Happy with the Blues and featuring Peggy Lee and Vic Damone is shown on NBC. Bing narrates a segment and his recorded voice is heard singing behind still photographs.

 

Take a score or more of Harold Arlen stock tunes and entrust them to some of today’s most expert practitioners, it’s a cinch you’ve got yourself a show. Bing Crosby (offscreen) narrated a sequence capsulising the Arlen career with accompanying stills augmented by some brief Crosby—Judy Garland—Ethel Waters vocals.

(Variety, September 27, 1961)

 

September 25, Monday. Bing writes to his sister Mary Rose.


Dear Mary Rose:

A little late in replying to your letter which was written August 5th, and received over here about the 15th.  We’re still going along on the picture rather slowly. The English can’t get too excited about finishing, but I think we’re getting some pretty good stuff. The quality is fine, and I believe it will be amusing.

We should be through around the 1st of November, Original estimates on our completion date was mid-October, but we’re going to miss that quite a bit.

About the Monterey real estate, I would be interested in pretty near anything that you run across – either a good building site, or a house. The important factor to me is the absence of noise in the area – traffic noise – and I do want a view.

Other specific requirements or desires can be gone into when you find something that you want to submit.

Sorry to hear the Talbots have had trouble with the floor of the boys’ shower. I’m certain that I knew nothing about it, no matter what the plumber said. He might have told Leo Lynn, but not me.

Incidentally, when are they going to turn loose the furniture? They’ve had several months now, and we have a lot of places where we’d like to use it. Let me know what you’re able to ascertain about this particular detail.

I got a letter from Larry recently. He said Mother’s had some trouble again and might have to go into the hospital for a bit. Nothing more serious that what has transpired before, but a worrying thing.

Glad to hear that Jim likes his job, and that he’s getting along real well. Sorry you haven't been able to find a house in Carmel. I suppose prices are way out of sight down there.

We have a lovely house in the country here, and right near the studio, and close to the golf courses, so we’re pretty well set up, but I think when the ladies leave, Dolores and Kathryn, we’ll move into London for the last couple weeks of the movie. There's no use of the two of us rattling around in the vast estate.

Getting back again to Mother, I don't know why Kay's so sensitive about Mother’s feelings about her, or why you are either, for that matter. She doesn’t really dislike anybody - she just has to have something to beef about, and it really is a good thing that she is interested enough to complain. If she wasn't, she’d fade quickly.

Old people get irascible like this - but I never feel that they really mean it. And as far as me being the only one she likes, you can forget that, because she jumps on me once in awhile too - and for no discernible reason.

Well, I hope Bill is doing all right. Give him my best. Also Jim –

Love, Bing

 

September 25, Monday. Bing and Bob film the Calcutta airport scene on Stage C for The Road to Hong Kong. Bing and Bob Hope have to be at the studio at 8:30 for make up. Harold Coyne is Bing's stand-in.

September 26, Tuesday. Filming continues on The Road to Hong Kong with a Luau composite on Stage D.

September 27, Wednesday. Further filming of the Luau composite.

September 28, Thursday. Further filming of the Luau composite. No visitors are to be allowed on Stage D until further notice.

September 29, Friday. Final filming of the Luau composite.

October 1, Sunday. At Shepperton, Bing and Bob film a scene with Peter Sellers on Stage C. (8:00–9:00 p.m.) The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS-TV contains films of interviews carried out by Ed during his recent travels abroad. Bing and Bob Hope are shown in England where they are filming The Road to Hong Kong.

October 2, Monday. At Shepperton Studios, Bing presents British entertainer Lonnie Donegan with two gold discs for “Rock Island Line” and “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour”. A scene in Dorothy's dressing room is filmed on Stage D. The Bing Crosby Productions series Ben Casey starring Vince Edwards starts its run on CBS-TV. It continues until the end of the 1965–66 season and is placed number nineteen in the weekly series ratings in its first year and number seven in 1962–63.

October 3, Tuesday. Filming of the Fish Restaurant scene on Stage D.

October 4, Wednesday. Kathryn flies home with Harry to await the arrival of her third child. Bing and Bob continue with the Fish Restaurant scene.

October 5, Thursday. Filming of the Fish Restaurant scene is completed.

October 6, Friday. At Shepperton, Bing and Bob film a scene in the space ship on Stage C. During the day, Bing writes to General Eisenhower.

 

Dear General Eisenhower:

Sam Morse of the Del Monte Properties, Pebble Beach, has told me he has written to you, in the hope that he could entice you westward for our annual Pro-Amateur Golf Tournament at Pebble Beach in late January.

All of us would be tremendously happy if you could adjust your schedule, allowing your presence there at that time - either as a player, or as a spectator. I think that you would find it a very enjoyable occasion, and see some fine golf.

I would appreciate it if you would let me know whether or not you will be able to come. I am currently in England making a film, but plan to be home early in November.

Incidentally, we’re staying at the home of Dr. Berns, and from some of the pictures around the house, it seems likely that you may have been a guest at one time or another when you were here during the war. Happily, the house is located right near Sunningdale, Wentworth, and the Berkshire golf clubs, so we are very conveniently installed.

The weather, too, has been unusually kind for England, and we’re having some fine games over the week-ends. I think some of these courses are among the greatest in the world.

Anticipating a reply from you soon, and with my kindest respects

Sincerely yours,

Bing

 

October 9, Monday. Bing and Bob Hope are seen at Ascot races together.

October 10, Tuesday. At Shepperton Studios, Bing writes to the Archbishop of Dublin, John Charles McQuaid, seeking Irish nuns to act as nurses at a hospital in Northern California. This is presumably the Mayers’ Memorial Hospital in Fall River Mills for which Bing had arranged and appeared in two benefit shows in the 1950s.

 

His Grace, Archbishop McQuaid

Archbishop’s Palace

DUBLIN

Ireland.

 

Your Grace:

Possibly by this time you have had some correspondence and accompanying material from Bishop McGucken of the Sacramento, California Diocese relating to a hospital project which has engaged my efforts and attention for several years now.

At the inception of the project, on two occasions I took variety shows up there and raised some money for the construction of this hospital, a facility which was badly needed in the area because no other such institution was within 65 miles of the community and sometimes, in the winter, these 65 miles could present formidable difficulties.

The hospital has now been finished and although it is a small one, it is adequate and is well equipped, but our efforts to find someone to staff the hospital have been futile. It was Bishop McGucken’s suggestion that there might be a possibility of getting some Sisters from Ireland to come and operate the hospital. He also asked that I write you and tell you of my interest in the venture.

I can tell you that it is a very attractive area in the mountains of North California, the weather is not too rigorous and the local Board would do everything in their power to make the Sisters comfortable and to keep things in smooth order. I can fully appreciate that it is a long journey and a very serious under-taking for a group of Sisters, but I can assure you that I will make it a personal obligation of mine to see that everything is in order and stays that way.

Would you be kind enough to advise me, when time allows, whether or not this project is at all feasible.

In the meantime, I have the honour to remain, My Lord Archbishop,

      Most respectfully yours,

      Bing Crosby

 

October 11, Wednesday. A group headed by Bing sells KFOX and KFOX FM, Long Beach, to a Chicago syndicate for $ 1,000,000.

October 12, Thursday. Bing and Bob Hope attend the charity premiere of the film Back Street starring Susan Hayward and John Gavin at the Odeon Theatre in Leicester Square, London.

October 14, Saturday. An interview with Bing about golf by Eamonn Andrews is broadcast on the BBC radio program Sports Report. Meanwhile in the USA, General Eisenhower responds to Bing’s invitation to attend the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

 

Dear Bing:

My golf is entirely too erratic for me even to dream of accepting your kind invitation to participate in the Pebble Beach tournament. This I must say in spite of the fact that Arnold Palmer, whose broad back ought to be able to carry any dub anywhere, expressed a great desire through Maurie Luxford to take me on as a partner. However, I hope to be in Palm Springs in January, and harbor a faint hope that I might be able to run over for one day to see your tournament, about which I have heard so many complimentary things. After my schedule firms up, I will send you an indication as to whether I can make it.

      I am interested in the fact that you are staying in Mr. Berns’ house near Sunningdale. He was very helpful to me, surgically, in 1942. One sunny day I recall that a group of us gathered on his lawn for an outdoor tea or a kind of picnic. Should you happen to see him personally I would be highly pleased if you would convey to him my warm greetings.

      Thanks again for your nice invitation, and with best wishes to yourself,

Sincerely,

 

October 19, Thursday. Starting at 9:15 p.m., Bing and Bob Hope film a promo for The Road to Hong Kong for the BBC-TV program Picture Parade (presented by Robert Robinson) which is eventually shown on April 3, 1962. Bing is feeling ill but sings “Team Work” with Bob Hope accompanied by the Bill McGuffie Quartet. Bing is paid a nominal fee of £10. 10. 0 (which is passed on to a charity) plus £5. 5. 0 for each repeat. Cecil Madden, a senior BBC executive, sends an internal memo.

 

Many congratulations on achieving such an exciting special programme with Hope and Crosby for “Picture Parade”, and at no cost for fees. To have them working a specially written script by (Dennis) Goodwin and singing together in our studios was an achievement we shall long remember. I will do my best to get the cover of the Radio Times with the special photographs when you use it. Crosby feeling ill, and the worry of a substantial informal audience all added to a difficult day which was splendidly surmounted by all. Well done!

 

October 24, Tuesday. Gary Crosby adopts Steven, his wife's son by a previous marriage.

October 29, Sunday. Kathryn gives birth at 10:57 p.m. at Queen of Angels Hospital in Los Angeles, to Nathaniel Patrick while Bing is in England. The baby weighs nine pounds, two ounces and is named after Bing’s grandfather.

November 3, Friday. Filming of The Road to Hong Kong is completed.

November 8, Wednesday. (1:50–2:20 p.m.) Records the “Bing Sings Shell” jingle with the Johnny Johnston Orchestra at Cine and Tele Sound Studios, Bayswater, London. The song is actually titled “Touring”. (The commercial is shown for the first time on March 25, 1962.) In the evening, Bing and Bob Hope make personal appearances at the premiere of Hope’s film Bachelor in Paradise at the Ritz Cinema, Leicester Square.

November 12, Sunday. (4:00–5:30 p.m.) Bing records the final part of his Christmas television show for ABC-TV with Dave King, Marion Ryan, Terry Thomas, Shirley Bassey, Ron Moody and Bob Hope in the Associated-Rediffusion Television Studio 5 at Wembley, London. Peter Knight is the musical director with Norman Luboff leading the chorus. The Director is Peter Croft and Bob Wynn is producer. Location shots around London had been taken in the previous days.

 

Later that year (1961), when Bob (Wynn) was temporarily out of work and struggling to make ends meet with two young children, Bing’s agent George Rosenberg called him and invited him to come to London. No mention was made of travel expenses and Bob had to use his credit cards to cover the fare.  He went to the Savoy to see Mr. Rosenberg who told him that Bing was planning to go straight home after filming The Road to Hong Kong was completed but really they wanted him to headline a TV special to be taped in London. Bob’s assignment was to persuade Bing to stay and do the show.  He approached Bing who was cordial but did not make any commitment.  However, he showed up for rehearsals for the show and then, as we know, completed the assignment. One of the guests was Shirley Bassey. Bob had seen her perform at a nightspot when she looked wonderful. But, as happened with Chevalier, when she arrived for rehearsal, she looked awful with skin and hair problems plus there were difficulties in her private life with a child and a boy-friend. Typically, though, Miss Bassey pulled it all together when it mattered and looked great when the show was taped. Bob said that she was one of his all-time favorites.

Bob was fulsome in his praise of Bing. He said that, “he was the most wonderful human being on Earth” which drew an exclamation from me.  Bob said that he knew others did not share his opinion but “Bing was like a father to me – he made me what I am today.” He referred to Bing’s first family saying that “they were all bad boys” and that “Bing did his best with them.”
(Author Interview with Bob Wynn, August 1, 2007)

 

It was a cold day on November 12th in London, and as I had journeyed a considerable distance, I went into the TV studios foyer early, where I was allowed to sit in the warm until it was time to enter the studios. This part, offered me by fortune, the opportunity of seeing another great star. As I sat there, in came about five men wrapped in heavy overcoats; they went to the reception desk and asked to be directed to the studio where Bing was working. The first person I recognized was the well-known Radio and TV personality Jerry Desmonde, who used to be the side kick for the late and great comedian Sid Field. Then I took a look at another chap who was wearing a hat, and it was the one and only Bob Hope. I did not recognise the others; as they went down the stairs to enter the corridor leading to the studio Bob Hope cracked “We look like an audition for a Gypsy band.” Well, I did not see Bob do his part in the show; and Shirley Bassey also did her part before I had entered the studio, due to her having an engagement at night in the South of England.

      At about 4.30 p.m., I along with a lot of other people made our way into the studio, and I just stood and stared at the hundreds of huge lights hanging from all angles from the studio roof, along with monitor sets, microphones, and on the floor great tangles of cables and TV cameras. I sat myself on the front row of seats on the studio floor and waited, and as we waited, Bing and Rosie Clooney were to be heard singing for our entertainment from the “Fancy Meeting You Here” LP. A studio manager then came along and said a few words to the audience, explaining about the scenes that had already been shot, and those which we were to see being recorded. Then he introduced that great personality Dave King, who did his best to warm up the audience. Dave did a great job, but everyone seemed to be waiting for someone else by this time. Dave sensed this and shouted out words to the effect of “Fetch that guy in from the golf course.” And sure enough, from behind the crowd of studio staff and TV cameras wandered that so familiar figure, to the tune of great applause. Bing Crosby came up to the audience and explained about the show which was running late, and he hoped that it didn’t cause inconvenience to anyone. If Bing only knew what his presence meant to all those in the audience, he need never have spoken those words.

      Bing then commenced with the opening announcement of his TV show and then sang “Great Day”. This scene was shot twice as the tapes were not running smoothly on the first take. From then on, the whole thing was a dream come true; there was Bing and his guests going through one scene after another with no trouble at all. And Bing looked so smart in a very nice suit, and a delightful head of hair. He really looked in his forties, and most certainly not in his late fifties. They say Como is relaxed, but you should see Bing. He wandered about the huge studio floor as the cameras switched to another set, doing a little soft shoe shuffle to amuse himself, and whistling here and there. Then as the 30 second count down for the next take commenced, he just stood there without any apparent care in the world. And as the orchestra struck up he launched into his next song or scene as I can only imagine Bing can.

      We saw him sing duets with Marion Ryan and Dave King, do a comedy routine with Terry Thomas and one with a girl whose name escapes me [Miriam Karlin]. She was taking the part of a painter, and with Bing did a number called “Fings ain’t what they used to be”. Bing then joined some real London street buskers, and sang a song with them which leads up to another very funny scene in a law court; Bing having been arrested by a London Policeman for singing in the street without a licence. The Judge turns out to be a fan of Bing’s, and comments “Whatever has happened in Hollywood for you to have to turn to singing in the streets?”

      My great moment came when Bing walked right up to a TV camera not many yards from me, and announced his final number, I had never dared to dream that I would ever hear Bing sing in person, but I have always longed to hear him sing one number; within easy earshot of his actual voice . . . and my great moment came . . . he did not name the number but said words to the effect that “Here’s one I should know well.” A shiver of delight ran right through me as the orchestra and choir came in . . . and Bing’s great voice was only equalled by the great song itself, Irving Berlin’s one and only WHITE CHRISTMAS. As long as I live I swear I’ll never forget that precious minute or two as Bing entranced everyone with the most famous song he has ever sung.

      Bing thanked the audience for being so kind to him; and that was that. . . I travelled home on that Sunday night with a memory which overshadowed any other show business event I have ever witnessed - I recall with pleasure the first time I ever saw and heard Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden and Earl Hines, Michael Holliday, Kid Ory and his Jazz Band. I shall recall this Crosby show with pleasure, but that final number of Bing singing “White Christmas” within actual earshot, is the memory which overshadows everything.

(Stan White, writing in Crosby Post, December, 1961)

 

November 13, Monday. Bing flies out from London on a TWA Superjet and arrives later in the day at New York International Airport. Still elated at the birth of his latest son, he hands a cigar to the first person he meets on landing who happens to be passenger representative Gregory Mitkazich. A press photographer captures the scene.

November 16, Thursday. Bing arrives back in Los Angeles on another TWA flight and is greeted at the airport by Kathryn, Harry and Mary Frances.

November 21, Tuesday. Bing, Kathryn, and Harry go to the Rising River ranch.

December 2, Saturday. Bing writes to Bob Hope as follows:

 

Dear Bob:

My partners in the hotels at Las Cruces and Palmilla were in touch with me recently, and they told me they hadn’t heard anything definite from you with regard to what your intentions were about joining the fishing club we’ve formed up at Las Cruces.

Bob, I certainly don’t want you to have anything to do with this if you don’t think you’re going to be able to use it. It’s not very expensive, but it is a piece of change, and there’s no use tossing it out the window.

I do think you’ll have some fun there, as will Tony or any other members of the family, or anybody that you’d take along as guests. The fishing is absolutely great – particularly in the late spring months, but almost all the year around they can guarantee you marlin, and there are all kinds of small fish who put up an exciting fight and give you a lot of fun.

The accommodations are very pleasant, and the food is good. We have planes flying in there two days a week, and I think when you really have the urge to get away from it all – even the telephone – you’d extract some real benefit and pleasure out of it, but, as I say, don’t do it unless you think you’re going to have time to make use of it.

Have Jack or your secretary let me know what your decision is just as soon as you can as we’re closing up the lists.

Haven’t heard a word about the picture since I left England, but I guess Norman is busy with his little pinking shears, making a large drama out of the editing.

Had a letter from Snideman, and he told me that you and he played golf recently, but he didn’t disclose the outcome. I’m sure if you played like you played in England, you must have brought him in real crisp.

I’m up at the ranch just now, but hope to get down there before Christmas for a little bit of golf. Will give you a ring –

As ever,

Bing

 

 December 11, Monday (9:00–10:00 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show, which was recorded in London, is shown on ABC-TV. The director is Peter Croft. The show is not shown in the UK until February 27, 1963. When the show was being recorded, there was a dispute between ITV and the Equity Union and Equity artists were only allowed to appear as long as the show was not transmitted until after the dispute ended.with Dave King & Marion Ryan (2).jpg

 

 This first of two Bing Crosby specials for ABC-TV may have been thin and tired in theme and some of its comedy but the hour managed to present some easy-going and bright musical moments. Videotaped on London locations and at Associated Rediffusion’s Wembley studios, with Crosby and an all-British cast, it opened and closed effectively but sagged in the middle in sequences that had the vet crooner seeking out his British ancestry.

      Highlights were the opener, a song-and-dance number in the traditional Crosby style aided by comedian, Dave King and singer, Marion Ryan; a Crosby and Terry-Thomas comedy bit in a Somerset House setting; songs of Welsh, blues-belter (and a looker), Shirley Bassey (although marred by poor dubbing) and a wind-up pub scene with Crosby and the Happy Wanderers, a buskers group, with a string of songs in the Mitch Miller sing-a-long vogue. Crosby closed with ‘White Christmas’, natch, backed by the Norman Luboff Choir.

(Variety, December 13, 1961)

 

It was time last night for Bing Crosby’s occasional television special on Channel 7; this one was taped in England and used a number of British artists in an outing that was to prove very thin. By now it is no secret that the timbre and resonance of the Crosby voice have altered with the passing years, and last night the strain of the assignment simply could not be concealed. For some strange reason the obvious way out of the difficulty, capitalizing on the Crosby suavity and reinforcing him with a strong supporting company, was not utilized. A favorite British comedian, Terry-Thomas, had one or two moments of fun but David King was not employed to good advantage. The sketches were of no help either. A young lady named Shirley Bassey, who Mr. Crosby described as a major London hit, encountered formidable difficulty in living up to her billing. And Marion Ryan and Miriam Karlin had somewhat similar problems.

(Jack Gould, New York Times, December 12, 1961)

 

December 17, Sunday. Records A Christmas Sing with Bing. Rosemary Clooney has to pull out because of illness and Jo Stafford takes her place.

December 18, Monday. Bing’s recording of “White Christmas” again enters the charts and reaches number twelve during its three-week stay.

December 21, Thursday. Bing and Kathryn lunch with Phyllis Tucker in San Francisco. At night, while attending Abigail Folger’s debut ball in the Grand Ballroom at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, Bing has an attack of kidney stones. He is rushed into St. Joseph’s Hospital at where he remains overnight before returning to Los Angeles the next day.

December 24, Sunday. The recorded radio show A Christmas Sing with Bing is broadcast on CBS. Kathryn Crosby, Jo Stafford (a late deputy for Rosemary Clooney), and Edgar Bergen take part. Music is provided by the Paul Weston Orchestra. The program is again sponsored by the Insurance Company of North America and it wins the All-American Award for the “Musical Show of the Year”.

 

1962

 

January 1, Monday. Bing enters St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica.

January 3, Wednesday. Bing is released from the hospital for two hours to attend Nathaniel’s christening at St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church in Beverly Hills.

January 5, Friday. Has surgery to remove two stones from his left kidney. He is on the operating table for two hours, twenty minutes. The surgeon is Dr. Frederick Schlumberger who performed earlier kidney stone operations on Bing in 1951 and 1955.

 

About Mr. Crosby, you will have heard that he had an operation this past week. He has a kidney problem you know—forms stones and they have to open him up pretty good from front to back to get at these things. This is his third one now but I talked to Kathryn his wife just half an hour ago. They operated on him last Friday and this is Tuesday 9th. January 1962 and she said he was up this morning, was eating pretty good and feeling quite well. I hope he’s feeling better because our golf tournament is approaching which we do at Monterey every year. I don’t play golf but I take a band up because at the end of the three days of his golf tournament at Pebble Beach, they have a big bash and there’s usually 5,6,700 guys there and we always put on a big show. Bing brings in the best acts he can get and I take up a twelve-piece band. We fly up and have a nice time . . . we drink and eat and do the show and it’s a big kick for us. Without Bing it would be a terrible lull. Of course we’d have Bob Crosby or Phil Harris take over. Phil’s great, I like him.

(Buddy Cole, in a tape recorded message to British Crosby fan Stan White, as reproduced in Crosby Post, August 1962)

 

January 14, Sunday. Leaves St. John’s Hospital.

January 18-22, Thursday–Monday. The Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Stars taking part include Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Tennessee Ernie Ford and Johnny Weissmuller. Snow on the Saturday night transforms the course and the final round has to be postponed from January 21 to the next day. Doug Ford wins after a sudden-death play-off and the final round is televised on ABC. Bing does not attend as he is still recuperating after his operation. Both Phillip and Lindsay Crosby play. The annual “victory dinner” takes place on the Sunday night with Bob Crosby and Phil Harris leading the entertainment in the absence of Bing.

January 27, Saturday. Phillip and Dennis Crosby visit their father at his Holmby Hills home and publicity photos are taken.

January 29–February 6, Monday–Tuesday. The three Crosby Brothers appear at the Chi Chi Starlite Room in Palm Springs.

January 30, Tuesday. News items indicate that Bing has sold his Hayden Lake home for about $95,000. The property had been on the market for several years.

January (undated). Bing is seen dining out at Trader Vic’s with Trader Vic (Vic Bergeron) himself.

February 1, Thursday. Bing goes to his home at Palm Desert.

February (undated). Bing takes office space in the City National Bank Building on Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood. Frank Sinatra already has an entire floor in the same building.

February 4, Sunday. Bing records a song at Legion Hall, Palm Springs, to be used over the title of a new television pilot being produced by Crosby Enterprises.

February 7, Wednesday. Mary Frances passes the American Red Cross beginner’s swimming test at the age of two in front of an audience of newsmen and others such as Johnny Weissmuller. She is the youngest person ever to receive the award. The proceedings are captured by various newsreels and featured in Pathe News in the UK on April 23. The event is also recorded by Life magazine in their issue of March 2. Bing is still at Palm Desert.

February 9, Friday. Kathryn and the three children join Bing at their Palm Desert home.

February 11, Sunday. Lindsay Crosby’s wife, Barbara, (who is eight months pregnant) attempts suicide and is rushed unconscious into St. Joseph Hospital, Burbank. She is released from the hospital on February 20.

February 14, Wednesday. Gary Crosby makes his New York debut at Jack Silverman’s International as a single act and includes a fifteen minute tribute to his father.

February 16, Friday. Bing arrives in Las Cruces, Mexico. While there, he goes to Mexico City, Taxco, and Acapulco shopping for Mexican colonial furniture for his new home at Las Cruces in Baja Sur, which is nearing completion. The property is one of only four on the 20,000-acre estate of Abelardo Rodrigues. Bing has also been enrolled as one of the 130 members of the exclusive Las Cruces Club. During his stay in Las Cruces, Bing goes fishing with former President Eisenhower.

February 23, Friday. Barbara Crosby (Lindsay’s wife) gives birth prematurely to a one and one-half half pound baby boy who dies one hour after delivery. Lindsay, who is in Miami, suffers feelings of guilt which subsequently necessitate lengthy psychological treatment.

February 27, Tuesday. (9:00–10:00 p.m.) Bing makes a short guest appearance in a sketch on the Bob Hope show on NBC-TV with Jack Paar and Steve Allen.

 

….Finale was a zany, erratic skit with Paar, Allen, Hope and, as a surprise ‘walk-on’, Bing Crosby. They played children soliciting a job from General David Sarnoff, the RCA and NBC mastermind. Sarnoff was simulated, of course….

(Variety, March 6, 1962)

 

March (undated). A fifteen LP set called Bing’s Hollywood is issued by Decca Records.

 

Bing’s Hollywood             Decca  

The timing was just right for Decca’s massive release of Bing Crosby’s Hollywood story. It fits perfectly into the programming pattern being adopted by so many radio stations, which in veering away from Top 40, are going in for marathon spinning of an individual personality. This Crosby release is tailor-made for them, in that it consists of 15 separate L.P.’s containing 189 songs from over 40 pictures.  No singer has come close to that mark and it’s a record that’s sure to stand for a long, long time.  For the average consumer the purchase of the complete series will obviously be hard on the pocket-book but each LP can be obtained separately (the suggested retail price is $3. 98) and each one is a gem. Not only did Crosby have a solid song-selling way right from the beginning, but he had top tune-smiths turning out material for him all the way. Among the memorable cleffing teams who delivered hit after hit for him were Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger, Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart, Mack Gordon & Harry Revel, James Monaco & John Burke, Harold Arlen & Johnny Mercer, Harry Warren and Leo Robin, and Harold Arlen & Ira Gershwin. Among the solo cleffers were Cole Porter, and, of course, Irving Berlin who gave him “White Christmas” for the “Holiday Inn” picture in 1942. The series is virtually a recorded history of the filmusical genre and a credit to all concerned.

(Variety, March 14, 1962)


Starting with Bing Crosby, I have to report no fewer than fifteen sets of his Hollywood hits, dating from 1934 to 1956, and issued on Brunswick with his own special serial—BING-1 to BING-15. The transfers from the older discs have been beautifully done, and if you haven’t heard how these songs should be sung, here is a chance in a million to rectify the omission.

(The Gramophone, September 1962)

 

March 23-25, Friday–Sunday. President Kennedy stays at Bing’s Palm Desert home for the weekend, and it is possible that Kennedy has an assignation with Marilyn Monroe while there. Frank Sinatra is very upset at the President’s decision not to stay at Sinatra’s home in Palm Springs.

 

I made a few calls, but in the end it was Chris Dunphy, a big Republican from Florida, who arranged everything at Bing Crosby’s house for him. The Secret Service stayed next door at Jimmy Van Heusen’s, and Frank didn’t speak to him for weeks over that one, but I was the one who really took the brunt of it. He felt that I was responsible for setting Jack up to stay at Bing’s—Bing Crosby, of all people—the other singer and a Republican to boot. Well, Frank never forgave me. He cut me off like that—just like that!

(Peter Lawford, as quoted in Kitty Kelley’s book His Way, page 329)

 

…Another Crosby-owned home in Palm Springs, California became the focal point of countrywide interest over a month ago when President Kennedy took refuge in it, leaving a trail of show business blood behind him. It seems that Frank Sinatra, an ardent Democrat who sang his head off during Kennedy’s campaign days, reportedly left Palm Springs in a huff when he learned the President chose the Crosby home to hide away in. And him a Republican!

Frank never contacted me about it,” said Bing who happens to be a longtime friend of Sinatra. “I just don’t believe he was really very angry about it. I saw him on Hope’s last show and he took a lot of kidding about it. He didn’t seem miffed.”

“Actually,” continued Bing modestly “I wasn’t very involved in the business. I was simply asked if the President could use the house and, of course, I said yes. He’s a fine man and as far as I’m concerned he can use it any time. I’m sure, because it’s isolated and therefore easy to maintain security, is why it was picked.”
(Kay Gardella, writing in Daily News, May 13, 1962)

 

March 27, Tuesday. Gary Crosby and Bing get together and make an announcement that the rumors that they are not speaking are untrue.

April 1, Sunday. The film The Road to Hong Kong is released in Britain through United Artists.

April 2, Monday. President Kennedy writes to Bing.


Dear Bing

You will never know how much I enjoyed my weekend at your ranch. I can truthfully say that my stay there was one of the most pleasant and restful that I have had for a long time.  I, therefore, want to thank you for making this possible.

With warmest personal regards to you and Kathy, I am

Sincerely


April 3, Tuesday. Bing and Bob Hope are featured in the BBC TV program Picture Parade singing “Team Work.” Their segment had been filmed on October 19, 1961.

April 23, Monday. Bing writes to Ben Hogan.

 

Just got back from Mexico to find your letter of April 17th awaiting me. I’m sorry to hear that you feel your game is not good enough to go ahead with the television show, but I’m completely in accord with your reasons for not doing so. If you don’t feel really on top of your game, it would be silly for you to get out there and fret about it, when you know that you have to produce something outstanding, in order for the show to be entertainment.

      As I told George, I stand ready, of course, at all times to be involved with you in any project such as the one which was originally contemplated, so let me know if anything else develops.

      I’m up here in L. A. for about ten days to do a television show and catch up on my radio programs and records. Will then go back to Mexico. It’s quite a spot, Ben. The gulf of Baja California is just full of fish. I’ve seen it on some mornings, just acres of them, jumping, fighting and devouring one another. It’s wild. And of course the marlin fishing must be the best in the world.

      I took one of the editors of Field and Stream out on a trip a couple of weeks ago to show him how marlin up to 250 lbs. could be taken on 10 lb. test tackle. Something he didn’t believe could be accomplished. We had six fish hooked, and four of them boated, in an hour. Almost without exception, every boat that goes out, and we have twelve of them there, is back by 1 o’clock, with all rods aboard having taken fish. Then there is the dolphin, the yellowtail, the cabrilla, the tuna, the toro, the amberjack, the wahoo, the sierra, the bonita, and I don’t know how many other varieties of small fish. All very game, and all very exciting on small equipment.

      It’s getting a little warm now, and I imagine by the first of June we’ll move back to Los Angeles, although they tell me, and I’m ready to believe it, that the hot months are really the greatest. I may give it a little whirl for a week or two in June, just to see if it’s too hot or not.

      Saw where Demaret did real well in the Masters, although his collapse in the Seniors must have been a bitter blow. Looks like some of the old codgers in my age bracket can still whip it around in great shape.

     Saw a news item the other day where the Kennedys went to Easter Sunday services accompanied by, among others, Chris Dunphy, “golf pro”. I don’t know whether he’ll be flattered or displeased by such a reference to him in the daily press. It’s bound to hurt him on the first tee, I imagine.

      I haven’t swung a golf club since before Christmas, but I’ve got to get at it pretty soon. We have a little driving range down there at Las Cruces, and I’m going to take a couple golf clubs down this time and swing a little bit. I want to play some golf this summer, both in this country and abroad, and I’d better get something in the way of a swing, grooved.

      Hope you’re having a good time in Florida.

 

April 27-29, Friday-Sunday. The Pittsburgh Pirates play the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium and Bing is understood to have attended in the Stadium Club at some time.

April 28, Saturday. Rehearses for his television show.

April 29, Sunday. Tapes a television special The Bing Crosby Show for ABC with Bob Hope, Edie Adams, the Smothers Brothers, Pete Fountain, and Gary Crosby. The director is Stan Harris with David Rose acting as musical director. Joe Lilley is the chorus director. The show is transmitted on May 14.

 

A reunion that promises to strike a nostalgic note - and that’s all, it’s hoped - takes place tomorrow night on ABC-TV when Bing Crosby welcomes his eldest son Gary, the family maverick, to his final special of the season. With the feudin’, fussin’ and fightin’ behind them, the two Crosbys will be arm-in-arm singing a song they turned into a big hit a few seasons ago, called “A Simple Melody.”

The melody played by the hot-headed Gary, during the days he was reaching for manhood, wasn’t always so simple. And Papa Bing, a disciplinarian didn’t mind letting him know when he was socially off-key.

“I didn’t like some of the things he was doing,” said the singer of his Las Vegas-loving son, “and told him so, that’s all.”

“We had the usual, father-son tiffs,” he crooned via long-distance phone from California. “No one really took them too seriously.

Gary, who has a night club act, is in great shape, according to Bing, striking just the right note of paternal pride.  “He is down to 170 lbs., a new low for him, and is full of enthusiasm.  We gave him a great spot on the show too. He’ll play an athletic director at a vacation resort, which happens to be the theme of the show.

Aside from Gary, Bob Hope will also be appearing with his lifetime friend and kibitzer. So will Edie Adams, who’s back in action after the tragic death of her husband Ernie Kovacs. Also there will be clarinettist Pete Fountain and the Smothers Brothers. “It looks like it’s going to be a jolly one,” commented the show’s star, which cued him into a two-minute solo number singing the praises of Edie Adams, who heads a series of her own specs on ABC next season.
(Kay Gardella, writing in Daily News, May 13, 1962)

 

April 30, Monday. Records a sing-along album called Bing Crosby on the Happy Side at United Recorders, Hollywood, for Warner Brothers Records. Bing dubs his voice over accompaniment previously recorded in London.

 

This is one of Bing’s best albums in some time. He sings a collection of old favorites in straight style, aided by good ork arrangements…Good songs, well sung, and plenty of time, should help this set sell.

(Billboard, November 3, 1962)

 

We both remarked that Bing Crosby on Warner WS8122 tackles nothing slower than medium-fast tempo, even singing things like “Blue Moon” much too fast, and never without that rather obtrusive choir. I can always take Bing as he was at his peak (and he was there for about three decades, or thirty times as long as many pop singers), and when accompanied by only a piano.

(The Gramophone, April, 1963)

 

May 9, Wednesday. Bing is back at Las Cruces, Mexico, “fishing with a vengeance.”

May 14, Monday. (10:00–11:00 p.m.) The taped Bing Crosby Show with Bob Hope, Edie Adams, the Smothers Brothers, and Gary Crosby is transmitted by ABC-TV. It turns out to be the No. 1 Nielsen-rated show in mid-May with a rating of 36.1.

 

It’s probable that Bing Crosby gets lots of loot for his ABC-TV specials. He’s worth it. On Monday (14th), Crosby put together an imaginative stanza, hip and quick and he was aided tremendously by a very funny, Bob Hope, by a charming and swinging, Edie Adams and his look-alike, offspring, Gary Crosby. Right from the opener, a theatrical number built around ‘America’, the flashy piece of music from ‘West Side Story’, the hour program jumped.

      The Crosby-Hope ‘review’ of music from their old ‘Road’ pictures was to be expected but expected or not, these two old pros made it light and easy and almost worth all the several minutes devoted to this two-man medley. The numbers by Miss Adams were musical pleasures. When son, Gary and his father stood there, the younger might not have been quite so proficiently casual as his pere but he tried and he was a fair contrapuntal match for the old man.

      The Smothers Brothers were OK towards the finale and sets by Spencer Davies were fine, which to sum it up, means Crosby put on a good show for ABC and his sponsors.

(Variety, May 16, 1962)

 

…I was preparing to go back to Maryland when I heard Bing was doing a television special to promote the movie (‘Road to Hong Kong’). I called him and said that if he wanted me, I would stay over in Hollywood for a few days. Mr. Crosby informed me that it was too late to write me in. When I saw his special, however, I was really shocked to see them using large blow-ups of me and they kept talking about me all through the show.

(From My Side of the Road by Dorothy Lamour)

 

May 26, Saturday. Harry Jr. falls out of a car in Las Cruces while Rosemary Clooney is visiting. Bing and Kathryn fly him to La Paz for treatment on his arm and eye, and after an overnight stay, Kathryn and Rosemary fly him on to Santa Monica for further attention. Meanwhile, the film The Road to Hong Kong is released in the U.S.A. Also Bing writes to Frank Murphy of the British Crosby Society.

 

Dear Frank;

Thanks for your letter. The autographed photo you asked for for Don Woolland is en route.

I was lunching with Bob Hope the other day and we discussed the possibility of doing a picture in India – another Road picture, probably “The Road to Calcutta or “The Road to Bombay”.

The Indian Government make some very attractive inducements down there to get people to film in India, and we may be able to work out a mutually agreeable arrangement.

I hope to do the “Devil’s Advocate” this fall, but they haven’t got a script yet, or a cast, and so the whole project is very much up in the air. I understand they want Alec Guinness for the part, and candor compels me to admit he would certainly be much better – but I would like to try the role if it’s offered to me, in any case.

I’m feeling quite well again. I’ve been down in Mexico off and on almost entirely since February. Just went up to Hollywood to do a television show. It turned out rather well – the TV show. I imagine you’ll see it in England soon. Had Bob Hope on, and Gary Crosby, Edie Adams, Pete Fountain and his clarinet, and an act called The Smothers Brothers, who I think you’ll find very funny.

I didn’t see the show because shortly after taping it, I came back to Mexico for the fishing, but the reviews were uniformly good, and I imagine when you see it, it will entertain you.

Please give my very best to all the members.

Always your friend,

Bing

 

The seventh “Road” comedy, after a lapse of seven years, should cause a seven-year itch among tab buyers to get in at the laughs. For they come thick and fast in this genial piece of nonsense. Perhaps the old formula creaks occasionally, but not enough to cause any disappointment while the zany situations and razor-edge wisecracks keep the whole affair bubbling happily. . . . The result is an amiable comedy which should please nostalgic customers and entice those who haven’t seen any of the previous “Road” pix.

      …Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn have produced a duet for Crosby and Hope called “Teamwork” and a romantic ditty for Crosby which the performers expertly put over.
(Variety, April 4, 1962)

 

Age may have withered somewhat the glossy hides of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, and custom may have done a little something to stale their brand of vaudeville. But the old boys still come through nicely in another turn in the old “Road” act by which they were jointly elevated to international eminence about twenty years ago.

      Even their old touring partner, Dorothy Lamour, is come upon towards the end of this current excursion, “The Road to Hong Kong.” And although she, too, is a bit long in the tooth and a trifle too thick around the middle for anymore than one quick shot in a sarong, she is there with her old no-talent bumbling to make the sentimental journey complete. The passage through her Hong Kong night club is mercifully swift and brief.      

      But practically every moment spent with Bing and Bob is good for consecutive chuckles and frequent belly-deep guffaws. For their former travel agents, Norman Panama and Melvin Frank, who have not only written this picture but produced and directed it, have provided them with the gags and business to make for much humorous verbal give-and-take and an almost unending succession of crazy and corny contretemps.

(Bosley Crowther, The New York Times, June 28, 1962)

   

“Road” fans didn’t seem to mind the alterations. Hong Kong was the fifth most successful film in 1962. Crosby and Hope each bore a third of the picture’s financingthis time in partnership with Melvin Frank and Norman Panama instead of with Paramount. Each staralready fabulously wealthypicked up an additional $2,000,000 from the box office in return for his investment.

      It’s ironic that Road to Hong Kong seems dated today, when some of the “Road” pictures made two decades before have not begun to wear out their welcome. Despite the success, the film’s merits lie more in its sentimental journeying than in its comedy.
(Barbara Bauer, writing in her book, Bing Crosby, pages 115-116)

 

May 27, Sunday. The Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus declares Bing to be a Founder of Gonzaga University of the Society of Jesus. As part of this, it is stated that ten masses will be offered each year at Gonzaga for the next 25 years.

June (undated). The soundtrack album of The Road to Hong Kong is released.

 

A big saleable team is reunited on this LP, one of Liberty’s few items in this area. Together again are Hope, Crosby and Lamour, vets of many other of the “Road” pic series, plus the familiar songwriting names of Cahn and Van Heusen. Spinnable items would be Crosby’s croon of “Let’s Not Be Sensible”, the Crosby-Hope novelty duet, “Team Work”, and Miss Lamour’s “Warmer than a Whisper”. Robert Farnon, who conducts, also composed part of the score. Joan Collins, a star of the pic, is not a part of the album. Crosby’s liner notes appear in Chinese script characters.

(Billboard, June 23, 1962)

 

Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, a couple of pic pros, have whipped up a serviceable score for the latest Bing Crosby-Bob Hope-Dorothy Lamour “Road” film. It comes over as highly pleasing soundtrack set that should get a good sales ruboff with the pic’s playing dates. The set was done in England with Robert Farnon conducting the orch but the values are pegged primarily for the US market. In the song spotlight are the Crosby-Hope duet on “Team Work”, Crosby’s balladearing on “Let’s Not Be Sensible” and Miss Lamour’s “Warmer than a Whisper”. In all, the package is loaded with a marquee pull and a bright spirit that’s hard to beat.

(Variety, June 27, 1962)

 

June 4, Monday. Bing returns from Las Cruces. He golfs on June 5, before returning to Las Cruces on June 6 in his Aero Commander plane following a disagreement with Kathryn.

June 14, Thursday. Kathryn flies to Las Cruces to join Bing.

June 18, Monday. Writes to freelance journalist Frank Dufresne.


Dear Frank:

Excuse me, please, for not replying much sooner to your letter of May 27th with enclosure of “Marlin Tag Game”. I am still down in Baja California, and the letter didn’t reach me till just recently, and 1 wanted to show it to Fisher and some of the others - the article, that is - but I’m on my way back home now, having closed up the house and  wound up the season.

Everyone thought the story was great, particularly the Fishers, and I can’t see any corrections, deletions or alterations to be made, except that the boat captain’s name is Nino - I believe you’ve already been apprised of this - and we’d like to, instead of the admonition to telegraph Joaquin, which would prove futile, because I think the arrival of a telegram addressed to Joaquin would scare him half to death. He would certainly think there was a death in the family. Instead, wires or enquiries should be sent: Reservations, Box 6069, San Diego, California. Academy 4-l100.

There have been quite a few fish tagged out of Las Cruces here. Mostly by Fisher and his wife Ruth. I’ve got a few sunk in, but it wasnt until I learned that Fisher had been taking along an extra boatman, that I learned the secret of his success.

In most cases, in my experience, it was just too much for one man to do, to hold that fish while another tried to sink the tag in.

I had the world record on the other day, I’m sure. Had him on for about an hour and a half and got the leader up three times, but the boy missed it. It was kind of a rough sea, so he had an excuse, and he finally broke off. Nino thought that he would go about 250. Big disappointment.

The area around Las Cruces now is just alive with fish of all types and kinds. Great deal of bait in the bay, lot of small fish, lot of big fish. There’s action every minute.

We’ve had more wind than usual though, for this time of the year. It’s been clear and sunny, but quite a sea running most days. Of course this has kept the weather down to where it’s very pleasant, and most evenings some kind of a jacket has been necessary, if you’re going to sit out.

I tried to look up Bill Escudero the other day, but his wife told me he had gone to Los Angeles for two or three weeks. I don’t know if I’ll get another chance now to see him till next fall.

Well that’s about the story from here, Frank.  I’m going up home to do some work, and then might go up to Rising River and possibly connect with Buzz Fiorini for a trip into one of the Canadian Lakes that he’s terribly high on.

Want to go over to Europe toward the end of July.

I’ll be in touch with you if I come your way.

Thanks so much for the article, Frank. I can’t wait to see it appear. It’s a beauty. Everyone here is very grateful to you. All the best - Yours, Bing



June 21-22, Thursday-Friday. Returns from Las Cruces and records sing-along tracks for a proposed new LP. The album, provisionally titled Bing Crosby on the Sentimental Side, was not released until 2010. The LP was produced by Project Records using accompaniment previously recorded in London by the Ivor Raymonde Chorus. Bing is believed to have filmed a spot for the March of Dimes Show to be aired in January 1963. Also, Bing writes to Frank Dupresne again.

 

Thanks for your letter of June 20th. I will, of course, appreciate your letting me know when the piece is due to appear in the magazine. I don’t know what the policy is at Palmilla regarding advertising, but I’ll get after them and see if I can get them to take some sort of an ad in the magazine. I’d take one myself, but I don’t know just what I have to advertise.

      Of course, it’s perfectly all right for you to take Hugh Gray and his wife in to see Rising River, and to fish, too. I’ll drop a note to Leonard Meyer, my brother-in-law and manager there, telling him that you’re going to be coming in there sometime in the middle of July.

      I’ve got myself in a lot of trouble in July, so I don’t think I’ll be able to get away from here till August. I’ve promised to take the kids to Hawaii for a couple of weeks, and I’m doing this leaving Thursday, which will further complicate my schedule, but a promise is a promise. Of course, there’s a possibility that I’ll enjoy Honolulu too – so it isn’t too bad.

      But do drop in on Rising River now, with the Grays, and I hope to see you before the summer is over – Warmest regards, Bing


June 24, Sunday. (8:00 - 9:00 p.m.). Appears on The Ed Sullivan Fourteenth Anniversary Television Show on CBS-TV and sings “I Can’t Believe That You’re in Love with Me”. This was Ed Sullivan’s 14th Anniversary Show and he was in the audience for most of show. Guest stars include Lucille Ball, Jerry Lewis, Steve Allen, Jack Carter, Phil Silvers, Jack Benny, Teresa Brewer, Red Buttons, Johnny Carson, Ted Mack, Will Jordan, Arthur & Katherine Murray and George Gobel.

 

Bing Crosby, before vocalizing “I Can’t Believe That You’re in Love with Me”, hailed Sullivan as the man “who doesn’t sing, dance or crack jokes, but does them all equally well.”

(Variety, June 27, 1962)

 

June (undated). Tapes his contribution to Timex Presents the Bob Hope Show which is shown on October 24.

June 28, Thursday. The three Crosby Brothers begin an engagement at La Fiesta Club in Juarez, Mexico. Meanwhile, Bing takes Kathryn (and her mother) plus Harry and Mary Frances to Kauai, Hawaii, where they stay at the Coco Palms Hotel. They meet John Wayne and his wife. Before his departure, Bing has written to Rena Albanesi, the editor of BINGANG magazine.


It is difficult to tell you my plans for the future very far in advance, because much depends on others making up their minds about starting dates for pictures, television shows, etc.

Right now we are off to the Hawaiian Islands for a couple of weeks, with Kathryn, her mother, Harry and Mary Frances.

I hope to get to Europe this summer, possibly to Rome.

Some new records were made last month, including a “sentimental” sing-a-long, a “happy” sing-a-long, and “Holiday in Europe.”

Hope you have a nice summer, Regards to all, Bing


June 30, Saturday. Lindsay Crosby suffers a breakdown in Juarez, Mexico, where he and his brothers, Dennis and Phillip, are appearing in a night club with their singing act. The boys cancel their engagment and fly back to Los Angeles.

July 1, Sunday. Lindsay Crosby enters St. John’s Hospital under the care of Dr. Robert Buckley, a psychiatrist. This is Lindsay's second breakdown in six months. At some stage, Bing writes to John O’Melveny.

 

Now the thing that concerns me is what is to be done with Lindsay. Is it possible to have him picked up and confined in the Psychiatric Ward at St. John’s. This would be the proper thing to do, I’m sure, and Dr. Studdevant would be the fella to handle the case.

 

July 11, Wednesday. Variety states that:

 

Summer accounting on year-end 1961 sales of “White Christmas” brings the tally of the Irving Berlin ballad to 38,058,960 recordings of which Decca accounts for 21,159,550 platters. Of this total the Bing Crosby version accounts for just over 20,000,000 sales.

 

July 18, WednesdayVariety announces that Bing Crosby Productions has bought a half interest in a travelogue series called Across the Seven Seas which is produced by Jack Douglas and syndicated to various TV stations. Subsequently, Bing appears in one episode called “Private Plane Paradise” which is filmed at his Las Cruces home.

July 19, Thursday. Bing and Kathryn return to Los Angeles. Prior to their departure from Honolulu, Bing is interviewed at the airport by a KGMB-TV reporter and Mary Frances and Harry are also seen.

July 28, Saturday. Bing flies to New York and then on to Europe.

July 29, Sunday. Bing goes alone to Biarritz, France, where he golfs frequently with Chris Dunphy. Kathryn, Mary Frances, Harry, and Kathryn’s mother fly there on August 9. Bing and Kathryn subsequently visit Lourdes.

August 2, Thursday. The Columbia Broadcasting System radio network informs its affiliated stations that it proposes to drop four entertainment programs, including Art Linkletter’s “House Party” and “The Bing Crosby-Rosemary Clooney Show.” The proposal is to be put to a vote of all CBS affiliated stations and if they approve, the programs will be dropped from October 1. It seems that the programs had become unprofitable and that some stations can use the time slots for local programming more effectively. Most stations drop the Crosby-Clooney program after the September 28 broadcast although some continue broadcasting repeats until early November.

August 5, Sunday. Marilyn Monroe is found dead.

August 25, Saturday, onwards. Bing and his party leave their hotel in Biarritz and go to a cabana at Eden Roc and then to Barcelona, Spain, for the bullfights.

September 2, Sunday. Bing and Kathryn tour the USS Enterprise whilst the ship is moored at Cannes. The next destination is Monaco, where they visit Princess Grace and Prince Rainier. In the afternoon, Bing golfs with Prince Rainier and is soundly beaten.

 

Bing and Grace strolled in, still with their arms about one another’s waists. Absorbed in each other they continued to chat amiably for a moment. Then, as if from an immense height, the Princess deigned to take notice of the uproar. Smiling majestically she murmured a few words in French, the burden of which seemed to be, “Cease and desist, my chickadees, or mommy will break your little necks.” The hubbub stopped instantly. Ye gods and little fishhooks, this was sorcery! I resolved to perfect my French.

      Her Highness turned back to her admiring escort and favored him with a long, soulful Gallic look, the English translation of which seemed to be, “See, if you’d only married me instead of the overdressed frump who is now leaving claw marks in the arms of my Louis XVI sofa, you might have had disciplined children, in addition to countless other benefits.”

(Kathryn Crosby, My Life with Bing, page 226)

 

Later that week, Kathryn and her mother return to the U.S.A. while Bing calls on Jack Warner on the French Riviera to discuss a part in a possible film version of the Morris West book The Devil’s Advocate.

September (undated). On the Cote D’Azur, Bing befriends fourteen-year-old Pascal Russo whose family had been killed in a car accident. Bing takes the boy caddying round the golf course.

September 22, Saturday. Bing plays in the first round of the Italian Amateur Golf Championship in Como but is eliminated as is King Leopold of Belgium.

September 28, Friday. The Crosby–Clooney Show ends its run with Bing saying “Well friends, we announce today, with a great deal of regret, that this particular series of broadcasts has come to an end.”

October 1, Monday. Bing returns to Los Angeles to find a major fashion show, organized by Kathryn and featuring the Jean Louis spring collection, underway at his home.

October 5, Friday. Records the I Wish You a Merry Christmas album at Radio Recorders, Hollywood, for release by Warner Brothers Records. Bing sings to musical accompaniment conducted by Peter Matz which had been recorded in July.

 

Crosby is a perennial holiday seller, and this LP should prove an important Christmas item for all dealers. The Crosby touch is everywhere evident and the material is drawn from the great Christmas catalog. Chorus and ork assist der Bingle on such Christmas standards as “Winter Wonderland”, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”.

(Billboard, November 3, 1962)

 

October (undated). Tapes a four minute spot for the Ed Sullivan television show accompanied by Buddy Cole.

October 14, Sunday. Enters St. John’s Hospital suffering severe pain from kidney stones.

 

On October 14 we learned that bottled water in France is not the equivalent of distilled water at home. Laboring under the misapprehension that it was good for him, Bing had dedicated himself to it religiously. The mineral content had coalesced into a whole sack of kidney stones, which doubled him up with pain. We raced to St. John’s Hospital to see if there was some way to move them into the ureters, through the bladder, and out through the urethra.

Unfortunately the manipulation designed to accomplish this was unsuccessful. Bing decided to postpone surgery, with the hope that a combination of antibiotics and low-mineral diet might improve his condition.
(Kathryn Crosby, writing in My Life with Bing, page 231)

 

October 17, Wednesday. Goes to his Rising River ranch.

October 18, Thursday. Bing writes to Rena Albanesi, President of Club Crosby.

 

Not much to say except “I Wish You a Merry Christmas,” which is the title of our new album.

I returned from Europe, watched the World Series on our Office television, and am off for a bit of hunting.

Sincerely,

Bing

 

October 22, Monday. President Kennedy says that Russia has missile sites in Cuba and the U.S.A. imposes an arms blockade.

October 24, Wednesday. (9:00–10:00 p.m.) A taped show, Timex Presents the Bob Hope Show is televised by NBC on which Bing guests with Juliet Prowse and Lucille Ball. Les Brown and his Band of Renown provide the musical support.

 

Hope was the incontrovertible star within a supporting constellation consisting of Bing Crosby, Lucille Ball and Juliet Prowse. . .The second skit, a take-off on ‘Bonanza’, was even better. In this one, Crosby was the head of a vast Texan Empire and father of three sons. All of whom were played by Hope. With Miss Prowse rung in for some sex appeal, it was a risible romp in a madcap groove which Hope carried off with flawless timing and unruffled aplomb. . . Crosby was featured in the finale, doing an okay solo on ‘I Can’t Begin to Tell You’ and then duetting on ‘Put ‘er (sic) There Pal’ from their film ‘Road to Utopia’. It was top-name and top-drawer, all the way.

(Variety, October 31, 1962)

 

Bob Hope returned to the air Wednesday night with the first of six specials. You could usually say where there’s Hope, there’s life—but not this time. Maybe it was because it was a filmed show—or could his writers still be on vacation? Whatever the reason, Hope didn’t have it. It wasn’t because of his lack of talent. He had his perennial sparring partner Bing Crosby, comedienne Lucille Ball and delicious dancer, Juliet Prowse. But except for Bing it was almost a total loss . . . The one bright spot of the otherwise lackluster performance was the last ten minutes when Crosby sang and then Hope joined in for a duet on their old palship song “Put It There Pal”—with new lyrics, it was refreshing indeed.

(Milwaukee Journal)

 

October 27, Saturday. Bing and Kathryn are shooting at Weiser, Idaho, and then they go on to Kona Farms, near Marysville in the Sacramento Valley, for shooting with Trader Vic and Helen Bergeron.

October 28, Sunday. Russia agrees to dismantle its missile sites in Cuba.

November 9, Friday. Lindsay’s wife, Barbara Frederickson, seeks a divorce for “extreme cruelty.” She says that her husband has assets of more than $1 million.

November 20, Tuesday. Bing and Kathryn and their children fly to Honolulu. They travel on to Kauai and stay at the Coco Palms Hotel.

November 22, Thursday. Bing golfs in the Kauai Open Invitational Golf Tourney at the new, expanded Wailua Golf Course with Phil Harris. Also he goes on a fishing trip with Phil during his stay.

November  28, Wednesday. Bing and Kathryn arrive home from Honolulu.

December (undated). Bing records a song called “Tower of Babel” for an LP called Three Billion Millionaires, a musical fable about the United Nations, which is to be issued to raise funds for the United Nations Children’s Fund. The title of the fantasy is derived from the plot line in which a baby asks for a delegate’s seat at the United Nations claiming that he represents the three billion babies of the world.

December 7, Friday. Press reports indicate that Dennis Crosby and Pat Sheehan have separated.

December 8-10, Saturday-Monday. President Kennedy again stays at Bing’s Palm Desert home. Bing is not in attendance.

 

On Friday, December 7, the President went off to deliver speeches in Nebraska and New Mexico. Then, instead of joining his family at Glen Ora for the weekend, he went on to Palm Springs, California, to enjoy his first time on the loose since “Cuba 2.”

      It was 12:10 p.m. when Air Force One touched down at Palm Springs Municipal Airport, The mayor, city manager, and members of the city council were on hand, but the welcoming ceremony didn’t take long. Seven minutes later, Kennedy and Powers were in a car headed for the Bing Crosby estate in Palm Desert, where Peter Lawford, as was his custom, had assembled a collection of women. By a quarter to one, the car had driven up the dirt road past some state police posted below. With the exception of a Sunday morning trip to church, Kennedy would not emerge until Monday.

      Saturday evening, when two Secret Service agents stationed in front of the house checked the pool area, the source of a good deal of noise, a disconcerting sight greeted them. The President and his friends were naked, as were the women around the pool, a number of European stewardesses among them. On one side Kennedy sipped a drink and chatted with some women, while across the water Dave Powers was having sexual intercourse in full view. As if that were not enough, Powers later shouted, “Hey, pal,” as he mooned the President before dashing into the house, collecting some of Crosby’s suits, and leaping into the pool with them. Kennedy laughed so hard he nearly fell out of his chair.

(Mrs. Kennedy: The Missing History of the Kennedy Years)

 

December (undated). Bing is interviewed by Walter O’Keefe for the syndicated radio series “Walter O’Keefe’s Almanac”.

December 12, Wednesday. Bing tapes a Christmas television special The Bing Crosby Show with Mary Martin which is shown on December 24. Also writes to Canadian broadcaster Gord Atkinson.

 

Thank you very much for your letter of December 7th. Glad to hear that you find an opportunity to use some of my discs now and then on your radio show.

The new Christmas album which you mentioned in your letter, happily is meeting with very favorable reaction all over the country, and it looks like it’s going to be up there on the charts.

“Holiday in Europe” is also doing quite well. The success that these two albums have met with has been very encouraging to me. It’s been a long time since I’ve had anything that has done as well.

We’re rehearsing the Christmas TV show now with Mary Martin and Andre Previn. We also have the United Nations Childrens Choir of 60 some voices. Hope you like the show. It’s just going to be solid music, I guess.

Christmastime at your house should be very merry, with all those little children - merry and a little mad, too, as you indicate. Hope that you all have a wonderful time –

Always yours, Bing

 

December 13, Thursday. Harry Barris dies of cancer at the age of fifty-six in St. Joseph Hospital, Burbank. He had been ill since May 11, 1961 when he broke his hip in a fall. Bing is not well enough to attend the funeral on December 17 because of kidney stone problems.

December 18, Tuesday. Records The Dinah Shore Show at the NBC studios in Burbank. The show airs on NBC-TV on February 17, 1963. Bing writes to Jack Manners of the British Crosby Society.

 

I’m delighted with the nice present I got from the club the other day, and I think your selection was a real good one. A picture of something I don’t have - the Thames and the Tower of London all lit up like a Christmas tree.

It arrived safely – just a little crack in the frame which can be easily fixed and no one will ever know it happened.

Happy that you liked the Bob Hope show. We had great fun doing it. I’ve just finished one with Mary Martin. I don’t know when it will be seen in England. Andre Previn, who I consider one of the great talents in the musical field, is also on this show.

Also did a show with Dinah Shore, which is being released here in February - Dinah and Al Hirt and several others were on the show. I’m not sure whether or not Dinah Shore’s are released in England, but you might keep an eye open for this one. It turned out rather well, I thought. Lots of good music.

I hope that the rigours of the miserable winter you’ve been having there in England have abated now, and that you’re getting a little more sunshine and not so much fog, smog and other irritants.

It’s been just lovely here. We’re way behind on rain. Have a little fog sometimes in the morning and late evenings, but the days are beautiful. The temperature has been ranging between 50 at night to 70 - 75 during the day.

So now Jack, give my fondest to all the members. I hope everyone has a happy holiday.

Always your friend,

 

 

December 22, Saturday. Bing’s album Merry Christmas enters the album charts but only goes on to reach number forty-six. It remains in the charts for two weeks. His Warner Brothers album I Wish You a Merry Christmas also comes into the charts for two weeks but it achieves merely a number fifty placing.

December 24, Monday. The annual A Christmas Sing with Bing radio program is broadcast by CBS. Rosemary Clooney and Johnny Mercer take part. This is the final show in the series which began in 1955. It is again sponsored by I. N. A. Insurance. (10:00–11:00 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show with Mary Martin and Andre Previn as guests is shown on ABC-TV. The show had been taped and was directed by Norman Abbott. Andre Previn conducts the orchestra and Joe Lilley directs the chorus. This is the first “special” ABC broadcasts in color and it is the last show under Bing’s 3-year contract with ABC-TV.

 

The potential of this Bing Crosby Christmas Eve special was great as he and guest star Mary Martin opened with “This Is a Lovely Way to Spend an Evening.” Unfortunately, though, the two savvy singers didn’t live up to the potential. The hour was an overly casual affair that produced little of the magic expected of a Crosby-Martin parlay. The songbag was, for the most part, made up of just a few identifying bars that dissipated the values of the standards put on display. The full-length, special material songs fell short, too….Crosby’s material song, ‘Doing the Bing’, was pegged on his easy-going manner and was given sock production styling by the imaginative choreographic work of Marc Breaux and Dede Wood.

(Variety, December 26, 1962)

 

December 25, Tuesday. Bing is the host of a three hour AFRS radio show in which he introduces many of his own recordings. The show has been pre-recorded.

December 27, Thursday. Dennis Crosby is jailed on suspicion of drunk-driving in West Hollywood. He is later released on bail. of $273.

December 29, Saturday. Bing’s recording of “White Christmas” again enters the charts but for only one week. It achieves only a number thirty-eight placing.

December 30, Sunday. Bing sings on Once Upon a Dime, a TV show transmitted initially on KTTV and later used throughout the country. The show celebrates the 25th. anniversary of the March of Dimes. Other stars taking part include Connie Stevens, Andre Previn, Lionel Hampton, Juliet Prowse, Pearl Bailey and Dean Martin.

 

1963

 

January 17-20, Thursday–Sunday. The Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach with the purse increased to $60,000. The tournament is won by Billy Casper. Celebrities playing include Phil Harris, John Raitt, Ernie Ford, James Garner, Gordon MacRae, Donald O’Connor, Ray Milland, and Fred MacMurray. Lucille Ball is there to watch her husband, Gary Morton, play. Rosemary Clooney, Rowan & Martin, Chris Crosby (Bob’s son), Bob Crosby’s Bobcats and the Buddy Cole Orchestra entertain at the Victory Dinner at the Monterey Fairgrounds Auditorium which is emceed by Bing as usual.

January 22, Tuesday. Bing flies to Hawaii for the opening of the New Sheraton Maui hotel on January 23.

January 29, Tuesday. Bing goes to St. John’s Hospital and at 6:30 p.m. has emergency surgery on his right kidney. This is his fourth kidney stone opeation in 11 years, the previois operations were all on the left kidney.

 

Bing too had been considering the deteriorating state of his health. With increased frequency and for longer intervals he was incapacitated with excruciating abdominal pain. Hoping desperately that it would go away, he avoided all thought or mention of it, and escaped into ceaseless activity. . . . But his kidney stones rode with him, and finally brought him to bay on January 29.

(Kathryn Crosby, My Life with Bing, page 235)

 

January 31, Thursday. J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, writes to Bing expressing the hope that he will soon be fully recovered.

February 9, Saturday. Bing is released from St. John’s Hospital.

February 17, Sunday. (10:00–11:00 p.m.) Bing guests on The Dinah Shore Show on NBC-TV. Al Hirt plus Bud and Travis are also guests on the show which had been taped in December 1962. Harry Zimmerman conducts the orchestra. The director is Dean Whitmore. The show had been recorded in December.

 

Dinah Shore’s show became a major event with the addition of Bing Crosby to its cast. The presence of Der Bingle was not only a valuable asset to its entertainment values but he seemed to excite every department, as well…. Bing’s casual air and humor-laden renditions generated excitement. “In a Little Spanish Town” and “Que Sas” comprised his first medley, and then with Miss Shore sat down for a lighthearted and gay session of singing and banter. It was an easy, graceful stint by a pair of pros. Crosby also seemed a bit thinner than usual, but didn’t let it interfere with his work. He seems ageless.

(Variety, February 19, 1963)

 

…Happy to learn that you enjoyed the Dinah Shore telecast. I hope you had a chance to see it in color, because they had some real pretty sets, and she wore some lovely clothes, which of course were vastly enhanced by the use of color.

      She has a wonderful production staff. Having been on television for so many years, she has been able to put together quite a unit. Particularly valuable is Ticker Freeman, who has been her accompanist and musical advisor for many years - I guess almost since Dinah started out as a single, after leaving band work. So it was a pleasant chore, working with people like this.

      The reaction to the show has been uniformly good, I’ve run into quite a few people who said they enjoyed it, and the critical consensus was fine. So we were pleased that we took on the job.

I have been out of hospital now a couple of weeks and I’m feeling fine again. Takes quite a while to regain your full strength but I’ve been going into the office in the afternoons and doing other little chores, increasing the work load a little bit every day, so I think in a short time I’ll be as good as new.

Please give my best to all of the “Bingang”. Warmest regards to yourself.

(Bing, writing to Rena Albanesi, the editor of BINGANG magazine, February 27, 1963)

 

February (undated). Phillip Crosby leaves his wife Sandra and moves in with his brother Lindsay. Phillip finds Lindsay to be unwell and has him committed to the psychiatric ward in Santa Monica Hospital. Bing goes to Las Cruces.

 

When Sandra expressed understandable resentment of Phillip’s extracurricular activities, he philosophically abandoned her and her two small children, and moved in with Lindsay. Out of the frying pan into the fire. He found that his brother was in an advanced state of avitaminosis, occasioned by a drinking bout of extraordinary length. After observing his condition for several days, Phillip wisely committed him to the psychiatric ward in Santa Monica Hospital, where he would have an opportunity to recover his physical and mental health. Then he less prudently descended upon his convalescing father for spiritual aid and counseling… Faced with the dilemma of whether or not to commit Lindsay more or less permanently, Bing so far transcended his own health problem as to grab the next flight for Las Cruces, where he remained incommunicado, sans mail, sans telephone, sans news of any kind, most of which had been bad of late. The utter isolation of Baja California did have its advantages.
(Kathryn Crosby, My Life with Bing, page 239)

 

March 22, Friday. Kathryn and the children join Bing at Las Cruces, Mexico. They initiate a regular annual routine of cleaning the tiny Mexican church.

April (undated). Bing Crosby Enterprises sells the stock of Project Records (not the masters) to Capitol Records. Si Rady moves to Capitol as part of the deal. MGM has recently bought the music publishing and soundtrack album rights to "How the West Was Won" for a six-figured sum said to be about $250,000.
     April 2, Tuesday. Barbara Frederickson is given an uncontested divorce from Lindsay Crosby.

April (undated). Bing pulls out of the proposed Warner Brothers’ film The Devil’s Advocate.

April 27, Saturday. Bing, still at Las Cruces, writes to Crosby fan Stan White.

 

I appreciate very much your long and informative letter of April 14th. There was a great deal of news in there, and I’m sure that I’ll profit by some of the things you had to say.

Yours is not the first complaint about the quality of the television show. Unhappily once it is sent over there, it’s completely out of our hands, and we have no control over what is done in the way of editing.

The lack of photographic quality though, baffles me. I don’t know why this should be. Practically every show in America is on tape - very few live shows anymore - and they’re all replayed; some of them many times, and in no case within my memory have there been any appreciable loss of quality.

I must tell you that I know absolutely nothing about the technical end of this business - how tapes are made, how they are dubbed or duplicated – so I can’t be very helpful in trying to supply any answers.

I am turning your letter, however, over to people in charge here, and maybe they can do something about it, although I have resorted to them in the past without any appreciable success.

Doubtless there is much material in the old radio shows which I did with Buddy Cole and with Rosemary Clooney which could be made into LPs. We’ve often thought of this, and Im going to get a project activated that will probably lead toward doing just that.

…Please give my best to Murphy and Gaylor and all the other people who are so loyal to me and so helpful too.

Believe me to be – your friend,

Bing

 

May 9, Thursday. Bing records his links for an album called ‘My Favorite Story’ in which various stars read stories.

May 26, Sunday. Bing is on a fishing trip off the Mexican coast with Phil Harris. He hooks and successfully lands a dolphin weighing 51 pounds, six ounces and measuring four feet one and a half inches using a 12 pound line. He wins first prize in the Field & Stream 53rd annual fishing contest.

June (undated). Everett Crosby has his left leg amputated because of poor circulation complicated by diabetes. Bing, who is in Mexico, phones his brother Ted and asks him to visit Everett. Ted and his wife duly do so with Bing picking up the costs of the trip.

June 16, Sunday. Kathryn Crosby graduates as a nurse from the Queen of Angels School of Nursing and Bing attends the commencement ceremony at the Cathedral of St. Vibiana in Los Angeles.

July (undated). Alan Fisher (accompanied by his wife, Norma) commences work as butler to the Crosbys.

July (undated). Bing and Kathryn go to see Margot Fonteyn and Nureyev of the English Royal Ballet dance Giselle. Bing invites the cast to lunch at his home.

July 6, Saturday. The English Royal Ballet cast duly lunches with Bing and Kathryn at the Holmby Hills house.

July 9, Tuesday. Phillip Crosby is divorced by his wife Sandra for “extreme cruelty.”

July 19, Friday. Frank Sinatra announces that Bing has signed to make recordings for his company, Reprise Records. It is Bing’s first major recording agreement since his contract with Decca ended.

July 29, Monday. In Los Angeles, Bing records “Fugue for Tinhorns” and “The Oldest Established” with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin for the Reprise “Repertory Theater” album of Guys and Dolls. Morris Stoloff conducts the orchestra.

 

Meanwhile, as one professional to another, Bing wrote about a recording session with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin:

      “The great one had hired a forty-five piece orchestra, a vast cadre of vocalists, and four arrangers and conductors for our songs from the Broadway musicals Guys and Dolls, South Pacific, and Kiss Me Kate. Dean and I watched in bemused bewilderment while Sinatra organized, conducted, arranged, and criticized everything. After finishing two sides, Frank, who had spent the night on the town, averred that his reed was tired and dismissed the vast assembly. We had been there less than an hour and a half, a far cry from the old days when I used to record five or six hours with a four-piece band in a warehouse in downtown Los Angeles.”

(Kathryn Crosby, My Life with Bing)

 

August 6, Tuesday.  Bing writes to Frank Murphy of the British Crosby Society.

 

Thanks for your letter with all the news. Yes, I’m doing an Hawaiian album for Frank Sinatra’s Reprise group in a few days. We’ve got the tunes pretty well lined up now, and Nelson Riddle is doing the arrangements, and we hope to get a very unusual background with the Hawaiian predominant of course, but with some nice musicianship also featured.

I believe the “King Serenade” is going to be included. It’s one of the ones that we have high on the list.

I did a couple of tunes with Frank and Dean for the Reprise label - an album covering four of the big Broadway musical shows. Dean and Frank and I did “The Traveling Crap Game” and “Fugue for Tinhorns” and I have to do a duet with Debbie Reynolds on “Something Sort of Grandish” from Finians Rainbow and a solo on “Younger than Springtime” from South Pacific.

There is also a possibility I’ll do a Christmas album with Frank, using the Fred Waring orchestra and choir, if we can find suitable material.

We’re doing some things over at Capitol records. An album called “The Traveling Two Beat” which will be sort of a musical tour of the world, taking the principal song in each capital, and doing it in Dixieland style. Bobby Darin and Peggy Lee might be in this album with me, and Evans and Livingston have written a great song to open and close the album, called “Traveling Two Beat”.  Also they’ve done a lot of special lyrics for use on the songs of each country.

Capitol is also gathering material for a possible country and western album - or I guess you might properly call it a “Folk Album”. There’s quite a vogue for this stuff in the States just now.

We are getting the television shows ready - four to be done this year. The first to be taped in September, so I guess you’ll probably see that one in England.

And I might be doing a picture with Frank and his group over at Warners called “Robin and the Seven Hoods”. Also have a couple of other pictures that are under serious consideration.

I’m playing a good deal of golf just now, and playing rather well too, for an old gaffer. It’s certainly a relaxation - this game, and probably the only game there is where a fella my age can still turn in a creditable performance.

Give my very best to all the members and to yourself and family –

As ever, Bing

 

August 7, Wednesday. Kathryn Crosby opens in the play Sunday in New York at the Avondale Playhouse in Indianapolis. Heavy rain interupts the dialogue occasionally and forces two unscheduled intermissions in the first act. Kathryn receives very good reviews.

August 8, Thursday. Bing records “Something Sort of Grandish” with Debbie Reynolds and a solo version of “Younger than Springtime” for inclusion in the Reprise Repertory Theater albums. Morris Stoloff conducts the orchestra.

August 21, Wednesday. Bing records part of the Return to Paradise Islands album with an orchestra conducted by Nelson Riddle for Reprise Records.

August 23, Friday. Bing is in St. Paul, Minnesota, for a meeting with representatives of Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing. At a press conference at the White Bear Yacht Club, he promotes their “Beat Bing Contest” (a golfing challenge with the winners to play in Bing’s pro-am). He states that close to two million rounds of golf have been played since August 4 by golfers across the nation who are seeking to beat his score. Around this time, he records a TV commercial for the new Thermo-Fax copier being marketed by 3M. During the press conference, he is presented with a copy of the baptism certificate of his mother, who was born nearby in Stillwater. Bing is surprised to find that his mother is three years younger than he had thought. Also Bing is made an honorary citizen of Stillwater.

August 24, Saturday. Bing golfs at the White Bear Lake course with Bert Cross (president of Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing) in the “Beat Bing Contest.” His handicap is given as six and he has a seventy-six (four over par). Bing then goes to his Rising River ranch.

September 3, Tuesday. Kathryn opens in Sunday in New York at Packard Music Hall, Warren, Ohio. Bing goes to Warren to see her in  the play and they go on to Piqua, Ohio, for a short break.


September 16, Monday. An unsold pilot for a comedy television series called Come a Runnin’ is shown. The show has been put together by Bing Crosby Productions and Bing is said to sing the theme song on the sound track.

September 25, Wednesday. Details of a new long-playing record called Three Billion Millionaires are announced at the United Nations. A complete musical has been written for the LP and many stars including Bing, Jack Benny, Carol Burnett, Sammy Davis Jr., Judy Garland, and Danny Kaye have taken part. Bing sings “Tower of Babel” on the record. The funds raised by the LP are for the United Nations Children’s Fund.

September 28-29, Saturday–Sunday. President Kennedy again spends a weekend at Bing’s Palm Desert house. The arrangements have been made through Chris Dunphy.

September 29, Sunday. Tapes The Bing Crosby Show with Caterina Valente, Andre Previn, and Buddy Ebsen which is shown by CBS-TV on November 7. The producer-director is Nick Vanoff with Andre Previn assuming the musical director role. The script is by Bill Morrow and Max Wilk.


BUDDY EBSEN AND BING HOOF IT UP

Hollywood -- “Bing Crosby Show” - Rehearsal Hall 2.”

It is a big bright room with a high ceiling, one mirrored wall and a polished hardwood floor. It is cluttered with music racks, benches, tables with stacked scripts and a long blackboard on wheels on which the words to the song “Danke Schoen” are written.

The room is jammed with high-salaried talent but somebody doesn’t know how to spell the song Bing Crosby may use as a regular television signoff a la Bob Hope’s “Thanks for the Memory.”

It is written “Danke Scoen,” but it comes out right every time when Bing sings the words.

In one corner a piano player pounds out an old tune “In the Summertime.” The tall man shuffling his feet to the tune sure knows how to dance.

“How about that,” says, Bing, trying to keep in step with Buddy Ebsen’s fast-moving feet. There was a day, long before the Beverley Hillbillies, when Buddy Ebsen danced up storms in vaudeville, on Broadway and in movies.

“How about a little fast footwork on the show?” Bing had asked Buddy a few weeks ago. “Like to have you do some singing, too- songs from those old movie musicals you did.”

“You got me,” said the delighted Buddy. “What’s the wardrobe?”

“White tie and tails,” said Bing. “You’ll be in good company - Dean Martin, Caterina Valente and Andre Previn. Snappy dressers.”

But in the pretaping rehearsal for the CBS-TV special November 7 Bing looks like a golfer and Buddy like a yachtsman, which they are. Bing is wearing slacks, sweater and a golfing cap. Buddy, in tennis shoes and denims, looks as if he just stepped off his racing sloop moored in front of his home at Newport Bay.

When producer-director Nick Vanoff called a break it was Buddy’s turn to say “How about that” in reference to a line I had written about his big television, personal appearance and movie loot piling up.

“Relative down in Florida read it.” he grinned. “What money you talkin’ about? I ain’t seen it yet.”

(Erskine Johnson, Hollywood Today, Syndicated column, October 21, 1963)


October 3–December. Bing starts filming Robin and the Seven Hoods with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Peter Falk. He is paid $100,000 for his work. The producer at the outset is Gene Kelly and the director is Gordon Douglas. The music is scored and conducted by Nelson Riddle. Phillip Crosby has a small part.

 

Frank kept telling Howard Koch that he’d be arriving the next day, then the day after and so on until I decided the tension and the waiting wasn’t doing any of us any good, and I told Jack Warner I was quitting. I really loved Frank and that was the reason I was walking out because it was my intention to remain friendly with him, and if I stayed on, as a kind of paid labourer, our relationship would be over.

(Gene Kelly, as quoted in Gene Kelly: A Biography by Clive Hirschhorn)

 

October 5-6, Saturday-Sunday. Bing and Kathryn are in the San Francisco area looking for a new house.

Fall (undated). Bing’s mother suffers a severe stroke.

October 11, Friday. Bing writes to Crosby fan Bill Hall in England.

 

Thank you for your very nice letter. So pleased to know that through the years you’ve found some amusement and entertainment out of my records, etc., and am glad also to learn that you’re associated with my good friend Frank Murphy of the British Bing Crosby Society.

I certainly hope the next time that I’m in England we’re able to arrange a meeting. I’m sure it will be quite easy to do.

The club meeting at Jack Manners home sounded, according to description, like a very pleasant occasion.

At the moment I’m rehearsing with Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra for a picture to start the end of the month. Sammy Davis is also in the film.

Have just finished taping a television show with Caterina Valente, Buddy Ebsen, Andre Previn and others, and have one to tape at the end of the month with Bob Hope, my wife Kathryn, and Rosemary Clooney. John Scott Trotter is going to be the conductor and arranger for this particular show.

It will be nice being associated with him again and we shall possibly use a couple of the things that he and I collaborated on some years back with such success.

Thank you for sending me the two pictures from “Sing You Sinners” and LOOK magazine.

Closing now, with best regards to you and your family, and to the other club members you may encounter in the immediate future –

All best regards, Bing

 

October 13, Sunday. (7:00–7:30 p.m.) Gary Crosby makes his debut as “Eddie the Bellhop” on the Bill Dana Show transmitted by NBC-TV.

October 15, Tuesday. Bing is concerned at developments with the Robin and the Seven Hoods movie and writes to his agent Bob Coryell as follows:

 

Talking to Howard Koch last night, and he gave me some rather surprising news. He said it was their intention to shoot a musical number with me, then lay me off three weeks, and do some other things. He indicated that he’d want me to be working, or to be available up into January. This, of course, hardly agrees with our original agreement whereby I was to work four weeks consecutively.

      As you know, I’ve been going over to Warners almost daily since the 3rd or 4th of October - I can’t remember which - and if they plan on holding me in the bullpen or working until January, it would amount to something like twelve weeks. Maybe more.

      I think you ought to have a talk with Koch about this, and I’ll talk to him about it myself today when I go to rehearsal.

      Quite privately, I’m very disturbed about the removal of Gene Kelly as the producer. This was one of the major factors which influenced my desire to make the film. I felt that Kelly would be an outstanding producer of a musical show, and the initial work that he did - the preparation and everything else inclined me to think that he was really going to have a fine musical.

      I don’t know what will happen now since he’s been removed, although the elements are still there. It just depends upon whose hands it falls into. I believe it’s going to be Sinatra and Koch.

      I mention this because if there’s any problem about the time that I’m supposed to be working on the picture, I’d just as soon get out of it - although this is something that I would hold back and not reveal until you have sounded them out and gotten back to me.

      Maybe before you talk to anybody, you and I should get together on the phone, or I can come by the office, or you can come by the studio.

      Give me a ring.

      Bing

 

October 16, Wednesday. Bing records further songs for the Return to Paradise Islands LP with an orchestra conducted by Nelson Riddle for Reprise Records in Los Angeles. He writes to British fan Leslie Gaylor.

 

I just can’t remember how much I told you about recording plans, so probably some of the news I’m giving you now will be repetitious, but I’ll send it along anyhow.

I’m just finishing an Hawaiian album for Reprise, including some fine old Hawaiian standards like

“Old Plantation”

“Farewell My Tane

“Lovely Hula Hands”

“Frangipani Blossom”

and others of similar stamp.

The orchestra was conducted by Nelson Riddle who also made the arrangements, and I think he’s done some outstanding work in this date.

I did four songs for a big album that Reprise is putting out, involving eighteen artists and fifty-six tunes from four big Broadway Shows - “Guys and Dolls”, “South Pacific” “Finian’s Rainbow” and one other, the name of which I do not at this moment recall.

I have a Country and Western album to do for Capitol. I have picked the songs. They are things like “A Little Bittie Tear”, “Bouquet of Roses”, “Four Walls”, “Heartaches by the Number”, etc.

Also am to do an album called “Around the World with a Dixieland Beat” for Capitol. This is all prepared but I don’t know just when time will be available to tape it.

I’m rehearsing now on a picture with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. Should be finished shooting this around the 1st of the year.

So much for my activities as far as recording is concerned.

Hope this finds you and all the other friends of mine in the Club in good form

Yours sincerely, Bing

 

October 21, Monday. Records “Do You Hear What I Hear” and “Christmas Dinner Country Style” with Ralph Carmichael and his Orchestra for Capitol Records in Los Angeles. The former song achieves some chart success reaching No. 3 in the Christmas singles list in the USA and featuring at No. 49 in the UK’s Melody Maker charts.

with Rosemary Clooney.jpgOctober 23, Wednesday. (3:00–6:00 p.m.). Rehearses the song “A Scarf, A Stool, A Song and Imagination” for a forthcoming CBS-TV special with Rosemary Clooney.

October 24, Thursday. Further rehearsals for the TV show in CBS Studio 2. (1:00–3:00 p.m.) Bing and Rosemary Clooney rehearse Jazz-Waltz country medley. (3:00–4:30 p.m.) Bing, Rosemary Clooney, Kathryn Crosby and the singers and dancers rehearse “A Scarf, A Stool, A Song and Imagination”. (4:30–6:00 p.m.) Bing rehearses “Pennies from Heaven”, “Something to Do” and “Danke Schon” (the last named song was not eventually used in the show). (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Peter Gennaro and Kathryn Crosby rehearse.

October 25, Friday. Camera blocking for the TV show (Camera blocking is defined as the process of deciding where the cameras will be, when, and what shots each will be responsible for). (9:00 a.m.–12 noon Principals and dancers rehearse. (1:00–2:00 p.m.) Lunch. (2:00–5:30 p.m.) Run through in set with full cast and principals. (5:30–6:00 p.m.) Dinner. (6:00–7:00 p.m.) Introduction to Peter Gennaro dance - Bing and Kathryn. (7:00–7:30 p.m.) Introduction to Bing and Kathryn “Dream” duet - Bing and Kathryn. (7:30–8:30 p.m. Introduction and “Strangers in the Night” dance - Bing, Kathryn, Peter Gennaro. (8:30–9:30 p.m.) Introduction and “Oldest Established” song - Stand-in’s for Bing, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin

October 26, Saturday. Pre-recording of songs and camera blocking. (9:00 a.m.–12 noon) Pre-recording session at United Recording Studio, 6050 Sunset Blvd. Hollywood. (12 noon–1:00 p.m.) Lunch. (1:00–2:30 p.m.) “A Scarf, A Stool, A Song and Imagination” Bing, Rosemary, Bob Hope, Kathryn, Peter Gennaro, dancers, singers. (2:30–4:00 p.m.) Opening: “Pennies from Heaven”, Bing ‘Hellos’ and “Something to Do” Bing, Rosemary, Bob Hope, Kathryn, Peter Gennaro, dancers. (4:00–4:30 p.m.) Dialogue and “I Believe in You” Duet - Bing and Bob Hope. (4:30–5:00 p.m.) Bachelors’ Anonymous Sketch - Bing, Bob Hope, girl (this skit was not however used in the show) (5:00–6:00 p.m.) Dinner (6:00–6:30 p.m.) Make-up (6:30–7:30 p.m.) Video tape “Strangers in Paradise” (7:30–8:15 p.m.) Rosemary Clooney Song: “Invitation” (not used in show) (8:15–9:00 p.m.) Dialogue and Jazz Waltz Medley - Bing and Rosemary (9:00–10:00 p.m.) Closing song: “Danke Schon” (not used in show).

October 27, Sunday. Final camera blocking and complete show is taped for the television special which is shown on February 15, 1964, on CBS-TV. (9:00 a.m.–Noon) Show run through - full cast and orchestra. Bob Hope has to leave the studio at 11:30 a.m. suffering from an eye ailment before he has completed his segment. (Noon–1:00 p.m.) Lunch. (1:00–1:30 p.m.) Make-up, costumes. (1:30–3:00 p.m.) Video Tape: Dress Rehearsal. (3:00–4:00 p.m.) Notes, Make-up. (3:30–4:00 p.m.) Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin rehearse with orchestra in studio. (4:00–6:00 p.m.). The whole show is taped with the exception of the segments involving Bob Hope. The “Oldest Established” song is recorded first with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin and the rest of show is taped in sequence.

October 29, Tuesday. Bing signs a contract to record for Capitol. (9:00-12:30 a.m.) In Hollywood, Bing records four songs for The Great Country Hits album with Bill Justis and his Orchestra which is issued by Capitol Records. Bing has a cold and the effects can sometimes be heard on the recorded songs. Glen Campbell is one of the backing musicians.


Although Bing Crosby signed a new deal with Capitol Records a couple of weeks ago, he’ll still continue to fulfill a previous obligation to the Reprise label. Reprise has a Crosby album scheduled for release early next year, and additional album and singles projects are currently being discussed.

(Variety, November 20, 1963)


October 31, Thursday. (9:00a.m.-12 noon, 1:00-4:30p.m.) Completes the recording of The Great Country Hits album although still suffering from a cold. Later stages a Halloween party at his Holmby Hills home which is attended by Rosemary Clooney and family plus Edie Adams and daughter.


The consistency of Bing Crosby’s talent over the decades is an authentic show biz phenomenon. In this set, the veteran singer finds himself in a very congenial groove with a group of backwoods ballads which he delivers with an easygoing lilt just tailored for this material.

(Variety, October 13, 1965)

 

For the first time Crosby devotes his vast musical talent to only top country material. Demonstrating his feeling and understanding of lyric in such standouts as the classic “Four Walls” and “Jealous Heart.” Crosby maintains his own great style.

(Billboard, October 16, 1965)

 

Bing Crosby also turns his eyes Nashvillewards on the Capitol LP T2346 and that too is third rate. “Heartaches by the Number”/“Wolverton Mountain”/“Jealous Heart” and whatnot make easy listening but poor Crosby.

(The Gramophone, May 1966)

 

Bing Crosby is king of the cowboys for me this month with “Bing Crosby sings the Great Country Hits” (World Record Club T833). My preference for Mr. Crosby will probably antagonize the purist adherents of this genre when they notice some of the other names further down this paragraph, but the clear mellow tones are ideal for songs such as “Oh, Lonesome Me,” “Wabash Cannon Ball,” “Wolverton Mountain,” and “A Little Bitty Tear.” Even Mr. Crosby cannot do much with lightweight superficialities like “Still,” but he also makes everything very agreeable for listening.

(The Gramophone, May 1969)

 

    November 1, Friday. Bing is in San Francisco looking at houses again. He subsequently arranges to sell the Holmby Hills house for $250,000 and to buy a twenty-five room property at 101 Robin Road in Hillsborough, San Francisco which was formerly the home of the late Douglas Alexander and his wife. The purchase price is quoted as $175,000 by the press. Kathryn joins him later and they spend the weekend shooting at Vic Bergeron’s ranch.

November 7, Thursday. (9:00–10:00 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show with Caterina Valente, Andre Previn, and Buddy Ebsen is shown by CBS-TV. The program had been taped in September. It achieves a useful rating of 25.9 from Nielsen.

 

Always a low-pressure performer, Bing Crosby seemed to be rolling virtually on his rims in his first special of the 1963-64 season. The Old Groaner still appeared youthful, but there was a telltale trace of tiredness in some of his routines. Crosby, however, is still a persuasive smoothie with the rococo lines supplied by scripter Bill Morrow and he piloted this stanza down a pleasing, even if familiar, groove.

      It was an all-musical session spotlighting vocals by Crosby, Buddy Ebsen and a large Coast Choral group, the Young Americans…Ebsen, in his ‘Beverly Hillbillies’ role, joined with Crosby in a work-over of a charming folk-styled tune, ‘In the Summertime’.

      Continental songstress, Caterina Valente was brought on with a weak comedy intro but she came through with an effective rendition of ‘Never Will I Marry’ and joined with Crosby in a snappy international medley of tunes that ranged from, ‘Never on Sunday’ through ‘Sukiyaki’ to ‘Mademoiselle de Paris’.

      Second half of the show revolved around a group of old picture and legit tunes with Crosby and the guests working solo and in tandem on such numbers as ‘Codfish Ball’, ‘Broadway Rhythm’, ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ and ‘Davy Crockett’. The singing and hoofing were entertaining enough despite the unimaginative staging.

      The show was marked by some clever commercial concoctions. The Pepsodent plug featured some by-play between Crosby and Jerry Colonna, who was long identified with the product via his association with Bob Hope. In the Pontiac plug, Phil Harris turned up in a screwball golf match with Crosby.

(Variety, November 13, 1963)

 

None of us, including Bing Crosby, are getting any younger. The crooner, youthfully attired in what appeared to be a blazer, was on the Columbia Broadcasting System last night in a special that wasn’t very special at all. He sang a few old songs, a few new ones and traded some unfunny musical variety-show patter with his guests – Buddy Ebsen and Caterina Valente. Mr. Crosby still has the same quiet, relaxed manner and his sleepy-time voice, apparently in fine condition, roved through “Dream Your Troubles Away” and “Shenandoah”. Delicate hearts in many homes probably skipped several beats...The program emerged as a harmless hodgepodge of folk, popular and semiclassical music.

(New York Times, November 8, 1963)

 

November 11, Monday. Plays in the pro-celebrity match which concludes the Frank Sinatra Invitational Golf Tournament at Canyon Country Club, Palm Springs. Bing’s four-ball tees off at 10:26 a.m. and the other players are Jay Hebert, Gen. Archie Old, and Dt. L. Krohn. In the evening, starting at 7:00 p.m., Bing is one of many stars entertaining at a thirty dollars a plate charity dinner held in the Grand Ballroom of the Riviera Hotel. At the event, Rosemary Clooney is asked by Frank Sinatra, who is still awed by Bing, how she can relax with him. “I pretend he isn’t Bing Crosby,” Clooney replied. During the evening, Bing is filmed being presented with a Lifetime Achievement Grammy from the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences by Frank Sinatra. It is intended that the film will be used in an NBC special at the Grammy Awards event to be called “The Best on Record” which is supposed to be televised on November 24 but is canceled because of the death of President Kennedy. The show is eventually transmitted on December 8 when a newsflash about a plane crash in Maryland cuts into the Crosby clip. The citation reads:

 

For his outstanding recordings which span more than 30 years, consistently embodying superior musicianship, uncompromising dignity and a never-failing enthusiasm, and have served as an inspiration to those within the industry as well as millions of listeners the world over.

 

November 15, Friday. Kathryn Crosby appears in a television comedy “The House Next Door” with Bob Hope and Jill St. John as part of the Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre series on NBC-TV. Bing makes a surprise guest appearance in the final scene as a handsome stranger who distracts Bob’s wife (played by Kathryn). The program is re-broadcast on April 27, 1966.

November 17, Sunday. Lindsay Crosby is arrested in Palm Springs for suspected drunken driving after hitting a parked car and a traffic sign. He is later released on bail of $288.

November 18 / 20-21, Monday / Wednesday-Thursday. Bing is at Warner Brothers studio working on Robin and the Seven Hoods.

November 22, Friday. President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Lyndon B. Johnson assumes the presidency. Bing subsequently sends a hand-written note to Mrs. Kennedy.

 

Dear Mrs. Kennedy,

My wife, Kathryn, and I want very much to extend our sympathies and condolences to you because of your tragic and insupportable loss. We felt Jack Kennedy to be a brilliant decent, dedicated man, and we both think we shall not see his like again on the national scene. Your composure, courage and quiet dignity through the crushing ordeal of last weekend was a source of inspiration to the millions who watched and prayed with you.

With all sincere sentiments

Bing Crosby

 

November 24, Sunday. Bing tapes his part in Bob Hope’s Christmas special, and because of Bob’s eye problems, he acts as cohost with Jack Benny as well as lip-synching to his recording of “Do You Hear What I Hear.” The show is televised by NBC on December 13.

November 29, Friday. Performs “Don’t Be a Do Badder” for the Robin and the Seven Hoods film at Warner Brothers studio, with Kathryn and the children watching. Nathaniel is sick all over his father.

December (undated). Bing tapes a special program in Spanish for the Family Theatre’s Father Peyton to be shown in Portuguese-speaking Brazil on December 8.

December 3, Tuesday. At Warner Brothers, Bing pre-records the song ‘Style’ with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin during the evening. He writes to Canadian broadcaster Gord Atkinson.

 

Of course I’ll be delighted to do the tape interview with you along the lines that you suggest. In other words, you’ll send me some questions and I will provide answers on tape and send you the tape.

I will leave some pauses between my answers, so that you will be able to cut in the questions and in this way put together an interview suitable for your purposes.

This method of procedure would be infinitely more preferable than a telephone interview - both from the standpoint of quality and from personal feeling.

So I’ll be awaiting receipt of your questions and just as soon as I am doing some taping, I’ll provide the answers thereto.                                

Happy to hear that everything’s going along well for you and that your young ones are coming on in good shape.

I suppose with Christmas hard upon us now, you’re going to have a hectic two or three weeks. I know we are here.

All best regards to you and your family

As ever, Bing

 

December 6, Friday. Bing returns to Warner Brothers studio to work on Robin and the Seven Hoods.

December 8, Sunday (9:30 p.m.) Frank Sinatra Jr. is kidnapped at gunpoint and held for ransom.

December 9, Monday. Bing completes the Return to Paradise Islands album with an orchestra conducted by Nelson Riddle.

 

Bing turns on the charm again. This 1964 version of Der Bingle is calm, relaxed and very much in tune with this South Seas material. The tunes, for the most part, are out of the usual standard fare. Nelson Riddle’s backings are fruitful and are certainly enough to make the old master and his vocal backings sway in the breeze. “Adventures in Paradise” is a fine middle of the road programming track.

(Billboard, February 1, 1964)

 

Bing Crosby seems to be holding back deliberately in his collection of Hawaiian-tinged songs on Reprise R6106, for he projects without any effort at all, just as he has always done during the last thirty-eight years.

(The Gramophone, May 1964)

 

A four star album. Bing Crosby – Return to Paradise Islands.

With a luxury orchestral backing from Nelson Riddle, the “Old Groaner” shows he is indeed the Peter Pan of recordland. Here he warbles, relaxed and deep throated as ever, a dozen Hawaiian songs. And Bing is one singer you can hear when a vocal group is accompanying. Well done Bing.

(New Musical Express, March 20, 1964)

 

December 9-13, Monday-Friday. Bing is at Warner Brothers studio working on Robin and the Seven Hoods.

December 10, Tuesday. At Warner Brothers, Bing is supposed to pre-record the song ‘Mr. Booze’ with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin during the evening but this may have been postponed because of the kidnap of Frank’s son.

December 11, Wednesday. Frank Sinatra Jr. is released by the kidnappers after his father pays a $240,000 ransom.

December 13, Friday. (8:00–9:00 p.m.) The taped Bob Hope Comedy Hour is screened by NBC-TV. Bing and Jack Benny act as co-hosts with the principal guests being Juliet Prowse and Danny Thomas. Les Brown and his Band of Renown provide the musical backing.

 

With Bob Hope benched for a few weeks by an eye ailment, Jack Benny and Bing Crosby co-quarter-backed his ‘Chrysler Comedy Hour’, last Friday and, with the help of some choice sketches from previous Hope programs, made it a winning outing. The show was noticeably a patchwork of tapes and almost totally devoid of the immediacy and spontaneity that is normally felt in a Hope broadcast. But the star’s illness, wittily dwelled upon by Benny and Crosby, turned that into an advantage in the manner of a tribute. The viewer found himself present, not merely as a consumer of entertainment but as a friend of the hospitalized comic and a well-wisher.

      The opening monologues took the form of the traditional show biz roasts, with Crosby testifying that, in all his years with Hope, the comic never up-staged or hogged a scene - ‘although Heaven knows, he tried.’

      For a finale, Crosby introduced the ‘Look’ magazine, All-American Football Team and the various Bowl Game Queens with a lukewarm gag for each member. The segment had no appropriateness in the program but did serve for topicality and, along with a Crosby rendition of, ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’, helped to keep the show from seeming to be an entire re-run.

(Variety, December 18, 1963)

 

December 16-20, Monday-Friday. Bing is at Warner Brothers studio working on Robin and the Seven Hoods.

December 19, Thursday. After completing her practical work in the maternity ward, Kathryn is given her nursing diploma at Queen of Angels School of Nursing.

December 23, Monday. Bing and Kathryn dine with Sammy Davis Jr. and his wife at Sammy’s home. Dean Martin and his wife are supposed to attend but, due to some confusion with the arrangements, they are not present. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) An NBC-TV program The One and Only Bing is shown. This is part of the Hollywood and the Stars series.

December 24, Tuesday. Kathryn and her mother prepare dinner for the staff of the Crosby household and their guests for the first time. This tradition continues until 1969. A television showing of The Promise with narration by Bing takes place. In the program, Father Peyton’s Family Theater Group reenacts events leading to the birth of Christ.

December 28, Saturday. Bing records the Hollywood Palace television show which is shown on January 4, 1964. The guests include Mickey Rooney, Nancy Wilson, and Gary Crosby. Bill Harbach, the producer, recalled the genesis of the show when interviewed in 2006.

 

One day in mid-November, 1963, Nick Vanoff received a frantic call from ABC. Mr. Harbach remembers it well.

 “ABC knew that Nick was free since The Perry Como Show went off the air for good in June. They pleaded with him. ‘The Jerry Lewis Show is going down in flames. We don’t know what to do! Can you come out to Hollywood and fill this goddamn time slot. We’ll figure out what to do with our time next season. At least finish out the fourteen weeks that are left in this season.’ There was one proviso - that whatever he came up with should be entertainment of the old school.

Nick immediately consulted me. We decided to tackle it. Nick came up with an idea. Let’s do a vaudeville show! The Lawrence Welk Show would lead into it, so let’s keep our show and hour, too. Make it very chic – and not like The Ed Sullivan Show where everything is basically worked-in-one, without much depth, in front of a sparkle curtain. And, most important, we’ll have a different host each week, so that it will stay fresh.’

I thought it was a perfect concept, especially since it would take care of the dilemma of what to do with The El Capitan Theater, which ABC had revamped and renamed The Jerry Lewis Theater. Jimmy Trittipo, one of the best set designers and art directors, would refurbish the house to give it a vaudeville ambience, putting in that great lighted proscenium and adding the runway. (Trittipo crafted the sparse and abstract sets for all the Oldsmobile shows, except the last) We would call both the theater and the show The Hollywood Palace.”

 Nick added, ‘I’ll executive produce and you produce it.’ I replied, ‘We go as a team – fifty/fifty.’ We formed Zodiac Productions. We flew to the west coast and spent four weeks of negotiations with the network. ABC liked the vaudeville idea, but wanted to hire a top star who would be the permanent host. They thought that an audience would not get used to the idea of a rotating emcee and would demand the same star coming into their living rooms every week. Well, Nick played hardball. ‘OK, get yourself two other producers.’ ABC caved, saying, ‘OK, do it, but we think you’re wrong.’

Of course, Nick called Bing. He had just produced and directed a special for Bing (The Bing Crosby Show of November 7, 1963) and there was one in the works. (The show for Lever Brothers of February 15, 1964) He was nervous. After all, we could only pay $10,000. Nick asked, ‘Would you do our first show?’ Without hesitating, Bing said, ‘Sure, for you kids, I’d love to.’ Right away, we were on cloud nine! After all, Bing was such a giant, so monumental and bigger than life. We knew that he would be a pacesetter and soon other stars would fall in line, despite the fact that we couldn’t pay big money. So, in order to save ABC from disaster we went out to Hollywood to complete the fourteen weeks - and stayed seven years!”

The directing chores for the first Palace fell to Mel Ferber, whose credits included The Joey Bishop Show and My Favorite Martian. Joe Bigelow (Cavalcade of Stars) and Jay Burton were tapped to write the script. It was taped on December 28, 1963 and broadcast on Saturday, January 4, 1964.  Put on a Happy Face, selected as the HP theme song, ushered the unfolding spectacle.

“I thought Johnny Mercer’s Hooray for Hollywood would be a better selection, but Nick prevailed with a song written by his good friend Charles Strouse for Bye Bye Birdie.”

 This broadcast would prove to be uncustomary, inasmuch as Crosby didn’t begin the proceedings with a tune; rather, he walked down a side aisle while a dance act was in progress on stage.(You can actually glimpse someone at a control board in the background) With great élan, Crosby uttered the following.

Good evening. Good evening. I’m just delighted that I’ve been chosen as the fella to welcome you to this premiere performance of our little divertissement in time, or, if you will, vaudeville…Why don’t  we begin with the creed of all vaudevillians, those immortal words that go, ‘Hello Joe, what do you know. Let’s put on a vaudeville show. Song and dance, I’ll take a chance. OK professor, let’s go.”    

An impressive guest list of stars answered Bing’s beck and call on that debut. The roster included Nancy Wilson, Bobby Van, Bob Newhart, Mickey Rooney, Gary Crosby, and The Young Americans. Of them, Mr. Harbach wryly remarked, “there was a lot of them – a whole state.”  Of course there was the obligatory novelty act, in this case the Tahon Puppets. Crosby’s enduring musical director John Scott Trotter was on hand. (Les Brown would serve in that capacity for the rest of the first season.)

Crosby and number one son Gary blended on Teamwork, from The Road to Hong Kong. How did Gary interact with his father?

“Even with him there was a tension. I don’t know how to put my finger on it.”  

 The finale was a stirring offering by Crosby and The Young Americans of Climb Every Mountain, and then a heartfelt peroration by the impeccable master of ceremonies.

I know the folks here in The Hollywood Palace are going to do their utmost to make things enjoyable for you here every Saturday night. Let’s make it a happy year, a joyful year, and a year that will rate among the best of them all. I think the clue is really teamwork. Thank you.”

(Martin McQuade, detailing an interview with Bill Harbach, in BING magazine, spring 2006)

 

Felisa (Vanoff) had nothing but warm memories of Bing and Kathryn. She recalled Bing turning up early for a rehearsal. He always knew his lines and was thoroughly professional. The Hollywood Palace show came about from a 10 minute phone call when Nick was asked to put together a show to replace the ailing Jerry Lewis show. Nick approached Bing at short notice and Bing agreed. Because Bing did the show, others took notice and it became easier to obtain high quality hosts.

(Author interview with Felissa Vanoff, September 21, 2007)

 

December (undated). Bing and Kathryn go to Kona Farms to join Alice Faye, Phil Harris, June Haver, and Fred MacMurray in Trader Vic Bergeron’s California retreat.

 

1964

 

January 2, Thursday. Everett Crosby has his remaining leg amputated in Mount Sinai Hospital. He remains in the hospital for some months.

January 3, Friday. Lindsay Crosby is fined $250 in Palm Springs for reckless driving.

January 4, Saturday. (9:30–10:30 p.m.) The Hollywood Palace television show premieres on ABC and Bing is the host. This is the first of his thirty-two appearances on the show which runs to 1970.

 

A briskly paced vaudeville show was unveiled on Saturday evening by the American Broadcasting Company to take the place of the recent Jerry Lewis stage weight. For popular diversion, the hour gives promise of turning out nicely.

      The show bears the title of “The Hollywood Palace” and adheres straightforwardly to the tested formula of the two a day. Last night there were clowns for an opener, the main star was penciled in for next of closing and there was a song fest to empty the studio. The producers, Nick Vanoff and William O. Harbach, displayed their showmanship by engaging some fine acts to bridge the intervals between headliners. Andre Tahon’s puppet company was nothing short of superb in its miniature version of the singing nuns doing “Dominique.” The Hardy family, a father and his three engaging young daughters, were tumblers extraordinary. Silvan was truly a mystifying illusionist; it was a pity he had to be cropped for a middle commercial.

      With its chief feature, the show took no chances: it presented Bob Newhart in his wonderful monologue on Sir Walter Raleigh trying to convince his London superior of the uses of tobacco. And Mickey Rooney’s vitality stood him in good stead in making the most of his rather thin sketch involving “Candid Camera.” Nancy Wilson, Gary Crosby, the Young Americans and Bing Crosby, who doubled as master of ceremonies, completed the roster. The musical aspects of the show, as a matter of fact, were the weakest part of the evening.

      But a good augury of the future was the insistence of Mel Ferber, the director, that the show keep moving. It looks as if there may be some new competition on the Ed Sullivan level of television.

(Jack Gould, New York Times, January 6, 1964)

 

If I had anything to do with ‘Hollywood Palace’, the show replacing ‘The Jerry Lewis Show’, I would have had Dean Martin as M.C., saving Bing Crosby for the second installment. ‘The Hollywood Palace’ tried to be ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ while also trying to hold on to ‘The Lawrence Welk’ audience and high ratings - not recognizing the awful truth that it is Lawrence, himself who has this indefinable magic. No other substitute can harvest his crop of corn and high-number rating.

(Hollywood Citizen News, January 8, 1964)

 

As the first of the series’ guest hosts, Bing Crosby was sharp-wittedly at ease and the Old Smoothie of fond memory. MC Crosby made the hour seem better than it was.

(Herald Tribune, January 6, 1964)

 

January 5, Sunday. The Crosby furniture is loaded onto the moving vans for transfer to 101 Robin Road, Hillsborough, near Burlingame, San Francisco.

January 7, Tuesday. Bing’s mother dies in a Santa Monica convalescent home at 3:30 p.m., nearly age ninety-one. She had been in a coma for almost three weeks. Apart from her seven children, she left 23 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren. Bing and his family are at Palm Springs when they receive the news.

January 8, Wednesday. (8:00 p.m.) A Rosary for Bing’s mother is recited at St. Paul the Apostle Church, Westwood. Bing and his siblings, except Everett who is ill in hospital, get together at Larry’s home.

January 9, Thursday. The Crosby family, including Bing’s four sons, again gathers at Larry Crosby’s home prior to the funeral of Bing’s mother. She is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery after a requiem mass at 10:00 a.m. at St. Paul the Apostle, Westwood. Father Corkery delivers “a stirring eulogy.” The pallbearers are Edward Crowley, Basil Grillo, Leo Lynn, Dr. John Egan, A. J. Vita and John Carberry. Bing and Kathryn return to Palm Springs.

 

At 4 p.m. on January 9, with no place else to go, we finally returned to Palm Springs. Each time that I awoke that night I heard Bing sobbing.

(Kathryn Crosby, writing in My Life with Bing, page 275)

 

January 10, Friday. The final items of the Crosby furniture are delivered to their new home in Hillsborough.

 

The last crates of antique furniture, hi-fi sets, family mementos, clothing and 17-year old Scotch were delivered to the Bing Crosby family’s new home—a $175,000 mansion, in Hillsborough yesterday. John Scott Trotter, Crosby’s musical director for 27 years and an expert on antiques, presided over the last delivery yesterday morning by the Bekins Van & Storage Company. Because of a narrow, winding road leading to the beautiful Tudor-style home, Bekins had to use their “midget” 16-foot vans, the smallest the company has. Trotter, with help from the Crosby’s English butler, Alan Fisher, capably directed the moving men, who were led by Bill Simms of Los Angeles and William Snyder of Redwood City. It took eight vans to haul the more than 40,000 pounds of household belongings —including priceless 16th. century antiques, valuable paintings and first editions. Trotter, an ebullient and charming man, fairly hopped with enthusiasm over the house. “It’s marvelous, isn’t it?” he said repeatedly.

(San Francisco Chronicle, January 11, 1964)

 

January 10-13, Friday–Monday. Bing and Kathryn are in Palm Springs. They go to their new home at Hillsborough on January 13. Bing joins the Burlingame Country Club and the children all eventually go to North Hillsborough School. Bing writes to Sheldon Schultz, the Talent Coordinator for the "Tonight" show.


I'm afraid that it would be impossible for me to consider an appearance on the Johnny Carson show. It would be unlikely that I would be coherent at that hour of the night, as I am generally asleep two hours before.

With very best good wishes, As ever, Bing


January 16-19, Thursday–Sunday. Bing watches Tony Lema win the Bing Crosby Pro-Am Tournament at Pebble Beach. The weather is again poor with rain, sleet, wind, and fog. Celebrities taking part include Ray Milland, Ray Bolger, John Raitt, Gordon MacRae and Robert Sterling. Amongst the famous spectators are Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Bob Hope. NBC-TV coverage of the event takes place on the afternoons of Saturday and Sunday. The Victory Dinner is held on the Sunday night at the Monterey Fairgrounds Pavilion.

January 17, Friday. Phillip Crosby appears on The Bob Hope Christmas Special on NBC-TV.

January 23, Thursday. Bing’s mother’s will is filed for probate. She leaves Bing $20,000, Larry Crosby $10,000, Bob Crosby $1,000, and Everett and Ted $50 each.

January 29, Wednesday. Bing is thought to have attended a Republican dinner at the Villa Hotel, San Mateo.

February 2, Sunday. Bing and Kathryn take their three children to the San Francisco Sports and Boat Show.

February 3, Monday. Completes taping of The Bing Crosby Show which is shown on February 15. Bob Hope is involved in this segment as he had not previously completed his work for the show due to an earlier eye ailment.

February 4, Tuesday. Bing records patriotic songs for the album America, I Hear You Singing with Frank Sinatra and Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians in Los Angeles for Reprise Records.

 

This is an impressive gathering of top names for a patriotic paean in a swinging format. Backed by Fred Waring’s orch. and chorus, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra singly and in tandem deliver a fine collection of flag-wavers. Crosby takes off on “This Is a Great Country”, “This Land Is Your Land” and “A Home in the Meadow.” Sinatra effectively handles “The House I Live In”, “You’re a Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith” and “Early American.” Together they deliver “You Never Had It So Good” and “Let Us Break Bread Together”.

(Variety, May 9, 1964)

 

February 8, Saturday. The Beatles fly into New York to appear on the Ed Sullivan show the following day. Their latest record is at number one.

February 10, Monday. Bing donates $150,000 to Gonzaga for the new Society of Jesus faculty residence.

February 13, Thursday. Bing watches the San Francisco Warriors beat the Boston Celtics 106-95 in a basketball game. The attendance is 8,140.

February 14, Friday. At RCA Victor’s Music Center of the World in Hollywood, Bing and Frank Sinatra record “The Bathtub Scene” a short sketch for use on the sound track accompanying Sid and Marty Krofft’s “Les Poupees de Paris.” This is a puppet show which premieres on Wednesday, April 22 in a specially built 675-seat theater in the lake amusement area at the New York World’s Fair at Flushing Meadow.

February 15, Saturday. (8:30–9:30 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show is screened by CBS-TV. The guests are Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bob Hope, Kathryn Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, and Peter Gennaro. John Scott Trotter is the musical director and Nick Vanoff is producer-director.

 

Bing Crosby, who can somehow do no wrong in front of the camera, ambled his way, effortlessly, through his hour Saturday night special on CBS-TV. His tired pals, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, didn’t generate much excitement. It was left up to Peter Gennaro and his dancers to add any sparkle the program had.

      Bing’s wife, Kathryn, was not much of a plus or minus in the line-up. She was there and she did, very nicely, what she had been taught to do which was a novelty in itself. Actually, she was a welcome change from Bing’s sons who usually show up on his TV clambakes.

(Hollywood Citizen News, February 18, 1964)

 

This one had billing as ‘a special’ but therein lies a misnomer. There’s nothing special about a program, despite illustrious show business names, which lacks both wit and wisdom…..Mrs. Crosby proved to be the hit of the show, being amiable and attractive. Otherwise Crosby’s show was a disjointed effort.

      While the various players gave a fair account of themselves, mainly via the song and dance material and the quipping clashes between Crosby and Hope, the program itself was devoid of cohesion. It was as if each segment had been filmed on its own and then all the pieces were put together as an afterthought, with continuity not in mind.

      Crosby was strong with ‘Pennies from Heaven’ and ‘San Francisco’ and he and spouse were fine with the ‘Dream’ combo but for the rest, well, it was just a lost world….The show was probably okay for the fans but the advertised come-on must have left a number of people, unhappy.

(Variety, February 19, 1964)

 

The Prestons, the father-and-son law team on “The Defenders,” were pre-empted last night on the Columbia Broadcasting System to make way for Bing Crosby’s special musical hour. Followers of the Saturday night legal dramatics probably questioned the wisdom of the substitution. Mr. Crosby’s hour boasted a number of stars including his wife, Kathryn Crosby, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Rosemary Clooney, and Pete Gennaro. But not too much originality was employed in their use, and the show followed a predictable course. The longest sequence had Mr. Crosby and Mr. Hope exchanging insults as usual. Otherwise, the sixty minutes primarily had Mr. Crosby and his colleagues in random numbers, the choice of which left much to be desired in lilt or melody. The evening’s major pleasure was Mrs. Crosby, who in song and dance projected an attractively youthful verve.

(Jack Gould, New York Times, February 16, 1964)

 

… Getting down to business, the recent Bing Crosby Show proved once again that Crosby is the unchallenged master of the insouciant style of singing - casual, intimate, mellow. He was in splendid voice, too - reviving “Pennies from Heaven” for openers, in a manner that proved just how he made this one a shiny hit in the first place.

 When Bing and Rosemary Clooney work in tandem, as they did on the show, you are watching two professionals and that says it all. In this age of the amateur, when guitars and an old Burl Ives song book are available to anyone, it’s reassuring, I think, to witness two professionals at work – singing songs, moreover, written by other professionals.

Personally, I was delighted with Bing and Rosemary spoofing the western songs, including Cole Porter’s matchless spoof of the whole genre – “Don’t Fence Me In.” And I’m altogether certain that nobody sings “Imagination” more tellingly than Miss Clooney.

(Donald Freeman, Copley News Service, February 25, 1964)

 

February 25, Tuesday. Songwriter Johnny Burke dies in his sleep at the age of fifty-five.

February 27, Thursday. Kathryn Crosby appears with Cornel Wilde and Martha Hyer in a Kraft Suspense Theater drama called Doesn’t Anyone Know Who I Am on television. Her reviews are very poor.

March (undated). Bing is appointed to the Board of Regents of the Jesuit University of Santa Clara, California.

March 3, Tuesday. Announces that he will appear in a weekly situation comedy television series in the fall for ABC with Beverly Garland as his costar. Each episode has a budget of around $70,000 with Bing himself taking between $15,000 to $20,000 of this. Bing makes a point of saying that he will not accept any sponsorship from cigarette companies. In the event, Lever Brothers and Lincoln-Mercury Division become sponsors. It is also noted that Bing has turned down large sums of money to appear in Las Vegas as he does not want to be linked with gambling.

March 6, Friday. Press reports indicate that Bing and Kathryn plus their children have recently been to dinner at Vince's Seafood and Italian Restaurant in San Mateo.

March 11, Wednesday. Bing is at Las Cruces and hooks and lands a roosterfish weighing 50 pounds two ounces and measuring four feet one inch with a 12-pound line. He receives an honor badge in the Field & Stream, 54th annual fishing contest.

March (undated). Bing records a tribute to the late British singing star, Michael Holliday, which is played at a memorial concert in London on Sunday, April 19.

 

Announcer: Before the evening ends, Russ Conway introduces one last tribute from across the Atlantic.

Russ Conway: Ladies and Gentlemen, the voice of Bing Crosby.

Bing: I’m grateful indeed to have this opportunity, even if in absentia, to pay tribute to Michael Holliday and to participate in your benefit show. It’s a wonderful thing you’re doing. Michael was certainly a great artist and a loyal and true friend, and I lament with you, all of you, his premature passing from the scene before he had reached the fulfillment, the complete fulfillment of his considerable talent. I recall poignantly our encounters, our meetings, both in your country and in mine. Every time I came to England. Michael came to see me with his good wife Marjorie. They always made me feel that I mattered a good deal to them, and that’s nice. I admired his talent and I liked his warm friendly personality. I shall miss him. Thank you very much.

 

March 27, Friday onwards. Easter. At Las Cruces, Mexico. The Crosbys again thoroughly clean and refurbish the local church. Producer Steve Gethers visits Bing to discuss the forthcoming Bing Crosby Show series. During their stay in Mexico, the Crosbys visit Santiago, Pueblo, and also Mexico City where they meet Merle Oberon.

April (undated). Bing accepts the board chairmanship of the Northern California National Bank of San Mateo.

April 10, Friday. Back in Los Angeles, Bing records songs for the Reprise album Robin and the Seven Hoods with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. Nelson Riddle conducts the orchestra.

 

A try at a latter-day “Guys and Dolls”, Robin and the Seven Hoods has a slick set of music and lyrics by Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen, arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle. With such topflight funsters as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby and Sammy Davis Jr. to warble the songs, this LP looms as a solid contender at the stores and on the air. All of ‘em have at least one good number and the overall feel of the session is upbeat. The Warner filmusical will soon be released and it could be a surprise summer winner. The LP has a fine chance on its own.

(Variety, June 24, 1964)

 

…It is difficult to take the music away from the film context, but several things are obvious. Sinatra’s voice sounds rather tired; Dino’s improving all the time; Bing is singing extremely well; and Sammy takes a vocal backseat. And finally, the songs are poor. Best one: “My Kind of Town”, by Frank (Reprise).

(Melody Maker, September 12, 1964)

 

April 12, Sunday. Bing plays in a San Francisco golf tournament.

May 4, Monday. Bing, with his young son, Harry, attends the San Francisco Giants baseball game at Candlestick Park and sees the Houston Colts beaten 3-2.

May 8, Friday. Bing writes to Club Crosby representative, Priscilla Koernig.

 

You were very thoughtful, and very kind, to send me the pictures taken when you attended the golf tournament at Pebble Beach last winter. It seemed to me the pictures turned out quite well.

Yes, I’m a Giants fan, until Pittsburgh improves a little. You know, I’m a Pittsburgh owner, or part-owner. Of course, even when they play the Giants, I’ll have to root for them, but all other times I’ll be pulling for the Giants.

They must be a very brave team to play half their schedule in that deep freeze called “Candlestick Park”.

Thanks for the pictures,

All best wishes, Bing

 

June (undated). Bing commences filming episodes of his new sitcom series at Desilu Studios in Hollywood.

 

Meanwhile Bing was scribbling off a note every time that there was a pause in his crowded schedule:

“We finished shooting the first episode this morning. The work isn’t too difficult but it’s constant, and all other activities and interests must be excluded. We work straight through from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. By the time I bathe and dress for dinner it’s 9 o’clock, and I collapse into bed by 10. I have to rest a minimum of nine hours because, as you well know, only about five of them are spent sleeping.”

(Kathryn Crosby, writing in My Life with Bing, page 291)

 

“The Bing Crosby Show went into production around the 15th of June on Stage 7, where Desilu-Gower Studios had soundstages they had leased from Paramount. Crosby, an avid golfer, could often be seen practicing his game using a steel-framed net sent over by his thoughtful “landlady” Lucille Ball. He also had a bicycle parked just outside the stage door so he could ride over to Stages 8 and 9 where his other two productions, Ben Casey and Slattery’s People, were shooting. As part of her contract, Beverly received $5000 to decorate her dressing room on the set.

Set visitors would often find Crosby and Frank McHugh using the time between scenes to play an improvised game of trivia where each would try to outdo the other recalling obscure or famous vaudeville performers and the songs they performed in their acts. Beverly marveled at Bing’s photographic memory, “He was the kind of person who could sit down and look at a script in the morning and he would memorize all the lines. He was a great sports buff and he also remembered every star, every actor, just about everything from the 1920s and 1930s because that’s when he started in the business.”

She also recollected that Crosby was always on time for rehearsals and she never saw him lose his temper. “He’s quiet on the set,” she recounted to Charles Witbeck during an interview for King Feature Syndicate (February 14, 1965), “but knows what is going on all around him. Bing doesn’t play the star bit. You never hear the phone ring for him or see secretaries come running out with papers to sign. If he wants something, he goes and gets it himself.”

Beverley told Lydia Lane (Los Angeles Times, January 31, 1965), “Bing takes things so easy, but he has tremendous control. The only way you can tell when something is bothering him is that he doesn’t sing or make jokes. You never know if he is elated or depressed. Bing hides his feelings. He’s not an extrovert. He doesn’t particularly like small talk but his mind is shooting along.”

…One very often hears harrowing tales about the pressures of working on a weekly television series. However, this was apparently not the case on The Bing Crosby Show. Reporter Eleanor Roberts noted that during her set visit, she immediately noticed a “camaraderie that was rarely found on Hollywood sets.” Bing would often been seen doing a time step or singing up a storm at the end of the work day. It was also widely-known that the show’s work schedule called for a two-week break after four or five episodes were filmed, to give Crosby a chance to take care of his other business interests, spend time with his family and/or play golf. The cast and crew were required to work 12-hour average days, five days a week, to make up for the time lost during these frequent hiatuses.”

(Deborah Del Vecchio, Beverly Garland - Her Life and Career, page 96)

 

June 11, Thursday. Films an episode for the sitcom series called “Janice and Me on a Saturday Spent with Random Inputs No.1”. The episode is transmitted on December 14.

June 16, Tuesday. Whilst filming his sitcom series at Desilu Studios, Bing gives an interview during the afternoon to an Australian broadcaster, Philip Brady. The interview is broadcast later in the year in Australia.

June 18, Thursday. Irish impresario George O’Reilly visits Bing’s home and mentions a song called “Christmas Candles” which had been recorded by one of George’s clients. Bing plays the song and arranges to record it the next day at a session which had already been organized. Nelson Riddle has an arrangement written overnight.

June 19, Friday. Records Christmas songs (including “Christmas Candles”) with Frank Sinatra and Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians in Los Angeles for Reprise Records. The album – “12 Songs of Christmas” is released in November and achieves advance orders of 79,000.

 

This is an attractive compilation of seasonal standards delivered in standout style by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, singly and in tandem, with the polished support of Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians. Among the top sides in this set are “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” “The Little Drummer Boy,” “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Da”" and “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

(Variety, October 7, 1964)

 

“12 Songs of Christmas,” with Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians (Reprise R2022). Plenty of expensive talent crammed uncomfortably into a small, well-worn stocking. Obvious, pallid stuff, with the two head groaners actually together on only two tracks, and neither of them anywhere in particularly good voice. Collectors of sheer corn may take a perverse delight in an item called “We Wish You the Merriest.”

(The Gramophone, December, 1965)

 

June 20, Saturday. Tapes a Spanish-speaking panel show called “Los Expertos Contestan” for Latin American release. Bing writes to Kathryn, who is in Austin, Texas rehearsing for her role of Eliza Doolittle in the play Pygmalion at the University of Texas.

 

“I made a Christmas album with Sinatra and Fred Waring over the weekend. Also taped a panel show called Los Expertos Contestan for Latin American release. I tried to do it in Spanish, but got all tangled up. We’ll have to find time to learn that language one of these days.”

(As reproduced in My Life with Bing, page 291)

 

June 29-July 8, Monday-Wednesday. Kathryn and Jim McQueen star in Pygmalion at the Hogg Auditorium in Austin, Texas.

July/August (undated). Bing is unable to play golf because of bursitis.

July 3, Friday. Dennis Crosby is divorced by Pat Sheehan for being “a bad father, a habitual drinker, and a neglectful husband.” There are two children from the marriage.

July 11, Saturday. Bing and Kathryn go to the wedding of Chatty Collier and Hugh Cook. Bing sings part of “I Love You Truly” as the wedding cake is cut.

July 12, Sunday. Bing and Kathryn attend a ball given by Mr. and Mrs. Edward Scripps at the Scripps home in Hillsborough.

July 26, Sunday. Bing golfs at Burlingame Country Club and at 2 p.m. he boards a jet for Los Angeles. He goes on to the Coliseum in Los Angeles to watch the United States-Soviet track and field meet.

July (undated). Continues filming episodes of his new sitcom series at Desilu Studios throughout July and August. He spends the weekdays in Hollywood, staying at the Sheraton-West, and flies back to Hillsborough for the weekends. The schedule requires five shows to be filmed in three weeks following which there is a week off before the schedule is repeated. Bing works from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. each day.

August 3, Monday. Films the “Genius at Work” episode of his forthcoming sitcom series.

August 5, Wednesday. The film Robin and the Seven Hoods is released by Warner-Pathe.

 

Warner Bros. has a solid money entry in “Robin and the Seven Hoods,” a spoof on gangster pix of bygone days sparked by the names of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Bing Crosby to give marquee power. . . Top song number is “Style,” sung by Sinatra, Crosby and Martin. . . Performance-wise, Falk comes out best. His comic gangster is a pure gem and he should get plenty of offers after this. Sinatra, of course, is smooth and Crosby in a “different” type of role rates a big hand. Martin seems lost in the shuffle. Davis is slick and Miss Rush, going heavy, is beautiful to look at.

(Variety, June 24, 1964)

 

The minor musical whimsey that arrived at the Palace and other theaters yesterday under the just-too-cunning title of “Robin and the 7 Hoods” is almost as strained and archaic in the fable it has to tell of Prohibition-era gangsters in Chicago as the fable of Robin Hood it travesties.

      Dishing up Frank Sinatra as the leader of a mob that enhances its public image by giving large sums of money to charity, it runs through some all-too-familiar plot arrangements and farce routines that have a fleeting and far-away resemblance to some of the stuff in the old Damon Runyon tales.

      Mr. Sinatra is this character Robbo who runs a merry and mercenary mob that is constantly in cheerful competition with another run by cockeyed Peter Falk. Dean Martin is his genial and girl-nutty side-kick, Little John, and Sammy Davis Jr. is his agile and derby-hatted henchman, Will Scarlet. And Bing Crosby is the seemingly solemn square, Alan A. Dale, who gets the boys into the charity racket and turns out to be the coolest of the lot. But for all those magnificent talents, it is an artless and obvious film. The brightest thing about it is its color photography. There is some mildly amusing byplay with a dead gangster’s ambitious daughter, performed by Barbara Rush, plus a few songs of no distinction and a frenzied fracas with the hoods of Mr. Falk. And, as though there weren’t enough aping in it, Mr. Crosby sings a moralizing song, “Don’t Be a Do-Badder” in a roomful of charity-home boys.

      Well, at least, one can say this for it: The usual Sinatra arrogance is subdued. It is about as humble and harmless as a romp with the Keystone cops.

(Bosley Crowther, The New York Times, August 6, 1964)

 

I must confess I was yawning up to the moment Bing Crosby made his quiet and studious entrance as the unworldly secretary of a children’s orphanage.  The years have not dealt lightly with Mr. Crosby. The tips of the famous toupee have receded still further back upon that time-honoured face. But after some moments of horrifying suspicion that he had been introduced as a mute stooge for the Sinatra Clan, the Old Master opened his mouth to sing again and to prove that his sweetness of tone remains unimpaired and undiminished for all his years of seniority.

(Michael Thornton, The Sunday Express, July 26, 1964)

 

August 7, Friday. The United States steps up action against North Vietnam.

August 8, Saturday. Bing is at Hillsborough to supervise Harry’s birthday party. Kathryn is rehearsing for a play—Sabrina Fair—in Pennsylvania. Bing writes to her.

 

“As I write, Harry’s birthday party is in full sway. The entire yard is decorated with balloons, streamers, and Donald Duck placards. Only one serious conflict has developed. Nathaniel is quietly and seriously insisting that it is his birthday too. He’s not given to impassioned outbursts, but he’s steadily, relentlessly obdurate. At this point it looks as if we’ll just have to yield and find another cake.

I now share your opinion of the inadequacies of this house, but I have grave doubts about building again. I just don’t know whether I have the energy to deal with the inevitable worries, decisions, and frustrations.”

(As reproduced in My Life with Bing, page 293)

 

August 10-15, Monday-Saturday. Kathyrn stars in Sabrina Fair at the Pocono Playhouse in Mountainhome, Pennsylvania.

August 15, Saturday. (11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.) Bing records part of the That Travellin’ Two Beat album with Rosemary Clooney and Billy May and his Orchestra for Capitol Records in Los Angeles.

 

Whether we were recording or just singing together, Bing and I were always comfortable. The best thing about singing with Bing was that our ranges were so compatible; we never had a problem selecting a key for the two of us that was comfortable. You’ll probably be surprised to learn that neither of us could read music. We managed to phrase well together anyway, using our own system. What we always had was a setup that allowed us to look at each other, because each of us could tell from the way the other took a breath what the phrasing was going to be. That was the closest contact that we had, and it worked out very well for us. I did that to the end—the last concert—angling myself so that I could see him when we were dueting.

(Rosemary Clooney, This for Remembrance, page 236)

 

August 17-22, Monday-Saturday. Kathryn stars in Sabrina Fair at the Mt. Tom Playhouse, Holyoke, Massachusetts.

August 18, Tuesday. Bing films “The Gifted Child,” another program in the sitcom series. There are now ten programs recorded and a two-week break is taken by the production team.

August 21, Friday. Phillip Crosby weds Mary Joyce Gabbard, an airline stewardess, in Las Vegas.

August 22, Saturday. Bing sees Kathryn in the play Sabrina Fair at the Mount Tom Playhouse in Holyoke, Massachusetts, and they both go on to visit Everett Crosby at Canaan, Connecticut, en route to New York for four days of shopping.

 

The arrival of the Crosby entourage at Motor Lodge in Holyoke had all the makings of a late, late show movie on TV. Crosby breezed into Holyoke in a sleek, black limousine accompanied by the usual liveried chauffeur, Holyoke Mayor Daniel Dibble, and a siren-wailing, light-flashing police escort. Bing had flown in from California Saturday afternoon on a commercial flight that made three unsuccessful attempts to land at overcast Logan airport in Boston. The plane finally touched down at Hanscom field in Bedford, a combination Air Force-civilian airport. Then began the hurried rush here to allow him to see his wife for the first time in her summer theater comedy production… About a dozen Holyoke police and several cruisers were involved in the V.I.P. treatment given Crosby, who will be leaving the area today… Despite the hectic day and the flight problems, Crosby was relaxed when he finally talked to newsmen shortly before going to Mt. Tom to see the play… A chorus of “White Christmas” closed the impromptu performance—a Bing Crosby appearance seems to need that tag—and, trailing policemen and cheering fans, the crooner re-mounted the black limousine to watch someone else—his wife—in the spotlight for a change.

(The Springfield Sunday Republican, August 23, 1964)

 

August 29-30, Saturday-Sunday. Rehearses for and then tapes ABC’s Wide World of Entertainment (a preview of coming attractions on the ABC-TV network) at the Hollywood Palace Theatre with Mickey Rooney, David Janssen, Inger Stevens, Gene Barry, and many other guests. The actual show is taped between 8 and 9 p.m. on the Sunday night. Bing is paid $20,000 for his services which include taping a commercial for Quaker State Oil. The arrangements are made through Artists Agency Corporation of 9229 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles.

September 4, Friday. Commences taping the “What’s a Buddy For?” episode for his sitcom series with Lloyd Nolan.

September 11, Friday. Bing and Kathryn go to see Othello at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco before attending the Opera Guild Ball where they dance until the early hours.

September 12, Saturday. Bing is thought to have played in the San Francisco Golf Club tournament.

September 13, Sunday. (9:00–10:00 p.m.) ABC’s Wide World of Entertainment is broadcast. The show had been taped on August 30.

 

Surprise is the word for “Wide World of Entertainment.” What we were expecting was a roll call of ABC-TV stars extolling the virtues of their new or continuing series. That could be a bore. What we got was a pleasant variety show hosted by a casual and winning Bing Crosby, as he hasn’t been TV-seen in years, a nice assortment of songs and dances by an unusual group of warblers and hoofers (David Janssen, Mickey Rooney, Connie Stevens, Gene Barry and Kathy Nolan, as well as Mr. Crosby), and more bright comedy lines than one had a right to expect from a variety hour.

(New York Herald Tribune, September 14, 1964)

 

Crosby, last night served as host of a program introducing the stars and shows debuting this week on ABC. It was a nice bit of fluffery serving to show the network’s intense concentration upon strictly light-hearted programming.

(Los Angeles Herald Examiner, September 14, 1964)

 

Some day, it’s to be fervently hoped, somebody’ll come along with an effective ‘let me entertain you’ trailer on things to come - a trailer, for example, that won’t have the opposite effect of what was intended and induce viewers to stay away. . . When the hour was over, what was chiefly demonstrated (and perhaps, compensated for the entire 60 minutes) was the indestructibility of Bing Crosby.

(Variety, September 16, 1964)

 

September 14, Monday. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show, a half-hour situation comedy, premieres on ABC-TV. It lasts one season until April 1965 and is not placed in the top twenty ratings of weekly shows. The cast includes Beverly Garland, Frank McHugh, Diane Sherry, and Carol Faylen. Steven Gethers is the producer with James Sheldon directing. John Scott Trotter is the musical director. The opening episode is called “A Fine Romance.”

 

BING CROSBY has ANOTHER wife—and he’s going back to work.

 And as he’s 60, multimillionaire with thriving business interests, happily married with a family, people are asking. . . WHY?|

For Bing has agreed, for the first time in his career, to a weekly TV series, a family show with lovely Beverly Garland as Mrs. Bing Collins, his wife, Carol Faylen as their 16-year-old daughter, Joyce, and Diane Sherry as their 11-year-old daughter Janice. Living with the family is Bing Collins’s wartime buddy Willie (played by comedian Frank McHugh) who dropped in for a meal and just hasn’t left.

Why face the high pressure and grind of a weekly show, particularly when for years you have worried about the dangers of over-exposure?

Says Bing: “I liked what they showed me and thought I’d take a crack at it.”

The fact is that Bing was bored. His holdings in the orange-juice business, real estate, oil and Bing Crosby Productions were all in good hands, needed little attention from him. He’d had all the golf and fishing he wanted.

Agents and friends had been trying for years to persuade Bing to take on a weekly TV show. His answer was that he didn’t mind an occasional appearance but that was all.

“Suppose I made 52 movies a year? Who’d come to watch me after the fifth or sixth? They’d get fed up with my voice, my kisser, every aspect of me. No.”

Then one of Bing’s agents, Meta Rosenberg, took over a proposition for Bing to make several specials. Her viewpoint:  There were already so many specials on TV that there was nothing very special about them.

“What would be special to if we could ever talk Bing into doing a weekly series,”   she said.

“After all good motion-picture roles for Bing are hard to come by, but he’s still a fine actor in good physical condition with an excellent mind and great stores of energy.”

So she went to Bing and put up the proposition again, pointing out that stars such as Lucille Ball, Red Skelton and Donna Reed had all been appearing regularly on TV for years          

Bing said he would try it, if he liked the format of the shows they planned. The Bing Collins family was the result. Bing, as Bing Collins, is an engineer who is also consultant to a nearby university. As a father he is sensible and witty. It’s a family with no zany relationships—just a group of happy people whose life can be fun. He sings in each show, gives the youngsters sound advice. For instance, when elder daughter, Joyce pleads for an equal-terms relationship with her parents he explains: “You want to be us. And you can’t. And you force us into trying to be you. And we can’t. We’re not meant to be friends, baby. I’m your father. And you’re my kid. And if that’s an outmoded parent-child relationship I’m all for it.”

It’s quality with a pedigree. Most half-hour TV shows are budgeted at around 50,000 to 60,000 dollars (£22,300 to £26.700) a program. The Bing Crosby Show is closer to 70,000 dollars (£31,250). Bing’s take from this package, which he owns completely, is from 15,000 to 20,000 dollars (£4700 to £8930) a week.

It hits the screen this month in the U.S.

(TV Week, September 19, 1964)

 

The feeling is inescapable, in watching the new Bing Crosby situation comedy series which premiered Monday night (14) on ABC-TV, that it’s just about fifteen years too late in arriving. For when all is said and done—and the saying and the doing take a long time—the new 30-minute entry is nothing more than a variation on a dozen similar “Ozzie & Harriet,” “Make Room for Daddy” themes. Attractive people all, as were (and are) their predecessors, each responding to the other’s cues with all proper and warmed-over nuances to match their own stylized comedies and delivery. But unfortunately it’s all been seen and acted and scripted before, with nary a bow to innovation. It’s telegraphed to the viewer from the word go and while there’s no denying that Crosby has a way with a given situation, the warm banter or even the grimace, it lacks any sort of inventiveness to take it out of its vintaged mould. It’s all played low key and casual (often to the point of dragging) as Crosby and his mate, Beverly Garland (in this initial installment), relive their courtship, amid the more frantic behaviorism of their teen-age daughters, Carol Faylen and Diane Sherry. Even the old props will be recognizable - as for example, the wartime pal, (Frank McHugh) who becomes a permanent houseguest. That’s really going back. Don Beaumont as the scripter, James Sheldon as director and Steven Gethers as producer are a match for Crosby and the others in perpetuating the cliché.

(Variety, September 16, 1964)

 

Bing Crosby, in his first TV series rather than a special, has been assigned the 9:30 niche and his domestic situation comedy might work out in to something rather nice and different. At least he starts out as a sensible father, not a wack, and he and his TV wife, Beverly Garland, live a more gentle life than is the norm for couples on the screen,

      Don Beaumont’s opening script had several warmly understanding insights into married life in the middle years, notably the fact that conversation has a way of always veering back to the welfare of one’s children. If James Sheldon, the director, can withstand the normal TV pressures for fierce activity in comedy, Mr. Crosby’s family series could evolve pleasantly.

(Jack Gould, New York Times, September 15, 1964)

 

Because of Crosby’s star power there was no need for a pilot. When Mr. Sheldon came on board as director, the cast and crew had already been assembled. He had never worked with Bing before, and he soon realized what a joy it was to direct him. “He generally enjoyed his work. He was very cooperative and never late, and always thoroughly prepared. He was truly a class operation.” There naturally would be a script reading and a rehearsal before each shoot began. “We would never over-rehearse. That ruins the energy, especially with the kids.” …

He quickly learned that the best way to direct Bing was to just keep him happy. “Just let Bing be Bing! How do you tell Bing Crosby how to act or sing?” …

He continued, “There was never a hint of strife on The Bing Crosby Show. We always broke early because of the youngsters on the show. Bing didn’t like to work too late, anyway.” Was there ever an attempt to film the show with a live audience? “No. Most sit-coms of that time were done on film.”…

“John Scott Trotter, the music director for the series, suggested that a piano player be ever present on the set. So if Bing would ever get bored or down, if things ever got too quiet, if his energy level would ebb, or if he became frustrated because a script didn’t arrive until the last minute, there would always be the sound of the piano not too far away. Once Bing heard the music, he would become revitalized.” The piano was played by a staff pianist at Desilu studios, where the series was filmed. “It became the talk around the lot that there was always ‘a cocktail party without booze’ on the set!”

The series is especially noteworthy for the Crosby vocals which would adorn each episode. The variety of the songs is impressive, ranging from Gilbert and Sullivan to Duke Ellington, from the plaintive ‘Japanese Sandman’ to the rollicking ‘Kansas City’. Mr. Sheldon shed much light on this aspect of the series.

“All the musical numbers were directly recorded live on the set – there was not enough time to do otherwise. Bing preferred it that way. There were never any elaborate production numbers with different angles requiring matching shots, so they were easy to do.” Mr. Sheldon indicated that there was never an orchestra on the set. Mr. Trotter’s incidental music would be added after filming. There was just pianist Buddy Cole’s small combo.

Mr. Sheldon had great affection for Frank McHugh, who played Willie, the household handyman who had been Bing’s WW2 companion. “We got along fine. Frank was a delight. I loved working with him. He was always ready. There was very little reason for him to be there, but Bing and he were buddies. They were in Going My Way together. Frank was very much accepted.”

Mr. Sheldon remembered the pleasure of directing Carol Faylen and Diane Sherry, who played Bing’s daughters, respectively, Janice the rambunctious teenager, and Joyce, the pre-teen all-purpose savant. “We had a very good time together. Bing liked the children very much. Diane’s mother was a true stage mother, but not oppressively so, like some others I’ve known, although she was on the set regularly. Everyone got along extremely well. It was such a fun show.” Was Mr. Sheldon aware that Carol Faylen was the daughter of Frank Faylen, Bing’s co-star in Blue Skies, Welcome Stranger and Road to Rio? He was not, and has no memories of Mr. Faylen visiting the set.

A recurring character on the program was Clarissa Roberts, the best friend of older daughter Janice. She was played by Pamela Austin and is prominently featured in the episode entitled, Are Parents People. “Bing liked her a lot. He thought that she was quite attractive.”

(Martin McQuade, detailing an interview with James Sheldon, BING magazine, summer 2005)

 

September 20, Sunday. Peacock Gap Golf & Country Club at San Rafael hosts the First Marin Invitational Tournament of Stars which is watched by 4,000 fans. Bing and Kathryn (plus young Harry) attend briefly for lunch. Others present are Joe DiMaggio, Clint Eastwood, Martin Milner, Forrest Tucker, James Garner, Jim Backus, the comedy team of Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, and Gary Morton, who is accompanied by his wife, Lucille Ball.

September 21, Monday. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show on ABC-TV with guest Gary Crosby. The episode is titled “Guess Who Is Exactly Like Who?” (10:00–11:00 p.m.) A new drama series Slattery’s People starring Richard Crenna starts its run on CBS-TV. It has been produced by Bing Crosby Productions. The opening rating is 23.2 to 12.1 due to opposition from Ben Casey on ABC-TV, another show from the Bing Crosby Productions stable.

 

Gary Crosby appeared on two episodes, Exactly Like Who? and The Dominant Male. In both, he played Don, another of Janice’s beaus.

“Gary and I became friends. I went out for dinner with him and his wife, who was kind of flashy, one night. He wanted to work with me on other shows, but we never got around to it. I thought that he was a very nice fellow. I was so surprised when Gary’s book, ‘Going My Own Way’, came out. Bing and Gary seemed to get along so well. They had a terrific rapport. I remember them sitting around the piano and chatting. They were very friendly. It was apparent that they had a very warm relationship. Bing was quite fond of him.” He mentioned that his dear friend Judy Lewis, the daughter of Clark Gable and Loretta Young, thought very highly of the Crosby boys and became quite upset when Gary’s tome was published. In fact, there was a photo of Mr. Sheldon and Ms. Lewis together on display on the shelf behind the couch where we sat for the interview.

(Martin McQuade, detailing an interview with James Sheldon, BING magazine, summer 2005)

 

September 23, Wednesday. Films an episode called “Conform, Conform, Whoever You Are” for The Bing Crosby Show, his weekly sitcom.

September 26, Saturday. Bing is spending the weekend in Los Angeles and goes to see the UCLA Bruins football team play Penn State. The Bruins win 21-14.

September 27, Sunday. Goes to see the St. Louis Rams play the Minnesota Vikings. The Rams win 22-13.

September 28, Monday. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show on ABC-TV with guest Ulla Jacobsson. The episode is titled “A Bit of Fresh Danish.”

 

Excellent episode. At last, Bing’s series hits on all cylinders and shows some promise. The plot concerns a scientist Bing met in Copenhagen who has come to town on a visit. The scientist happens to be a tasty bit of Danish pastry, complete with Danish ideas of love and courtship. There are not real belly laughs as we go through the standard jealousy routines but the characters gel, the pace is perfect and it’s a smile from start to finish.

(Los Angeles Herald Examiner, September 28, 1964)

 

October 1, Thursday. The Crosbys find and soon arrange to buy a thirty-two room French-style chateau at 1200 Jackling Drive, on the other side of Hillsborough from their present house. The property had at one time been owned by Bing’s former racing partner, Lindsay Howard, and Bing had many happy memories of it. The Crosbys eventually move in to their new home in December 1965.


October 4, Sunday. Bing and Kathryn are at Greenrock Pheasant Club in San Rafael for a daylong shooting party organized by Victor Bergeron.

October 5, Monday (9:30–10:00 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show on ABC-TV with guests “The Wellingtons.” The episode is titled “The Green Couch.”

 

Bing continues to come out on top in his role as one of TV’s most sensible husband/fathers. Tonight wife, Beverly Garland and friend, Frank McHugh wind up in the clink after a small misunderstanding with the police and Bing has to bail them out.

(Los Angeles Herald Examiner, October 5, 1964)

 

October 6, Tuesday. (7:00–8:00 p.m.) Bing makes a live guest appearance on the Bell Telephone Hour television show which comes from NBC’s Burbank studios. He is accompanied by Buddy Cole, although there are indications that he may have lip synched to a pre-recording. Other guests include Burl Ives and the McGuire Sisters.

 

The series came out for the seventh TV season bell with a stellar marquee of Burl Ives, the McGuire Sisters, concert pianist Grant Johannesen and a wham plus in the person of Bing Crosby. Der Bingle, backed by Buddy Cole’s combo, was likewise retrospective, but let it be said that his evergreen nostalgia (“Chinatown,” “Confessing,” “Avalon,” etc.) was indeed a delightful capper to this latest Bell seminar in musical democracy. It was notably, Bing’s first stint on the show, which beamed live from NBC’s Burbank plant.

(Variety, October 7, 1964)

 

October 12, Monday. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show on ABC-TV. Jimmy Boyd is the guest and the episode is titled “Hoop Shots Are Hard to Get.”

October 19, Monday. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) Another Bing Crosby Show on ABC-TV. No guests. The episode is titled “Flashback—Ah, Happy Days!”

October 20, Tuesday. Taping of the Bing Crosby Show resumes after a 3-week break and work starts on the Christmas show which is to be filmed in color.

October 26, Monday. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show on ABC-TV with guest Macdonald Carey and this episode is “The Education of Bing Collins.”

October (undated). Bing and Kathryn take their children to Frontier Village amusement park in San Jose, California to celebrate Nathaniel’s third birthday.

November 3, Tuesday. Lyndon B. Johnson is elected president of the U.S.A.

November 4, Wednesday. Bing and Kathryn are at the Rising River ranch for a week or so.

November 5, Thursday. Buddy Cole dies from a heart attack, age forty-seven.

November 9, Monday. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show on ABC-TV. Gary Crosby is the guest and the episode is titled “The Dominant Male.” (10:00-11:00 p.m.) Phillip Crosby  appears on the Ben Casey TV show on ABC-TV.

 

Beverly also has some very fond memories of working with Bing Crosby as his TV wife on The Bing Crosby Show [1964 - 1965]. She had been suggested for the role by producer Steven Gethers who had previously been the segment writer for Beverly’s guest appearance on an episode of The Farmer’s Daughter [1963 - 1966]. “When I was called for the interview,” she recollected, “I’d never met Bing before and to me it was like seeing God. I didn’t know what to say; it was silly to introduce myself. So I whipped out pictures of my daughter Carrington and said, ‘Do you want to see the most adorable child in the world?’ Then Bing showed me pictures of his children.” While she might have been rendered temporarily speechless, as it turned out Beverly was the only actress who tested for the part and was signed in less than two weeks.

      “Bing was a fantastic person to work with,” Beverly freely admitted. “He was the kind of person that could sit down and look at a script in the morning and would immediately memorize all his lines. He had a photographic memory.

       “He was a very easy, relaxed man to work with. However, he was also very undemonstrative,” she added. “When I got the part on the series, the director and producers said to me, ‘This has got to look like a really happily married couple, but Bing Crosby is not going to be affectionate. So you’re the one that’s going to put your arms around him and kiss him, and just you alone are going to have to show this affection because Bing isn’t going to do this. So, that was my job.”

       Beverly also remembered the show’s quirky bedroom set. “It was a kick because Bing absolutely would not have a double bed on the set. So in the room where we ‘slept’ we had one bed on one wall and the other on another wall and to top it off, there was a table placed in between where the two headboards met! I don’t know of any married couple that sleeps like that! I thought it was kind of crazy but that’s what Bing Crosby wanted so that’s what we had.”

(from Beverly Garland’s website at www.beverlygarland.com)

 

Mr. Sheldon, who had worked several times with Ms. Garland prior to the series, denied ever making such an appeal. “Bing may have downplayed demonstrativeness, but he was always friendly and warm. I never experienced any problems along that line.” He concurred with my observation that there is a strong sexual undercurrent and a palpable intimacy at play in many of the scenes involving Bing and Beverly Garland. In one particular episode, Bing is so frisky that he slaps his wife’s derriere! Another contention by Ms. Garland was cited. She claims that Bing opposed the use of a double bed on the set, and maintains that he insisted on 2 single beds, one along one wall, the other along another wall, with the headboards meeting in a right angle at a night table. She writes, “I don’t know of any married couple who sleeps like that! I thought it was kind of crazy but that’s what Bing wanted so that’s what we had.”

Mr. Sheldon could not remember if Bing demanded the unusual bed placement, but he disputed Ms. Garland’s contention that Bing was responsible for the single beds. He explained, “In those days, all sit-com couples slept on single beds. It was de rigueur. There was absolutely no alternative to a single bed. This was absolutely not Bing’s decision.”

(Martin McQuade, detailing an interview with James Sheldon, BING magazine, summer 2005)

 

November 10, Tuesday. Work resumes on the taping of The Bing Crosby Show with an episode titled “The Soft Life” followed by one called “Love Bugs”.

November 16, Monday. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) Another Bing Crosby Show on ABC-TV. The episode is titled “The Importance of Bea ‘n’ Willie” and the guest is Elisabeth Fraser. Bing writes to Pat Ward-Thomas of Country Life magazine in England.

 

Thank you for your prompt reply to my recent letter. I have written your editor, John Adams, and am hopeful of an affirmative answer to my request.

The souvenir program goes to the printers in mid-December, so there is a bit of a deadline involved.

If you see my old friend, Leonard Crawley about, give him my best. He despatched me rather sternly in the French Amateur some years ago.

Very best regards, Bing Crosby

 

November 23, Monday (9:30–10:00 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show on ABC-TV. This episode is “The Liberated Woman” and the guest is Glenda Farrell.

November 30, Monday (9:30–10:00 p.m.) Another Bing Crosby Show on ABC-TV with guest Thomas Gomez. The episode is titled “Danger! Genius at Work.”

December 2, Wednesday. (7:00-10:00 p.m.) Bing records further songs for the That Travelin’ Two Beat album with Rosemary Clooney supported by Billy May and his Orchestra.

December 3, Thursday. (7:00-10:00 p.m.) Bing completes his work for the That Travelin’ Two Beat album. The LP is released by Capitol Records.

 

BING CROSBY – ROSEMARY CLOONEY: “THAT TRAVELIN’ TWO-BEAT” (Capitol). This parlay of Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney results in fair session of Dixieland music pegged to a musical Cook’s tour. While the sound is traditional, the repertoire is definitely offbeat, setting some surprising material into a two-beat format. The duo works with some amusing ideas in the title song, “Knees Up, Mother,” “Roamin’ in the Gloamin’,” “The Daughter of Molly Malone,” “The Poor People of Paris” and “I Get Ideas,” plus a takeout on a Strauss waltz, “New Vienna Woods.” This was the last session produced by Capitol’s a&r exec, the late Si Rady.

(Variety, March 31, 1965)

 

This second album, teaming Bing with the delightful Rosemary Clooney, is far less sophisticated than the 1958 classic Fancy Meeting You Here (RCA), but it is enjoyable nonetheless. Like the previous album, Crosby and Clooney have decided to retain the “travel” theme—with songs like “Poor People of Paris,” “Roamin’ in the Gloamin’,” and a clever, up-dated variation of Strauss’s “New Vienna Woods.” The only shortcoming—and with twelve songs it is a considerable one—is that everything is tied to a two-beat Dixieland format. Despite these limitations, Billy May’s tongue-in-cheek backings raise a smile or two. The adaptations and lyrics by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans are very effective. Miss Clooney responds happily to Bing’s bouncy phrasing. If the treatments had been a little more varied and the sound balancing a shade more sympathetic to the voices, this could have been just as good as Fancy.

(Ken Barnes, writing in The Crosby Years, page 96)

 

Only one record company stayed true to the ‘old’ style singers.  Capitol Records, perhaps because it had the Beatles on its roster, continued to promote singers such as Peggy Lee, Judy Garland and Nat King Cole. In 1963, Bing Crosby signed a two-record deal with them, the second album planned as a follow-up with Rosemary to their Fancy Meeting You Here collaboration from 1958. Reprise still held Rosemary’s recording contract but seemed more than happy to grant permission for her to work on the new duet project with Bing. So, the old firm of Crosby and Clooney went to work late in 1964 and over three sessions, recorded That Travellin’ Two-Beat. The album lifted much from its predecessor from six years before. It had the same theme, travel, and the same arranger (Billy May) and where the first had been the brainchild of one songwriting partnership (Cahn and Van Heusen), Two-Beat relied on another pairing, that of Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. The result was a spirited and lively album but, as with many follow-ups, one that never quite matched the original. Livingston and Evans composed some new material, including the title track, as well as providing some updated lyrics for some of the older material that Bing and Rosemary chose to include. Thus, the 1883 song about a Dublin fishmonger, “Molly Malone” became an updated “Daughter of Molly Malone”. A classical piece, Johann Strauss’s “Tales from the Vienna Woods” became the “New Vienna Woods”, whilst the Latin standard “Cielito Lindo”” became “Adios, Senorita”.

      Critical response to the album was lukewarm and few reviewers thought that it matched its predecessor. Some said the Livingston and Evans re-workings were too elaborate and complicated. Others thought that May’s typically bombastic arrangements, complete with bells and whistles, owed more to a marching band or circus act than it did to the purported Dixieland theme. Perhaps the greatest difference however was in the duet performances of Bing and Rosemary. Until the Two-Beat album, they had always appeared as equal partners, working in a genuinely collaborative style. Two-Beat however was Crosby’s show. His voice opens virtually every track and makes almost all the running. The reason, it later emerged, was that the duets, like Rosemary’s outing with Sinatra the year before, were studio creations. Crosby put down his vocals first with Rosemary filling in the gaps later. The emergence of a rehearsal recording in which Jay Livingston sang Rosemary’s part (“You’re very brave, Mr. Livingston,” said Crosby at the end of the session) was the first indication that the duets were spliced together. At the time, union rules held that lead singers should be present in the studio at the same time as the musicians playing on the sessions. As a result, the spliced nature of the duets was concealed from public view for over forty years. Certainly when Rosemary joined Crosby on the Hollywood Palace early in 1966, their duet medley from the album was more spontaneous and more like the equal partnership that had characterized their previous work together. Rosemary’s TV appearance with Crosby would be the last time the two would work together for nine years.

(Ken Crossland and Malcolm Macfarlane, Late Life Jazz, pages 104-105)

 

December 7, Monday. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show on ABC-TV. The episode is titled “The Yadwin Report” and the guest is Don Penny.

December (undated). Works on a sitcom episode with Kathryn.

December 11, Friday. San Francisco Police Department receives a letter postmarked “Denver, Colorado,” in which the writer says “if that son of a bitch Bing Crosby doesn’t stop, he’ll get a powerful bullet in the neck.” The police pass the letter to the FBI.

December 14, Monday. Bing is the guest on Lucille Ball’s Lets Talk to Lucy daily radio show on CBS. They discuss his recording of “White Christmas” and a track is played from his latest Reprise album “12 Songs of Christmas”. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) Another Bing Crosby Show on ABC-TV. The guest is David Wayne and the episode is titled “Janice and Me on a Saturday Spent with Random Inputs No.1.”

December 16, Wednesday. Working on his ABC-TV sitcom series.

December 17, Thursday. Agents of the FBI visit Bing at his home at 101 Robin Road, and show him the threatening letter recently received. Bing is not concerned and is unable to offer any possible suspects.

December 21, Monday. The Bing Crosby Show airs on ABC-TV and has a Christmas theme. Titled “The Christmas Show,” the guests are the Wellingtons. This is the only one of the series to be taped in color.

 

Monday’s (21) seg of this fresh-man situationer did what it figured to do with Crosby as star – tossed out the plot and settled down to a pleasant holiday songfest with Bing, his TV household – Beverly Garland, Frank McHugh, et al – plus an augmentation from the Wellington trio of lads and a group called The Carolers (who were doing just that outside when the family flagged them in).

      The tree-trimming, gift-giving seg delivered ‘seasonal songs’, capped inevitably with a Crosby-Garland rendition of ‘White Christmas’. Miss Garland, of course, being the show’s hausfrau. The two, by the way, make a fine couple, and Crosby is convincingly his own age in this series.

(Variety, December 23, 1964)

 

For years a holiday radio staple, Christmas Sing With Bing, was one of the nicest presents delivered over the air-waves. It’s off now, unfortunately. But for those who warmly remember these programs, all is not lost. Crosby is still perpetuating the spirit of Christmas on his ABC television show, Last night, during his pre-holiday episode, Der Bingle and his TV family, along with the Wellington Trio gathered ‘round the Christmas tree for an old-fashioned session at the hearth. It was unpretentious and like the Crosby personality, relaxed and unhurried, capturing the true spirit of the Yule season. “White Christmas” was the song we all waited for and Bing delivered it in his customary meaningful style.

      The reason, of course, more series don’t trouble to shoot special holiday episodes is a mercenary one. There’s money to be made in reruns and most profit-minded producers assume people are too busy this time of year anyway to watch television. Whether they are or not is not for the TV people to decide; it’s their job to program in the public interest. A special holiday program comes under that heading, we would think.

(Daily News, December 22, 1964)

 

Good holiday entertainment for the family. Short on plot but long on song as Bing and company gather round the piano and offer a program of some new Christmas songs, as well as his holiday trademark, ‘White Christmas’.

(Los Angeles Herald Examiner, December 21, 1964)

 

Of all the episodes, one particularly shines in Mr. Sheldon’s memory. That is The Christmas Show, broadcast on December 21st, 1964. This is the most elusive example of the series. Nobody seems to have this episode on videotape in their collections. He remembered, “It was the only one in color. There was no possibility of other shows being filmed in color. Nobody except Disney had color. There was no compatible color – it was too expensive a process.” The Christmas Show also remains a highpoint for Mr. Sheldon since it contained seven musical numbers, more than any other episode. Several of them called for Bing to dance.

“I told Bing, ‘You got to get a choreographer.’ Bing thought that would entail too much work. I replied, ‘I certainly can’t dance.’ Bing responded, ‘Yes, you dance like you got a broom up your ass, but you make me look good.’ Well, in spite of this acknowledgement, I wound up choreographing the numbers. Although generally, Bing would make up his own dance moves. As with all the shows, the Christmas songs were done live on the set. I don’t recall any playbacks.”

(Martin McQuade, detailing an interview with James Sheldon, BING magazine, summer 2005)

 

December 22, Tuesday. Bing writes to Irving Berlin as follows:

 

“I see the picture ‘White Christmas’ is getting considerable exposure this season. Of course, I’ll be eternally grateful to you for that wonderful song and all it’s done for me.”

 

December 24, Thursday. The Crosbys throw a Christmas party for their friends and staff. Kathryn and her mother prepare pheasant for forty-five and then Bing takes the family out caroling. On their return, Bing sings carols and Irish songs for the guests.

December 28, Monday. Bing begins taping “The Keefers Come Calling” episode of the Bing Crosby Show with Vikki Carr and Frankie Avalon.

 

1965

 

January 2, Saturday. Bing and Kathryn attend Merle Oberon’s dinner dance.

January 7, Thursday. Bing films six scenes for an episode in his sitcom series called “Operation Man Save”. The guest stars are Joan Fontaine and Dennis Day.

 

He (James Sheldon) could not recall too many of Bing’s interactions with his fellow stars. One, however, did stand out. Mr. Sheldon thought that Joan Fontaine and Bing worked very harmoniously together while filming the episode, Operation Man Save. “They appeared very relaxed, comfortable, and familiar with each other. They also seemed to have a lot of fun together, and Joan was normally aggressive.” This surprised me since Ms. Fontaine had reported that she did not have pleasant memories of working with Bing in The Emperor Waltz, 18 years earlier. We both agreed that either this had not been the case, or that the intervening years had softened her regard for him.

(Martin McQuade, detailing an interview with James Sheldon, BING magazine, summer 2005)

 

January 8, Friday. Films six more scenes for the sitcom episode.

January (undated). Bing and Kathryn entertain former President Eisenhower at their home.

January 11, Monday. (7:45 a.m.) Bing is in make-up at Desilu Studios prior to commencing the filming of the final five scenes for “Operation Man Save” at 8:30 a.m. on stage 7. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show is shown on ABC-TV. This episode is titled “The Soft Life.”

Sitcom.jpgJanuary 12, Tuesday. Bing starts another episode for the sitcom series and this one is called “One for the Birds” and Phil Harris is the guest star. Twelve scenes are shot on stages 5 and 7 at Desilu Studios. The latest Nielsen report indicates that the show is languishing in 77th. place for evening network shows with a rating of 14.9.

 

Bing Crosby, who started his first weekly television show last fall, expressed doubt yesterday that the series would continue next season.… “It’s been fun and it hasn’t been too hard a chore,” the singer and actor said. “But according to the rating, we haven’t been doing so well. I think I’d have to get on a glass bottom boat to find the rating. It’s a rat race. If you don’t get a rating they dump you.” Mr. Crosby said he was not depressed by the show’s rating and that usually a show required “a couple of years to get a good rating.”

(New York Times, January 13, 1965)

 

With regards to an unofficial member of Crosby’s family, Phil Harris, who appeared on the episode One for the Birds, Mr. Sheldon remarked, “I remember the two of them always singing in between shots around the piano. I can see Phil’s smiling face even now! I encouraged them to rehearse their lines between themselves. It was always a question of keeping the actors contented and the mood light.” How were the intricate shots involving the blackbird handled in that episode? “The bird shots were set up in advance, with an extra camera to catch the close-ups of the bird.”

(Martin McQuade, detailing an interview with James Sheldon, BING magazine, summer 2005)

 

January 13, Wednesday. Films another eight scenes for the sitcom episode on stage 7 at Desilu Studios.

January 14, Thursday. (7:45 a.m.) Bing is in make-up at Desilu Studios prior to commencing the filming of the final fifteen scenes for “One For The Birds” on stage 7 at 8:30 a.m..

January 16, Saturday. Bing hosts a Hollywood Palace Show on ABC-TV with guests Beverly Garland, Frank McHugh, and George Burns.

 

The Hollywood Palace has done well for itself in the first year of its existence…The first birthday party show was emceed by Bing Crosby who also emceed its premiere on January 4th, a year ago. As guests, the producers gathered many of the emcees that had appeared during the year, for extremely brief bits. Crosby in addition to conferenciering, reparteed with Frank McHugh, Beverly Garland and the raft of guests to give this show a great big, agreeable and ingratiating effect.

(Variety, January 20, 1965)

 

January 18, Monday. Bing is interviewed by sportscaster Tom Harmon. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) Another Bing Crosby Show on ABC-TV. The episode is titled “Bugged by the Love Bugs” and the guests are The Standells.

 

One of the best episodes of the series, in my estimation, is Bugged by the Love Bugs, which was written by Bing’s long time comedy writer, Bill Morrow. It has loads of slapstick; most notably when Bing, in one of his most energetic moments in the series, is trampled by screaming fans of The Standells, a current rock n’ roll band, in an hysterical send-up of the then current teen-idol craze. Although he had no memory of that particular show, Mr. Sheldon thought that Mr. Morrow would have accounted for it being an outstanding one.

“In any event, the Crosby series was too quiet, not really a comedy, and certainly not a drama. It revolved around the basic situation of a happy family - a sweet, homey show, echoing Bing’s own life. Regrettably, those kinds of shows were falling out of favor at the time.” Although the series did address some of the creeping cultural changes of the early sixties, for example, The Liberated Woman episode with its feminist story line, we were in accord that it was too little, too late.

(Martin McQuade, detailing an interview with James Sheldon, BING magazine, summer 2005)

 

January 21-24, Thursday–Sunday. Attends the Bing Crosby Pro-Am Golf Championship at Pebble Beach where Bruce Crampton is the professional winner. Celebrities playing include Danny Thomas, Ray Milland, James Garner, Donald O’Connor, Andy Williams, Clint Eastwood and Bob Hope.

 

Clint (Eastwood) played his first Crosby in 1965, when he was playing Rowdy Yates on the TV series Rawhide. He’d been interviewed on television and asked whether he’d be playing in the upcoming Crosby and he said, “No… I guess they don’t like cowboys.” Bing heard about it and sent Clint an invitation with a note, “See, we do like cowboys.”  Clint’s been playing in the tournament ever since.

(James Garner writing in The Garner Files: A Memoir, page 162)

 

January 23, Saturday. Bing and Kathryn are among thirty black-tie dinner guests at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Works. The whole party goes on to the Richard Osbornes’ home for dancing.

January 25, Monday. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show on ABC-TV. This episode is titled “Are Parents People?” and the special guest is Ken Murray.

January 26, Tuesday. Larry Crosby meets FBI agents and gives them a file of over one hundred crank letters directed at Bing since 1956. The FBI compares the writing on them all to the most recent letter without achieving a match. (See December 11, 1964).

January 30, Saturday. Bing writes to James Sheldon, the director of his sit-com series.

 

Dear Jim:

I told you on the set, but I wanted to put it in writing - in all my experience, Jim, I’ve never worked with a nicer fella than you, or a fella more qualified in your job.

      Your patience is inexhaustible. I can’t recall any time on the set where you ever exhibited any signs of falling apart, blowing up, or taking a walk - and you had many situations where such behavior would have been justifiable. Tremendous control, old boy!

      I had a great time just because of the fact that you were at the helm, and in spite of my bursitis problems.

      I do hope we can get together on a film sometime - any one of the projects we discussed should be definite possibilities.

      As far as the series is concerned, I don’t think we made a single episode that we have to be ashamed of or worried about. I just got into that type of thing about five or six years too late.

      With all this wild semi-pornographic type of thing that audiences are viewing nowadays, it’s not conceivable they’re going to have much of an appetite for our gentle, casual stories.

      The way the trend is going it’s conceivable that Norman Mailer and Tennessee Williams and fellas of that stamp will soon be doing all the writing.

      Well, in any case, we closed on a high point - with Pamela Curran on the set, didn’t we?

      Hope to see you, Jim, either in New York or on the Coast -

      Always Your Friend,

      Bing

 

It was a happy time, and I kept the set happy because it wasn’t necessary to “direct” Bing playing Bing. One of the things I learned as I worked with him was that he had a tendency to lose his energy as the day progressed. However, when we were working on the musical numbers in each episode, Bing was all there. That gave me the idea of having the rehearsal pianist available at all times, to play in between takes while the lighting crew got ready. The music cheered Bing, and he performed better. The atmosphere on the set was like a cocktail party. Other celebrities would drop by sometimes. Even Lucille Ball (who owned the studio [Desilu]) would come on the set to say hello and chat with us once in a while.

John Scott Trotter was an important member of the creative staff of the show and a joy to work with. He had been with Bing for years, and knew just what was workable for him. For the songs, Bing didn’t want to pre-record the audio and then have to lip-synch to it when being filmed. Most musical films were done with pre-recording, but we did it live with a piano. Then John Scott would put it together on the dubbing stage, with the orchestra just hired for the session, and synch it to Bing’s voice.

Bing was always on time and always very professional, but the perks of stardom were part of his deal on that series. Occasionally, we would use an extra camera to get more coverage without taxing Bing too much. Bing’s contract also required us to finish with him by six o’clock every day. It was nice to be able to count on getting home at a reasonable hour. I also enjoyed having a home base instead of going to different locations or soundstages each day. I even had my own office and telephone at Desilu.

The Bing Crosby Show only lasted for one season. It was a pleasant half-hour, although not as successful as Crosby had been in the past. The ratings had not been great, but I’m told the reason the show wasn’t picked up because Bing didn’t want to continue. At this point in his life Bing didn’t need the money, or the work. The bursitis in his shoulder caused him pain, and I think he just got bored doing the show. It was a shame, because I had a lot of fun working with Bing. When he decided not to keep the series going, Bing sent me a very nice letter, which I have reproduced here.

(James Sheldon, writing in his book Before I Forget - Directing Television: 1948-1988)

 

February 1, Monday. Bing completes the taping of his final Bing Crosby Show episode. This one is called “The Image” and Kathryn Crosby is one of the guests. Bing and Jose Ferrer go to the Golden Gate in San Francisco to watch the Patterson versus Chuvalo fight on television. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show is screened by ABC-TV. The episode is titled “That’s the Way the Suki Yakies.”

February 2, Tuesday. Bing and Kathryn dine at the Johnny Kan Peninsula Restaurant with Mr. and Mrs. Francis A. Martin and then they go on to the Hyatt Music Theater for Rosemary Clooney’s opening. They all join the supper party after the show in the Ferrer suite at Hyatt House.

February (undated). Bing and Kathryn attend the San Francisco International Film Festival.

February 8, Monday (9:30–10:00 p.m.) Another Bing Crosby Show is screened by ABC-TV. This episode is called “The Gifted Child” and the guest is Arthur Franz.

February 11, Thursday. American planes bomb North Vietnam for the first time. Bing goes to San Mateo, J.C., to tape various messages using the facilities there. One of the messages is to the British Crosby Society.

February 13, Saturday. Lindsay Crosby marries Janet Sue Schwartze (age 23 – a staff secretary at Douglas Aircraft Co. in Santa Monica) in Las Vegas.

February 15, Monday. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show is screened by ABC-TV. The guests are Kathryn Crosby and George Gobel and the episode is titled “The Image.” Meanwhile, Bing writes to Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times.

 

Someone sent me your column of February 12th, wherein you discussed very incisively what has happened to the game of golf. I applaud vigorously your sentiments.

It’s simply tragic the way such a great game has now become a big business, and I never thought they’d besmirch amateur play by making the National Championship a medal play event.

I’m certain though that pleas and importunations to the people in charge would be unavailing. They simply would mention economic considerations and allege inability to continue unless they had access to television revenue - and if that’s what they need to continue the National Amateur, I certainly haven’t any answer for it.

But it certainly makes giants out of people like Lawson Little, Bobby Jones, Bill Campbell, Harvie Ward, who won these championships when they were contested in the traditional manner

Yours “pour le sport”,

Bing

 

February 16, Tuesday. Bing and Kathryn attend a Jean Louis fashion show on the third floor at I. Magnin’s, San Francisco.

February 21, Sunday. Thought to have made a cameo appearance in a Danny Thomas Show being taped today. The show is broadcast on April 23.

February 22, Monday. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show is screened by ABC-TV. The guests are Frankie Avalon and Vikki Carr and the episode is titled “The Keefers Come Calling.”

February 27, Saturday. Bing and Kathryn plus Bob and Dolores Hope are at Santa Anita to watch “Hill Rise” win the $100,000 handicap.

March 1, Monday. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) Another episode of The Bing Crosby Show is screened by ABC-TV. The guests are Joan Fontaine and Dennis Day and the program is titled “Operation Man Save.”

March 8, Monday. Simon Rady, Bing’s record producer at first Project Records and then at Capitol Records, dies from cancer at the age of fifty-three. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show this week has Phil Harris as the guest. The episode is titled “One for the Birds.”

March 10, Wednesday. (9:30–11:00 p.m.) Bing hosts The Grand Award of Sports on ABC-TV from the New York World’s Fair. Kathryn and Col. John Glenn are guests.

 

Emcee Bing Crosby was his usual hip and casual self, a parlay that couldn’t offset the boredom as athletes in just about everything from pro football to beanbag plodded to the podium to collect the hardware.

(Variety, March 17, 1965)

 

Bing Crosby was a happy choice to conduct ABC’s “Grand Award of Sports” last night. The program was telecast live from the World’s Fair, and might have died there, but for Crosby’s natural, friendly, folksy and sometimes funny commentaries. He’s clever enough to do as little as possible so you don’t weary of him, and just enough so you know he’s around and keeping a hand on the steering wheel. Even the scripted quips were delivered as if they were his own.

      Along with the live portion of the show were film clips of outstanding performances and commercials - at least one of which cut Bing off in mid-sentence. Another came too late, leaving him staring pop-eyed into the camera. But that’s the charm of live TV. Bing was assisted by his lovely wife Kathryn. At the point the network cut him off in mid-sentence in favor of the commercial, Bing remained his imperturbable self. “How do you like that?” he remarked. “I’m talking to myself.”

(World Telegram & Sun, March 11, 1965)

 

March 14, Sunday. Bing writes to Fred Corcoran. (See February 9, 1966)

 

Dear Fred:

I didn’t know until the other day that you were associated with the National Hockey League in a promotional capacity.

I thought that you might be interested to know that I’m part of a group who have been for some months interesting ourselves in the establishment of a major league hockey franchise in San Francisco.

Vergil Sherrill, George Coleman, Barry van Gerbig and myself, are the principal figures in this deal.

That, of course, was some of the discussion that took place when I met with Bill Jennings. I have since talked to the president of the National Hockey League, Mr. Campbell and appraised him of our intentions, and now, I imagine, we’ll just have to sit back and wait and see what happens to the League with its plans for expansion, but if there’s any more you want to know about it, call Virgil Sherrill there at Shields & Company, and he can give you the complete scoop. I’m sure you know Virgil.

Good seeing you in New York. The Sports Show was a marathon, and of course, like all shows of its kind, it had some tedious moments, but I thought for a first time out, it was pretty interesting and at times even exciting, and over-all about the best you can do with that type of thing.

Take care of yourself. Be looking forward to seeing you.

Always your friend,

Bing

 

In February 1966, the NHL selected San Francisco-Oakland as one of the six expansion markets, along with Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Minneapolis-St. Paul and St. Louis. Rather than build a brand new expansion club, Barend (Barry) van Gerbig, purchased the San Francisco Seals from Mel Swig, with the intent of bringing the club into the NHL as the expansion team. By way of background, Van Gerbig was a friend of a number of NHL owners, including Bruce Norris of the Detroit Red Wings, Weston Adams of the Boston Bruins (and his attorney, Charles Mulcahy), and William Jennings of the New York Rangers. Mulcahy had suggested Van Gerbig buy into the Bruins’ Western Hockey League affiliate, the San Francisco Seals as a way of getting in on a planned expansion of the NHL in 1967. Van Gerbig assembled a group of what would eventually be 52 investors, including Bing (his godfather), San Francisco 49ers quarterback John Brodie, Ice Follies owner Virgil Sherrill and Nelson Doubleday. The Seals would reach the 1966 WHL playoffs and were one game away from their third finals appearance, but lost the last two games of their first-round playoff series against the eventual WHL champion Victoria Maple Leafs, who prevailed 4 games to 3. Following the playoff defeat, van Gerbig began preparing the Seals for their move to the NHL. He relocated the club from the Cow Palace to the brand-new Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum across the bay in Oakland for what would be their final WHL season in 1966-67, changing their name to the California Seals.

March (undated). Young Harry Crosby and Kathryn have tonsillectomies in Los Angeles. Bing is in Las Cruces.

March 22, Monday. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show is screened by ABC-TV. The episode is titled “The Test” and the guests are the Wellingtons.

March 29, Monday. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show on ABC-TV. The guest is Mel Torme and this episode is “Moonlighting Becomes You.”

April 5, Monday. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) The Bing Crosby Show is screened by ABC-TV and the episode is titled “What’s a Buddy For?”

April 12, Monday. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) Another Bing Crosby Show is on ABC-TV and the episode is called “Conform, Conform, Whoever You Are.”

April 19, Monday. (9:30–10:00 p.m.) The final episode of The Bing Crosby Show sitcom is shown on ABC-TV. This is titled “Real Estate Venture” and the guest star is Ruth Roman.

April 23, Friday. The Danny Thomas Show is broadcast by NBC-TV. Bing is thought to have made a cameo appearance.

April 27, Tuesday. Phillip Crosby opens as a solo act at the Hyatt’s Backstage Bar in Burlingame.

April 29, Thursday. Bing is back in Hillsborough after a long stay at Las Cruces and has his hair cut at Hilton’s barber shop. He goes on to lunch at Trader Vic’s with Shirley Temple Black and Claude Jarman.

 

Recently, I stood before the great oaken door of a Hillsborough, California, mansion with my box of paints and canvas. As I rang the bell, half expecting it to chime When the Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day, I almost wished I hadn’t come. I’m not sure why I was worried, since I’ve done dozens of famous people’s portraits over the years, from Sinclair Lewis to Manolete to Deborah Kerr to a princess of Greece.

But Bing Crosby .... Show people so frequently are very different from the warm, lovable characters they portray. I had heard much of Crosby’s business acumen—would he insist on being portrayed as the solid tycoon type? Or perhaps, to conform with this imposing home and vast gardens, as Squire Bing, posed in front of the fireplace? Or worse still, as Bing, the world-famous entertainer, about to burst into song—a portrait no more profound than a record album cover? What I wanted to convey was Bing the man, the person behind the best-known voice in the world.

Through the heavy door I could faintly hear that voice singing The Breeze and I. The sound came closer and closer and soon the door was opened.

“Come on in,” Bing said. Blue eyes, under those much-caricatured heavy lids, looked out at me from a friendly tanned face. He was wearing a baggy pair of pants, a beat-up shooting coat and a green Tyrolean hat covered with shooting-club insignia. An old Parker shotgun that he was in the process of cleaning was cradled in one arm, and he was trailed by a muddy, black Labrador retriever.

Bing explained that he had just returned from hunting. Then he smiled and shook his head. “Couldn’t hit the rear end of a cow with a plate of spinach today. Join us in a little oolong.”

I followed him through the great hall, thinking how one always tends to imagine famous men as being taller than they really are. Bing is of medium height—and also leaner than one expects. He put the gun down on a side table and dropped his hat onto a Ming vase. In spite of the sparseness of his hair he looks amazingly youthful; he moves like a young man too.

Kathryn Crosby was in the library, an inviting room filled to the ceiling with books on every subject—books that look read. On the walls hang paintings by the great cowboy artist, Charlie Russell. Kathryn was wearing a costume she had been trying on for a George Bernard Shaw play she was to do in Chicago—an extravagant floral hat and an old-fashioned dress with a bustle. They added to her piquant beauty a theatrical flair and an elegance that would have pleased painter John Singer Sargent.

I told Kathryn I wanted to paint her in that costume, and she said, “Oh lovely! And I have a Mary Poppins umbrella to go with it. But how are you going to do Bing? We have an attic full of paintings of him and not one of them is right.”

“You’re not going to make me wear my rug, I hope?” Bing said. “Haven’t worn it except in front of a camera for 20 years.”

“Is it a lot of trouble?” I asked. He shrugged. “No. A toupee just seems kind of, well-affected.”

Kathryn said, “You know, people have told me Bing’s balding, but I wouldn’t know—not since the first day I met him have I seen above those blue eyes.” She blinked affectionately at him. “I do hope you can capture those eyes.”

The best light for painting turned out to be at a spot near the French doors in the living room, so I set up my easel there by the piano. (Bing himself doesn’t play; he told me he can’t read music, but that “if someone starts me out on the right note I can follow along pretty good.”)

I was considerably intimidated by the paintings around the room—such masters as Corot, Vlaminck and Laurencin, but nevertheless, I resolutely squeezed my paints out onto the palette.

“Mr. Crosby,” I began, “have you any ideas on how you’d like to be painted?”

“Name’s Bing,” he said. “And you’re the boss man on the brush. Just tell me what to wear and how to stand.”

I glanced up and suddenly saw the picture I wanted to paint. In our stroll through the house he had picked up the shotgun again and now he broke it open over his arm and resumed cleaning it with an oily rag. Remus, the big Labrador, had come in and sat at his feet. Bing casually put one foot up on a footstool. All we needed was the omnipresent pipe and the green hat. I told him so.

“You mean you want to paint me in these old duds?” he asked with a chuckle. “O.K., you’re the painter.”

We worked for an hour and a half and Bing never broke the pose except to answer a phone call from Bob Hope (who wanted Bing to appear on his show), and another call from Bing’s agent (who wanted to tell him he was slated as guest star on The Danny Thomas Show). Throughout the session Bing sang continuously—any kind of song, from snatches of Granada to King of the Road. Why the fact that he loves to sing should have come as a surprise to me I don’t know, but it did.

Kathryn ducked in from time to time to make faces at him and check my progress. “Isn’t he gorgeous? I’ll bet you have a terrible time getting those eyes.”

So went the first session of a series that would last, for one reason or another, for almost a year. During that time Bing and I saw a good deal of each other, our young wives became friends, and what with picnics, trips and shooting forays, a friendship was begun that I trust will continue for many years to come.

(Barnaby Conrad, The Good New Life of Bing Crosby, Good Housekeeping, May, 1966)

 

June 13, Sunday. Bing arrives home in Hillsborough again from Las Cruces. Whilst he was in Mexico, he was visited by William “Buster” Collier and they fished together.

June 14, Monday. Kathryn flies to Indianapolis to take the lead in a production of Peter Pan at the Avondale in-the Meadows playhouse. She is joined by her mother and they stay with Mr. and Mrs. Ruckelshaus.

June 25, Friday. Bing flies in to Shannon Airport in Ireland with Max Bell, part owner of a racehorse called Meadow Court which is to run in the Irish Sweeps Derby the next day. Bing also has a one-third share in the horse as does Frank McMahon.

June 26, Saturday. At the Curragh in Kildare, Bing sees Meadow Court win the Irish Sweeps Derby and pick up the first prize of £55,650. The jockey is Lester Piggott. After the race, Bing sings briefly to the large crowd. The proceedings are captured by various newsreels and featured in Pathe News in the UK on July 1.

June 27, Sunday. Bing flies to London and is interviewed by Ronald Allison for BBC Television. He stays at the Savoy Hotel. Later at 11:10 p.m., he appears live on the Eamonn Andrews television show on the Independent Television Network with Spike Milligan, Cilla Black, Patrick Campbell, and Harry H. Corbett. Eamonn had a policy of not meeting his guests before the show and on occasion this caused some embarrassing moments.

 

One involved some Bing Crosby. When Eamonn met him for the first time it was on the show itself and Crosby was, of course, wearing his toupee. But had he met Crosby beforehand he would have realized that he only wore the wig when he was in front of an audience. . . .

      After the program Crosby went to makeup and removed the toupee. Then I took him back to the hospitality room where the other guests, their relatives and friends, and the program team, Eamonn included, were already having drinks. For a while Crosby and I stood chatting close to where Eamonn, cigar in one hand, large whisky in the other—in later years he changed his tipple to gin—was in conversation. . . . After a few minutes Eamonn disengaged himself and came over to us. Then, to my surprise, he totally ignored the famous crooner but, within his hearing, asked me, “Where’s Bing?”

      Furtively I indicated the shiny-domed pipe-smoking character standing beside me. Eamonn, however, was now looking around the room and to my increasing embarrassment, he repeated the question. I tried to make him realize with gestures that he was actually standing face to face with the man whom only half an hour before he had introduced on his program as “a living legend” but now did not even recognize. However, he still failed to understand.

      Now he was showing signs of increasing irritation and I thought he was about to scream the question out loud when, to his amazement, the figure beside me began to croon in that unmistakable voice, “Where the blue of the night meets the gold of the day. . . .”

      And finally the truth dawned on Eamonn, whose face was now turning as red as the night in Crosby’s signature tune was blue.

(Tom Brennand, writing in his book Eamonn Andrews)

 

June 28, Monday. Bing goes to Wimbledon to see the Centre Court matches. He does not have a ticket and has to buy one from a tout. Inside he is given one by Colonel Teddy Tinling, the dress designer.

 

Veteran crooner Bing Crosby was ‘scalped’ at Wimbledon. The “Old Groaner” lived up to his name when he paid £8 for a 27s. 6d. ticket for he arrived at Wimbledon without a ticket for the Centre Court. He tipped back his famous trilby and said: “I did not know the form, I guess. I should have gone to a ticket agency. This scalper–that’s what we call touts back home–offered to sell me a ticket for £10.”

      Millionaire Bing began to haggle on the pavement. He said: “I said to the scalper ‘No, I’m not paying that,’ then we wrangled and I got it for £4.”

      But Bing had made a big mistake. He gave the man a £10 note thinking it was a fiver.

(Daily Express, June 29, 1965)

 

June 29, Tuesday. Again at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships and sees Christine Truman beat Nancy Richey in the quarter finals of the Women’s Singles. Meanwhile Kathryn opens in Peter Pan at the Avondale in-the Meadows playhouse, Indianapolis and she continues until July 4.

June 30, Wednesday. Bing attends the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships again and is photographed watching the Emerson – Ralston semi-final with former tennis star Jack Kramer. Emerson wins. Whilst at Wimbledon, Bing is interviewed for the BBC2-TV programme "Late Night Line-Up" by Joan Bakewell. During the evening, Bing meets up with opera singer Stanley Cooper.

July 1, Thursday. Bing boards a plane to return to the USA.

July 6, Tuesday. Back in Hollywood, Bing begins filming Stagecoach for Twentieth Century-Fox, his last major film, with Ann-Margret, Alex Cord, Van Heflin, Robert Cummings, and Red Buttons. The director is Gordon Douglas. Bing stays at the Bel Air Hotel.

     

“(I) had a great time playing the Ringo Kid and got to, again, meet some wonderful people. I got to work with Bing Crosby, Van Heflin and Slim Pickens.”

This gave Cord an opportunity to do something nice for his mother.

“My mother was always a huge fan of the movies and movie stars. And her favorite entertainer in the world was Bing Crosby,” Cord said.

When he told his mother, she couldn’t get over the fact that her son would be working with Bing Crosby.

“We were filming near Boulder, Colorado,” Cord recalled. “By then I’d become pretty friendly with Bing and I told him about my mother. I said, ‘You know she thinks the sun rises and sets on you. What the Beatles are to the kids of today, you are to my mother.’” When Cord asked if Crosby would be willing to have dinner with his mother, Crosby answered, “’Oh, Alex, absolutely.’ He couldn’t have been more gracious,” Cord recalled.

“So, I fixed it up. My mother got to have dinner with Bing Crosby. Bing just sat next to my mother and paid all the attention in the world to her. I was so thrilled to be able to do that little thing for her; it was a dream come true for her.”

(Alex Cord, as quoted in an article in the Gainesville Daily Register, 2005)

 

July 7, Wednesday. An interview with Bing is shown on BBC2’s Late Night Line-Up. This had been taped at Wimbledon and the interviewer is Joan Bakewell. Filming of Stagecoach continues.

 

Later, Bing made a classic fluff. In his portrayal of a drunken doctor he is ordered to leave town along with the undesirable Dallas. She asks him why they have to go. Bing was supposed to say “You see my dear, we are both victims of a disease called social prejudice.” Instead he explained to her “You see my dear, we are both the victims of a social disease…”

(From a report by Muriel Davidson and Janet Rale, published in the Saturday Evening Post, April 9, 1966)

 

July 7–9, Wednesday–Friday. Filming Stagecoach in Hollywood. Bing is in constant pain with bursitis in his shoulder and has to leave the set to see his doctor.

 

Hollywood: July 8th.

Bing, whom we have known for years, has had to be briefed about our undercover roles. He has promised to say nothing. So far, he has been very gay and light-hearted on the set. He sings a lot and he dances little time steps when he finishes a scene and he is unfailingly courteous to everyone. He manages to remain detached, though, and you just don’t walk up to Bing to have a random chat about nothing. Also he has been in constant pain with bursitis in his shoulder and had to leave the set for an hour this morning to get to his doctor. We broke for lunch and made the long trek to the commissary. Just ahead of us, Brett Pearson, the “heavy” who is killed by a dagger, was walking with the bloody knife still jutting from his side.

(From a report by Muriel Davidson and Janet Rale, published in the Saturday Evening Post, April 9, 1966)

 

July 10–11, Saturday–Sunday. Bing has traveled to the Hampshire House Hotel, Denver, Colorado, for the filming of scenes at a location some fifty-six miles northwest of the city. The weather is poor.

July 14, Wednesday. Bing moves into the Harvest House in Boulder, Colorado, to be nearer the location. The rest of the cast moves to Boulder as well. Son Harry stays with Bing. It is still raining.

July 15–24, Thursday–Saturday. Still on location near Boulder. Harry Jr. remains with his father. The weather continues to be very poor.

 

Boulder: July 22nd.

During one of the afternoon takes, Bing made his entrance and little Harry Crosby shouted to him, “Hi, Daddy!” At which Red Buttons remarked, “Name-dropper.”

      (From a report by Muriel Davidson and Janet Rale, published in the Saturday Evening Post, April 9, 1966)

 

I found Bing Crosby trying to dry his son’s socks.

Mae Pace never expected to meet Bing Crosby the day she took her nephews panning for gold in a Colorado mountain stream.

“It was one of the great moments of my life,” said Mrs. Pace, 64, of London, KY., recalling for the ENQUIRER the occasion in 1965.

Mrs. Pace had taken her two great-nephews to pan for gold at a mountain tourist attraction at Black Hawk, Colo.

“By chance, we came across this man wearing baggy pants and a big buckled belt.

“I got the shock of my life when I realized it was Bing Crosby. He’d been filming “Stagecoach” at nearby Boulder and took the day off to go prospecting with his son, Harry, who was 7 at the time. I was astounded to see Bing wringing out Harry’s socks in his hands.

“Apparently Harry had got his feet wet in the stream and Bing was trying to dry the socks. He whirled Harry’s socks around his head—just for me. He made a great thing of it. I never expected a star of such fame to do such things. For 15 minutes we just had fun.”

Leo Lynn, an executive of Bing Crosby Enterprises, told the ENQUIRER: “I went with Bing and Harry on the expedition to pan gold, and I recall the occasion well.”

(National Enquirer, March 31, 1974)

 

July 16, Friday. Dennis Crosby weds Arleen Buell in Las Vegas. Dennis is said to be working as an assistant to Hilton Schiller, producer of the Ben Casey series. It is later reported that the marriage was not valid as Dennis had not picked up his final decree from Pat Sheehan so he and Arleen marry again in Reno during their honeymoon.

July 17, Saturday. Bing’s horse Meadow Court wins the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

July (undated). Bad weather in Denver halts filming so Bing flies to New York to see his ailing brother Everett.

July 24, Saturday. Bing and his son Harry fly into Chicago to join Kathryn and the family goes to see the Pittsburgh Pirates play the Chicago Cubs. Bing and the children also see Kathryn in the dress rehearsal of Arms and the Man at the Drury Lane Theater. Bing returns to Colorado, taking Mary Frances with him.

July 25–August 2, Sunday–Monday. Filming Stagecoach at Arapaho Falls and Arapaho Glacier in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, near Boulder.

 

Boulder: July 29th.

Bing “delivered” Stefanie’s baby today. When she starts into labour, Bing (as “Doc”) is drunk as usual. He orders Dallas (Ann-Margret) to make coffee. Then he dumps great quantities of salt into it and starts to drink it in order to sober up. He finally becomes violently sick to his stomach. He was so convincing that Mike Connors, watching him, was nauseated for real. A-M looked good in this scene too. Usually Gordon has to urge her to speak up because her voice is very soft. But she really hollered at Stefanie, “Hurts even when you’re a lady, Huh? Well, why don’t you scream - that’s what I’d do - go ahead, scream!”

(From a report by Muriel Davidson and Janet Rale, published in the Saturday Evening Post, April 9, 1966)

 

July 27, Tuesday. Kathryn opens in Arms and the Man at the Drury Lane Theater, Chicago. The play runs until September 5.

July 30, Friday. Bing withdraws from a planned film role in Rocket to the Moon because of his ailing shoulder.

August (undated). Back in Chicago for a few days due to flooding on location in Colorado. Sees Kathryn perform in Arms and the Man at the Drury Lane Theater, Chicago.

August 3, Tuesday. Filming of Stagecoach now continues on the Twentieth-Century-Fox back lot in Hollywood.

 

Hollywood: August 3

Aside from Alex, who missed the plane and had to be flown to Denver by helicopter, we are back at 20th Century-Fox, shooting outdoors on the back lot. Bing is doing his little time steps and singing his own ribald version of Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home.

(From a report by Muriel Davidson and Janet Rale, published in the Saturday Evening Post, April 9, 1966)

 

August 9, Monday. Bing returns to Hillsborough as filming is delayed.

August 20, Friday. On location at the Twentieth-Century-Fox ranch in Malibu Canyon for Stagecoach.

August 30, Monday. Back in Hollywood for night shooting from 8:00 p.m.–4:00 a.m. Bing also rehearses for a forthcoming Hollywood Palace show.

September 2, Thursday. Completes his part in the filming of Stagecoach.

September 3, Friday. Bing tapes a Hollywood Palace show with Louis Armstrong, Phil Harris and the Young Americans which is shown on ABC-TV on September 25.

 

No matter how many times you experience it, there is no “high” in life quite like the adrenaline-surge in your body as you stand waiting behind a curtain to open upon the stage of a TV variety show. The orchestra goes into the intro for your song. You hear the long, sustaining roll on the timpani drums. The string section is coming in on a single-note trill. Then you hear the brass building in pitch and volume when suddenly the curtain opens to reveal a truly awesome sight. At least it was an awesome sight for me to see late that Friday afternoon, September 3, 1965, when the curtain opened on the stage of the ABC TV variety show, Hollywood Palace.

Standing about 15 feet to my left is big-bandleader Phil Harris. Standing about 12 feet to my right is show business legend Louis Armstrong. And standing center-stage about eight feet in front of me to my left is the entertainer I most admire in life - Bing Crosby. .  . This particular Palace is going to be publicized in the TV viewing guides as “Bing Crosby hosts Louis Armstrong’s fiftieth year in show business.”

. . . Amid lingering uneasiness throughout the city, an extremely large crowd is lined up out front of the ABC Palace Theater on Vine about one-half block north of Hollywood Blvd. Making my way down an iron fire escape on the south side of the theater where the second and third-story dressing rooms are located, I’m amazed to see so many people waiting to get in to the late-afternoon taping of the dress rehearsal. . . Less than an hour later the full-dress rehearsal is being taped. I don’t remember now all of the songs performed. But I do remember that after two or three, I am performing with Mr. Crosby a moderately obscure song of the time called Happiness Is. He had had a special arrangement made, complete with key changes that move one-half step upwards after every chorus. And the original lackluster verses are rewritten into clever new lyrics about various celebrities. I always liked the up-beat melody, so I still remember some phrases, like this one:

To a waiter, it’s a tip, tip, tip,

To Phil Harris, it’s a nip, nip, nip.

To a jockey, it’s a nag, nag, nag,

And to a G.I., it’s a Bob Hope gag.     

When the Bob Hope line comes up in the dress rehearsal and the final performance, both audiences emit a sustained “Aaaaaaa” that everyone up on stage can clearly hear above the ongoing music. Through part of this song, Mr. Crosby is seated on a stool. On the floor around him are several young female singers with their arms around the bottoms of his legs. One day at rehearsal, Lisa, one of the girls, had found a hole in one of his pant cuffs. She put her finger through it and wiggled it around while laughing out loud for all to see. He just smiled and paid no attention.

While standing behind him for part of this number I often think he has a poor tailor. Even his performance clothes look - in a word - “baggy.” When I tell my folks about this one night, my mother says he always had a reputation over the years for being a bad dresser. And yet his loose-fitting garments may be the result of nothing more than him being on a diet at the time - something my current age has much experience with. Back then, however, that thought never occurs to the 17-year-old mind in my 145-pound body. . . . At 62, his voice is deep, full and every bit as resonant as it was for any performance at any time in his career. Watching him whenever possible, it seems to me as though it is just so effortless on his part. His head tilts back slightly, the jaw drops and out comes this incredible sound unlike any voice before or since.

On Monday, the first day of rehearsal, everyone takes turns on stage recording all the numbers with the full orchestra. For the remainder of the week the daily rehearsing is performed to the prerecorded sound which is constantly stopped and rewound while the Director and the TV camera people work the show out visually from various angles. The orchestra will not reappear until the dress rehearsal late the following Friday afternoon.

On variety programs of this time there is a short break on the day before dress rehearsals. This allows newcomers to briefly kibitz with the stars. Like me, everyone in that show could hardly wait to return from their dressing rooms with some memento for these stars to autograph. In my case, I had brought along the record jacket from Robin and the Seven Hoods on which Mr. Crosby is centered between Sinatra, Martin, Davis and Peter Falk. When he reaches out to sign it for me, I just cannot resist telling him the many number of times I had gone to see the film.

"Myyyyyy," he says in that familiar low-baritone voice as he drops his head and looks at me from out of the top of his eyes, “but you are a brave soul.” On the soundtrack recording of Style, his voice can be clearly heard speaking after the song concludes: “Come on, let’s get some clothes on or we’ll be late for breakfast.” A passing comment from me about this remark only brings a bewildered expression from him.

Standing there, less than four feet from him as he signs the album and hands it back to me, I am thinking how authentic his hairpiece appears. No one unaware of the truth would ever have suspected it is not his real hair. But overall, the one aspect I find truly remarkable about his appearance is that he has the most youthful-looking eyes I have ever seen in any person. Either before or since, I have never seen such bright blue irises surrounded by such large, pure white sclera. They are totally devoid of any red blood vessels, which is probably why Phil Harris comments at one point that Bing should not worry his “baby-blues.”

Misters Crosby and Harris have some comic patter they perform together at one point. And I am so happy that on Thursday, the last day before dress rehearsal, there seems to be endless equipment problems. Over and over again the Director’s voice bellows out from the control room speaker: “One more time from the top, please.” The two seasoned veterans then redo all the punchlines, complete with feigned laughter and totally rehearsed “ad libs.” And every time they make it sound as though they are just having a casual, impromptu conversation in someone’s living room. It is quite an on-the-job education for those of us present from the younger set. . .

This Friday is also the first day that Louis Armstrong appears at rehearsal, primarily for camera placement and sound levels. Mr. Armstrong was age 65 at the time. A number of the younger performers think the network is especially insensitive to his physical condition, for he had been given a dressing room on the second floor. To reach it, he has to slowly labor up two floors of thin metal steps.

I remember on the day of kibitz, my request for Mr. Armstrong’s autograph turns an expression of pain upon his face into that wonderful smile. His smile could cause the sun to shine, even indoors. After he graciously signs my album, I watch him take very short and slow steps towards the dressing room stairs. His head is bowed forward, and it seems to take him forever to reach the second floor. But as far as I know, he never once complains to a soul about not having a first-floor dressing room. I shall always remember him as the quintessential gentleman of charm, grace, personality, humor and - most of all - talent.

He and Mr. Crosby perform something together, which I have since forgotten. But what I will never forget is the closing finale, in which everyone on the show takes part. Talk about a show-stopper, the closing number is South Rampart Street Parade. A wonderful series of interlaced melodies and counterpoints composed by Ray Bauduc and Bob Haggart with lyrics by Steve Allen, the entire composition conveys the feeling of an oncoming parade building in volume and rhythm. Only this arrangement has something no street parade ever has - a studio orchestra with a string section. Added to this layered complexity are the jazz “fills” of Mr. Armstrong’s horn and numerous sections of syncopated rhythm.

Wow, what an experience!

There are many unforgettable musical moments I can look back on. But if I had to select one that approaches a spiritual level of magic, it would be this one.

(Richard Zimmerman, one of the Young Americans, writing in BING magazine, winter, 2001)

 

September 5, Sunday. Although suffering problems with kidney stones, Bing tapes another Hollywood Palace show with Caterina Valente which is shown on September 18.

September 7, Tuesday. Bing and Kathryn are unable to go to England to watch Meadow Court run in the St. Leger at Doncaster, for Bing has more kidney stones. A cystoscopy provides relief.

 

Hollywood, Sept. 7th.

Bing finished his role last Thursday and had planned to go to England to see his prize-winning horse Meadowcourt race at Ascot. Today, Leo Lynn, Bing’s friend and factotum, came to the set and told us that over the week-end Bing had suffered a kidney attack and could not go. Then Leo presented all of us, cast and crew, with a key chain memento from Bing. It’s made of solid silver and has a tiny stagecoach on one side of a disc, and on the other, written in gold leaf in his own hand-writing, it says, “Thanks, Bing - Stagecoach, 1965.” Everyone was quite honestly touched deeply. Stars rarely take the trouble to make these gestures anymore.

(From a report by Muriel Davidson and Janet Rale, published in the Saturday Evening Post, April 9, 1966)

 

September 8, Wednesday. Meadow Court, ridden by Lester Piggott, finishes second in the St. Leger.

September 9, Thursday. Bing is at the Hyatt House Theater in Burlingame to watch Kathryn rehearse her songs for the forthcoming production of Peter Pan.

September 13, Monday. Bing tapes a Hollywood Palace show for ABC-TV and has another kidney stone attack. Another cystoscopy fails; Bing rests for two weeks.

September 16, Thursday. Bing writes to Henry Schmidt of the Athletic Department at the University of Santa Clara.

 

Dear Schmidty:

Thank you so much for your letter, with all the news about your activities.

Schmidty, we’ll certainly try and include Jim Weichers in our golf tournament invitation list next January.

I’ve heard of this boy and of his prowess, and I’m sure he would be a very welcome addition to the field.

Hope you have a good year there at Santa Clara. The 49’ers don’t look too strong off their showing against the Rams last Sunday, but maybe they are experimenting a lot.

I’m very high on that fellow, Willard, that they got in the draft. He looks like a real runner.

Stay well, Schmidty - Always your friend, Bing

 

September 17, Friday. The Bing Crosby Productions series Hogan’s Heroes starts a run on CBS-TV. The plot involves Colonel Hogan leading a ragtag band of POW’s caught behind German lines. The bumbling Germans give Hogan and his crew plenty of opportunities to sabotage their war efforts. Colonel Klink is more concerned with having everything run smoothly and avoiding any trouble with his superiors (especially anything that might result in his being reassigned and sent to the front) than with being tough on Hogan and his fellow prisoners. Nielsen places Hogan’s Heroes at number nine in the ratings for most popular weekly series for 1965–66. It places at number eighteen in the 1966–67 season and continues to run until April 7, 1971.

September 18, Saturday. (9:30–10:30 p.m.) The first Hollywood Palace show of the season, starring Bing and Caterina Valente, is shown on ABC-TV. The Mitchell Ayres Orchestra provides the musical backing.

 

Hollywood Palace starting its third year on the vaudeo spectrum, seems to continue in affable and agreeable ways. At this point the format continues to be serviceable and there’s no cause to re-write this hit. The formula of a name emcee and name talent is sufficiently potent to make this one of the better variety displays on the medium. Bing Crosby, making his third appearance on this soiree, gave the season’s premiere a flavor unique to him. He mixes affability and entertainment in equally potent doses and gets involved in the proceedings to give the show an entertaining tone. For example, he straighted for Tim Conway of McHale’s Navy who needed a straight of Crosby’s caliber to look good. He sang with Caterina Valente, and each endowed the other with an added ingredient. On her own, Miss Valente delivered with her accustomed top-rated product. . .

(Variety, September 22, 1965)

 

September 19, Sunday. Advertised to play in the Movie Invitational Tournament of Stars at the Peacock Gap Golf & Country Club in San Rafael in California but does not attend as he is still resting after a kidney stones attack.

September 21, Tuesday. Bing writes to Fred Corcoran regarding the Canada Cup golf tournament which is to be held in Madrid, Spain. (Corcoran was an American sports promoter, agent, administrator and amateur golfer, who had a diverse career in the world of golf, baseball, boxing, ice hockey and other sports.)

 

Dear Fred:

Yes, it’s true, we’re going to Europe on a vacation, but the principal purpose in addition to the shooting in Spain was to watch the running of the Arc de Triomphe horse race in Paris. We have an entry in there.

The race, as I say, is October 3rd, and we’d like to be there a day or two before, so unless we’re able to develop an opportunity to slip up for maybe the opening day’s matches in Madrid, I don’t see any way of our making it.

This grieves me because I know it’s going to be a very colorful match, particularly because it’s held in Spain and because the foreign representatives have come along until at this point they really can give our guys fits on the links.

Hope it is the tremendous success it has always been.

As ever yours,

Bing

 

 September 25, Saturday. (9:30–10:30 p.m.) The Hollywood Palace show starring Bing, Phil Harris, Louis Armstrong, and the Young Americans is shown on ABC-TV. Mitchell Ayres conducts.

September 28, Tuesday. Records “The White World of Winter” for Reprise Records using a previously recorded musical accompaniment by an orchestra conducted by Sonny Burke.

 

I don’t think there’s anybody better in the studio than Bing. He and Sinatra are two of the finest people I’ve ever worked with from that standpoint. When Bing comes into the studio, he’s there to perform and nothing else. He’s a pure professional and is that much of a pro that he doesn’t tolerate anyone else who isn’t. Bing is probably one of the fastest studies I’ve ever seen. He’s got great ears. He has something approaching total recall, in that it doesn’t take him long to get the feeling of a piece and learn it.

(Sonny Burke, as quoted in The Complete Crosby by Charles Thompson, page 97)

 

October 1, Friday. Bing and Kathryn fly to France and the following day watch the horse Meadow Court work out.

October 3, Sunday. After breakfast at the Ritz bar and mass at La Madeleine, Bing and Kathryn see Meadow Court run in Le Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris but the horse can only finish seventh.

October 7, Thursday. Bing and Kathryn fly from Paris to Barajas Airport, Madrid, Spain. They stay at the Ritz for several days and then go to Burgos and the Landa Palace for partridge shooting.

October 12, Tuesday. Bing and Kathryn arrive at Dublin Airport from Spain and give a press conference there.

October 13, Wednesday. Bing is at the races at Punchestown racecourse at Naas in Kildare. Press reports state that he and Kathryn have been invited to the Irish Shoe Fair Ball at the International Hotel that night but it is not known whether they attended.

October 15, Friday. Bing and Kathryn are in Galway and attend a reception given by the local Junior Chamber of Commerce. On a beautiful sunny evening, they see the sun go down on Galway Bay. (The song “Galway Bay” had been one of his biggest hits).

October 16, Saturday. Bing takes a photograph of Galway Bay and he and Kathryn visit the Connemara Marble Centre at Moycullen and also the new cathedral in Galway. They go on to Shannon Airport for their flight to New York.

October 18, Monday. Bing is awarded a Conservation Certificate by the Pacific Marine Game Fish Cooperative Tagging Program for tagging yellow fish tunas off Baja California which were subsequently recovered; thus disclosing the migratory pattern of those fishes.

October 22, Friday. Bing is in Canada and spends a long weekend in Ontario with Charlie Conacher, the former Maple Leaf hockey star, whom he had originally met in New York in 1929. Charlie and Bing also share a mutual friend in Max Bell. Bing goes pheasant shooting on an island near Trenton.

October 23, Saturday. While in Toronto, Bing is interviewed by Telescope host Fletcher Markle for a television show “A Profile of Bing Crosby” which is shown on CBC on January 13, 1966. Later that day, Bing visits Woodbine Racetrack, Toronto, for the Canadian Championship Stakes and makes the presentation to the winning owner at around 5:00 p.m. He goes on to the Toronto Maple Leafs versus Chicago Black Hawks ice hockey match at Maple Leaf Gardens as a guest of Charlie Conacher. It emerges that Bing, Max Bell, Frank McMahon  and others are attempting to get a National Hockey League franchise for San Francisco for 1967.

October 28, Thursday. Bing is at the San Francisco Film Festival and he presides over the Leo McCarey respective at 1:00 p.m. McCarey is ill and cannot attend. Going My Way is shown.

October 30, Saturday. Bing is at Le Disque Alexis in San Francisco for the presentation of the David O. Selznick Memorial Awards.

November 6, Saturday. Bing attends a black-tie party at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Thieriot in Hillsborough at which Princess Margaret and her husband Lord Snowdon are present.

 

Having Bing Crosby as her dinner partner was the greatest thrill of Princess Margaret’s San Francisco visit. The two were seated together Saturday night at the black-tie party Mr. and Mrs. Charles Thieriot gave at their home in Hillsborough. Earlier, the English Princess had told Mrs. Thieriot, “You’re giving me the greatest treat of my life.” The Royal visitor had admired Bing’s songs and movies since she was a child. She and the star, who moved his family to Hillsborough nearly two years ago, plunged into instant conversation when they met. Afterward, Bing said they talked mostly about music. “She is very knowledgeable about music of every kind. She wanted to know what I thought of some of the newer singers like Jack Jones and Andy Williams. She is a very bright, attractive young lady with a good sense of humor.”

(Unidentified clipping, reproduced in BINGANG magazine, December 1966)

 

November 17, Wednesday. Bing contributes to a special tribute to Frank Sinatra shown by CBS-TV.

November 20, Saturday. The Hollywood Palace television show is broadcast with Bing as host and Bob Hope as guest.

November 29, Monday. Bing tapes the Christmas edition of the Hollywood Palace television show which is shown on December 25.

November 30, Tuesday. Bing records eight songs for the Longines Symphonette Society at Coast Recorders, San Francisco, using prerecorded tracks prepared by British orchestra leader Geoff Love. The tracks form part of a six LP album comprising eighty-four tunes, said to be chosen by Bing, most of which are orchestral. He also records a radio promotional disc for the album.

December 2, Thursday. Bing records a further eight songs for the Longines Symphonette Society at Coast Recorders, San Francisco. At night, he attends the Thoroughbred Racing Association Dinner at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco where he accepts an award from Mervyn LeRoy (President of the Hollywood Turf Club) on behalf of his friend Raymond Guest in respect of the horse ‘Tom Rolfe’, the best 3-year-old of 1965.

December 13, Monday. Bing writes to sportswriter Mel Durslag of the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner.

 

Talked to Max Bell today and he told me he would look into the possibility of syndicating your column.

He knows your work, likes it, so something should develop, if he can possibly make it so.

He says he only has eight papers, not fourteen, and he’d like to dump a couple of those.

You’ll hear from him direct, I’m sure, Mel.

All the best, Bing

 

December 15, Wednesday. (9:00–10:00 p.m.) Guests on the Bob Hope Comedy Special television show on NBC with Jack Benny, Janet Leigh, and Nancy Wilson. This is said to be Bob Hope’s first television variety show in color.

 

Less effective was a skit in which Bing Crosby tried to get rid of his Palm Springs tenant (Hope) so that he could sell his mansion. . . . Crosby nicely warbled his way through a Yule tune entitled “Do You Hear What I Hear?”. . .

(Variety, December 22, 1965)

                                   

December 17, Friday. Bing is in Hollywood taping two Hollywood Palace shows.

December (undated). The Crosbys move into their new house on Jackling Drive, Hillsborough. The Robin Road property has not yet been sold.

December 21, Tuesday. Kathryn Crosby appears as Peter Pan at the Hyatt Theater, Burlingame, until January 2. Mary Frances makes a brief appearance in the final scene. Comments in Time magazine are slightly critical and Bing writes to them about it.

 

In your “People” section (Dec. 21), you made reference to Kathryn’s recent appearance in the musical version of Peter Pan in San Francisco.

While we’re always grateful for any mention in such a fine magazine as TIME, I know you want to be corrected when you’re in error. You said Jeanne Miller of the San Francisco Examiner panned Mrs. Crosby’s performance and described the performance of our little daughter Mary Frances as stodgy.

The only thing that could possibly cause umbrage about Mrs. Crosby’s performance was that Miss Miller said she was too girlish and too pretty to be Peter Pan—which is sort of a mixed criticism.

The reference to Mary Frances as being stodgy was made about another performer in the cast. If Mary Frances is stodgy, then Sammy Davis is taciturn, moribund and laconic. For weeks at a time we have to keep her in a strait jacket and an Oregon boat.

 

December 25, Saturday. (9:30–10:30 p.m.) A Hollywood Palace television show starring Bing is shown. Young Harry L. Crosby III (age seven) makes his first appearance and other guests are Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians, Bob Crane (plus the cast of “Hogan’s Heroes”), and Dorothy Collins.

 

1966

 

January 1, Saturday. (9:30–10:30 p.m.) Bing stars in the Hollywood Palace show on ABC-TV. Principal guests are Bob Newhart plus Sonny and Cher.

January 3, Monday. Bing and Kathryn attend a gala for the benefit of the Royal Ballet at the Chandler Music Center in Los Angeles. Bing and Bob Hope are joint chairmen of the event. Afterwards there is a formal dinner at which Bing sits next to Margot Fonteyn and Inger Stevens. Bing and Kathryn go on to Refugio, Texas for hunting.

January 6, Thursday. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce seeks to buy Northern California National Bank (based in San Mateo), of which Bing is chairman and major shareholder, for $2.75 million cash. The proposal is approved on July 21.

January 13, Thursday. (9:30 p.m.) Bing is featured on the Canadian Broadcasting television program Telescope when he is interviewed by Fletcher Markle. The show had been taped in October 1965.

January 20-23, Thursday–Sunday. Attends the Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach where the purse has been increased to $104,500. The pro winner is Don Massengale. The tournament is billed as celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary although it is actually the twenty-sixth as the 1942 event has been overlooked. Celebrities playing include John Raitt, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Dean Martin and Andy Williams. On Saturday, January 22 at 12 noon, Bing and Ray Bolger host an NBC television special called The Road to Pebble Beach. Television coverage of the golf is carried by NBC on January 22 and 23.

January 31, Monday. Bing attends the final day of the Lucky International Golf tournament at the Harding Park municipal course, San Francisco. He writes to Mel Durslag of the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner about the Crosby Pro-Am.

 

Dear Mel:

I thought your column turned out beautifully – the one you did about the tournament.

It was beautiful this year. The weather good, and we raised 20% more money than any previous year.

The pros were so surprised by the good weather that they still didn’t know how to handle themselves. They still shot their regular 76’s and 82’s, with a few exceptions – the fellas who finished in the money.

Thanks, Mel, for everything –

As ever, Bing

 

February 5, Saturday. Bing emcees a dinner-dance for “Guide Dogs for the Blind Week” at the San Francisco Hilton.

February 6, Sunday. (4:00–5:00 p.m.) Bing appears on The American Sportsman television program which is shown today. He is featured marlin fishing in Mexico.

February 9, Wednesday. Bing is among a group of investors awarded a National Hockey League expansion franchise for San Francisco. The group is headed by Barry Van Gerbig, who is described in the press as caretaker of Bing’s financial interests in New York. (See March 14, 1965 for further details)

February 14, Monday. Tapes a television program The Road to Lebanon at the NBC Studios in Burbank with Danny Thomas which is shown on NBC on April 20.

 

Danny Thomas managed to finish taping the fifth and last of his NBC specials despite the illnesses of his co-stars Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. Thomas had the famed pair signed up for a “Road to Lebanon” spoof, but he had to settle for a walkon by Hope, who was battling the flu. Bing also tangled with the flu bug. He figured if the Batman couldn’t beat it, neither could he: so he checked into St. Joseph’s Hospital after the Thomas rehearsals. The hospital is next door to NBC and Bing found the accommodations so pleasant he returned the next night, instead of going to his hotel.

(Bob Thomas, Associated Press, February 18, 1966)

 

February 17, Thursday. Films a segment for a CBS-TV program The Magic of Broadcasting at Desilu Studios on Gower in Hollywood. John Scott Trotter, Diane Sherry, and Kerry McLane also take part. The show is transmitted on May 1.

February 19, Saturday. Gary Crosby guests with Rosemary Clooney, Edgar Bergen, and Henny Youngman on the recorded Hollywood Palace show hosted by Bing.

February 25, Friday, onwards. Bing and Kathryn fly to South Carolina where they stay at Medway, an antebellum estate outside Charleston. They go on to Florida where Bing golfs and they attend the races at Hialeah. George Coleman takes them out on his new boat the Aurora C.

March 3, Thursday. Attends the Flamingo Stakes at Hialeah Park, Miami. The race becomes controversial as it is run on a non-betting basis.

March 6, Sunday. Arrives in Toronto, Canada, from Florida and tapes a radio version of the Easter Seal Show at the CBC studios which is broadcast on April 3. The show is one of Canada’s biggest show business charity shows and it aids Canada’s handicapped children. During the evening, Bing has a production meeting regarding the following day’s television show before going to dinner with friends.

March 7, Monday. (1:00–6:00 p.m.) Rehearses for the television version of the Easter Seal Show (also known as Timmy’s Easter Parade of Stars) at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. (8:00–9:30 p.m.) Tapes the television show before an audience of 1,200. The program is screened on March 27 and features Kathryn Crosby, Juliette plus Robbie Lane and the Disciples. Later, Bing and Kathryn attend the after-show party.

 

… The television show was taped on the following evening and what a wonderful experience it was. My daughter, Diane, who also admires Bing very much, accompanied me to the show and we were delighted to find that our seats were in the twelfth row, on the side of the theatre from which Bing was working. What a wonderful thrill as the curtain went up to the strains of the Lucio Agostini orchestra playing the ever-beautiful “Blue of the Night”—and Bing appeared on stage. It seemed just incredible that we were actually sitting there watching the great Mr. Crosby in person!

As the show was being taped, it was a start and stop affair.  This made it all the more interesting for, between numbers when the tape was stopped, Bing was on stage, talking casually to the audience, the technicians, the performers, and lending a hand whenever he saw the need. We were particularly impressed by his never-failing patience, friendliness and good humour throughout the entire show.

We had been told that it was Bing’s friend, Mr. Max Bell, who had invited and “coaxed” Bing to come to Toronto to do this show. But it was obvious from Bing’s own remarks that he had been very happy to come as he said he wanted to express to Canada his gratitude for many good times he has spent in various parts of the country hunting and fishing and making good friends. What nicer way than to give so freely of his time and talents for such a worthy cause.

Bing opened the show with his own terrific version of “Red Red Robin”, and the show was off to a happy start, most of the performers on the show were Canadian, which, Bing said, was “as it should be,” but besides emceeing the show, Bing managed to get in four songs, each of which had its own specia1appeal, and all were well-chosen to fit the occasion.

At one point in the show, Bing had a chat with “Timmy” who asked Bing if he would have time to meet some of his little crippled friends. Bing said he most certainly would and then did a very appealing version of “Swinging on a Star” with Timmy and his friends. Bing is always so good with children. You can just imagine the scene as Bing looked round at each of the children and smiled saying: “Well, this is the biggest group I’ve worked with since I sang with the Fred Waring Pennsylvanians.”

Just about the happiest moment in the show came when Bing introduced “A young lady who’s very special to me—because she keeps my sons out of my golfing equipment, fishing tackle and shot guns—my wife Kathryn.” It had been Bing’s idea to bring Kathryn along to appear on the show and her appearance just made it complete. The audience was clearly delighted to see her. Kathryn came on stage smiling. She is very sweet and friendly, and looked so beautiful in a pink fur-trimmed gown, with a short full skirt, and very stylish white lace hose.

Kathryn talked to Bing and the audience about the Easter Seal campaign and the excellent work which is done through donations received. But after a few short minutes, Bing said: “That was very well said, Kathryn,—and now I am going to excuse you.” “Already?” she exclaimed, smiling—“I was just going to sing!” “Well,” said Bing, “I’m about to introduce a lovely lady and I don’t want to see my wife crying in public.” “I never cry darling,” said Kathryn “but I’ll be in the wings, waiting— and watching,” and kissed him on the cheek. As she left the stage, Bing called out: “Where’d you get the socks?” “From when I was a nurse,” Kathryn called back. Bing then introduced Toronto’s own Juliette—my favourite female vocalist if I may say so here. Glamorous Juliette has been charming her fellow Canadians with her lovely songs and warm personality on her own weekly show for many years and it was a real treat to see my two favourites together.

Juliette expressed her genuine pleasure at meeting Bing. “You know,” she said, “Like every other female vocalist, I’ve often wondered if I would ever have a chance to stand right beside you and sing a duet with you.” “I thought you’d never ask me,” said Bing, as the orchestra struck up “Easter Parade”. This produced one of the most delightful moments in the show. The words of the song had been changed slightly to fit the occasion—and this must have been somewhat confusing, though Bing wasn’t using the cue card. But in the second chorus, when he was supposed to sing “I’ll be all in clover”, the words eluded Bing and unable to pick up the place on the cue card, he came in, like the pro that he is, in perfect tune and time, with the surprising words—“I can‘t see the next line.” Juliette, quite a pro herself, quickly filled him in and not a note was missed. A most delightful duet, with a special added dash of true Crosbyanna.

Something very amusing happened as Bing was about to do his closing song. The orchestra went into the introduction too soon and Bing didn’t quite make it to centre stage on time. “You’d better give me that intro again, Lucio,” called Bing. The orchestra, hidden behind the curtains for this number, must have been completely thrown. All was silent for so long that Bing finally walked over and put his ear to the curtain, calling out “Hello-o-o there. Is anybody there?” And then to the audience: “I think they’ve all gone home.”  But soon the orchestra started the song again and Bing, seated on a stool, alone in the spotlight at centre stage, closed the show with his own unforgettable version of “The Men in My little Girl’s Life”.  Bing does this song so well that it is really regrettable that he has not made a recording of it for general release.

At the end of the show, all the performers came on stage. Timmy presented Kathryn with a huge bouquet of red roses and it was a very touching moment as she bent down to kiss him on the cheek.

When the curtain went down, Bing came out front and thanked the audience for “helping us to put this show together,” said once again how happy he was to have been able to do it and with a smile and a wave, a “Goodnight and God Bless you,” was gone.

(Lillian Potter, writing in BINGANG magazine, December 1966)

 

Bing was in Toronto last week for the video-taping of the Timmy Easter Seal Show. The cast and crew at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Canadian National Exhibition, were captivated by the Crosby personality. Despite his genuine modest manner, it was evident to everyone that we were in the presence of an incomparable performer.

      During the rehearsals for the CTV program he sang with the ease that others have emulated through the years; his voice was never more mellow. His opening selection, “When the Red, Red, Robin Comes Bobbin’ Along”, he handled in his delightful breezy manner. “Easter Parade” offered Juliette the opportunity to duet with Mr. C. The crippled children joined the Oscar winning star to recall from Going My Way, the Academy Award winner, “Swinging on a Star.” But, his most impressive performance was a tender interpretation of the current hit, “The Men in My Little Girl’s Life.”

      The ease with which he emceed the show was infectious. The variety bill included: Jackie Vernon (who was appearing at the Royal York), Gord Lightfoot, The Brian Brown Trio, Robbie Laine and Juliette. Alex Barris, the popular Toronto columnist and TV personality, wrote a solid script—with Crosby jargon much in evidence.

      When I first heard that Bing would host the big Easter show, I sent him a note telling him where I could be reached in Toronto. It was a real treat to receive a phone call from him, shortly after his arrival—I doubt if my mother-in-law will use her phone for a long time. We had several opportunities to talk to Bing throughout the day and early evening. During the breaks in the rehearsal he sat in the near-empty theatre with Alex, my wife and I. In the mid-afternoon we were joined by his wife Kathy, who also made an appearance on the program. Mrs. Crosby is not only very pretty, but also a very pleasant person.

(Gord Atkinson, The Ottawa Citizen, March 19, 1966)

 

March (undated). Bing tapes two Hollywood Palace shows.

March 17, Thursday. Bing flies to Florida but his plane is delayed and he misses a testimonial dinner for his friend Chris Dunphy in the Regency Room at the Palm Beach Towers. He had however sent ahead a special recording called “Daddy, Oh, Daddy Dunphy” which is played in his absence.

March 26, Saturday. (9:30–10:30 p.m.) A Hollywood Palace show hosted by Bing and featuring Nanette Fabray, Jackie Mason, David Frost, and Tammy Grimes airs on ABC-TV.

 

Host, Bing Crosby and guests, Tammy Grimes and Nanette Fabray spend most of the hour, singing tunes. In addition Miss Fabray is tap-dancing again: Britain’s David Frost and Jackie Mason deliver soft quiet-type comedy monologues and the vaudeville acts feature a tumbling group and pantomimist Cully Richards.

(Los Angeles Herald Examiner, March 26, 1966)

 

If ‘Batman’ succeeds by being very bad, ‘Hollywood Palace’ scores by being very good. Last Saturday (26th), with Bing Crosby as emcee, viewers were treated to another potpourri of talent. Host Crosby offered his rendition of the current hit, “The Men in My Little Girl’s Life” which is part soliloquy. But singing rather than “saying” songs is his forte, as he demonstrated in the opener, “When the Red, Red, Robin Comes Bob-bob-bobbin’ Along.”

(Variety, March 30, 1966)

 

By the 1965/66 season, Crosby’s Palace stints began in earnest. In total, he emceed an unrivalled 31 times, including all of the anniversary shows, as well as every Christmas show, save 1969. Mr. Harbach had not realized that the time honored tradition of the Crosby family television yuletide show originated with the HP.

 The HP was twice nominated for the Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Variety Series, for the 65/66 and 66/67 seasons. It lost on both occasions to The Andy Williams Show, which, incidentally, was produced by Bob Finkel, who produced a lion’s share of Crosby’s post-Harbach television efforts.

Each Crosby Palace ended with a special treat. As he walked off the stage and the lights dimmed, he would be seen in silhouette, executing some sort of athletic stage business, either kicking one of his legs or arching his torso, usually ending with a droll pantomime of a feigned back-ache. This enchanting chicanery would afford one last taste of the inimitable star before he disappeared until the next show.

“That was pure Bing. Nobody could have told him to do that. Absolutely delightful.”

Was there ever any trouble with Crosby?

“Are you kidding? He was so easy. Although there was one moment - We were rehearsing, and we had the air conditioning high. Bing came in with his collar turned up and cried, ‘Jesus Christ, you could hang meat in this place!’”

 Crosby’s remarkable use of language on the HP was an endless source of inspiration. What other host would incorporate words like contumely or phrases like roundelay of jocosities in their parlance? Mr. Harbach concurred.

“He could use words that long and get away with it. He would have you running to the dictionary. And he could rattle off fast lyrics like nobody else.”

 Mr. Harbach had lots of fun during the annual Hollywood Palace parades. Crosby would usually be the grand marshal.

“Bing would ride in a car with a lot of kids and he would be the host for the parade. That was done purely for publicity.”

 Many new songs seemed to have been written for the Palaces. This was most apparent on the season openers.

“I believe my associate producer Saul Ilson was responsible for many of those.”

 Saul Ilson had been writing for The Danny Kaye Show. He would later produce The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and the Arte Johnson special, Ver-r-r-ry Interesting on which Crosby appeared. The audiences always seemed to be so attentive and so well dressed.

“We would put the nicer looking people in the front of the house so that we could cut to a reaction.”

 There were so many Crosby pairings with contemporary artists: Sonny and Cher, (Nick Vanoff produced their show after the Palace series) The Temptations, Roger Miller, Glen Campbell, Bobby Goldsboro, Jeannie C. Riley, Bobbie Gentry, and perhaps most memorable of all, Tiny Tim.

“We loved to do that sort of thing. There used to be a regular feature in Vanity Fair called the impossible interview. For instance, Einstein and Mae West would be combined. How would they talk to each other? I loved to book that way - one from the old guard and one from the new. They all got along well together and had a ball.”

 Certainly one of Bing’s most atypical guests was Senator Everett Dirksen.

“We had to fly down to Miami to tape that speech he made.”

 Crosby mingled with the crème de la crème of show business royalty on the HP. As an astonishing list of Crosby’s guests was rattled off to him, each name evoked general praise, a laugh, a smile, but hardly any particular details came to his mind.

“When I’m brushing my teeth, I’ll say, ‘Oh God, I should have told him that.’ Right now, nothing’s popping in.”

He did inform me that Nick Vanoff was responsible for the four appearances which the King Family made with Crosby on the HP. Vanoff had been producing The King Family Show at the time. (Mr. Harbach is a font of anecdotes of many other stellar hosts and hostesses, and has vivid memories of, among others, Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Judy Garland - but that’s another story.)

 However, Mr. Harbach does remember one particular Crosby duet - the one with Johnny Mercer from May 21. 1966. It is his personal favorite.

“Herb Sargent was responsible for that. He came up with the gimmick to have Bing stump Johnny by singing phrases from other lyricists’ songs, challenging him to come up with a similar lyric from his own pen.  It was so darn clever and intricate, and it went on for about seven minutes. Terrific!”  (Mr. Harbach screened this sterling specimen of virtuosity at the recent Crosby tribute held at The Players Club in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park.)

On many of the Palaces, Crosby seemed to be lip-synching his opening number.

“This was needed since the production numbers had a lot of dancing and moving. The duets and solos were done live.”

 Mr. Harbach shed light on the HP rehearsal regimen.

“After about two weeks of rehearsal, we would block everything, and then we would have just one dress rehearsal at 5pm, followed by  what we called a complete show at 8pm. Whatever was the best performance would go into the finished tape three weeks later when you show it to the country. Be sure the handkerchief is right there for both shows so if you want to intercut a better moment here or a better step there, the continuity is the same. Nine out of ten times the aired show was played. Once in a while there would be a tiger act that was better in the dress rehearsal - so you’d just put that in.”

The Palace did not switch from black and white to color until the beginning of the 65/66 season. Why the delay?

“ABC was the last network, the bottom network. They went kicking and screaming into color. They had to. Everything was way ahead of them.”

(Martin McQuade, detailing an interview with Bill Harbach, in BING magazine, spring 2006)

 

March (undated). Bing is at his Rising River ranch. Meanwhile, Pacific Northwest Bell take advertising space in many Oregon newspapers headed “Come on Gang, Let’s Sing the Praises of Oregon!” Readers were then invited to send for the free Northwest Holiday record, map and jacket which they could send to out-of-state friends and relatives. Bing, Jane Powell and Mel Blanc are heard on the disc and in a few sentences, Bing speaks warmly about the Pacific Northwest and fishing and golf there. He encourages everyone to hit the Oregon Trail.

 April 8, Friday. Bing Crosby Enterprises receives a four page threatening letter to Bing and his family. The FBI is involved and eventually decides that the writer, a man called Tompkins, is a crank and they decide not to prosecute.

April 10, Sunday. Bing and family are thought to be at Palm Desert for Easter and to go up Mount San Jacinto on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

April 11, Monday. Bing writes to fan Pat Sullivan.

 

Thanks for your letter. Glad to welcome you back into the fold of supporters, and I’m delighted to hear that you liked the last Palace show.

This show was a great deal of fun to do because of the wonderful staff they have – the production end, and the creative end, are just tops.

Glad you liked the closing piece with Nanette Fabray.  We had a little difficulty getting this as she was very sick with the flu, running a temperature, and we didn’t know whether or not we were going to be able to get it done in time for the show to be put together, but it came out okay if it proved entertaining to you.

No, I didn’t author a book entitled, “How I Beat Nicklaus, Player and Palmer”. This is a gag – this book.  It has that title on the front and when you open it up, all the pages are empty. I don’t know if it’s available on the stands or not, but I imagine it is, or else somebody had it made up for me for a joke. I can’t remember which.

All best wishes, and thanks again – as ever

Bing      

 

April 13, Wednesday. Cinerama’s Russian Adventure premieres at the New York Warner Cinerama Theater. Bing appears briefly in this and then narrates this Cinerama tour of Russian culture and geography produced by the Russians and released under the auspices of the Cultural Exchange Program. The original narrator was Homer McCoy but he was replaced by Bing in this reedited release.

 

Bing Crosby, who handles the narration and appears briefly in the beginning to introduce the picture, turns in a first rate job, easily projecting an affable aura around the entire production.

    (Variety, April 6, 1966)


As narrator for this package, they have that old gadabout and Russophile, Bing Crosby, whose jolly tone and lingo tend to embrace all the Russians as chums. His narration

provides meager information, however, aside from the fact that the Soviet Union spans 10 time zones. That is the most striking fact about Russia you are likely to get from

this film.

(Bosley Crowther, New York Times, April 14, 1966)

 

April 20, Wednesday. (9:00–10:00 p.m.) Bing stars in the taped television program The Road to Lebanon on NBC with Danny Thomas, Sheldon Leonard, and Claudine Auger. Bob Hope makes a short guest appearance. Music is provided by Harper MacKay and his Orchestra.

 

Fashioned on the old ‘Road’ features that Bob Hope and Bing Crosby used to make, and aping the style as it parodied the situations, this Garry Marshall - Jerry Belson script had Thomas visiting his ancestral homeland to judge the Miss Lebanon beauty contest and being pursued first by Crosby who wanted to team up with him and slough off Hope as a partner, and second by the son of a Lebanese sheik who was to exact punishment for a tribal sin committed by one of Thomas’ forebears - getting a nose job. The wellspring of much of the hour’s comedy was that the ‘son’ was really a daughter, played by Claudine Auger who was everything her role demanded - sexy. . . .The scripters managed to pave some openings along the way for a couple of songs by Crosby and a singleton by Thomas. . . . Producers Alan Handley and Bob Wynn kept production values high throughout, and Handley’s direction was slick and strictly big time.

(Variety, April 27, 1966)

 

April 28, Thursday. At Hillsborough, Bing’s female Labrador, Topsy, delivers seven puppies with Kathryn’s help. Kathryn adopts the runt of the litter which she calls Cindy.

April 29, Friday. Bing and his family are at their Hillsborough home and pose for a number of press photographs.

May 1, Sunday. (10:00–11:00 p.m.) Acts as one of the hosts on the CBS-TV program The Magic of Broadcasting. Bing’s segment of the program had been recorded on February 17.

 

Arthur Godfrey is host for a nostalgic review of the great stars and favorite programs of radio and television history. Joining him are Bing Crosby, who uses an ancient Atwater Kent radio to acquaint two youngsters with musical stars of the past, including Al Jolson, Ben Bernie, Helen Morgan and Arthur Tracy; Lucille Ball, seen at rehearsals for her TV show with series co-star Gale Gordon (radio’s first Flash Gordon); Sheldon Leonard, TV producer of such series as ‘I Spy’ and ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’; writer Rod Serling, who discusses the live dramas of television’s ‘Golden Age’ and bandleader, John Scott Trotter, who reviews the big bands of yesteryear. Films, stills and transcripts include ‘Amos ‘n’ Andy’; Fanny Brice; Rudy Vallee; Milton Berle; Fibber McGee and Molly and Fred Allen.

(TV Guide, April 20, 1966)

 

If there was anything this star-studded botch lacked, it was any kind of “magic”. I