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Monday, June 18, 2018

Bing Crosby profile: by Kevin Trask

It is 40 years since the passing of Bing Crosby but he lives on through his films and recordings. Most of us followed his life with great interest as he was once described as “the most popular man on the planet.”
Bing portrayed the handsome, easy going wisecracking singer and actor and he was dearly loved.
Harry Lillis Crosby was born in Tacoma, Washington, in 1903 and had six brothers and sisters.
When Harry was only three the family moved to moved to Spokane, Washington.
In 1910 he was given the nickname of ‘Bing’ by a young neighbour and it stuck throughout his life.
Bing attended Gonzaga University and I have seen letters he wrote back to the University after he became rich and famous – he never forgot his peers and was very respectful.
He joined a band and played drums. In 1925 Bing joined a singing group called The Rhythm Boys and he worked with Harry Barris and Al Rinker.
They sang with the famous Paul Whiteman Orchestra.
Bing married Dixie Lee in 1930 and they had four sons Gary, Phillip, Dennis and Lindsay.
Bing decided to go solo in 1931 and developed the ‘crooning style’ of singing and had hits with songs such as Just One More Chance, Out of Nowhere and A Million Dollar Baby.
Bing was signed to Brunswick Records and was also singing on the CBS Radio network.
He became one of the most popular singers throughout the world and everybody wanted to sing like Bing.
His film career began with short features and by the late 1930s Bing Crosby was a major film star.
Some of his films in this period included Anything Goes, Sing You Sinners, We’re Not Dressing, Pennies From Heaven and Rhythm on the Range.
In the film Holiday Inn he sang a new song by Irving Berlin which became his biggest selling single.
Bing thought that White Christmas was just another song but he was proven wrong when the public took it to their hearts and it has been reported that it has sold in excess of 50 million singles over the past 70 years. The figure is around 100 million if you count albums and compilations.
Bing won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1944 for his role as Father O’Malley in Going My Way. I loved the ‘Road films’ with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope which began with Road to Singapore in 1940 and ended with The Road to Hong Kong in 1962.
Dixie Lee died in 1952 and five years later Bing walked down the aisle with Kathryn Grant and they had three children from their happy marriage.
Bing Crosby never came to Australia and I cannot recall seeing a film or telemovie on his life. Over the years he did radio interviews with Norman Banks, Philip Brady and Bert Newton.
In his career Bing Crosby won many awards for his singing and acting. He made the transition into television in the early 1950s after almost 20 years in radio.
My favourite Bing Crosby film is High Socity where he teamed with Grace Kelly, Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra.
There have been many books written on Bing Crosby and there is not enough space in this column to pay justice to his body of work.
Bing Crosby died suddenly whilst playing golf in Madrid on October 14, 1977. He collapsed from a massive heart attack at the age of 74. The Herald newspaper in Melbourne devoted its entire front page to the story and several pages within the paper. It was a great shock to the world.
I am a member of the Bing Crosby Society and we meet at the Collingwood Library, 11 Stanton St, Abbotsford. Old Crosby films are shown and a group of people who share a common interest in Bing Crosby meet for a great social evening. The next meeting will be on Tuesday, October 17 at 7pm – for details contact John Allan on 9755 3365. It will be a special meeting to mark Bing’s 40th anniversary. Needless to say I am a huge fan of the work of Bing Crosby.
Kevin Trask
Kevin can be heard on radio –
Mike Till Midnight – Saturday at 8.10pm
Remember When – Sunday at 9.10pm
That’s Entertainment – 96.5FM
Sundays at 12 Noon
96.5FM is streaming on the internet. To listen, go to www.innerfm.org.au and follow the prompts.

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