Here is my 5th episode of my You Tube web series. This time around I spotlight the songs of the great Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers. There's no Bing this time, butI hope you enjoy it, and please keep the requests and comments coming...
Friday, March 16, 2018
Astaire's "Puttin' on the Ritz" number, where he dances to eight images of himself, is one of the great highlights. First introduced by Harry Richman for the 1930 musical, PUTTIN' ON THE RITZ, the original lyrics have been changed to fit the Astaire style as well as the changing of times. Crosby and Astaire also provide fine moments with their joint collaboration as "A Couple of Song and Dance Men." Billy De Wolfe supplies much of the comedy relief as Johnny's partner and assistant. Aside from being the love interest to Olga San Juan, he does a five minute one man comedy routine as Mrs. Murgatroyd.
While the story tends to get corny at times, it does get better with its passage of time and its assortment of fine songs. Aside from Crosby's singing, his sentimental moment where he meets with his little girl (Grimes) again is well done, along with Astaire's dancing, which is always first rate. He briefly breaks away from his traditional character where he becomes a troubled dancer who turns to liquor after being jilted. Joan Caulfield, then new to the movies, would work again with Crosby in WELCOME STRANGER (1947), an underrated drama with songs. Crosby and Astaire wouldn't work together again (except for a radio show together in 1951) until being reunited again for their TV special, "A Couple of Song and Dance Men" (CBS, 1975). Also in 1975, the two would make an great album together of the same name that I recommend.
Friday, March 9, 2018
The movie that was proposed was a lot different than the movie the film became. Leading lady Joan Caulfield was the protégé of Mark Sandrich, who directed many of the Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals. Sandrich was originally slated to direct this film, but died of a heart attack during pre-production and Stuart Heisler was drafted in to replace him. Heisler wanted Caulfield replaced, but Crosby, who had approval of his leading ladies, insisted she remain in the film. Reportedly Heisler and Crosby did not get along, and the following year Heisler would direct Susan Hayward in SMASH UP: THE STORY OF US which was based on an unflattering portrayal of Dixie Lee Crosby. Also Paul Draper, a Broadway dancer was supposed to star with Bing, but he left the film early on as well. Bing and Draper did not get along. Crosby was laid back to his way of filming, while Paul approached every scene and nuance of the movie as if he was choreographing and intricate ballet. Draper did not endear himself to Crosby either but trying to get actress Joan Caulfield removed from the picture. He was constantly complained about her lack of singing and dancing ability. During the first week of production Draper's speech impediment and his trenchant criticism of Caulfield's dance ability led Crosby to insist on his replacement by Fred Astaire who, then forty-seven, had already decided that this would be his final film and that he would retire.
In common tradition to many 1940s movies, most commonly found in the "film noir" genre, BLUE SKIES is told in flashback, starting in modern day setting at a radio station, Broadcast Network of America in New York City's Rockefeller Center, where Jed Potter (Fred Astaire), a former dancer now a radio personality, relates his life story and career to his listeners, a story with a beginning but without a finish. Dating back circa 1919 following World War I finds Jed attracted to Mary O'Hara (Joan Caulfield), a girl, a "very pretty girl," working in the chorus. He invites her to accompany him for dinner at a night club owned by Johnny Adams (Bing Crosby), his Army buddy. Almost immediately, Mary is attracted to Johnny, but in spite of Jed's warning that Johnny is not the marrying kind, she cannot resist him. Johnny and Mary marry, and during their union have a daughter, Mary Elizabeth (Karolyn Grimes). All goes well until Mary finds that Jed is right in his assumption of Johnny being selfish and unstable, buying and selling nightclubs (one of them called "Top Hat") at a moment's notice, and unable to settle down at in one place they could call home. After their divorce, Mary becomes engaged to Jed. Finding she's unable to marry Jed, Mary disappears, leaving Johnny as well as Jed, through his narration, to wonder whatever became of her.
Friday, February 23, 2018
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
SANTA MONICA, Calif, (AP) - Mrs. Catherine Helen Crosby, 90, mother of singer Bing Crosby, died Tuesday in a Santa Monica rest home after suffering a series of strokes.
A doctor and a family friend had just left her room when she died.
Mrs. Crosby had been in failing health for the past two years. She had lived with Bing in Holmby Hills, Calif., since her husband died in 1949.
Last fall she suffered a stroke and in the past four months had several others. Doctors said she was unconscious for the past three weeks.
She is survived by five sons and two daughters: Laurence (Larry) of Holmby Hills; Everett, Salisbury, Conn.; Edward (Ted); Harry Lillis (Bing); George Robert (Bob), Honolulu; Mrs. Catherine Mullin, Watsonville, Calif., and Mrs. Mary Rose Pool, Carmel, Calif.
Sunday, February 18, 2018
Friday, February 9, 2018
Two years from now, Crosby will complete the circle, returning to Hoylake, this time as the captain of the U.S. Walker Cup team. The USGA will make the announcement official on Wednesday.
"I haven't had a great moment in 35 years, haven't won a tournament in 35 years," Crosby said. "So when Diana Murphy [the USGA president] called me, I was extremely surprised. For someone that has something to say about everything, I was taken aback. I had a serious loss of breath when she told me I would be the next Walker Cup captain."
Crosby largely had reconciled with the idea that he likely would never be the Walker Cup captain based on the fact that the job generally goes to those who were career amateurs. For Crosby, he intended his amateur career to launch him onto a successful professional career. He played a few PGA Tour events and was a member of the European Tour for two years, but essentially retired from competitive golf to pursue a business career.
But when he turned up on the short list of candidates, his appeal to the USGA was that a preponderance of Walker Cup players these days similarly aspire to a professional career and as a result he can relate to them.
"To consider being an amateur golfer as a career made no sense to me when I was 17 years old," he said. "My pitch to the USGA was that I’m more in touch with guys trying to be successful golf pros who are 18, 19, 20, 21 years old."
Crosby, 56, is the son of the late entertainment industry icon Bing Crosby, which likely will heighten interest in the biennial amateur competition between teams from the U.S. and Great Britain & Ireland.
Bing was revered in the United Kingdom for his work on behalf of the war effort in the U.S. and his entertaining troops during World War II, and he was on record expressing a preference for courses in Great Britain and Ireland over those of the U.S. He also played in a British Amateur on the Old Course at St. Andrews, which still hosts the annual Bing Crosby Trophy, a competition for senior amateurs held in September.
Nathaniel has his own history in Great Britain. It began with the ’83 Walker Cup at Hoylake, where he had a 1-1 record in the Americans’ 13 ½ to 10 ½ victory. His teammates included three other future U.S. Walker Cup captains—Jay Sigel, Jim Holtgrieve and Bob Lewis Jr.
There, too, was his role in Bing’s annual Christmas show, this one, “Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas,” recorded in England in 1977. It was on that show that Bing and David Bowie, the original odd couple, collaborated on the song “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth,” that has become a Christmas standard.
A few weeks after recording was completed and Nathaniel had returned home, Bing died of a heart attack moments after finishing a round of golf in Spain.
Four years later, Nathaniel, 19 at the time, won the U.S. Amateur at the Olympic Club not far from the family home in Hillsborough, Calif., and next door to the San Francisco Golf Club where he remains a member.
Crosby, who regained his amateur status in 1994, has been a partner and executive in three golf equipment companies—Toney Penna Golf, the Jack Nicklaus Equipment Company and Orlimar Golf. Today, he is chairman of the AppleTree Golf Society.
“Nathaniel Crosby has proven experience as an amateur player at the highest levels in both individual and team competition, and this will lend itself well to providing leadership for the USA Walker Cup Team in 2019,” Stuart Francis, USGA Championship Committee chairman, said in a statement. “His father earned the USGA’s highest honor, the Bob Jones Award, and I know Nathaniel possesses similar traits, including sportsmanship, patriotism and a competitive spirit, that will assist him as captain.”
Incidentally, U.S. Walker Cup captains typically are retained for a second term. It would seem likely that Crosby, too, would be the U.S. captain again in 2021, given that the Walker Cup will be played at Seminole Golf Club in North Palm Beach, Fla., where he also is a member, as was Bing. Crosby, however, is not looking that far ahead...
Monday, January 29, 2018
Gary Giddins presents the second volume of his masterful multi-part biography...
Bing Crosby dominated American popular culture in a way that few artists ever have. From the dizzy era of Prohibition through the dark days of the Second World War, he was a desperate nation's most beloved entertainer. But he was more than just a charismatic crooner: Bing Crosby redefined the very foundations of modem music, from the way it was recorded to the way it was orchestrated and performed.
In this much-anticipated follow-up to the universally acclaimed first volume, NBCC Winner and preeminent cultural critic Gary Giddins now focuses on Crosby's most memorable period, the war years and the origin story of White Christmas. Set against the backdrop of a Europe on the brink of collapse, this groundbreaking work traces Crosby's skyrocketing career as he fully inhabits a new era of American entertainment and culture. While he would go on to reshape both popular music and cinema more comprehensively than any other artist, Crosby's legacy would be forever intertwined with his impact on the home front, a unifying voice for a nation at war. Over a decade in the making and drawing on hundreds of interviews and unprecedented access to numerous archives, Giddins finally brings Bing Crosby, his work, and his world to vivid life -- firmly reclaiming Crosby's central role in American cultural history.
"The best thing to happen to Bing Crosby since Bob Hope." (WSJ)
See also http://garygiddins.com/
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
The son of actor Gary Crosby and the grandson of legendary crooner Bing Crosby, Crosby 's only forays into show business were a few high school plays and hosting his own college radio show. "My father forbade me from going into show business, so it forced me to focus my energies elsewhere."
He says that his parents were very careful to make sure he lived a normal life and earned his keep. "I had jobs all throughout high school, college and law school. I didn't have all the trappings one might expect from a Hollywood lifestyle. My parents kept everything very grounded."
Monday, January 1, 2018
Happy New Year! Here is episode 3 of my pod cast on You Tube. I think the bugs and kinks of episode 2 has been corrected. I hope you enjoy the episode, and please keep the comments and suggestions coming...