Friday, November 25, 2016

REMEBERING FLORENCE HENDERSON (1934-2016)




Monday, November 21, 2016

FLASHBACK: 1952



When Jimmy Stewart guested on Bing Crosby’s radio show on March 19, 1952, he, Bing and Fran Warren sang a short rendition of Mississippi Mud (Harry Barris/James Cavanaugh). This was edited from the show and released on several Bing Crosby compilation albums. The entire segment lasts only 51-seconds and begins with Jimmy saying, “Hey Bing…Bing…What… What…What was that…What was that mud song you used to sing all the time?” Bing sings a line, Fran sings a line which ends with Jimmy singing “chewin’ on a cud,” and all three singing on the chorus.

Monday, November 14, 2016

NINE THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT BING

Great info on Bing...


Nine things you might not know about legendary crooner Bing Crosby.

1. He got his name from a comic strip in The Spokesman-Review: Born Harry Lillis Crosby in Tacoma, Bing moved with his family to Spokane when he was 3 years old. The new name found him when he was 7. At the time, The Spokesman-Review ran a comics-page feature called “The Bingville Bugle,” which was a parody of hillbilly newspapers. Little Harry thought it was a real hoot and laughed uproariously whenever he read it. A neighbor, 15-year-old Valentine Hobart, noticed the laughter and started calling him “Bingo from Bingville.” The nickname was soon shortened to Bing and stuck with him for the rest of his life.

2. He might have been a lawyer if only it paid better: Before heading for Hollywood in 1925, Bing was a law student in his third year at Gonzaga University. In addition to his studies, he worked part-time in the office of Spokane attorney Col. Charles S. Albert and performed in a popular local dance band. “It began to dawn on me that I was making as much money on the side, singing and playing drums, as Col. Albert was paying his assistant attorney,” Bing later recounted. “This gave me to think: what was I doing pursuing the law when singing offered fatter financial possibilities.”

3. He scored 13 holes in one: Bing was no duffer on the golf course. He was a five-time club champion who was good enough to play in both the U.S. Amateur and the British Amateur championships. He was beset by throngs of fans when word got out that Bing Crosby was playing the U.S. Amateur, so he quietly entered the 1950 British tournament as Harry L. Crosby. Again, word leaked that it was Bing on the greens and record crowds filled the gallery. During his lifetime, he scored 13 holes in one, testament both to Bing’s ability and how often he played the game.

4. He saved the seventh game of the 1960 World Series: Bing was an owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team from 1946 until his death in 1977. When his Pirates played the New York Yankees in the 1960 World Series, Bing decided to take his wife to Paris rather than attend the game and risk jinxing his beloved ballclub. With the Series tied at three games each, Bing hired a private crew to film the seventh and deciding game so he could watch it when he got home. It turned out to be one of the greatest games in World Series history, with the Pirates winning 10-9 on second baseman Bill Mazeroski’s ninth-inning home run. Bing no doubt enjoyed watching the game upon his return, then quietly packed it away in the cool, dry basement of his California home. In 1960, baseball games were aired live but not typically recorded and it was long believed that dramatic game had been lost forever. But in 2009, a man cataloguing tapes of Crosby TV appearances for the crooner’s estate discovered five dusty metal film canisters labeled “1960 World Series.” The New York Times ran the story of the lost game found on its front page.

5. He also loved the hot ponies: When Bing and a few partners opened the Del Mar Racetrack just north of San Diego in 1937, he showed up to take tickets and shake hands at the entrance on opening day. For years, the track’s Turf Club was a hot spot for Hollywood star sightings and the horse racing was pretty good, too. In 1938, Del Mar hosted the famous winner-take-all two-horse race between Seabiscuit and Ligaroti, which NBC aired as the first-ever national radio broadcast of a horse race.

6. He was dreaming of a white Christmas in the film “Holiday Inn”: Bing’s rendition of “White Christmas” is still the best-selling single of all time, nearly 40 years after his death. Irving Berlin wrote the song for the 1942 musical film “Holiday Inn,” which starred Bing and Fred Astaire. Twelve years later, Bing starred with Danny Kaye in the film “White Christmas,” which borrowed the name and reprised the Academy Award-winning song. In between, Bing won the Academy Award for best actor in the 1944 film “Going My Way,” playing Father Chuck O’Malley, a character he based on a priest he had known at Gonzaga.

7. His last hit song was a duet with David Bowie: Bing’s televised Christmas TV specials were an American holiday staple until he died in 1977. The programs always featured Bing and his family, along with popular musical stars of the day, singing seasonal songs and performing skits. Bing invited the British glam rocker David Bowie to appear on his 1977 program and the two performed a strangely successful duet called “Peace on Earth,” complete with a corny intro sketch. The pre-recorded show actually aired two months after Bing died. In 1982, RCA released a single of the Bing-Bowie Christmas song, which has showed remarkable seasonal staying power over the years, climbing to No. 3 on the charts in December 2006.

8. He drove an Edsel to help Gonzaga: Bing built a new library for Gonzaga University back in the 1950s and raised some of the money for the project by starring in “The Edsel Show.” The television special, which aired in place of Ed Sullivan on Sunday, Oct. 13, 1957, starred Bing and friends Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Louis Armstrong and, of course, Bob Hope. Although Bing was the real driver behind the show, his alma mater was by contract the producer and as a result received a tidy $250,000 payday. The show was notable as the first CBS entertainment program recorded on videotape for rebroadcasting in the West after the show was performed live for the TV audience in the East. It was also a hit, earning Look Magazine’s TV award for best musical show of the year. However, to the disappointment of sponsor Ford Motor Co., the show’s success did not transfer to the popularity of the new-for-1958 Edsel brand of automobiles.

9. His childhood home is open to the public: Bing grew up at 508 E. Sharp Ave. in Spokane in a Craftsman-style house built in 1913 by his father and two uncles. The family lived there until they sold the home to a neighbor in 1936. The house still sits at the edge of the campus of Gonzaga University, which today owns the property. The well-preserved Crosby home contains displays that celebrate Bing’s life and accomplishments – photographs, gold records, golf mementos, even the Oscar he won in 1944. It is open to the public 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. weekdays and 1-4 p.m. on Saturdays. There is no charge for admission.

Monday, November 7, 2016

PHILCO RADIO TIME: 1947

In 1947, Bing continued to pioneer in radio broadcasting during his second Philco season. To address complaints about the audio quality of the first season of recorded broadcasts, Bing became the first to use magnetic tape recorders for his second season. Not only was the audio quality much improved, but tape was more easily edited than disks.

What follows is a list of the broadcasts, principal guests and songs sung by Bing from his second Philco season. Joining Bing throughout the season are his announcer, Ken Carpenter, the John Scott Trotter Orchestra and vocalist Peggy Lee. Rudolph Schmohoffer always arrived too late for the broadcast.

An asterisk (*) beside a show indicates a particularly great show; an asterisk beside a song indicates a great Crosby vocal...


PHILCO RADIO TIME (10-1-47) w GARY COOPER (1st taped show) My heart is a hobo; A long train (Peggy Lee); Medley: Small cafe / Chi-Baba / Peg of my heart; You do 

PHILCO RADIO TIME (10-8-47) w JIMMY DURANTE Whistling intro; Feudin, fightin and fussin; Just an old love of mine (Peggy Lee); That's my desire / I wonder whose kissing her now; As long as I'm dreaming

PHILCO RADIO TIME (10-15-47) w DINAH SHORE In Kocomo Indiana; Almost like being in love; I wish I didn't love you so (Dinah); Flop parade 

PHILCO RADIO TIME (10-22-47) w CLIFTON WEBB, BURL IVES Come to the Mardi Gras; Home on the range; Clementine; Just an old love of mine

PHILCO RADIO TIME (10-29-47) w BORIS KARLOFF, VICTOR MOORE Whistling Intro; Feudin, fightin, fussin; Ain't you ever coming back?; Duet with Karloff; Whiffenpoof song 

PHILCO RADIO TIME (11-5-47) w OZZIE & HARRIET NELSON Tallahassee; I Wish I Didn't Love You So; Almost Like Being in Love; Sunday, Monday, Always (w O&H); Why Don't You Fall in Love with Me? (w O&H); You Do 

PHILCO RADIO TIME (11-12-47) w PETER LORRE, WILLIAMS BROS. Come to the Mardi Gras; Hello Hello (Williams Bros); Jubilee (Williams Bros); Ain't you every coming back? 

PHILCO RADIO TIME (11-19-47) w BARRY FITZGERALD, DOROTHY KIRSTEN Freedom train; Indian summer (w Kirsten); Skit: How Bing met Barry; Too ra loo ral; I wish I didn't love you so 

PHILCO RADIO TIME (11-26-47) w FRANKIE LAINE The Old Chaparone; My Desire (Laine); Narration of "Man Without a Country"

PHILCO RADIO TIME (12-3-47) w AL JOLSON Pass the peace pipe; Kate; Rosey (w Jolson); A Pretty Girl (w Jolson); Best Things in Life are Free (w Jolson)

PHILCO RADIO TIME (12-10-47) w WALTER O'KEEFE * Civilization (Bongo Bongo Bongo); Whiffenpoof song*; Little by little; How soon 

PHILCO RADIO TIME (12-17-47) w JOE FRISCO, EILEEN WOODS, RUDOLPH SCHMOHOFFER Pass the peace pipe; Ballerina; I still get jealous; White Christmas

PHILCO RADIO TIME (12-24-47) w SKITCH HENDERSON AND THE CHARIOTEERS Adeste Fideles, The Christmas song, Jingle Bells, White Christmas, Silent Night. The last half of the show was a performance of a Christmas play called "The Small One." (This show was a rebroadcast of the 1946 Christmas show.) 

PHILCO RADIO TIME (12-31-47) w DANNY THOMAS You don't have to know the language; Let's start the new year right; Civilization (Bongo Bongo Bongo); But Beautiful

Monday, October 31, 2016

SHE LOVES ME NOT: A 1934 REVIEW

Here is an interesting review of Bing's early movie She Loves Me Not. This was originally published in the NY Times on September 8, 1934...

It is indeed a strange group of characters that are introduced during the hectic proceedings in the film version of last season's play,  She Loves Me Not. Mixed up with Princeton students are the university dean, his daughter, a fiery-tempered cabaret dancer, a couple of cool gunmen and an energetic motion picture press agent and his persistent camera men. As on the stage, this adaptation is a swift-paced piece of hilarity, with occasional romantic interludes during which Bing Crosby and Kitty Carlisle contribute some tuneful melodies.

Some of the farcical episodes in this Paramount offering are apt to recall that famous old comedy, "Charley's Aunt," but in the present production, instead of having a varsity student in skirts, they dress up a cabaret girl in male attire after she has invaded a dormitory room. It has many madcap exploits, such as when the urbane Dean Mercer is felled unconscious by one of the students, just after a thug has been treated similarly. It gives the producers the opportunity to present the thug and the college dean bound together on a sofa. And not the least humorous aspect of this incident is the fact that that excellent actor, Henry Stephenson, impersonates the unfortunate dean.


The story slips from a night club in Philadelphia to Princeton, thence to New York and back to the university. Miriam Hopkins appears as Curly Flagg, a dancer who flees from a night club—where she was a witness to a killing—to Princeton, where she takes refuge in one of the students' rooms. She is a constant source of worry to two students, Paul Lawton and Buzz Jones, even when she is garbed as a young man. Then the gangster chief decides that Curly will probably squeal about the murder and he dispatches two hirelings to "take her for a ride."

A motion picture producer hears about the girl being hidden in the Princeton students' room and his imaginative publicity man conceives the notion of employing Curly as a star, after getting as much publicity as possible in discovering her.


Lawton, who is acted by Bing Crosby, becomes infatuated with Midge Mercer, the dean's daughter, and their romance offers opportunity for the singing of several songs, which include "Love in Bloom," "I'm Hummin'," "I'm Whistlin'," "I'm Singin'" and "Straight From the Shoulder, Right From the Heart." These are rendered quite effectively by Mr. Crosby and Miss Carlisle.

Miriam Hopkins gives a vivacious performance as Curly and Warren Hymer adds to the fun by his portrayal of a gangster. Lynne Overman is splendid as the publicity man and George Barbier is in his element in the rôle of a motion picture magnate. Mr. Stephenson makes the most of the rôle of the unfortunate Dean Mercer...

Monday, October 24, 2016

BING AND BRUNSWICK

One of the first record labels Bing Crosby signed with was the Brunswick label, where he recorded some of his first hits like "Please", "Brother Can You Spare A Dime", and "Temptation". Here is a great advertisement I found of the Brunswick label with Bing from 1933...



Friday, October 14, 2016

OCTOBER 14, 1977

39 years ago, the music died for one of the most widely heard voices in history...

This article was originally published by the Daily News on October 15, 1977. This story was written by Amador Marin...


Madrid - Bing Crosby, the crooner of beautiful songs who dominated show business for three generations of lovers around the world, died here yesterday of a heart attack after completing a round of golf. "Der Bingle" was 73, and his death produced shock and grief among millions of devoted fans.

The end for the man with the gold baritone voice and relaxed, pipe-smoking humor came at the end of a 4 ½ - hour round of his beloved golf during which the great singer and actor was described as "happy and singing" - fresh from an acclaimed tour of Britain. He had come to Spain for a few days of rest and relaxation.

Crosby had been playing with three prominent Spanish golfers on the La Moraleja club course on the outskirts of Madrid, and the foursome had just left the 18th hole late in the afternoon. The four happy players were walking back to the clubhouse when Crosby was seized by a heart attack and slumped to the ground.

"We thought he had just slipped," said one of the Bing's playing comrades, Valentin Barrios, a champion Spanish golfer. "We took him to the clubhouse and he was given oxygen and cardiac tonic injections, but nothing could be done, Bing had shown no signs of fatigue. He was happy and singing as we went around the course."


Crosby, Barrios said, did not utter a sound as he fell to the turf.

"There were no last words," Barrios said.

It was about 6:30 p.m. on a warm sunny afternoon here when Crosby died. He was taken to the Red Cross Hospital in Madrid in an ambulance, but doctors there could do nothing. He was pronounced dead on arrival. "We carried him to the clubhouse, but it was already too late," said another member of the foursome, Manuel Pinero, the current Spanish golf champion.

"We were walking back to the clubhouse chatting and happy that we had won," Pinero said last night, as he recalled how he and Crosby had defeated Barrios and another Spanish golfer, Cesar de Zulueta, president of La Moraleja club.

Crosby's last game of golf was good. "Bing played better than Thursday, when he shot 92," Barrios told reporters...

Monday, October 10, 2016

GUEST REVIEWER: RHYTHM ON THE RIVER

Guest reviewer Bruce Kogan is back to take a look at the forgotten 1940 musical gem - Rhythm On The River...

Poor Basil Rathbone, an egotistical composer who's lost his muse. He's been faking it for some time, buying his lyrics and his music from various sources. Trouble is that two of the sources (Bing Crosby music) and (Mary Martin words) happen to meet and fall in love. And then they discover what they've been doing. Complications ensue, but all is righted at the end.

Crosby and Martin sing terrifically. Mary had signed a Paramount contract and also at the same time doubled as a regular on Crosby's Kraft Music Hall Radio Show. For reasons I don't understand, movie audiences didn't take to her, so she went back to Broadway and did One Touch of Venus in 1944 and stayed there.

Basil Rathbone in one of the few times he played comedy does it very well. His ego is constantly being deflated by sidekick Oscar Levant and again I'm surprised they didn't do more films together.

As in most of Crosby's Paramount vehicles, no big production numbers, but the title tune being done as an impromptu jam session in a pawn shop is cinematic gold. It shows what great rhythm Bing had. Good job by all.

Billy Wilder is co-credited for the story, and his unsentimental touch is noticeable in this quite original tale of ghostwriting songwriters who both work for burnt-out music legend Oliver Courtney. The obvious misunderstandings are gotten out of the way quite quickly, thank heaven, and what remains is a witty and breezy concoction with some fine songs (and some more forgettable ones).



Crosby at his most charming, a great turn by Broadway legend Mary Martin and Basil Rathbone and Oscar Levant providing most of the cynical barbs (Levant is in rare form and his quips haven't dated at all). Martin's singing gives hope and question to the ironic fact that she never scored in movies, given four years to try and make it at Paramount before giving up and returning to Broadway where she had greater luck. Crosby is his easy going self as usual, dropping deadpan lines like a dog with a bone after realizing that nothing else remained to gnaw on. A delightful surprise, and recommended for all fans of the genre.

A surprisingly original plot and great entertainment...

BRUCE'S RATING: 9 OUT OF 10
MY RATING: 9 OUT OF 10



Monday, October 3, 2016

SPOTLIGHT ON DIXIE LEE CROSBY

Born Wilma Winifred Wyatt, she adopted the professional name "Dixie Carroll" as a singer and showgirl. Winfield Sheehan of the Fox film studio changed the name to Dixie Lee, to avoid confusion with actresses Nancy Carroll and Sue Carol. She married Bing Crosby at the age of 18, and had four sons with him, all of them battled alcoholism as Dixie did.

Crosby's biographer, Gary Giddins, describes Dixie Lee as a shy, private person with a sensible approach to life. Giddins recounts that Dixie and Bing, as young marrieds, were often invited to parties where liquor was plentiful, and Dixie drank socially to keep up with Bing. She succeeded in curbing Bing's alcohol consumption, but ironically her own alcoholism worsened. She had a brief film career, starring in a few features for Bing's home studio Paramount Pictures in the 1930s; her most notable film is probably Love in Bloom (1935).

The two first met in November 1928 and Bing was immediately smitten. Dixie was a bit more hesitant. They met again at a party in Hollywood in early 1929 and the Crosby charm was too much to resist. The two married September 29, 1930, at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Hollywood. 


As Bing's stardom rose to superstar status in the 1930s, four boys arrived in the Crosby household. Gary Crosby arrived first in October 1933, the twins, Phillip and Dennis came along in 1934, and Lindsay rounded out the bunch in 1938.

However, despite her husband's fame and the four boys, Dixie was very tortured with what modern doctors would diagnose as depression. In the 1940s, Bing Crosby was one of the most recognizable men in the world, and with this fame he spent more and more time away from his family. As a result, Dixie was turning more and more towards alcohol.


In 1947, a movie came out called Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman starring Susan Hayward. It was a thinly disguised story based on the life of Dixie. It was directed by Stuart Heisler, who had directed Bing in Blue Skies the year before. Bing and Dixie were outraged at the film, and it further brought tension to their lives together.

Bing attempted to divorce Dixie following World War II to marry actress Joan Caulfield. The Catholic hierarchy denied Bing's request, and Caulfield was sent packing. In 1952 Bing learned that Dixie was dying of ovarian cancer while he was in France filming Little Boy Lost. She died Nov. 1, 1952, a week after his return home and three days before her 41st birthday. Bing's children and friends noted that Bing was devastated by his wife's death, despite their close encounters with divorce. Despite eventually remarrying in 1957, others close to Bing say he never recovered from the death of Dixie, who was there with him since the beginning of his rise to super stardom. Dixie Lee was definitely the woman behind the man, depite her demons...