Wednesday, July 17, 2019

NEW CD: BING SINGS BURKE AND VAN HEUSEN

Here is a new Bing Crosby CD that will be coming out soon. Some nice items on the CD, and you can purchase the CD on Amazon...



BING SINGS BURKE AND VAN HEUSEN:

TRACKS:
1. Humpty, Dumpty Heart from “Playmates” with Woody Herman Orchestra, July 30th 1941.
2. Ain’t Got A Dime To My Name from “The Road To Morocco” with Vic Schoen Orchestra, June 10th 1942.
3. Moonlight Becomes You from “The Road To Morocco” John Scott Trotter Orchestra, June 12th 1942.
4. Sunday, Monday Or Always from “Dixie”with the AFRS Orchestra, Treasury Star Parade, 1945.
5. If You Please from “Dixie”, with The Ken Darby Singers, Los Angeles, July 2nd 1943
6. It Could Happen To You from “And The Angels Sing”. John Scott Trotter Orchestra, December 29th 1943
7. Swinging On A Star from “Going My Way”, with The Williams Brothers Quartet and John Scott Trotter Orchestra, February 7th 1944.
8. The Day After Forever from “Going My Way”, John Scott Trotter Orchestra, February 7th 1944.
9. Going My Way from “Going My Way”, John Scott Trotter Orchestra, Los Angeles, February 7th 1944
10. Welcome To My Dream from “The Road To Utopia”, John Scott Trotter Orchestra, Los Angeles, July 17th 1944.
11. Put It There, Pal from “The Road To Utopia”, with Bob Hope, Vic Schoen Orchestra, December 8th 1944.
12. The Road To Morocco from “The Road To Morocco”, with Bob Hope, Vic Schoen Orchestra, December 8th 1944.
13. Yah-Ta-Ta, Yah-Ta-Ta with Judy Garland and Joseph Lilley Orchestra, Los Angeles, March 9th 1945.
14. Aren’t You Glad You’re You? from “The Bells of St. Mary’s”, John Scott Trotter Orchestra, September 10th 1945.
15. Personality from “The Road To Utopia”, with Eddie Condon Orchestra 3 and Wild Bill Davison, cornet, January 16th 1946.
16. But Beautiful from “The Road To Rio”, John Scott Trotter Orchestra, radio broadcast, 1948.
17. You Don’t Have To Know The Language from “The Road To Rio”, with The Andrews Sisters, Vic Schoen Orchestra, November 25th 1947.
18. Apalachicola, FLA with The Andrews Sisters, Vic Schoen OrchestraLos Angeles November 25th 1947.
19. To See You Is To Love You, John Scott Trotter Orchestra, radio broadcast, Los Angeles 1952.
20. “The Bells of St. Mary’s”, a radio adaptation of the movie, Bing Crosby, Ingrid Bergman and Joan Carroll, Screen Guild Theatre, August 26th 1946.

Note that the final track is of a full radio show extending to over 25 minutes!

Friday, July 12, 2019

BING AND SWANEE RIVER

Here is an excellent excerpt of a story on the song Swanee River. It was written by Leonard Kress, an excellent writer...

I recently listened to several recordings of “Swanee River.” The most moving and powerful by far was the version by Paul Robeson; it carries within it a deep and weary sadness that is as beautiful as it is hard to listen to. The other memorable version was by Bing Crosby, from the 1935 film, Mississippi

The scene opens with a group of dressed-up and dolled-up Black children performing the song for their families and relatives. They seem to be in some sort of parlor while wearing their best clothes and a boy and a girl try earnestly to reach the high notes without screeching. They are clearly meant to be seen as cute and precious, ardently trying to please the adults gathered in the doorway, outside looking in. They quickly join in, singing the song as if it were a spiritual, solemn anthem, and we quickly learn that this is some sort of evening entertainment for a group of well dressed (tuxes and crinoline) white men and women. One woman, Bing’s love-interest, played by gorgeous, hyper-sensitive, and brooding Joan Bennet, is shown in profile, a sentimentalized vision of melancholy until the other party-goers urge Bing to join in the singing. 

At first, he demurs — “Why spoil it?” he says, but soon he does sing. Everyone is transfixed, spellbound — much in the way I was in Chatlins. The Black cast disappears as if the doors had been shut, and only an older kerchiefed house servant momentarily looks down approvingly from a balcony, presumably experiencing her own version of the Stendhal Syndrome. What’s interesting about Crosby’s version of the song is that he sings it with his customary intimate jazzy phrasing, avoiding the deep and loud vaudeville style usually associated with minstrel shows. Moreover, the Crosby character is a northern Quaker who gets into trouble when he refuses to take part in a duel. Even though issues of race are not treated directly in the film, he clearly comes from an abolitionist background — as did Stephen Foster, who supported the North during the Civil War and was known to support the abolitionist cause. Moreover, the song itself, with its questionable lyrics and use of artificially stereotypical slave dialect (as in “Oh, darkeys, how my heart grows weary,/Far from de old folks at home”), is clearly about the hardship, sadness, and despair of families separated by slave traders and plantation owners...



Thursday, July 4, 2019

THE STAR MAKER: A 1939 REVIEW

The Star Maker is a seldom seen Bing Crosby film that would turn 80 years old this year. It's a pretty good flick, and here is the original movie review from the NY Times of August 31, 1939...

"The Star Maker," the new Bing Crosby film at the Paramount, was inspired (to employ a euphemism) by the career of Gus Edwards, a show-minded Pied Piper who used to swing around the old vaudeville circuits followed by precocious little song and dance teams—the girls in sunbonnets, the boys in newsies' tatters—who grew up, or at least some of them did, to become Walter Winchell, George Jessel, Eddie Cantor and Mervyn LeRoy. So it is possible that among the tiny tots, the not-so-tiny-tots and the not-tots at all recruited by Paramount for its interminable Gus Edward revue there may be a future Fred Astaire, Alice Faye, Vera Zorina or even a Bing Crosby. And if so, what of it?

Mightn't it have been better to have waited a few years to see?If we have to take a stand on the problem of talented children, and "The Star Maker" demands it, it is this: we think it is perfectly marvelous for a 5-year-old to be able to toe-dance, for a 6-year-old to be able to do a buck and wing, for a group of under-tens to be able to do a shuffle-off-to-Buffalo together, but if you don't mind we'll give our seat to a proud parent and go somewhere to watch the professionals do it. We believe the young should be encouraged, encouraged to rehearse and practise and grow up in private so that no one will have to say, as we must, "aren't they remarkable for children!"There isn't much more to the picture.


Mr. Crosby sings in his usual lullaby manner and hasn't many good lines to play with. Ned Sparks sneaks away with a comic scene or two as the child-hating press agent who has to tell bedtime stories and spins a grim whopper about the mean old wolf who gobbled up the little kiddies. Linda Ware, 14 years old, sings with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (Walter Damrosch conducting) in a clear, if slight, soprano which probably is better than its recording and projection: the sound gadget wheezed in the higher register. But it is all, if Mr. Edwards will pardon us, too much like a Gus Edwards revue and far too much of that.



THE STAR MAKER, screen play by Frank Butler, Don Hartman and Arthur Caesar based on a story by Mr. Caesar and William A. Pierce suggested by the career of Gus Edwards; directed by Roy Del Ruth; produced for Paramount by Charles R. Rogers.

Larry Earl . . . . . Bing Crosby
Mary . . . . . Louise Campbell
Jane Gray . . . . . Linda Ware
"Speed" King . . . . . Ned Sparks
Carlotta Salvini . . . . . Laura Hope Crews
Stella . . . . . Janet Waldo

Saturday, June 22, 2019

MAYOR BING CROSBY

A famous photograph of Bing Crosby and Elko Mayor Dave Dotta appeared in newspapers and magazines world wide in 1948. Dotta is supervising Crosby while the singer/actor sweeps the street in front of the Ranch Inn at Ninth and Idaho streets.

Crosby bought several ranches in the North Fork area and spent summers there to get away from his hectic schedule. His first family, wife Dixie, and four sons Gary, Philip, Lindsay and Dennis shared those times with Bing.

He frequently came to town where he was treated just like one of the locals. In fact, he was so comfortable in Elko he didn't wear his hair piece. He became one of "us," not one of "them." It was a place where he could literally let his hair down and he sincerely appreciated his acceptance by the townspeople.

Crosby, in his book, Call Me Lucky, said he wasn't asked for an autograph, to give to a charity, do a benefit appearance, or to do anything but "mind my own business." Bing fit right in.

He loved the town and the town loved "Der Bingle." As a publicity stunt, but an appropriately serious one, Bing was asked to be Honorary Mayor of Elko and he accepted.

February 7, 1948 was the big day. Ceremonies were held at the Ranch Inn and the Commercial Hotel.

Mayor Dotta read the declaration: "In humble recognition of your outstanding contributions to high standards of American citizenship, sportsmanship, clean living, parenthood, et. al.; and finally your substantial additions to community life in the City and County of Elko, I am privileged and proud to herewith appoint you by official proclamation, Honorary Mayor of Elko, Nevada to serve ad infinitum. We are grateful that you have seen fit to accept this honor."


Elko Mayor Dave Dotta presents the Key to the City at the ceremony designating Bing Crosby (without his hair piece) Honorary Mayor of Elko on February 7, 1948. Photo from the Northeastern Nevada Museum Collections.

Dotta told Bing that the townspeople would make sure the singer carried out his duties which included getting the snow plows out, directing traffic, and street cleaning. His training began immediately and that's when the famous photograph was snapped.




In his acceptance speech, he promised to close down all the saloons - but not until everybody was inside.

Bing Crosby remained Honorary Mayor of Elko until 1977 when he died of a heart attack in Spain following a round of golf. Elkoans sincerely mourned the loss to the town and to the world. Part of his limitless acting and musical legacy was his 1944 Academy Award for Best Actor (Going My Way) and for White Christmas, the song forever associated with him, the 1942 Academy Award for Best Song. But in town, he was just Bing...

Saturday, June 15, 2019

FLASHBACK: 1967

On April 1, 1967, Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong sang a medley of “Let’s Sing Like a Dixieland Band” and “Muskrat Ramble” on The Hollywood Palace. This episode was originally telecast by ABC...



Saturday, May 25, 2019

SPOTLIGHT ON AL RINKER

A forgotten player in the early years of Bing was Al Rinker. Rinker was an American musician who began his career as a teen performing with Bing Crosby in the early 1920s in Spokane, Washington in various musical groups. In 1925 the pair moved on to Los Angeles, eventually forming the Rhythm Boys trio with singer/songwriter/pianist Harry Barris.

Barris wrote the songs "Mississippi Mud", "I Surrender, Dear", and "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams" among others. The singing group worked with Paul Whiteman's Big Band for three years. They went out on their own for a year until Crosby effectively dissolved the group to go solo. The Rhythm Boys were filmed for the Paul Whiteman movie The King of Jazz (1930) singing "Mississippi Mud", "So the Bluebirds and the Blackbirds Got Together", "A Bench in the Park", and "Happy Feet".

According to a filmed interview of Rinker, Crosby performed the first two weeks on his first film while on daytime work release from jail after crashing his car into a telephone pole while driving drunk. After the Rhythm Boys broke up, they reunited only once, to appear together on the Paul Whiteman Presents radio broadcast on July 4, 1943.

In 1952, a song for which Rinker wrote the music with lyrics by Floyd Huddleston, "You Can't Do Wrong Doin' Right", appeared in the films Push-Button Kitty and The Affairs of Dobie Gillis. He also wrote the song "Everybody Wants to Be a Cat" also with Floyd Huddleston for the Disney animated children's movie The Aristocats (1970). Rinker had also written the songs for the MGM musicial The Duchess Of Idaho starring Van Johnson in 1950.

Rinker was born on December 20, 1907 in Tekoa, Washington; his mother, Josephine, was an enrolled member of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe and a devout Roman Catholic. He and his siblings grew up on the Coeur d'Alene Indian reservation near DeSmet, Idaho.

It was a musical family: their father, Charles, played fiddle and called square dances, and their mother played piano every evening after supper. His younger brother Charles Rinker became a lyricist who worked frequently with composer Gene de Paul. Rinker married Elizabeth Neuberger on October 25, 1938.


Their older sister Mildred, under her married name of Mildred Bailey, had embarked on a musical career in Los Angeles before Rinker and Crosby became known. She became a well-known jazz singer after the Rhythm Boys arranged for Paul Whiteman to "discover" her singing at a party; he hired her to sing with his band. For a time she was known as "Mrs. Swing."

Julie Rinker is Al Rinker's daughter. Julie Rinker was one of Dean Martin's original Dean's Girls on The Dean Martin Show. Julie Rinker is also the female voice of the Three's Company Theme Song. Al died suddenly at on June 11, 1982 at the age of 74. In later years, Al appeared to be bitter towards to Bing Crosby. He seemed to say that Bing forgot his Rhythm Boy roots and discarded his former partners. Bing did give numerous movie roles to Harry Barris, and he recorded a couple of Rinker's sons, so whether or not the bitterness was deserved is beyond me. Al Rinker was talented in his own right, and he was a part of an exciting time in popular music...


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

REMEMBERING: TIM CONWAY (1933-2019)

Funny man Tim Conway (1933-2019) made us laugh for decades. Here he is with Bing from his appearance on the Hollywood Palace. Rest in peace...






Wednesday, May 8, 2019

SWINGING ON A STAR

SWINGING ON A STAR
By Charles Apple - THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW

Seventy-five years ago today, the movie “Going My Way” was released in theaters. The musical featured Spokane’s own Bing Crosby in a role that would win him an Academy Award and that featured him singing a song that would win an Oscar.


This would be Crosby's first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and the only time he’d win an Oscar. He’d be nominated again the next year for “The Bells of St. Mary’s” and then one more time in 1954.

But Crosby, in fact, was well- acquainted with the Oscars. Even by 1944, Crosby had sung songs in movies that had been nominated five times for Academy Awards.

Crosby did a lot more than just star in movies and sing in musicals. He recorded 50 to 70 records a year during the 1940s. He pioneered the use of prerecorded radio shows on reel-to-reel magnetic tape — reportedly, so he could spend more time playing golf. In 1963, Crosby would receive the first Grammy Global Achievement Award.

Crosby gave benefit concerts to help sell war bonds and did special programs for the Armed Forces Radio Network. He traveled to France to entertain troops just months after the D-Day invasion.

And he took his golf seriously. He worked his way to a 2 handicap and played in both the British and U.S. Amateur Championships. He started a tournament in 1937 that has evolved into the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Crosby was born in Tacoma but his family moved to Spokane when he was 3 years old. He attended Gonzaga University and would perform between films in Spokane’s Clemmer Theater — which is now named after Crosby.

Crosby died in 1977 after playing a round of golf at La Moraleja Golf Course near Madrid, Spain. He was 74...

Friday, May 3, 2019

THE FIVE BEST BING CROSBY MOVIES

Five years ago I published a list of my five favorite Bing Crosby movies, and in honor of what would have been Bing's 116th birthday, I figured I would update my list. I did not look at the 2014 list when writing this to see if there are any changes...


5. JUST FOR YOU (1952) - This Crosby film is not widely remembered today, but it should be. It is probably the closest Bing ever got to a biographical film about himself. In the film, Bing is a father to two children (Natalie Wood and Robert Arthur), but he is also trying to juggle fame and stardom. This was the second pairing of Bing with actress Jane Wyman, and the duo got to introduce the new song "Zing A Little Zong", which is a personal favorite.
2011 ranking:#7     2014 ranking: NA

4. HOLIDAY INN (1942) - This movie cemented Bing Crosby as a Hollywood movie superstar. This film was destined to be a classic with Bing, Fred Astaire, and an Irving Berlin song track. Bing got to sing countless Irving Berlin standards like "Easter Parade", "Be Careful It's My Heart", but it was in this movie that Bing got to introduce his signature song "White Christmas". This movie would be the first movie Bing would make with Fred Astaire, and it was also his first movie with songs by Irving Berlin.
2011 ranking:#3     2014 ranking:#3



3. BLUE SKIES (1946) - This was the second pairing of Bing, Fred Astaire, and Irving Berlin. It almost did not happen because Broadway dancer Paul Draper was supposed to be in the Astaire role, but due to his stutter and his disagreements with Bing, Draper was replaced. This was also supposed to be Fred Astaire's "swan song" from movies. Bing got to sing countless great Irving Berlin tunes like: "Blue Skies", "All By Myself" and the new "You Keep Coming Back Like A Song". The story was corny spanning the time between two World Wars, but this has always been one of my favorite Crosby films.
2011 ranking:#2     2014 ranking#2

2. HIGH SOCIETY (1956) - After Bing would leave Paramount Studios in 1956, after 24 years he moved to MGM for this great Cole Porter musical. Bing was paired with Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Celeste Holm, and Louis Armstrong, and the result is film magic. Bing had a hit with Grace Kelly on the song "True Love", and I named my daughter after the Grace Kelly character and Cole Porter song "I Love You, Samantha". Bing and Sinatra were great together, and they got to duet on the great number "Well, Did You Evah". In my opinion, this is one of the last truly great MGM movie musicals made.
2011 ranking:#4     2014 ranking:#4



1. THE COUNTRY GIRL (1954) - I would always have a debate with my Grandfather about this movie. He hated this movie, because Bing played a different role that he was used to. The film was dark, and Bing played an alocholic actor who gets one last chance to make a comeback. Bing was nominated for the third time for this film, but lost to Marlon Brando. Grace Kelly won though for playing Bing's lost suffering wife. Reportedly for the one drunken scene, Bing paced and stayed up all night to get a more haggard look. Watch this movie, and I dare you to say that Bing Crosby was not a great actor!
2011 ranking:#1     2014 ranking:#1