Friday, September 7, 2018

PHOTOS OF THE DAY: BING AND HIS TELEVISION FRIENDS

Bing Crosby started out in radio and movies, but when television became the most popular entertainment medium in the 1950s, Bing dabbled on it quite often. He had the opportunity to work with a lot of great people on television, and here he is with some of his television friends...

Carol Burnett


Julie Andrews

Engelbert Humperdinck


Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin

Perry Como

Flip Wilson

Monday, September 3, 2018

REST IN PEACE: GLORIA JEAN

Child actress Gloria Jean passed away on September 1, 2018.She was an American actress and singer who starred or co-starred in 26 feature films between 1939 and 1959, as well as making numerous radio, television, stage, and nightclub appearances.

After moving to Scranton, Pennsylvania, Gloria Jean sang on radio with Paul Whiteman's band. When she was 12, "she was engaged by a smallish New York opera company and became the youngest member of an opera troupe in the United States." Gloria Jean was being trained as a coloratura soprano, when her voice teacher, Leah Russel, took her to an audition held by Universal Pictures movie producer Joe Pasternak in 1938. Pasternak had guided Deanna Durbin to stardom, and with Durbin now advancing to ingénue roles, Pasternak wanted a younger singer to make the same kind of musicals. Up against hundreds of others, Gloria Jean won the audition.

Under contract to Universal, she was given the leading role in the feature The Under-Pup (1939) and became instantly popular with moviegoers. Universal's publicity department initially claimed the singer was 11 years old instead of 13; her actual age was not well known for many decades. For her next two vehicles, she co-starred with Bing Crosby in If I Had My Way (1940) and starred in the well-received A Little Bit of Heaven (also 1940), which reunited her with many from the Under-Pup cast. Her best-known picture is her fourth, Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941), in which she co-starred with W. C. Fields.


Gloria Jean made a successful transition to young adult roles. Her dramatic tour de force, as a blind girl being menaced by an escaped killer, was filmed as one of four vignettes for Julien Duvivier's Flesh and Fantasy(1943). Her performance won raves at the film's advance preview, and her segment was the best-received of the four. However, Universal removed the half-hour sequence and shelved it until 1944, when it was expanded into a feature-length melodrama, Destiny. She co-starred with Olsen and Johnson in the big-budget Ghost Catchers (1944), and in her last two Universal features, released in 1945, she was teamed with singer-actor Kirby Grant.

She resumed her movie career as a freelance performer appearing in United Artists, Columbia Pictures, and Allied Artists productions, the best-known being Copacabana (1947) with Groucho Marx. Some stage and television work followed in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as four feature films. Wonder Valley (1953), produced on location in Arkansas, was Gloria Jean's first color movie and is now a lost film. Her next feature was Air Strike (1955), a minor military drama.


After Air Strike Gloria Jean was hired by the owner of the Tahitian restaurant in Studio City, California, as a hostess, greeting and seating dinner guests. She enjoyed the experience and occasionally ran the restaurant in her employer's absence. Show-business patrons were surprised that a film star was now involved in restaurant work, resulting in sympathetic feature stories in the national press. Veteran Hollywood producer Edward Finney, himself a Gloria Jean fan, saw one of these reports and hired her to star in the lightweight comedy Laffing Time (filmed in 1959, re-released as The Madcaps in 1964). Jerry Lewis also read that Gloria Jean was working in a restaurant, and signed her for a singing role in his latest production, The Ladies Man (1961).Lewis removed almost all of her footage from the finished film; she appears only as an extra and has no dialogue. It was her last theatrical motion picture.

After her retirement from Redken, Gloria Jean lived in California with her sister, Bonnie. After Bonnie died in 2007, she moved to Hawaii, where lived with her son and his family. Very late in life she suffered health problems, including two serious falls that slowed her mobility, and an impaired heart condition. She died of heart failure and pneumonia in 2018.

Her authorized biography, Gloria Jean: A Little Bit of Heaven, was published in 2005. A tribute website, GloriaJeanSings.com, followed, again with Gloria Jean's cooperation. Her Internet presence includes a series of videos showing the actress as she appeared in recent years...


Friday, August 24, 2018

SPOTLIGHT ON BEVERLY WASHBURN

Here is a great story on child actress Beverly Washburn. She played the daughter of Bing in 1951's Here Comes The Groom...

Beginning her career as a talented child actress, Beverly Washburn appeared in some classic 1950s films including “Hans Christian Andersen” (1952), “Shane” (1953) and “Old Yeller” (1957) as well as dozens of classic TV shows. She also worked alongside Hollywood’s most popular actors and her list of favorites is long (see www.beverlywashburn.com).

While she appeared in several “Wagon Train” episodes, her favorite was The Tobias Jones Story where Lou Costello plays a drunk accused of murder – not only a rare dramatic role for the comedian but one of his final acting appearances.


“I was a big Abbott & Costello fan, so it was a thrill to work with Lou,” said Washburn from Las Vegas where she has lived for over 20 years. “I just loved him, he was such as sweet man. But he was so used to ad-libbing in the comedy routines that he actually found it hard to stick to the script. When he forgot a line, he would look into the camera and say, ‘So how are ya?’ which always made me giggle.”


Washburn recalls rehearsing a scene where she had to push Costello’s intoxicated character into a wagon. “He leaned back and said ‘push my biscuits’ (buttocks) into the wagon as hard as I could. I’d never heard that expression before! While he was a joy to work with, I do remember there was a kind of sadness about him which I only later realized was because he never really got over his young son drowning." Costello died a few months after filming.


In Here Comes the Groom (1951), Washburn plays Bing Crosby’s adopted daughter. “People always ask me was he mean because of the bad wrap he got over the years from the stories told by his son from his first marriage,” she said. “But he was so kind to me. He gave me a beautiful doll one Christmas and I was on his Christmas card list for years. He signed a couple of photographs for me and wrote ‘For Beverly, hope to play in your next picture’ on one and ‘To my co-star Beverly’ on another. Those are mementos from my career that I still treasure.”

She also appeared in episodes of the Warner Bros. ABC detective series, 77 Sunset Strip and Hawaiian Eye. She appeared twice on the CBS western series, The Texan starring Rory Calhoun, as Henrietta Tovers in "No Tears for the Dead" (1958) and as Greta Banden in "Badman" (1960). She appeared in the debut episode of NBC's Wagon Train but not in the lead role. Her episodes included the episodes "The Willy Moran Story" (1957), "The Tobias Jones Story" (1958), and as Milly Sharp "The Cassie Vance Story" (1963).


In the 1970s, she appeared in three episodes of Quinn Martin's The Streets of San Francisco crime drama with Karl Malden': "Most Feared in the Jungle" (1973), "Letters from the Grave" (1975), and as Michelle Rhodes in "Let's Pretend We're Strangers" (1977). One of her later television appearances was in the 1984 episode "Remembrance of Things Past" of CBS's Scarecrow and Mrs. King. Her most recent role was that of the character Brenda in the 2007 film Hard Four, which also features Ed Asner, Paula Prentiss, Dabney Coleman, and Ed Begley, Jr. In 2015, she appeared as Reyna Belasco Rosenthal in R. Christian Anderson's feature film When the World Came to San Francisco.

In her book, “Reel Tears: The Beverly Washburn Story, Take Two” re-released in 2013 by BearManor Media, Beverly shares many more stories from her career. She says she has been “blessed to work with so many wonderful people in the entertainment business.”

“It hasn’t all be roses, as I talk about in my book,” she adds, “but I have a lot of fond memories for sure.”



SOURCE

Friday, August 10, 2018

SR. HELEN CROSBY: A CROSBY NIECE


I have been trying to research Bing's family more extensively. With all of the siblings Bing had, he had an extended family that you never heard about. One example of that is Bing's one niece - Sr. Helen Crosby. Sr. Helen was the daughter of Bing's brother Edward (Ted) Crosby. Sr. Helen Dolores "Dixie" Crosby was born on May 18, 1934. She died on July 22, 2007. Here is her obituary, which was surprisingly pretty extensive:

Sister Crosby, a longtime educator, died of cancer in her convent home in Spokane. She was 72.
Sister Crosby, known as Dixie to her friends and family, grew up in Spokane, the niece of famed crooner Bing Crosby. When she and her twin sister were born, their dad sent Bing Crosby a telegram: "It takes three of a kind to beat two queens." A few months later, when Bing Crosby's twin sons were born, the singer sent a telegram: "A pair of kings arrived today."
After teaching in Spokane, Sister Crosby moved to the Seattle area, where she taught at Holy Rosary School in Edmonds and served as principal at Our Lady of the Lake School in Seattle and Immaculate Conception School in Everett.

Whenever Franklin High School basketball coach Jason Kerr would send an e-mail to his beloved teacher, he would proofread it four times before sending it.

Sister Dolores Crosby "was better than spellcheck," said Kerr. "She'd never miss an opportunity to correct something we wrote." Kerr, who attended Lady of the Lake, said he remained friends with Sister Crosby until her death. "She had a big impact on my life, keeping me grounded," he said. "She ... had a big part in what I do."

Sister Crosby's twin sister, Katie Ferguson, who lives in Richland, said her sister always called her "womb mate" and the two were very close. When they were in grade school, the two sisters would be seated next to each other, and Sister Crosby would whisper the answers to her sister.

Throughout her career, Sister Crosby liked preparing her students for life beyond grade school, friends and family said. Longtime friend Marge Davis, who met Sister Crosby when she worked in Spokane, said, "Everything she did was such a joy. The kids loved her and would go back and visit her long after they graduated. I never met a person who could keep so many friends."

Sister Crosby was also a Seattle Mariners fan and was named a Seattle Times Fan of the Week in 2001. She could rattle off batting averages and pitching records. She carried her keys on a Joey Cora key ring, decorated the walls of her Brier home with baseball calendars and cooked from a Mariners cookbook.

Sister Crosby also is survived by brothers Howard, of Walla Walla, and Ed, of Spokane, and sister Antonia Crosby, of Peabody, Mass...



Wednesday, August 1, 2018

REST IN PEACE: MARY CARLISLE

One of Bing Crosby's earliest co-stars has passed away. Mary Carlisle made her last movie in 1943, but she was one of the most beautiful actresses of her time. She made three memorable movies with Bing, as he became a superstar in the 1930s.

She also appeared in Garbo's Grand Hotel and opposite the likes of Jack Benny, John Barrymore and Basil Rathbone.

Mary Carlisle, the lovely blonde actress who was the object of Bing Crosby's crooning affection in three breezy musical comedies of the 1930s, has died. She was 104.

Carlisle, who appeared in more than 50 films in the decade, died early Wednesday morning at the Motion Picture Television Fund retirement home in Woodland Hills, a spokeswomen for the home told The Hollywood Reporter.


Carlisle also played a giggling honeymooner in Greta Garbo's Grand Hotel (1932) and showed no favorites when it came to one of college football's biggest rivalries back then, starring in Hold 'Em Navy (1937) and then Touchdown, Army (1938).

The 5-foot-1 Carlisle displayed a cozy chemistry with Crosby in the Paramount movies College Humor (1933), Double or Nothing (1937) and Doctor Rhythm (1938).

In their first pairing, Crosby performed "Moonstuck" as she looked on, and in the second he employed shadow puppets as he sang "It's the Natural Thing to Do" to her. And in the last, Crosby serenaded a park statue with "My Heart Is Taking Lessons" as Carlisle watched on horseback nearby.


Carlisle's co-stars also included Jack Benny (It's in the Air), John Barrymore (Should Ladies Behave), Basil Rathbone (Kind Lady), Will Rogers (Handy Andy), Buster Crabbe (The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi), Maureen O'Hara (Dance, Girl, Dance) and Lloyd Nolan (Tip-Off Girls).

After appearing with George Zucco and horror-film icon Dwight Frye in Dead Men Walk (1943), she retired from the movies.

Carlisle was married to James Blakeley — an actor and later a film editor and head of postproduction at 20th Century Fox, where he worked on such series as Peyton Place and Batman— from 1942 until his death in 2007 at age 96.


Born Gwendolyn Witter in Boston on Feb. 3, 1914, she was brought to Hollywood by her widowed mother. At age 14, while they were having lunch at the Universal commissary, the blue-eyed girl was spotted by producer Carl Laemmle Jr. and given a screen test, though she did not sign with the studio.

After completing high school, however, Carlisle met a casting director at MGM, then showed up in uncredited roles in such films as Madam Satan (1930) — as Little Bo Peep — The Great Lover (1931) with Adolphe Menjou and then Grand Hotel.


In 1933, Carlisle received a big career boost when she was selected as a "Baby Star" — a young actress thought to be on the threshold of stardom — by the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers. (Others picked that year included Gloria Stuart and Ginger Rogers.)

After she was finished with acting, Carlisle managed an Elizabeth Arden beauty salon in Beverly Hills.

Survivors include her son, James Blakeley III, and two grandchildren...



Wednesday, July 25, 2018

GUEST REVIEWER: THE EMPEROR WALTZ

Our resident reviewer Bruce Kogan is back to review Bing's 1948 film The Emperor Waltz. I have to admit it's not one of my favorite films, but I might have to give it another viewing soon...

According to a new book out on Billy Wilder, Wilder had a much different film in mind than what emerged here. He was a contract director for Paramount at the time this was made with a few hits under his belt. And he was assigned to direct this film with Bing Crosby who was the biggest name in movies when this came out.

Crosby had a whole different film in mind and what Bing wanted Paramount gave him at that point. Wilder wanted a biting satire on the Franz Joseph court and he also wanted a the killing of the puppies, the offspring of Crosby's and Joan Fontaine's dogs to be an allegory for genocide. Crosby knew what his audiences expected from him and he opted for a lighter treatment.


The result was a second rate Billy Wilder movie, but a first class Bing Crosby film. Unlike in the thirties when Paramount just depended on Crosby's personality to put over a film, they gave this one the full A treatment. The outdoor sequences were shot in the Canadian Rockies and they serve as a great Alpine background. Though its muted, Wilder still gets some of his cynical point of view into Crosby's phonograph salesman who woos a member of Viennese royalty played by Joan Fontaine. Roland Culver who is Fontaine's father is also pretty good as the impoverished count who is quite willing to sell his title in marriage to anyone who can afford him.

Great vehicle for the winning Crosby personality...

BRUCE'S RATING: 8 OUT OF 10
MY RATING: 7 OUT OF 10


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

REST IN PEACE: WAYNE MARTIN

A sad day for fans of Bing Crosby. Earlier this year Wayne Martin, the editor and vice-president of Club Crosby until 2003 died...



Wayne LeRoy Martin, 87 of Higginsville, Missouri died on Friday, February 23, 2018, at his home. Born Tuesday, March 11, 1930 in Corder, Missouri, he was the son of the late LeRoy Martin and the late Golda Belle Welliver. He married Sandra Hostetter Martin on July 16, 1974. She survives of the home. He was a Veteran of the Korean War serving in the United States Army. He received a masters degree in Library Sciences from the University of Colorado and a masters degree in English from Central Missouri State University.

He was a former editor for the Bing Crosby magazine and the Director of Libraries for Brentwood, Missouri school systems, retiring in 1989. He was a member of United Church of Christ in Kirkwood, Missouri prior to moving to Higginsville in 2011. Surviving are one daughter, Robin Teter and her wife, Sandra Martin. A funeral service will be held at 2:00 PM on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at the Hoefer Funeral Home with Rev. Dr. Tommy Faris officiating. Interment will be in the City Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM on Wednesday, February 28, 2018, at Hoefer Chapel. Memorial contributions may be sent to Beacon of Hope in Oak Grove, MO...

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

COMING SOON: BEST OF THE BING CROSBY SPECIALS

Never-before-released TV Specials, unseen for decades!

From the 1950s through the ’70s Bing Crosby starred in 30 highly rated TV specials that featured a who’s who of guest stars. Bing’s groundbreaking broadcasts have never been available in one comprehensive collection—until now.

The Best of the Bing Crosby Specials DVD collection features all of Bing’s iconic hits, including “Pennies from Heaven,” “Swinging on a Star,” “Don’t Fence Me In,” “It’s Easy to Remember,” “Dina,” and of course, “White Christmas.”

You’ll get 26 Episodes on 11 DVDs, featuring the very best of Bing’s acclaimed specials, along with hours of bonus features. Highlights Include:

Bing’s good friends Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Dean Martin appeared on multiple specials, and Bing’s shows also featured Louis Armstrong, Fred Astaire, Pearl Bailey, Jack Benny, Carol Burnett, Rosemary Clooney, Perry Como, Jackie Gleason, Robert Goulet, Peggy Lee, Patti Page, Bernadette Peters, Debbie Reynolds, Flip Wilson and many others!

Bing’s first TV special from 1954, featuring good pal Jack Benny.


Bing’s last TV special, featuring an unlikely guest, David Bowie. This is the 1977 program that yielded what may be the most popular Christmas duet ever—Bing and Bowie’s recording of “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy.”

Happy Holidays with Bing and Frank—a rare special with Frank Sinatra that features the two legends singing classics in an intimate setting.

Bing’s 50th anniversary special, featuring Bob Hope, Rosemary Clooney, the Mills Brothers and others, and including a memorable Bette Midler.

Episodes of The Carol Burnett Show and the Bob Hope TV specials with guest shots by Bing.

Free bonus DVD—The Legendary Bing Crosby, a celebration of Bing’s life that includes rare performances, exclusive interviews with Bing’s family and friends, home movies and rare, behind-the-scenes material.

Exclusive 36-page book: Bing Crosby: A Life in Pictures, featuring rare photos, memorabilia, and behind-the-scenes snapshots from Bing’s 60+ year career...

Sunday, July 1, 2018

THE CROSBY BOYS: A 1961 REVIEW

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 Crosy 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 "Scarlett 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.

Pictured above are the twins Phillip (top) Dennis (bottom) and Lindsay (the youngest). Eldest brother Gary is not with the group at this time...



SOURCE

Saturday, June 16, 2018

FLASHBACK: 1954


Danny Kaye, Bing Crosby, “White Christmas” and…March of Dimes?  The March of Dimes has been helping families by focusing on improving the health of babies and children for 75 years. We all aspire to provide the best care and comfort for our children.

Over half a century ago, when paralytic polio threatened our children, Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby projected a similar message to pitch for the March of Dimes. The photo above, with March of Dimes poster boy Delbert Dains, was taken on the stage set for the movie White Christmas, released in 1954. The song “White Christmas,” by Irving Berlin and which Crosby first popularized in 1942, remains the best-selling single of all time. That Bing Crosby was one of the three “ultra icons” of pop music (the others are Elvis Presley and the Beatles) is undoubtedly lost to most people today, but a person viewing this photo in 1954 might recognize a familiar set of associations typical of that era: a child disabled by contagious disease, the most popular singer of the age, and the nostalgic pull of the meaning of Christmas and the emotional security of home.

The March of Dimes message has evolved, just as our mission has evolved. Our fervent wish for “a fighting chance for every baby” is the bedrock from which all of our educational programs and scientific research are launched. From that perspective, and in the spirit of the season, we hope all the readers of News Moms Need will find that special place in the coming weeks “where tree tops glisten, and children listen.” As a sad postscript, Delbert Dains passed away in 1962...