Friday, December 31, 2010

BING AND 2010

Another year is almost gone - hard to believe. In regards to the Bing Crosby world, it was the busiest year for fans since the sad death of the icon in 1977. First let me start with the bad news of 2010. In January of 2010, the legendary internet resource The Bing Crosby Internet Museum shut down. For the past 14 years, the site was an oasis for die hard and new Bing fans alike. Also in 2010, Redmond Nostalgia closed after years of providing old radio shows to avid listeners. Finally in later 2010 Kathryn Crosby was involved in a serious car accident. Hopefully, she is still on the mend.

On to the happier news, with the closing of The Bing Crosby Internet Museum came the birth of not one but three other interet sites dedicated to keeping the memory of Bing Crosby alive. (This site is among the three). There are links to the sites on this blog. Each site gives a different view or approach to the legacy of Bing Crosby, but all share in a common interest of honoring the greatest entertainer of all time.

Many compact discs and DVDs were issued making it so easy to collect items of Bing that once were so rare. I feel that the best addition to anyone's Bing Crosby collection is the DVD issued by Universal in their "Backlot" series. This time around Universal released some of Bing's rarest movies like: COLLEGE HUMOR, HERE IS MY HEART, MISSISSIPPI, SING YOU SINNERS, and WELCOME STRANGER. Many of those movies collectors had on third and fourth generation old videos, so transferring these rare gems to DVD will help to keep Bing's memory alive for generations to come. Looking back at thirty years of collecting Bing, I am overjoyed at the availability of Bing material out there. However, I can't help to feel a bit sad. It was such a joy in the early days of collecting Bing to find a rare recording at a flea market or an autographed picture at an estate sale. A lot of the fun of collecting Bing Crosby was the hunt for the items. Thankfully, Bing Crosby put out such a wealth of material that the hunt is never really over. Here's to happy hunting in 2011...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

THREE CROSBY PROPERTIES FOR SALE

Three properties once owned by Bing Crosby are up for sale. Der Bingle sang of a "White Christmas," but the crooner's heart was in sunny Southern California, where he invested in real estate and built houses.

One that recently came on the market in Rancho Mirage is priced at $3,495,000. The sprawling 6,700-square-foot home sits on more than an acre with a hillside backdrop in the Thunderbird Heights neighborhood. The d├ęcor incorporates midcentury film posters — the Moroccan studio screening room is an ode to Crosby's "Road to" movies — and other Hollywood memorabilia and photographs.

The current owner is entrepreneur Jeff Teller. About seven years ago, a real estate agent asked Teller and his father if they had any interest in touring the former Crosby spread. "My dad, who is 72, remembered living near them in L.A. and thought it would be fun to see," said Teller, who was considering building a family home in La Quinta but was concerned about how long it might take to get a contractor. He and his father were awestruck from the minute they walked through the 10-foot front doors. The back of the house consisted of sliding glass doors that opened to views of the Coachella Valley, he said. "He looked at me, and I looked at him," Teller recalled, and they arrived at the same decision: "Let's buy this."

The single-story house, built in 1957, has an outdoor swimming pool and spa with adjacent fireplaces and a putting green. Crosby often entertained celebrities around the pool. Five bedrooms and 51/2 bathrooms include a wing named the Kennedy Suite in honor of President Kennedy's 1962 visit to Palm Springs. The suite has a kitchen, living area and separate entrance. On the other side of the house is the master bedroom wing, which Teller favors. "It has an outdoor shower with these quartz walls that Bing had brought in," he said. The estate has been used from time to time as a resort rental at rates of $2,000 to $3,000 a night, depending on the season. "We loved spending the holidays out there," said Teller, who has listed the property with Valery Neuman of Windermere Real Estate. "We could sit in the pool and see the snow on the mountains." A Toluca Lake home owned by Crosby that was listed at $10 million last year has been reduced to $5,995,000. Although the Southern Colonial has had a succession of Hollywood owners, including actors Andy Griffith and Jerry Van Dyke, it is still identified as Crosby's house.

SOURCE

Thursday, December 23, 2010

BING MEETS DAVID BOWIE

Peace on Earth, can it be? When David Bowie posed that musical question to Bing Crosby 33 years ago, a generation of young TV viewers watching in amazement asked another question: Did that really just happen? Was the Thin White Duke actually singing a heartfelt duet with the "White Christmas" dude? Those who saw Crosby's 1977 holiday special - or MTV's frequent airings of the video clip - still remember how unusual that moment seemed. The premise is that guest-star Bowie is stopping by the English manor where Crosby is staying. They share some corny dialogue - "'ello, you the new butler?" the rock star asks with perfect timing - before discussing yuletide traditions. Then they launch into the majestic "Little Drummer Boy," with Bowie quickly segueing into the sweet, soaring counterpoint of "Peace on Earth."

To understand the impact of this musical detente, you would have to imagine Lady Gaga singing with Andy Williams for a 2010 special - which actually doesn't sound that outlandish anymore. These days, there are plenty of successful culture clashes, like Tony Bennett's duets with Sting and Bono. But back then, Bowie's avant-garde rock style - his "Heroes" video was featured on the same special - was considered as far from Crosby's mainstream crooning as Pluto is from the sun. Having them perform together was a landmark instance of pop-culture worlds colliding. And it worked. In the years that followed, the weirdly beautiful moment - which aired not long after Crosby's death - became the stuff of legend, fondly remembered and, eventually, lovingly parodied by several very funny people.

During his "Daily Show" era in the 1990s, Craig Kilborn did a sarcastic version with Bob Mould, where it sounds like the former Husker Du front man asks Kilborn if he's "the new Bill Maher." Dave Foley of "Kids in the Hall" fame did a fantastic Bowie impression in a skit for his 2002 "The True Meaning of Christmas Specials" on CBC that cast Joe Flaherty as Crosby. It alters the lyrics about peace so that Bowie sings, "Where do the monsters go at Christmas?" And it ends with a nasty argument between the two where Crosby insists on mispronouncing Bowie's name and questions his masculinity. Recently, two parody versions from comedy all-stars debuted on the Web. In a takeoff that appears on CollegeHumor.com, Jason Segel and Jack Black sing the duet with nice sincerity as themselves, except they're animated characters who gather at a rustic log piano and float briefly through a sunlit sky.

In the other, done for FunnyorDie.com, Will Ferrell is Bowie and John C. Reilly is Crosby in an elaborate, virtual word-for-word re-creation of the original. It's almost exactly like the real thing, from the clothing and set to the goofy script. "You're the one that sings, right?" Ferrell asks, just as Bowie did. "Well, right or wrong, I sing either way," says Reilly, relishing the pun. But there is a new ending - some bleeped expletives are exchanged between Ferrell and Reilly when Bowie corrects Crosby for getting his name wrong. In the 1977 special, there was no fighting. Peace on Earth - or at least on television - was achieved.

The Bowie-Crosby summit wasn't as big as the Beatles appearing on "The Ed Sullivan Show," but maybe it was a turning point of sorts. These days, celebrities from different genres frequently bridge the generation gap. Betty White gives Jon Hamm dance lessons in an Emmy skit. William Shatner works with Ben Folds on an album. John McCain and Snooki are Twitter pals. And they have Bowie and Crosby to thank, in a small way. At least, I hope that is right. Right or wrong, their duet is still making people jolly during the holidays.

SOURCE

IF THEY COULD SING LIKE BING: RED FOLEY

Now I have heard "White Christmas" by almost every star imaginable, but this version by Red Foley is new to me. Red Foley (June 17, 1910–September 19, 1968), was an American singer, musician, and radio and TV personality who made a major contribution to the growth of country music after World War II. For more than two decades, Foley was one of the biggest stars of the genre, selling more than 25 million records. His 1951 hit, "Peace in the Valley", was among the first million-selling gospel records. A Grand Ole Opry veteran until his death, Foley also hosted the first popular country music series on network television, Ozark Jubilee. I am not a huge country music fan, but this version of "White Christmas" is appealing...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

BING AND THE 1956 THUNDERBIRD

Chances are you've already heard Bing Crosby sing White Christmas or Silent Night this month, maybe you've even heard his weird Christmas duet with David Bowie from the 1970s. Now you can hear Bing Crosby sell you a 1956 Thunderbird. In 1956 the Ford Thunderbird was still riding the wave of a pretty successful debut the year before. Ford's personal luxury response to the Corvette was so well received that almost no changes were made between the 1955 and 1956 model years. One of the few changes made was the Continental Kit which gave the car long pure lines. According to Mr. Crosby the additional trunk space the relocated tire left enough room for "4 hunting dogs, a brace of decoys and a case of uhhh…" Oh the good old days, when drinking was still somewhat taboo. Bing Crosby wasn't having a bad year himself in 1956. He starred in the well received movie "High Society" with Grace Kelley and Frank Sinatra. Perhaps more importantly (at least to us) Ford gave him a brand new 1956 Thunderbird in exchange for him saying some nice things about the cars. Judging from this advertisement, if singing hadn't panned out for Bing, he could have made it as a car salesman. Bing Crosby already had a successful and established career when he endorsed the Thunderbird in 1956. Although the Thunderbird was in its infancy in 1956, it also went on to have a pretty successful career, with continuous production through 1997 (Let's pretend the Thunderbird story ended there).

Sunday, December 19, 2010

THE CENSORING OF HOLIDAY INN

I love this time of the year for the sheer amount you see and hear Bing Crosby. You hear him on the radio. You hear him at the malls, and you see him on television. At least once a week in December, one channel is showing either HOLIDAY INN or WHITE CHRISTMAS. It is a great time to be a Bing Crosby fan.

This is the second year that the cable channel AMC (American Movie Classics) is showing HOLDAY INN. However, it is also the second year that a musical number has been cut and censored from the movie. The number is called "Abraham" and it marks Abraham Lincoln's birthday. The number is in blackface, which is of course an outdated type of performing. It can be offensive as well, however it is altering and censoring the movie.

A little history on blackface...Blackface is theatrical makeup used in minstrel shows, and later vaudeville. The practice gained popularity during the 19th century. In 1848, blackface minstrel shows were the national art of the time, translating formal art such as opera into popular terms for a general audience. Early in the 20th century, blackface branched off from the minstrel show and became a form in its own right, until it ended in the United States with the U.S. Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Blackface was an important performance tradition in the American theater for roughly 100 years beginning around 1830. It quickly became popular overseas, particularly so in Britain, where the tradition lasted longer than in the US, occurring on primetime TV as late as 1978 and 1981.

In both the United States and Britain, blackface was most commonly used in the minstrel performance tradition, but it predates that tradition, and it survived long past the heyday of the minstrel show. White blackface performers in the past used burnt cork and later greasepaint or shoe polish to blacken their skin and exaggerate their lips, often wearing woolly wigs, gloves, tailcoats, or ragged clothes to complete the transformation. Later, black artists also performed in blackface. Stereotypes embodied in the stock characters of blackface minstrels not only played a significant role in cementing and proliferating racist images, attitudes and perceptions worldwide, but also in popularizing black culture.[citation needed] In some quarters, the caricatures that were the legacy of blackface persist to the present day and are a cause of ongoing controversy. One view is that blackface is a form of cross-dressing.

By the mid-20th century, changing attitudes about race and racism effectively ended the prominence of blackface makeup used in performance in the U.S. and elsewhere. It remains in relatively limited use as a theatrical device, mostly outside the U.S., and is more commonly used today as social commentary or satire. Perhaps the most enduring effect of blackface is the precedent it established in the introduction of African American culture to an international audience, albeit through a distorted lens. Blackface's groundbreaking appropriation,exploitation, and assimilation of African-American culture—as well as the inter-ethnic artistic collaborations that stemmed from it—were but a prologue to the lucrative packaging, marketing, and dissemination of African-American cultural expression and its myriad derivative forms in today's world popular culture.

Getting back to Bing Crosby wearing blackface, he only did it in three of his movies. Bing was far from a racist, having helped many black jazz artists and singers throughout his career. I had one person tell me that they did not want their child to see the blackface scenes, because it was hard to explain it to them. I feel that is what is wrong with society today...erase it and it never happened. Just as slavery, and the slaughter of the American-Indian happened, so did blackface. If we do not discuss the mistakes of our past, how can we teach our children to be better people in the future? That is why I think it is wrong to cut out the "Abraham" scene from HOLIDAY INN. It was entertainment in 1942, but I believe 68 years later it can be a valuble teaching tool. American Movie Classics did not return our request for comments for this article.

Friday, December 17, 2010

THE STORY OF WHITE CHRISTMAS

He didn't think it was any good. After all, he was a Jewish-American composer the son of immigrants who's own holidays as a youth were remembered more for their poverty than for anything else. But he was charged with writing songs about every major holiday for a film titled "Holiday Inn", starring Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby. And Christmas for him was simply a challenge. His name was Irving Berlin. And he was the most prolific songwriter of American music in the 20th century. Born in 1888, his self-developed songwriting talents produced music still beloved generations beyond their time. From "Alexander's Ragtime Band" to "There's No Business Like Show Business", Irving Berlin had a talent to not only create a tune that everyone would whistle, but he wrote lyrics that spoke from the heart of Americans who adored him. One such example occurred at the end of World War I, when Berlin introduced "God Bless America", performed by Kate Smith. The song generated such sentiment that serious efforts were made to replace the national anthem with this patriotic song. Even now eight decades later during another moment of national crisis that Irving Berlin composition stirs the souls of all Americans.

So when Bing Crosby assured Berlin that "White Christmas" was a winner, he knew then what others would shortly feel as America marched off to World War II. Christmas is full of feeling for home and family and love. And "White Christmas" captured that feeling perfectly: I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, Just like the ones I used to know. These days, we sing White Christmas with a Currier and Ives-like scene in mind. But for the folks who heard it for the first time for real it had a most profound meaning. The year was 1941. It was a time when folks were possessed with worries of an unstable world, of loved ones being shipped off for war not knowing when they would be together again and when futures were put on hold. A Christmas "just like the ones I used to know" was definitely something to hope for and a sentiment they shared equally. For most of the folks listening to Bing Crosby's radio show on NBC, their thoughts were of separation during Christmas' to come.

Nobody knew how long the war would last or what the outcome would be. For many, facing Christmas under these circumstances made "White Christmas" a song listened to with reverence and reflection. As the war progressed, it became, in essence, an anthem itself. Christmas 1943 saw many families torn apart as America fought the war on two fronts. Christmas 1944 was a cold, bitter and frightful time for folks living continents away. This song was cherished on both sides of the ocean, and revered for the sentiment it carried. By the end of the war, "White Christmas" had become the biggest selling single of all time. For the next several years it raced up the Top 30 charts no less than 16 times and it remains, to this day, the most popular recorded holiday song of all time. Where the treetops glisten And children listen To hear sleigh bells in the snow. Bing Crosby performed for the troops overseas in countless places during the war.

Without fail, he recalls requests for "White Christmas" regardless of the season. "It really got so that I hesitated about doing it because invariably it caused such a nostalgic yearning among the men that it made them sad. Heaven knows that I didn't come that far to make them sad. And for this reason, several times I tried to cut it out of the show. But these guys just hollered for it." So popular was the recording that Crosby had to re-record it in 1947, because the masters of his 1942 recording session were worn beyond use. Well after the close of the war, Crosby starred in a syrupy and plot-challenged holiday film also called "White Christmas" co-starring Danny Kaye.

The movie was a hit that created another surge in popularity for the song. The song defined Bing Crosby's career. For over 50 years it remained the biggest selling single of all time in all song categories and was only surpassed in 1998 by Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" recording in honor of Princess Diana. I'm dreaming of a white Christmas With every Christmas card I write. "White Christmas" has endured recordings by various artists there are over 500 versions! and it has been translated into 25 different languages. While it is performed each holiday season, it seems to get an unusual amount of attention from the military. Even during the Vietnam War a war that Crosby was privately opposed to "White Christmas" was used as a signal song to waiting Americans who were evacuating the embassy in Saigon. When the signal phrase "It's 105 degrees and rising" was uttered followed by the playing of "White Christmas", a mad scramble ensued for waiting helicopters effectively ending America's presence in Vietnam. May your days be merry and bright And may all your Christmases be white. There are times when the most impracticable of elements combine to create something special. Such was the case with the creation of "White Christmas". And for most of us today, Christmas is just not Christmas without it...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

WHITE CHRISTMAS - 1958 VERSION

In 1958, the USO decided against sending out individual shows to military bases all over the world - what a let down for Bob Hope. Instead, they chose to stage a spectacular featuring dozens of stars. In this clip, we see a clever introduction of Bing Crosby by David Niven, Kim Novak, and Gregory Peck. Bing is singing yet another great version of "White Christmas"...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

BING AND JACKIE GLEASON

Here is Bing and Jackie Gleason together...the greatest singer and the greatest comedian of all time. This is taken from Bing's Christmas show of 1976. It was Bing's next-to-the last Christmas special. Here the duo are singing "A Pair Of Loafers"...

Friday, December 10, 2010

BING CROSBY ESTATE PICTURES

Here is some very interesting pics of Bing Crosby's old estate. Bing Crosby's original 1957 mid-century desert estate is now for sale. Fabulouse renovated vintage celebrity home located in Thunderbird Heights, Rancho Mirage, California. Offered by Valery Neuman, 760-861-1176...

Monday, December 6, 2010

BING'S THEME SONG



"Where the Blue of the Night (Meets the Gold of the Day)" was the theme Bing Crosby selected for his radio show. It was recorded in November 1931 with Bennie Krueger and his Orchestra. The song was featured in a Mack Sennett movie short starring Bing Crosby. Crosby recorded the song on several occasions starting with the November 23, 1931 version with Bennie Kruger and his Orchestra. He next recorded it on July 20, 1940 with The Paradise Island Trio. On July 17, 1945 he recorded it with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra and his final recording was on April 21, 1954 with Buddy Cole and his Trio for his Musical Autobiography set.

The song was originally "When the Gold of the Day Meets the Blue of the Night", but the title was changed before recording. Because Crosby contributed to the lyrics of the song, writers Roy Turk and Fred E. Ahlert included him in the songwriting credit. Although the song was popular and successful, Crosby did not take special pride in having written it, saying much later, "I really think I'd trade anything I've ever done if I could have written just one hit song." The Bing Crosby composition "At Your Command" was, however, number one for three weeks on the U.S. pop singles chart in 1931 and "I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You", which he also co-wrote, is one of the most recorded pop and jazz standards of the 1930s...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

FLORENCE GEORGE: BING'S SISTER IN LAW

I was surfing the internet looking for interesting stories and tidbits, and I discovered that Bing's brother Everett Crosby (1896-1966) was married to an actress. Her name was Florence George, and she appeared in a few movies, namely COLLEGE SWING.

I have not been able to find out how long Everett was married to her or if they had any children together, but if anyone has more details, inquiring minds would like to know. Florence died on September 13, 1998 at the age of 80.

UPDATE: Malcolm MacFarlane of the International Club Crosby had this bit of info: Florence was Everett's second wife. They married on May 9, 1939. She was 23 and Everett was 42. This was what Carolyn Schneider wrote about her uncle Everett in BING magazine #144:"Uncle Ev was devoted to Florence, his second wife. So much so, that in an effort to boost her operatic career goals, he arranged a European singing tour for her. Uncle Larry was appalled to learn that the gowns Ev told his wife to buy for the trip cost more than what Florence was being paid for her appearances. Definitely not one of Ev’s money making deals, no one had the courage to tell Bing. And it was a good thing too that uncle Bing wasn’t around the day Florence came in the Crosby offices and brought her pet monkey. She parked him right next to poor Magee who was trying to juggle a multitude of phone calls and had no time for monkeyshines."

Florence never did make it big in entertainment, and the latest work I could see she did was appearing with Paul Whiteman on his 1950 revue show...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

KATHRYN CROSBY INJURED

Some sad news during this holiday time for the Crosby family. Hopefully Kathryn Crosby and the Crosby family know they are in our thoughts and prayers...


Bing Crosby's widow recovering after traffic crash RENO, Nev. (AP) — Bing Crosby's widow, Kathryn Crosby, is recovering from major injuries suffered in a deadly traffic crash in the Sierra Nevada. Kathryn Crosby, 77, was hurt and her husband, Maurice William Sullivan, 85, was killed in the Nov. 4 single-vehicle wreck on U.S. 50 east of Placerville, Calif., California Highway Patrol spokesman Dan Stark said Thursday. The former actress, who has homes in Genoa and Hillsborough, Calif., was flown to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno and has since been discharged. Sullivan was westbound when his vehicle left the roadway, struck a large boulder and rolled many times, ejecting him, Start said. The cause of the crash has not been determined, and an investigation continues. "We may do some follow-up with her (Kathryn Crosby) to determine the events that led up to the accident," Stark said, adding he had no details on her injuries or update on her condition. Kathryn Crosby's family did not return phone calls seeking comment.

She and the crooner, best known for "White Christmas" and the "road" movies he made with Bob Hope, were married for nearly 20 years before his 1977 death at age 74. She was his second wife. In recent years Kathryn Crosby has staged a cabaret act in which she sang Bing Crosby hits, and has appeared in a "Legendary Bing Crosby" documentary shown on PBS stations across the country. Bing Crosby was one of the most popular entertainers of the 20th century, a huge star on stage, radio, movies and television. His recording of "White Christmas" was for decades the biggest-selling single of all time. Kathryn Crosby and Sullivan married in 2000.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

BUY A RETRO BING CROSBY SWEATER

Here is a website from the United Kingdom which is selling a retro Bing Crosby cardigan. Interesting stuff... Christmas is coming and what could be more festive than the strains of Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing Little Drummer Boy? Well, we'll tell you - wearing this Slazenger Heritage 1970s 'Bing Crosby' lambswool cardigan while you listen to it. Yes, Slazenger has nipped into the archives and found the design for the cardigan Bing was wearing at that recording in 1977, a light blue number in extra fine lambswool with six-button fastening, a classic Slazenger logo on the chest and a slim fit. Perfect for the Christmas day wear, you can pick one up while stocks last for £75. SOURCE

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I LOVE YOU SAMANTHA

Here is a great clip from one of Bing's last great films. He is singing "I Love You Samantha" from the classic MGM musical HIGH SOCIETY(1956). If I ever have a daughter, I'd love to name her after this song and Grace Kelly's character. Bing was in fine form and fine voice throughout the whole movie...

 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

BING FOR MEDICAL ALERT BRACELETS

It never stops amazing me who many things Bing Crosby had a hand in during his career. Here is a PSA he did in 1969 for medical alert bracelets. Thank goodness Bing did not have to say "I've fallen and I can't get up". It is a short PSA, but very interesting...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

IF THEY COULD SING LIKE BING: CAROL BURNETT

I have to admit that I love Carol Burnett's version of Bing's 1931 hit Sweet Georgia Brown". Carol, as always, makes it her own. This is taken from from Carol's second filmed appearance on "THE JACK BENNY PROGRAM" on October 8, 1963...

SNOW - REMIX

With the holidays quickly approaching, I found this insteresting remix of the song "SNOW" from WHITE CHRISTMAS(1954). I know I may sound anti holiday, but I never liked the song "SNOW", but I like it better with hearing this interesting version. What do you think...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

WHITE CHRISTMAS: MOST POPULAR AT MALLS

Some 73% of shoppers want the calendar to reach December before festive music plays in stores, a survey says. The survey of just over 2,000 people in October found that 61% of shoppers who heard Christmas tunes were not prompted to start buying gifts. When music starts, Bing Crosby's White Christmas is the most popular tune. Mood Media Corporation, which supplies in-store entertainment and commissioned the survey, said a good atmosphere was vital to keeping customers in a store. The poll, conducted towards the end of October, questioned various age groups about their attitudes. It found that, among those aged 18-44, 74% enjoyed hearing music in stores - but not necessarily the Christmas favourites. "The message is clear for retailers looking for ways to keep shoppers in-store for longer. Instead of using festive tunes just because the Christmas shopping season is about to begin, they can tailor their in-store music to the tastes of their particular customer demographic," said Vanessa Walmsley, of Mood Media Corporation. "If customers actually like the tracks played in stores, they will stay longer and the chances of making a sale increases." One way of avoiding in-store music entirely is by shopping online. Figures to be released on Friday through the IMRG Capgemini online shopping index are expected to show that gift buying picked up sharply in October as the internet shopper started buying Christmas presents. Official figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that UK retail sales rose by 0.5% in October compared with September, ending two months of declines.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

WHITE CHRISTMAS ON BLU-RAY

CHICAGO – Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye was the #1 film of 1954 and has become an annual favorite for millions of families all the way back to the days before VHS. Paramount has released the musical charmer on Blu-ray with new special features along with a snowy 2-disc holiday DVD edition for those still waiting for Santa to bring them a Blu-ray player. Dream of a “White Christmas” in HD. First, a little history. The film “White Christmas” is not the origin of the song that gave it a title. It was reportedly sung before “Holiday Inn,” a 1942 film with Crosby, but that’s the film that made it popular (and, actually, a better flick than “White Christmas,” which is something of a remake of “Holiday Inn”).

With its longing for home, the song took off during World War II and won the Oscar for Best Original Song. It became immensely popular in the ’40s and the success of the song actually helped propel the success of the film in 1954, the biggest of that year by some margin. I have to start with a little blasphemy that could mean coal in my stocking — I’m a huge musical fan and love a lot of the road movies of Crosby and Bob Hope but “White Christmas” is just okay. Some of the music is great and the stars, especially a luminous Rosemary Clooney, are at the top of their game, but the story is pretty lackluster and Crosby and Kaye don’t have the same chemistry with each other or with their romantic leads as the best of this kind of material. While hearing and seeing Bing in HD sing the gorgeous title track is something musical fans should do, the overall film is not one of the best musicals of its period.

I love the song “White Christmas” but you can keep “Sisters” and “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep.” I recognize the cultural importance of “White Christmas” and, being a huge musical fan, can enjoy parts of it but I respect it more than actually like it. Having said that, the Blu-ray and DVD editions do a notable job for fans of the film. The HD 1080p picture is a bit over-polished at times, making Bing and Danny look more plastic than they should. What some people don’t realize about HD is that it’s a matter of balance. If you just turn up the colors and polish the grain, people start to look more unnatural than they did in the days of DVD and “White Christmas” has a few of those moments where it just doesn’t look right. And the audio has a few similarly frustrating issues. I suggest you switch over to the restored mono track, which sounds much clearer and more natural for the film. The special features on “White Christmas” are notable for a 55-year-old film and many on the Blu-ray disc are in HD.

The DVD edition comes in a larger-than-average box with fake snow in the front with lobby card reprints on the inside. Rosemary Clooney is the star of the special features on the Blu-ray disc and she’s a delight. The featurettes are all relatively-brief and focused on different elements of the production. Fans happy to open “White Christmas” on Blu-ray on the morning of December 25th will be happy to watch them later that afternoon. Special Features: o Commentary by Rosemary Clooney o Backstage Stories from White Christmas o Rosemary’s Old Kentucky Home o Bing Crosby: Christmas Crooner o Danny Kaye: Joy to the World o Irving Berlin’s White Christmas o White Christmas: From Page to Stage o White Christmas: A Look Back with Rosemary Clooney o 2 Theatrical Trailers “White Christmas” stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen. It was written by Norman Krasna, Norman Panama, and Melvin Frank and directed by Michael Curtiz. It was released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 2nd, 2010. It is not rated and runs 120 minutes...

 

Monday, November 8, 2010

BING CROSBY AND THE USO

Bing Crosby's Service to Soldiers by Carolyn Schneider Note: Nevada resident Carolyn Schneider is author of the book “Bing: On the Road to Elko” about her uncle Bing Crosby and his 15 years as a Nevada cattle rancher... Bing Crosby was a great American and a great friend to the military. He was 37 years old when World War II started and was a well-known celebrity living in Hollywood. As a married man with children, he didn't qualify for the Selective Service, yet he was anxious to show his support for the war effort and even remarked in a news interview that he "felt foolish" for not being in uniform. So when the opportunity presented itself to contribute to the cause, he jumped at the chance. A request came out of Washington, D.C., for performers to entertain the troops and boost morale, Bing went into action, answering the call with his time and talent. Crosby teamed up with a USO Overseas Unit, and he soon received his notice to leave for Europe in August, 1944. Once the departure date was set, the USO unit sailed out of New York harbor on board the SS Ile de France, which had been converted into a troop transport, holding 10,000 men. Bing gave four shows a day to the servicemen on board during the five-day crossing to Scotland. He entertained 2,500 soldiers at a time on the voyage, until all the GIs had heard him sing and deliver some lighthearted banter, usually about his cohort, Bob Hope Traveling by train to London, Bing reported to the American Army Headquarters. One of his early military performances in England was for the 381st Bomb Group of the United States Air Force. This time, it was on a make-shift stage in a hangar, and he strolled out singing "Swinging on a Star." He was doing his show with a B-17 parked in the background and members of its air crew sitting on the wings of the plane -- plus any other space they could find. He entertained 4,000 soldiers that day, and it was the most successful concert the air base ever had. Soon thereafter, Bing was flown to France on a C-47 to Cherbourg where he entertained at an Army hospital and met up with Fred Astaire who joined his troupe. Later, the singer reported that during his extensive overseas tour, without fail, the GIs requested that he sing "White Christmas" because it reminded them of home. Of course he complied, but it was a tough performance for him, because half his audience would be in tears. He went anywhere and everywhere that American boys were fighting, at some of his shows the GIs would be sitting on the ground holding their rifles, at other times they would stand for the entire performance. Conditions for putting on a show were less than ideal, Bing and Dinah Shore sang to the troops from the bed of a truck. One show used a temporary stage, lit entirely with flashlights. No star treatment Bing always preferred to be thought of as a "regular guy," and during his European tour, he often joined in the chow line and ate with the men. He usually performed on stage wearing Army fatigues and a cap -- looking for all the world like the soldiers in his audience -- and with his hands in his pockets. He was very popular with the men and he sang for them in a bombed-out factory, field hospital and outdoor pasture. In England he dodged the buzz bombs, and in France, the German tanks, When their European tour was over, Bing and Fred Astaire returned home aboard the RMS Queen Mary, which also served as a troop carrier during wartime. The boat was crammed with servicemen, some were of the bomber group that was being transferred to the Pacific, and a few lucky ones were going home on leave. All of them were so tired they just dropped down anywhere on the deck to grab some sleep. Bing, Astaire and the others did a few shows for the boys during the crossing, including in the hospital wards for the many returning wounded. Upon his return stateside, Bing was questioned about his two months of being with the nation's fighting men: "It was the most satisfying and rewarding experience of my career," he said. SOURCE

ANYTHING GOES (1936)

Here is the rare movie soundtrack from the Bing Crosby flick ANYTHING GOES from 1936 This first cinematic version, filmed in black and white, was directed by Lewis Milestone with star Ethel Merman reprising her role as Reno Sweeney, and Bing Crosby in the renamed role of Billy Crockett. Charles Ruggles (replacing Victor Moore), Ida Lupino and Arthur Treacher headed the supporting cast. The film required lyrical revisions of Porter's saucy lyrics to pass Production Code censors. Only four of his songs remained; "Anything Goes", "I Get a Kick Out of You", "There'll Always Be a Lady Fair", and "You're the Top" — all substantially lyrically revised...

THE BING CROSBY SHOW

The Bing Crosby Show is a 28-episode television situation comedy starring crooner, film star, iconic phenomenon, and businessman Bing Crosby and actress Beverly Garland as a middle-aged couple, Bing and Ellie Collins, rearing two teenaged daughters during the early 1960s. In the format, Crosby portrayed an architectural designer with a penchant for singing, and each episode usually contained at least one song. Produced by Crosby's own company, affiliated with Desilu Studios and subsequently CBS Paramount Television, the series aired on ABC from September 14, 1964, to April 5, 1965. Rebroadcasts continued until June 14...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

THE BING CROSBY DVD COLLECTION

Here is a nice review of the new set of Bing Crosby movies coming out. I believe it it the issue of the year for Bing fans, and it is definitely on my Christmas gift list...


The Bing Crosby Collection – DVD Review By Jeff Swindoll One of the most popular entertainers of all-time, Bing Crosby was a superstar of movies, music, radio and television during a spectacular career that lasted over 50 years. He remains beloved around the world for his easygoing charm, mesmerizing voice ...more. Tis the season for Bing and Universal releases some of the singer’s films under their Studio Backlot banner (keep ‘em coming!).

It’s a cornucopia of performances, with some support from other famous faces, from the popular crooner that is sure to entertain. Bing Crosby (1903-1977) was one of the first multimedia stars. He appears on recordings, radio, and movies as well as appearing on television when that medium materialized. The chart-topper’s Christmas specials would become part of the yearly holidays as well as his iconic take on White Christmas. During it all he made it look incredibly easy with his laidback style and delivery. 

Universal collects several of his films in this fantastic collection for the follower of Bing or of cinema. Each of the three discs features two of the titles below. College Humor (1933): Professor Danvers (Bing Crosby) finds himself in a love triangle with star football player Mandrake (Richard Arlen) and Barbara (Mary Carlisle). Mandrake has eyes for Barbara, but she has eyes for the Professor. Hilarity ensues. We’re not Dressing (1934): High society gal Doris Worthington (Carole Lombard) is entertaining on her yacht when it sinks. She, Edith (Ethel Merman), Uncle Hubert (Leon Errol), and Princes Michael (Ray Milland) and Alexander (Jay Henry) Stofani make it to show with singing sailor Stephen Jones (Crosby). The wealthy folks do not want to take the survivalist sailor’s orders but that changes quickly. Here is my Heart (1934): J. Paul Jones (Crosby) is a wealthy singer interested in an antique dueling pistol. It’s in the possession of Russian princess Alexandria (Kitty Carlisile). Jones goes undercover to get a handle on the pistol and ends up romancing the princess. Mississippi (1934): Tom Grayson (Crosby) is down in the old south to be engaged to Elvira (Gail Patrick). That engagement is nullified when Tom is challenged to a duel to defend Elvira’s honor and he takes the pacifist’s way out. He’s kicked off the plantation in shame and gets a job as a singer on the boozy Commodore’s (W.C. Fields) steamboat. Sing You Sinners (1938): Brothers Joe (Crosby), David (Fred MacMurray), and Mike (Donald O’Connor) are a singing trio. Joe is the only one with a love of singing and the other brothers are pestered by their mother (Elizabeth Patterson) to get out of the crooning game. Joe has others plans, but those plans have a habit of getting him into debt. Welcome Stranger (1947): Dr. McRory (Barry Fitzgerald) wants to go on vacation and hires Dr. Pearson (Crosby) to watch the shop while he’s away. However, the two men’s styles cash them to clash, all while Pearson romances a school teacher (Joan Caulfield).

They’re all breezy fun. College Humor is a madcap romp set on the campus and a big Busby Berkley musical number “The Old Ox Road.” We’re not Dressing seems like a version of Gilligan’s Island but still has a fun cast and musical numbers. Both offer support from George Burns and Gracie Allen. Here is my Heart is also a nice romp with Crosby going from singer to waiter in disguise. Mississippi is a delight thanks to a boozy turn by W.C. Fields and old south charm. Sing You Sinners teams Crosby with MacMurray and O’Conner and even throws in some drama. There’s an attempt to recreate the dynamic of Crosby’s Oscar winner Going My Way by adding Fitzgerald to the mix. It may not rise to that occasion but it is great to see the two onscreen again. All the films are presented in fullscreen. Special features boil down to theatrical trailers for We’re not Dressing, Mississippi, Sing you Sinners, and Welcome Stranger (2 minutes each). The case does contain a text bio and a listing of Crosby’s awards and honors. Bing did it all and this collection offers some of the films (and he made many of them). None of them will win any Oscars, but Bing’s charm and songs certainly make them a pleasant experience...

Monday, October 25, 2010

EDDIE LANG LIVES ON

EDDIE LANG: THE FATHER OF JAZZ GUITAR By Dan DeLuca

From Django Reinhardt to Jimi Hendrix, the names that commonly appear on argument-starting lists of the greatest and most influential guitarists of the 20th century are familiar. But there's one flat-picking virtuoso from South Philadelphia typically left out of the conversation, whose music has receded into obscurity despite a trailblazing career cut short by his tragic death in 1933: Eddie Lang. That's an injustice an aggregation of local musicians and Lang enthusiasts are doing their best to redress, starting with a multi-act show that will bring Lang's music to life at Chris' Jazz Cafe in Center City on Monday. It's the 108th anniversary of the birth of Lang, who died of complications from a tonsillectomy that his friend and collaborator, Bing Crosby, urged him to get. And it's been declared Eddie Lang Day in Philadelphia in a proclamation from Mayor Nutter that "urges all citizens to be aware of Eddie Lang's history-making musical legacy as well as the role of Philadelphia in the development of early jazz music."

And it's about time, say ardent fans of Lang, frustrated that such a prodigiously talented and innovative figure could be all but forgotten by all but jazz cognoscenti. "He's somebody who died at a young age who had a brief, meteoric career," says Aaron Luis Levinson, the Grammy-winning Philadelphia record producer who helmed Rediscovering Lonnie Johnson, the 2008 release that re-created three of the historic guitar duets between Lang and African American guitarist Johnson that broke the recording industry's color line in 1928 and 1929. At Chris' on Monday, all 12 of the duets - which Lang recorded under the pseudonym Blind Willie Dunn so as to not arouse suspicion of music miscegenation - will be reprised by guitarists Jef Lee Johnson and Jonathan Dichter, who will "play" Lang. "He's not someone anybody ever remembers to talk about when they talk about Philadelphia music," Levinson says. "There's something really unfair about cultural memory. It's like anything that happened before Elvis Presley gets treated like it happened in the dinosaur age." Lang's life story may be little known, but it reads like an unwritten screenplay about a dazzlingly talented, thoroughly modern musician.

Born Salvatore Massaro in 1902, Lang took his stage name from a favorite basketball player for the club team the Philadelphia Sphas (an acronym for the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association). The son of an Italian American immigrant instrument maker was among the pioneers of the flat-picking style (which involves playing with a plectrum held by, rather than attached to, the fingers) and is credited with popularizing the guitar over the louder, previously more prevalent banjo, as a key instrument for the jazz bands of the 1920s. So much so that the historical marker across the street from the Saloon restaurant in Lang's old neighborhood at Seventh and Clymer Streets, put up in 1995, proclaims him "the Father of Jazz Guitar." Along with his childhood friend, violinist Joe Venuti, Lang laid the foundation for the improvisational gypsy jazz stylings of Reinhardt and his violin-playing counterpart, Stephane Grappelli. Crosby biographer Gary Giddins writes that in contrast to Venuti's merry-prankster personality, Lang was "quiet, thoughtful and responsible, a ruminative Catholic." In A Pocketful of Dreams: Bing Crosby, The Early Years, 1903-1940, Giddins writes that after cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, Lang and Venuti were "arguably the most influential white jazz musicians of the 1920s, serving as a sort of template for the famed European jazz ensemble of the 1930s, the Quintette du Hot Club de France." Lang and Venuti made their names together playing in Philadelphia and Atlantic City showrooms, and according to Dichter, a music historian as well as a guitar teacher at the Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, toured in England with the novelty band the Mound City Blue Blowers.

 In 1929, they were hired by bandleader Paul Whiteman, and it was there that Lang first began to accompany Crosby, who said of Lang's playing: "He made you want to ride and go." Giddins calls Lang Crosby's "jazz conscience," and the singer's "most intimate friend, almost certainly the closest he would ever have." Crosby brought Lang for the 1932 film The Big Broadcast. He also negotiated a deal for Lang to have speaking parts in all his movies, which is why he urged him to have an operation to rectify the chronic hoarseness attributed to tonsillitis. Richard Barnes, a guitarist and photographer who lives in Aston, is the driving force behind Eddie Lang Day in Philadelphia and will perform at Chris' with his band, the Blackbird Society Orchestra. He'll also do a number of Lang-Venuti duets with violinist Michael Salsburg. Barnes first got the Lang bug after he saw Leon Redbone perform in West Philadelphia in the early 1990s. "That was my exposure to 1920s music," Barnes says. "I got a couple of CDs, and when you listen to Paul Whiteman, Bix Beiderbecke, there was always this one guitar player that I really liked. It was totally different. Not strumming. "Not blues. He plays in an almost pianolike style. Very interesting chord inversions, always complementing the singer. A real distinct sound. It turns out it was Eddie Lang."

 Barnes put an ad on Craigslist this year, reading "Eddie Lang Day, This October." One of the interested parties to inquire was Mike Hood, who suggested Chris' as a venue, and will play on Monday with his band Cornbread Five. The event will raise money for the Eddie Lang Music Scholarship Program for underprivileged children, and Barnes hopes to turn it into an annual Eddie Lang Festival at Chris' every October. Barnes, who says business for his 1920s-style Blackbird Society Orchestra is looking up thanks to interest in HBO's Atlantic City mob drama Boardwalk Empire, got the idea to approach the Nutter administration from one of his first musical memories. "When I was 13, my first concert was seeing Elton John at the Spectrum," he remembers. "And there was a picture of Frank Rizzo in the newspaper with Elton John, when he declared it Elton John Day. I thought it would be so cool if I could get the mayor to do that with Eddie Lang." The attention is well-deserved, says Dichter, who plays in a band called Beau Django, and who talked to Les Paul about Lang's influence before the guitarist's death at 94 last year. "He said it was just too long ago," Dichter says. "It's convenient to forget." Barnes says he's always on a mission to bring Lang's music to a wider audience. "I'm not trying to form the fan club or anything," he says. "But I do think that people would appreciate this music and enjoy it. It's something you don't hear all the time."

 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

NOW YOU HAS JAZZ

On October 13, 1957 the Ford Motor Company purchased air time on CBS for a program called "The Edsel Show." This was done to promote their new car, the Edsel. Sort of an infomercial in the form of a variety show. While the very word "Edsel" would soon go on to become synonymous with anything that was a bad idea, the show itself -- and there was only one -- was a rousing success. One of the show's highlights was this rendition of Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong and his band performing the Cole Porter song "Now You Has Jazz," which they'd performed a year earlier for the film "High Society." The performance shown here is essentially a recreation of the song as it appeared in the film with Crosby introducing each of the band members during the song. The band shown here is the same as in High Society, with the exception of Squire Gersh on bass (Arvell Shaw was the band's bassist in High Society)...

Friday, October 15, 2010

BING SELLING US BONDS

Here is another great PSA with Bing selling US savings bonds from the early 1970s. He even speaks a little bit of Spanish. It's a short clip, but a rare one...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

WHO OWNS BING'S WINE CELLAR TREASURE

Postscript to Crosby’s Wine Cellar Treasure By RICHARD SANDOMIR

The discovery of a copy of the broadcast of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series in Bing Crosby’s former wine cellar led some readers to raise an interesting question: if Major League Baseball owns the copyright to World Series broadcasts, why did it have to pay the Crosby estate for the rights to televise the game on the MLB Network in December and release a DVD? Matt Bourne, a spokesman for M.L.B., said that baseball’s contract with NBC at the time granted the game’s copyright to the office of the baseball commissioner.

So what did baseball buy that it did not own? “We purchased from the Bing Crosby estate what we understand is the only physical copy of the game,” Bourne said. The Crosby estate “maintains possession” of the five kinescope reels made of the game, he added, but “cannot exploit them for commercial gain and cannot sell them for additional copies to anyone else.” Only baseball will benefit financially from the DVD sales, Bourne said. Philip Hochberg, a Washington-based sports and communications lawyer, said in an e-mail: “Baseball in essence bought access to the sole copy and is now going to air and copyright the telecast on MLB Network, which will actually be something different than what Crosby owned (because of the various additional elements which will go into the telecast).” Bob Costas is to host the presentation of the game and will presumably interview some of the participants.

HARRY CROSBY GOLFING WITH THE STARS

***Here is an interesting article I found online regarding Bing's son***

Bing Crosby's son made sweet music on the fairways of the Old Course, 35 years after playing there with his late, great father. Harry Crosby was among the talented amateurs — including Hollywood actors Samuel L. Jackson, Hugh Grant and Kyle MacLachlan and Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans — playing alongside professionals in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Harry was competing in the four-day championship for the first time.

He said, "The last time I played the Old Course was with my father, probably in 1975. I was just a kid of about 15 and I have fond memories of it. "We would stay at Gleneagles and swing by Turnberry and then play here." Now an investment banker, Harry partnered Italian Matteo Manassero over the Old Course, Kingsbarns Golf Links and Carnoustie Championship. Although he missed the final cut with a team score of 10-under, he said, "We had a great time." He was not the only amateur to enthuse about the 10th annual Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which took over from the Alfred Dunhill Cup in 2001. England football legend Sir Bobby Charlton finished on two-under with professional Benn Barham.

He said, "I've played in all 10 Alfred Dunhill Links Championships and they have all been fantastic." Australian spin bowling legend Shane Warne was paired with Peter O'Malley and they finished on 12-under. Shane said, "Peter played beautifully. It's fantastic to watch the pros go out there and play the way they do."


SOURCE

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

OCTOBER 14, 1977

It is hard to believe that Bing Crosby has been gone now for 33 years. I was only 3 when he died, so I did not recognize what the magnitude of his passing meant. Even though I was too young then to remember it, I remember the date of October 14, 1977 as if I was a witness to his passing. More younger people should learn about what Bing Crosby meant to the entertainment world, and realize that Bing was a great innovator as well. The memory of Bing Crosby was sadly diluted in the 1980s and 1990s, but hopefully a new generation will discover the talent and magic that is Bing Crosby.

The year 1977 began poorly for Bing. In March 1977, during a televised concert to celebrate his fifty years in show business, he fell backwards into an orchestra pit headfirst. He ruptured a disc in his back, and was hospitalized for a month. After recovering, he made appearances all over the world, from Norway to England to tape a Christmas special, which featured David Bowie the famous Christmas duet. After taping the special, he recorded his final album, Seasons. Bing’s next stop was the London Palladium for a two-week engagement. Then he and his band went to Brighton where they performed their final performance on October 10. The next day Bing was a guest on the Alan Dell radio show, where he sang eight songs with the Gordon Rose Orchestra. Later that day he posed for photos for the Seasons album. The next day Bing headed for Spain to play golf .

On the afternoon of October 14, 1977, Bing was playing at the La Morajela golf course near Madrid, Spain. He finished 18 holes with a score of 85, and with a partner, defeated two Spanish golf pros. After his last putt, Bing bowed to applause and said, "It was a great game." He was about 20 yards from the clubhouse, when he collapsed from a massive heart attack. His three golfing companions remarked that he did not look tired and was even singing around the course, though he seemed to be favoring his left arm near the end of the game. They thought he had slipped. They carried him to the clubhouse, where a physician attempted to revive him, to no avail. Bing Crosby was dead on arrival, at the Red Cross hospital. He was 74. A few hours after learning of her husband’s death, Kathryn issued a statement, "I can’t think of any better way for a golfer who sings for a living to finish the round." Their son Harry, 19, and the family’s former butler, Alan Fisher, flew to Spain to accompany Bing’s body back to LA. The most widely heard voice of the 20th Century and maybe all time was silenced on that fateful day on October 14, 1977...

BING AND HARRY BRANNON

Here is a very interesting story of a local singer by the name of Harry Brannon, and his tie to Bing Crosby...

Harry Brannon was an American popular singer born on June 19, 1920 in Gloucester City, New Jersey. Brannon was characterized by his contemporaries as "having a voice sweeter than Bing Crosby's." In fact, in the late 1940's, Brannon was frequently introduced as "Frank Sinatra with a voice" at Andy's Log Cabin near Camden, New Jersey. Brannon regularly introduced new pop songs in a live format over New York City radio on the WOR Mutual Broadcasting Company broadcast coast to coast. Early in November of 1949, Brannon sang Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer over the airwaves for WOR, promoting the Gene Autry classic. By November 25th, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer began its appearance on the music charts. Various popular artists had initially turned down the opportunity to promote the record, including Bing Crosby, due to its slow tempo.

However, after hearing the faster and more upbeat Brannon rendition, Crosby sang his own rendition during his CBS Chesterfield radio show on December 14, 1949. Brannon is known to have recorded at least two songs during his short career in music. Both were released in early 1948. One was titled Orchids in the Snow, written by composer Edward A. Khoury,and the other was titled I'm A Tumbleweed, written by Rusty Keefer. In March, 1954, Bing Crosby, still mourning the recent death of his wife Dixie Lee, was considering retirement. Almost immediately, plans were made by a Hollywood production company to issue a biopic of the famous crooner and approached Brannon (who possessed a similar appearance to Crosby) to play the lead. As Brannon mulled over the offer, he became aware of organized-crime connections to the project. Brannon "dragged his feet" and put it off as long as possible until Crosby, reveling in the success of his recently released film White Christmas, rescinded his retirement plans and the biopic was shelved indefinitely.

Due to a deferred movie career and through the prompting of his wife, Pauline Woolman-Brannon (ex-wife of stuntman Harry Woolman), Brannon left New York City (and the recording industry) in late 1954 and resettled in Gloucester City, New Jersey. Brannon took a management position at a nightclub called Lew Palma's House of Fun on Powell Street. Brannon was a regular performer in it and lived with his family on the second floor. Through his wife, Brannon soon became affiliated with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, presently known as the Community of Christ, and was ordained as a priest by the mid-1960s. Brannon's adopted son, Harry Gerald Brannon, a Sergeant in the United States Army, died in South Vietnam on August 15, 1966 at age 30. Harry, known as Jerry, was the biological son of stuntman Harry Woolman. Harry Brannon died of Alzheimer's disease on December 29, 1991 at age 71.


Monday, October 11, 2010

A DAY AT DEL MAR

Del Mar Racetrack is an American Thoroughbred horse racing track at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in the seaside city of Del Mar, California, 20 miles north of San Diego. Operated by the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, it is known for the slogan: "Where The Surf Meets The Turf." It was built by a partnership including Bing Crosby, the actor Pat O'Brien, Jimmy Durante, Charles S. Howard and Oliver Hardy. This video is an interesting video. We get a first hand look at Del Mar. It is kind of like experiencing what Bing did when he went to Del Mar all those years ago...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

BING CROSBY AND ARTHRITIS

Here is a rare find. Here is a public service announcement featuring Bing Crosby from 1972 talking about arthritis. It seems as if Bing had a touch of it. It is a short video but very interesting...

THE STAR MAKER(1939)

THE STAR MAKER(1939) is one of the rarest Bing Crosby movies. It has never been released on video, let alone DVD. In the movie, Bing plays a character loosely based on vaudville producer Gus Edwards. The movie is not really based on fact, but the movie is really charming. Bing works well with children, and here are some of the great musical numbers from the film...

Friday, October 8, 2010

DEL MAR TO BE SOLD

Del Mar racetrack, the famed California landmark that Bing Crosby founded in 1937 will be sold... The city of Del Mar has reportedly reached a preliminary agreement to buy Del Mar Race Track and the surrounding fairgrounds from the state of California. According to the San Diego Union Tribune, legislation was introduced late Wednesday in the state legislature that would authorize the sale of the track and 400 acres for about $120 million. Other details and the actual purchase price are still to be determined. "The activities we know and love at the fairgrounds will undoubtedly continue," State Senator Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, was quoted by the paper. "For all intents and purposes it will look and feel the same." Kehoe expects the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club to continue conducting horse racing at the facility, which concluded its 71st season last month. However, fair board member Barry Nussbaum told the newspaper he was stunned by the developments. "Why this would have to happen in the middle of the night without consulting experts who run this facility is flabbergasting," Nussbaum told the paper. Del Mar opened for racing in 1937 with Bing Crosby collecting tickets.

CHICAGO STYLE

Bing and Bob Hope's duet of "Chicago Style" is one of the best duets they did. Sadly, it is a largely forgotten song. It was recorded by the duo on Decca Records, and it was also featured in their move THE ROAD TO BALI in 1952...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

AUDIO ASPIRIN: I GOT PLENTY OF NUTTIN

Here is a new feature called "Audio Aspirin". For this feature I play a great Bing Crosby recording...sometimes there will be video and sometimes not. The important thing is here those great Bing Crosby vocals. Bing's recording of "I Got Plenty Of Nuttin" from 1936 showcases what a booming voice Bing had in the mid 1930s. The song was written by George Gershwin for the musical PORGY AND BESS. It is also rare for the word "hell" to be used in a recording of the 1930s, but Bing gets away with it on this great recording...


 

Friday, October 1, 2010

MOVIE TRAILER: KING OF JAZZ

Hopefully one day THE KING OF JAZZ(1930) will be released on DVD soon. It is a landmark movie, and despite it turn 80 years old it is an amazing movie. This revue presents its numbers around the orchestra leader Paul Whiteman, besides that it features a young Bing Crosby having fun with the Rhythm Boys...

BING CROSBY'S HOUSE FOR SALE

Bing Crosby’s two-acre gated tennis court estate in Toluca Lake is being offered for $6,595,000. The singer and actor lived on the property from 1936 until early January 1943 when the 20-room house was gutted in a Christmas-tree fire. Damage to the structure and its contest was estimated at $200,000, and the family's cocker spaniel, a complete collection of Crosby's recordings and his golf trophies and pipe collection were lost.

The rebuilt Southern Colonial on the site, behind a circular motorcourt, has large stately rooms, high ceilings and an open floorplan with all main rooms lined with french doors leading out to the grounds. There are six bedrooms, 5.5 baths and five fireplaces in 7,132 square feet with a living room with marble fireplace, a billiards room and a den with a wet bar. The two-acre gated grounds include rose gardens, fruit trees, vegetable gardens, a bocce court, a lighted tennis court with Crosby’s original grandstand, a gazebo, and an Olympic-sized swimming pool with separate spa. The 2.5-bathroom cabana has changing rooms, an outdoor living room with a built-in barbecue and a kitchen. There is also a a two-bedroom, two bathroom guest house with a kitchen.

After Crosby, subsequent owners included actor Andy Griffith in the 1980s and actor Jerry Van Dyke and his wife, Shirley, who sold the home to the current owner in 1997 for $1.93 million. Crosby achieved international fame with his recording of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas from the film Holiday Inn. The song was the No.1 hit in late 1942 and stayed at the top of the chart for 11 weeks. Crosby won the best actor Oscar for Going My Way (1944) and teamed with Bob Hope for the “Road to” pictures. The estate, at 10500 Camarillo St., was previously offered at $7.395 million. Ginger Glass of Coldwell Banker Previews and Shirley Duenckel and Jon Molin of Ramsey Shilling & Associates have the listing...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

AUDIO RECORDINGS OF BING CROSBY FADING

Here is an interesting article about how some audio recordings, namely old radio shows with Bing Crosby have begun to fade away... WASHINGTON – New digital recordings of events in U.S. history and early radio shows are at risk of being lost much faster than older ones on tape and many are already gone, according to a study on sound released Wednesday. Even recent history — such as recordings from 9/11 or the 2008 election — is at risk because digital sound files can be corrupted and widely used CD-R discs last only last three to five years before files start to fade, said study co-author Sam Brylawski. "I think we're assuming that if it's on the Web it's going to be there forever," he said. "That's one of the biggest challenges." The first comprehensive study of the preservation of sound recordings in the U.S. being released by the Library of Congress also found many historical recordings already have been lost or can't be accessed by the public. That includes most of radio's first decade from 1925 to 1935. Shows by singers Duke Ellington and Bing Crosby, as well as the earliest sports broadcasts, are already gone. There was little financial incentive for such broadcasters as CBS to save early sound files, Brylawski said. Digital files are a blessing and a curse. Sounds can be easily recorded and transferred and the files require less and less space. But the problem, Brylawski said, is they must be constantly maintained and backed up by audio experts as technology changes. That requires active preservation, rather than simply placing files on a shelf, he said. The study co-authored by Rob Bamberger was mandated by Congress in a 2000 preservation law. Those old analog formats that remain are more physically stable and can survive about 150 years longer than contemporary digital recordings, the study warns. Still, the rapid change in technology to play back the recordings can make them obsolete. Recordings saved by historical societies and family oral histories also are at risk, Brylawski said. "Those audio cassettes are just time bombs," Brylawski said. "They're just not going to be playable." There are few if any programs to train professional audio archivists, the study found. No universities currently offer degrees in audio preservation, though several offer related courses. A hodgepodge of 20th century state anti-piracy laws also has kept most sound files out of the public domain before U.S. copyright law was extended to sound recordings in 1972. The study found only 14 percent of commercially released recordings are available from rights holders. That limits how much preservation can be accomplished, Brylawski said. The study calls for changes in the law to help preservation. As it stands now, Brylawski said, copyright restrictions would make most audio preservation initiatives illegal, the authors wrote.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

BING CROSBY CO-STAR DIES


Grace Bradley has passed away, and although her name will not be known to many, she was a Paramount contract player, starred with Bing Crosby in TOO MUCH HARMONY(1933), and was the widow of Hopalong Cassidy. She was 97. She was born on September 21, 1913 in Brooklyn, New York. On December 22, 1930 Bradley made her Broadway debut at New York's Hammerstein Theatre in Ballyhoo. Her next stage appearance came one year later at The Music Box Theatre in The Third Little Show. Soon Bradley found herself working in various New York nightclubs and theatres. In March 1933, she apperared in Strike Me Pink at the Majestic Theatre. Soon Bradley decided to give Hollywood a try. After she left Broadway her role in Strike Me Pink was taken over by Dorothy Dare, who would later become a musical film star. Although she actually made one film in 1932 her real film career did not begin until 1933 when she starred in a lead role in the film Too Much Harmony (1933).

In Too Much Harmony, Grace played Verne La Mond and sang "Cradle Me with a Hotcha Lullaby". She also had a lesser role in Bing's Anything Goes (1936). During her career she co-starred opposite such notable figures as Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour, Alice Faye, Bruce Cabot, William Bendix, Fred MacMurray, Harold Lloyd and W.C. Fields.In May 1937, Bradley submitted to a blind date and met Hopalong Cassidy star William Boyd and the two of them hit it off so well that they were wed in June 1937. In the 1940s Bradley's star began to wain and in 1943 she starred in her last big role in Taxi, Mister. Following this Bradley had officially played out her Paramount contract and she spent the remainder of the 1940s alongside her beloved husband William Boyd and traveled around the country with him helping to promote his cowboy image. She did come out of her publicty trips with Boyd to make one more film appearance; an uncredited cameo role in Tournament of Roses (1954).

On September 12, 1972, just nine days before her 59th birthday, William Boyd died and Bradley became a widow. Following his death she retired from the entertainment world; however, since she shared such a strong union with her husband she still continued to do things to help keep Boyd's memory alive. Although she never bore children she considered all the children who enjoyed her husbands work as Hopalong Cassidy to be like her children. She also endured years of fighting for the legal rights to her late husbands sixty-six "Hopalong Cassidy" features. With her acting career behind her she devoted her time to a lot of volunteer work at the Laguna Beach Hospital where her husband had spent his final days. Grace Bradley Boyd died on her 97th birthday; Tuesday, September 21, 2010. She left no survivors. On Thursday, September 23, 2010 private services were held at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA. She was interred with her husband there...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

1960 WORLD SERIES VIDEO DISCOVERED IN BING'S BASEMENT

Nice to see Bing Crosby still making the news... A FIND IN BING CROSBY'S BASEMENT by Associated Press Bing Crosby often found himself dreaming of the Pittsburgh Pirates, too, even while on vacation in Paris during the 1960 World Series. His zealous support and superstition wound up being a good thing for baseball fans: Found in his wine cellar was film of the deciding Game 7, in which Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski hit a game-ending homer to beat the Yankees, that was thought to be lost forever. A published report says the complete NBC broadcast had been discovered in Crosby’s longtime home near San Francisco. The silver-tongued crooner, whose recording of “White Christmas” has sold millions of copies worldwide, was part owner of the baseball team from 1946 until his death in 1977. But the avid sportsman was such a nervous wreck watching the Pirates that when they played the Yankees in the World Series, he went on a European vacation with his wife, Kathryn. “He said, ’I can’t stay in the country. I’ll jinx everybody,’” Crosby’s widow said. It was thought that one of the greatest games ever played had survived only through radio broadcasts, grainy photographs and the written word. Then in December, while Robert Bader was combing through tapes and reels of Crosby’s old TV specials, the vice president of Bing Crosby Entertainment stumbled across two gray canisters in a pile stretching to the ceiling. They were labeled “1960 World Series” and looked as though they hadn’t been touched in years. An hour of searching revealed three more reels. Bader screened the 16-millimeter film and realized it was the complete broadcast of Game 7, with the Yankees’ Mel Allen and Pirates’ Bob Prince calling the action. The conditions of the wine cellar — cool and dry — meant that the film had survived in pristine condition. “I had to be the only person to have seen it in 50 years,” Bader said. “It was pure luck.” Crosby couldn’t bear to watch the game live, although he did listen by radio while in Paris, so he had hired a company to record the broadcast by kinescope. The early relative of DVR meant that he could go back and watch the 2-hour, 36-minute game later if the Pirates won. The five reels have since been transferred to DVD, and fans will get a chance to view the game during the offseason on the MLB Network. Bob Costas is set to host the special, which will include interviews with former players and other additional programming. “Bing Crosby was away ahead of his time,” said Nick Trotta, senior library and licensing manager of Major League Baseball Productions, the sport’s archivists. “It’s a time capsule.” The game at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh that October day was filled with high drama. The Pirates scored four runs in the first two innings off Bob Turley, then watched the Yankees score a run in the fifth and four more in the sixth, when Yogi Berra’s home run gave the Yankees the lead. Two more runs in the eighth made it 7-4. Pittsburgh rebounded with five runs in the bottom half, pulling ahead on Hal Smith’s three-run homer, before the Yankees tied the game in the ninth on a heads-up baserunning play by Mickey Mantle that allowed Gil McDougald to cross the plate. Minutes later, Mazeroski stepped into the batter’s box leading off the ninth inning. With one ball and no strikes, he connected with Ralph Terry’s pitch and drove the ball over the left field wall. The Pirates poured out of the dugout, the Yankees stood in disbelief, and Mazeroski rounded the bases after the first game-ending home run to win a World Series. Only later did Crosby get to see the spectacle unfold, in the comforts of his own home. “It was such a unique game to begin with,” said the Pirates’ Dick Groat, the 1960 league MVP who will turn 80 in November but remembers the game as if it happened yesterday. “It was back and forth, back and forth. It was unbelievable.”

TOGETHER

Here is the Mount Rushmore of crooning...Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra. They don't make entertainers like this anymore! This is from a Frank Sinatra variety show in 1957...