Sunday, May 2, 2010
HAPPY 107TH BIRTHDAY!
With the birthday of Bing Crosby around the corner, I figured it would be interesting learning about his early life... Crosby was born in Tacoma, Washington, on May 3, 1903, in a house his father built at 1112 North J Street.His family moved to Spokane, Washington, in 1906 to find work. He was the fourth of seven children: five boys, Larry (1895–1975), Everett (1896–1966), Ted (1900–1973), Harry 'Bing' (1903–1977), and Bob (1913–1993); and two girls, Catherine (1904–1974) and Mary Rose (1906–1990). His parents were English-American Harry Lincoln Crosby (1870–1950), a bookkeeper, and Irish-American Catherine Helen (affectionately known as Kate) Harrigan (1873–1964). Kate was the daughter of Canadian-born parents who had emigrated to Stillwater, Minnesota, from Miramichi, New Brunswick. Kate's grandfather and grandmother, Dennis and Catherine Harrigan, had in turn moved to Canada in 1831 from Schull, County Cork, Ireland. Bing's paternal ancestors include Governor Thomas Prence and Patience Brewster, who were both born in England and who immigrated to what would become the U.S. in the 17th century. Patience was a daughter of Elder William Brewster (pilgrim), (c. 1567 – April 10, 1644), the Pilgrim leader and spiritual elder of the Plymouth Colony and a passenger on the Mayflower. In 1910, Crosby was forever renamed. The six-year-old Harry Lillis discovered a full-page feature in the Sunday edition of the Spokesman-Review, "The Bingville Bugle." The "Bugle," written by humorist Newton Newkirk, was a parody of a hillbilly newsletter complete with gossipy tidbits, minstrel quips, creative spelling, and mock ads. A neighbor, 15-year-old Valentine Hobart, shared Crosby's enthusiasm for "The Bugle," and noting Crosby's laugh, took a liking to him and called him "Bingo from Bingville." The last vowel was dropped and the name shortened to "Bing," which stuck. In 1917, Crosby took a summer job as property boy at Spokane's "Auditorium," where he witnessed some of the finest acts of the day, including Al Jolson, who held Crosby spellbound with his ad-libbing and spoofs of Hawaiian songs. Crosby later described Jolson's delivery as "electric." In the fall of 1920, Crosby enrolled in the Jesuit-run Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, with the intention of becoming a lawyer. He sent away for a set of mail-order drums. After much practice, he soon became good enough and was invited to join a local band made up of mostly local high school kids called the "Musicaladers," managed by Al Rinker. He made so much money doing this that he decided to drop out of school during his final year to pursue a career in show business.