Friday, December 30, 2011

BING AND 2011

It's hard to believe that another year has come and gone. Bing Crosby has been gone 34 years, but it seems like only yesterday he was crooning his heart out. The year 2011 was a pretty good one in the Bing Crosby fan world. More new CDs and mention of Bing in the media (other than at Christmas) has really boosted Bing Crosby's exposure in 2011. Here are some of the highlights of the year that was...

With news that Collector's Choice Music would be going through an overhaul, everyone was worried that that would be the end of the Bing Crosby Archive series as we know it. Even though Bing Crosby Enterprises produced the excellent CDs, Collector's Choice Music was the chief distributor. Luckily, Bing Crosby Enterprises rescued the series and are now distributing them. One of the first issues under this new arrangement is BING IN DIXIELAND. The excellent issue highlights Bing's Dixieland styled recordings. I highly recommend this album, and it is my choice as the best new Bing Crosby issue in 2011!

With the passage of time, we also have to face the facts that some people we lose each year. This year in the Bing community we mourn the loss of Dolores Hope. Dolores was the widow of Bob Hope. She married the commedian in 1934 and remained married to Hope until his death in 2003. Another death that for the most part went unnoticed was the death of child star Edith Fellows. Fellows died at the age of 88. She was the orphan that Bing befriended in the 1936 film "Pennies From Heaven".

Regarding this blog, I want to thank everyone for their support and interest in 2011. This month of December saw more visitors to this page than ever before. Over 7500 visitors have visited this site, and it is still climbing. Again, without you this blog would not be here, and in 2012 I want to continue to encourage your messages, comments, and suggestions.

I hope all of you Bing fans continue to have a happy and prosperous New Year...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

MR. MUSIC: A 1950 REVIEW

Here is a review of the forgotten Bing Crosby gem MR. MUSIC (1950). The review appeared in the NY Times on December 21, 1950. The newspaper is tough in its reviews, but they give a pretty glowing review on the movie and especially Bing...

To brighten the Christmas season, our old friend, Bing Crosby, is in town in a role (and an entertainment) that fits him—and he it—like a glove. In Paramount's "Mr. Music," which came to the Paramount yesterday, Der Bingle (which rhymes with Kris Kringle, we trust you will incidentally note) plays an easy-going song-writer who is coaxed into composing a musical score by a provokingly persistent young lady hired particularly for this job. And with newcomer Nancy Olson spreading much charm in the latter role; with Tom Ewell, Ida Moore, Charles Coburn and even Groucho Marx and Dorothy Kirsten lending assists and with one of the nicest sets of new songs that Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke have ever turned out, this "Mr. Music" is certainly one of the cheeriest and brightest of current films.

There's no point in being coy about it: Bing has not been too fortunate in the general characteristics of his roles in his past three or four films. But in this light, romantic entertainment, based on Samson Raphaelson's play, "Accent on Youth," he acts the sort of droll, informal fellow that he himself happens to be. And since Bing's genial songsmith in this story takes more joyously to golfing than to work, it's the sort of job that our hero can well wrap his golf clubs around.

Fortunately, Arthur Sheekman has turned Mr. Raphaelson's play into a lively exercise with words and music that ambles gaily across the screen. True, there are times when the action, confined largely to a penthouse drawing-room (where Mr. Crosby toys with his golf clubs just as happily as he does on the course) tends to lag slightly and grow feeblee. Even with Miss Olson as vis-a-vis, the sparring of boss and slave-driver drags just a bit now and then.


But regularly Mr. Sheekman catches up the lag with a nice bit of comic invention that Director Richard Haydn grabs upon and uses to keep the whole show going in a generally sophisticated style. It is notable that little condescension to the so-called juvenile taste is evident here. And the songs are adroitly integrated into the natural flow of the script so that Bing and the cast can get into them without pointing when they do the most good.

Best of the lot, for our taste, is a lightly philosophic rhapsody, "Life Is So Peculiar," which is done in several different ways. Bing and Peggy Lee sing it one time at a pent-house jamboree, at which the elastic young Champions, Marge and Gower, dance it spinningly. The Merry Macs also sing it in the ultimate musical show, put on as the songwriter's triumph, and Bing does it in a skit with Groucho Marx. This latter, incidentally, is a winning but strangely skimpy highlight of the film.

Next best is a smoothly melodious song of wistful love, "Accidents Will Happen," which Bing, after tinkering throughout, sings in a pleasing duet with Dorothy Kirsten. And "High on the List" is that, too. Otherwise "Wouldn't It Be Funny," "You'll Be Home" and "Wasn't I There" are in the category of wholly agreeable tunes.


Miss Olson, who will be remembered as the young lady in "Sunset Boulevard," here demonstrates a thorough ability to handle a fragile romantic lead, and Charles Coburn is familiarly amusing as a harassed producer of musical shows. Ida Moore is chirpily comic as a starry-eyed chaperone, while Mr. Haydn, the commendable young director, is very funny in an asthmatic bit.

"Mr. Music" may not stack up with the best of the Crosby films, but it is certainly a contemporary achievement that the master may lean happily upon.

On the stage at the Paramount are Louis Prima and his orchestra, Jan Murray and Shirley Van.

SOURCE

Saturday, December 24, 2011

BING AND HIS CHRISTMAS SPECIALS

Christmas programs from years past
By Mack Williams

At Thanksgiving, I watched Lady GaGa’s Thanksgiving special (solely out of curiosity, of course) and was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t filled with crazily styled outfits or a scarcity of cloth in the clothing’s design. The “diva” aspect was toned down, and the program had the look and feel of one of those old variety show Christmas specials of the 1950s and ’60s.

There were many Christmas specials of the variety-show format in those days. It was a staple of programming back then, and as its name implied, the content was varied. It seemed kind of like a descendant of vaudeville and had included in its roster some of those performers who began their careers in that earlier medium. One such was the great Jimmy Durante, whom I always associate with “September Song” and “Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!” He, of course, revisits us each year at Christmastime as the narrator of the cartoon “Frosty the Snowman.”

Bing Crosby’s Christmas specials were something to never be missed. (Actually, anything with Crosby in it was special, just due to the fact of his presence.) Jackie Gleason’s Christmas offering, complete with the June Taylor Dancers, was another good variety production. Mentioned last, but not least, I must confess that I greatly enjoyed and never missed the Christmas specials provided by Lawrence Welk and his Champagne Music Makers (even now on their re-runs on PBS).

In looking back on those days, I realize that one of the best of the Christmas specials was not broadcast into “TV land” but could be purchased for a small sum of money and only heard on an entertainment device that predated television by many years: the phonograph. The company that produced this concert also produced other products from petroleum, and its name was Firestone. We referred to this medium as records, because back then, there was no need to make a distinction as there is now between vinyl, tape or CD. Tape players were in their infancy, and CDs were years in the future, so the proper term was “records.”


I recall listening to those annual Christmas “concerts” on the floor-model hi-fi in our old living room, just off of the Old Concord Road. I seem to remember the “Firestone Christmas Album” as well as Goodyear’s “Great Songs of Christmas” being sold at Salisbury’s old W.T. Grant Company where my mother worked. Some of the performers included in those varied seasonal collages were: Bing Crosby; Burl Ives; Andy Williams; Robert Merrill; Richard Tucker; Harry Belafonte; Lena Horne; Mitch Miller with his orchestra and chorus (since this was audio, the “bouncing ball” was left to the imagination); The Mormon Tabernacle Choir; Peter, Paul and Mary; Mahalia Jackson; Roger Williams; The Ray Conniff Singers and many more.

Once the televised Christmas special was over (in which a few of these same artists were included, but not as many, as the cost would have probably made it prohibitive), it couldn’t be seen again, as videotape recorders had not yet made their advent in those Christmases of the early 1960s. The local church choirs would then move on to the music appropriate to the following seasons of the church year, not returning to Christmas music again until the earth had come back around to that same approximate place in its orbit as when such music had been previously heard.

As opposed to the Christmas television special and the church Christmas cantata, one could hear the soloists, choristers and orchestras of the Firestone Christmas Album over and over, presumably having one’s own “Christmas in July” (minus the sales) if so desired.

The automotive wheels of Firestone are exceptionally well-made, with treads that make traction with the road. Those other Firestone “wheels,” turning on the turntable of our old, floor-model hi-fi, had the tiniest of “treads” which made the music of Christmas.

SOURCE

Thursday, December 22, 2011

MUSIC REVIEW: BING IN DIXIELAND


For the past two years now, Bing Crosby Enterprises, run by Bing's widow Kathryn Crosby, has issued some pretty rare and amazing work that Bing has done. I always think I have most of the recordings by Bing, but I am amazed at this new CD issue. It is one of the best issues I have seen this year.

The album Bing In Dixieland, contains some tremendous Dixieland music that Bing did on his radio show in the 1950s. There is not a bad recording in the bunch and some of the recordings are completely new to me like Bing's renditions of "Strike Up The Band", "I'd Climb The Highest Mountains", and "The Object Of My Affection" to name a few. The standout for me is "I'd Climb The Highest Mountain", which is a favorite song of mine. I have a jazz instrumental version by Mugsy Spanier, a vocal version by Connee Boswell from the 1950s, and a swinging version by Jo Stafford in the 1960s, but Bing's recording is tops.

Bing was influenced by the Dixieland sound in the 1920s, and you can hear it in his recordings here. He never sounded more at home or happier. If you like great music or Bing Crosby or Dixieland then this is the music for you! You can only buy this CD from the Bing Crosby website: here.

Here is a track listing:
1. AT THE JAZZ BAND BALL
2. SOMETIMES I'M HAPPY
3. MUSKRAT RAMBLE
4. WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS
5. STRIKE UP THE BAND
6. THAT'S A PLENTY
7. MY BABY JUST CARES FOR ME
8. I'D CLIMB THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN
9. SMILES
10. JUST AROUND THE CORNER
11. THE BANJO'S BACK IN TOWN
12. WHEN MY BABY SMILES AT ME
13. THE OBJECT OF MY AFFECTION
14. I GOT RHYTHM
15. MARGIE
16. YES SIR! THAT'S MY BABY
17. OH HOW I LAUGHED WHEN I THINK HOW I CRIED ABOUT YOU
(written by George Jessel!!!)
18. EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY
19. BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA
20. FIVE FOOT TWO, EYES OF BLUE
21. BLUES MY NAUGHTY SWEETIE GIVES TO ME
22. MEMPHIS BLUES (with Ella Fitzgerald)
23. NOW YOU HAS JAZZ (with Louis Armstrong)

my rating: 10 out of 10

Monday, December 19, 2011

BEHIND THE HIT WHITE CHRISTMAS

Behind the 1954 hit 'White Christmas'
By The Associated Pres

You know the movie "White Christmas," right? The one for which Irving Berlin wrote that famous song? The one starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire?

BZZZZ! That's the sound of the Wrong Answer buzzer. Because neither common belief is correct. Here's the scoop on Paramount's 1954 musical "White Christmas," airing on AMC twice Tuesday night at 8 and 10:45 through tomorrow (plus Thursday at 5:15 p.m.).

THE SONG 'WHITE CHRISTMAS' ACTUALLY DEBUTED in the 1942 film "Holiday Inn" (Thursday night at 12:30 a.m. on AMC). Singer-actor Crosby and dancer-actor Astaire were paired in that black-and-white film as a song-and-dance team at a New England inn, staging themed floor shows for holidays from Lincoln's Birthday to July Fourth to, of course, Christmas. Renowned musical composer Berlin wrote 12 songs for the film, but "White Christmas" is the one everybody remembers. In fact . . .

THE TOP-SELLING RECORD EVER is said to be Crosby's "White Christmas." His near-identical 1942 and 1947 recordings for Decca Records are reported to have sold 50 million copies. Including album versions, the total might be north of 100 million. Try finding a household today that doesn't own this melancholy/hopeful ballad on record (78, 45 or 33 rpm), CD or MP3.

SO THE MOVIE 'WHITE CHRISTMAS' was planned as a semi-remake of "Holiday Inn" featuring the original starring pair. Crosby was on board, but when Astaire passed, Donald O'Connor was offered the role. When he couldn't do it, Danny Kaye ended up as Crosby's partner. The Technicolor film was the first made in Paramount's supersharp widescreen VistaVision (used for "Star Wars" special effects). Opening at Radio City Music Hall, "White Christmas" became 1954's smash hit, raking in 30 percent more box office than any other film that year.


THE MOVIE'S 'SOUNDTRACK' ALBUM strangely features Peggy Lee singing the songs performed on-screen by movie co-star Rosemary Clooney (George's aunt and sister to his dad, ex-AMC host Nick Clooney). Clooney was a hot '50s pop singer ("Come On-a My House") recording exclusively for another record label. Lee rerecorded the film's songs alongside Crosby and Kaye. That album was included on CD with some recent DVD releases, but remains a rare find on its own.

SOURCE

Saturday, December 17, 2011

PHOTOS OF THE DAY: HOLIDAY INN

It's hard to believe but nearly 70 years ago the classic holiday favorite HOLIDAY INN was first shown. The movie started off as just a little film combining the talents of singer Bing Crosby, dancer Fred Astaire, and song writer Irving Berlin, but the film spawned the hit song "White Christmas" as well as shot Bing further up the ladder of super stardom. Here are some great scenes and pictures from that classic movie...


BING CROSBY (1903-1977), FRED ASTAIRE (1899-1987), MARJORIE REYNOLDS (1917-1997) and VIRGINIA DALE (1917-1994)



THIS IS A DIFFERENT PUBLICITY PHOTO, SHOWING BING WITH VIRGINIA DALE AND FRED ASTAIRE WITH MARJORIE REYNOLDS



HERE IS THE GREAT SCENE WHERE BING FIRST SANG WHITE CHRISTMAS ON FILM. IT WAS SUNG AS A DUET WITH MARJORIE REYNOLDS. HOWEVER, REYNOLDS VOICE WAS DUBBED IN BY MARTHA MEARS (1910-1986).



HERE IS THE NOW CONTROVERSIAL "ABRAHAM" BLACKFACE SCENE. IN 1942, IT WAS NOT CONSIDERED RACIAL AT ALL.



HERE IS BING AND FRED ASTAIRE WITH THE GREAT CHARACTER ACTOR, WALTER ABEL (1898-1987).



A FEW YEARS AGO, THE MOVIE WAS RE-RELEASED AS A COLORIZED MOVIE. I RECOMMEND EVERYONE TO SEE THIS VERSION. IT IS EXCELLENT!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

THE HOLIDAYS, GOLF, AND BING

THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR TO REMEMBER BING
By Stan Awtrey, PGATOUR.COM Contributor

The holiday season wouldn't be complete without a viewing of "White Christmas." The days would be neither merry nor bright without watching the classic movie starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye and filled with some of the greatest songs ever written by Irving Berlin.

And while many of the scenes are filled with snow, you get the impression that Bob Wallace (the character played by Bing Crosby) would probably rather be playing golf with Major General Waverly (Dean Jagger) rather than getting ready for his next musical number.

That's because Der Binger probably loved golf more than almost anything else. He was most known as a singer and "White Christmas" is one of the season's seminal songs. He was also an accomplished actor who appeared in 86 titles and won an Oscar for his performance as Father O'Malley in "Going My Way." He produced albums and movies, owned race horses and was one of the world's most popular figures.

But those familiar with golf know that Crosby's real love was golf. He took up the sport when he was 12 years old, working as a caddy, but stopped playing until 1930. That's when he got the bug, at age 27, that would consume the rest of his life. He was an excellent player who was good enough to eventually compete in the U.S. Amateur and the British Amateur.

Crosby was a member at Lakeside Golf Club in Hollywood and won the club championship on five occasions. Among his career highlights was a hole-in-one on the 16th hole at Cypress Point, the famous Pacific-fronted hole where Ben Hogan used to lay up and hope to get up-and-down for par.

One of his major contributions to golf came in 1937 when he founded the Bing Crosby Pro-Am, most commonly referred to as the Crosby Clambake. Crosby drew the game's greats to the West Coast to play in the event, which was won by the likes of Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and Jimmy Demaret -- four faces that belong on golf's Mount Rushmore. The tournament began at Rancho Santa Fe Country Club in the San Diego area and moved to the Monterey Peninsula after World War II, where it endures today as the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. First televised in 1957, today millions of viewers tune in for the pleasure of seeing the scenery from the Pebble Beach area.


Crosby once said, "If I were asked what single thing has given me the most gratification in my long and sometimes pedestrian career, I think I would have to say it is this tournament."

Crosby even accepted an invitation to serve as a reporter during the 1958 Masters. He was hired as a stringer for the week by Atlanta Journal Sports Editor Furman Bisher, himself the greatest writer/columnist to ever come from the South. Bisher told Crosby to grab his pipe and walk around Augusta National, watch the players and make some notes about what he saw.

Crosby took his assignment seriously and turned in his work. Bisher, now 93 and still writing columns, has the hand-written notes from his special golf analyst. In one place Crosby wrote, "I like the looks of this Palmer kid." Nice call.

Ironically, it was Crosby and Palmer who would each help popularize the game. Oddly enough, the Clambake was one of the few events that Palmer never won. He was runner-up there twice, losing to Don Massengale by one stroke in 1966 and losing to Tom Shaw by two shots in 1971.

In 1977, Crosby died doing what loved the most. He died while playing golf in Madrid, having just finished a round with Spanish pro Manuel Pinero. His wife, Kathryn, remarked, "What an appropriate way for a golfer who sang for a living to leave this earth." A year later he was inducted in the World Golf Hall of Fame for his contributions to the game.

So when you're planning the holiday viewing schedule and set aside a couple of hours to watch "White Christmas," don't forget the role that Bing Crosby played in bringing golf into your living room. As he croons in another wonderful song, it's another way you'll be "Counting Your Blessings" this time of year.


Stan Awtrey is a freelance columnist for PGATOUR.COM. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the PGA TOUR.

SOURCE

Monday, December 12, 2011

BING CROSBY: THROUGH THE YEARS VOLUME 9

Great news for Bing fans, Sepia Records is issuing another great edition to their Bing Crosby series...


Title: Through The Years – Volume Nine (1955-1956)
Catalogue No.: SEPIA 1185
Barcode: 5055122111856
Release Date: January / February 2012

This Volume Nine of the ongoing Bing Crosby Through the Years series features 26 recordings made between 1955 - 1956 in chronological order. It includes cover versions Bing recorded of contemporary hits such as "Mona Lisa", "Memories Are Made Of This", "The Longest Walk" & "Moments To Remember". The CD also contains Bing's chart entry "Around The World”.

TRACKS:
1. CHRISTMAS IS A-COMIN'
2. THE FIRST SNOWFALL
3. THE POSSIBILITY’S THERE (with Peggy Lee)
4. THE NEXT TIME IT HAPPENS
5. SOMETHING IN COMMON
6. LOOK TO YOUR HEART
7. SUDDENLY THERE'S A VALLEY
8. MOMENTS TO REMEMBER
9. IS CHRISTMAS ONLY A TREE?
10. THE LONGEST WALK
11. JOHN BARLEYCORN
12. WHEN YOU’RE IN LOVE
13. APRIL SHOWERS
14. BLUES IN THE NIGHT
15. PRISONER OF LOVE
16. MEMORIES ARE MADE OF THIS
17. MY BLUE HEAVEN
18. PAPER DOLL
19. AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’
20. WHEN MY BABY SMILES AT ME
21. A LITTLE KISS EACH MORNING
22. THIS LOVE OF MINE
23. MONA LISA
24. THANKS FOR THE MEMORY
25. AROUND THE WORLD
26. I HEARD THE BELLS ON CHRISTMAS DAY


SOURCE

BING CROSBY CHRISTMAS TRIBUTE TOUR CANCELLED

In a June column I first told readers about a new stage tour coming to Chicagoland heralded as a new Christmas tribute to holiday crooner Bing Crosby, called "The Bing Crosby Christmas Spectacular: A Musical Recreation" featuring a cast of 40 performers and starring Peter Marshall as the host. Marshall, 85, was the host of the original "Hollywood Squares" game show from 1966 to 1981. Joining Marshall for the tour was the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, The Broadway Singers, The Holiday Choir and Ice Dancers, along with popular Crosby film clips and a splashy array of costumes created by Bob Mackie.

There were supposed to be two performances, 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet, with tickets ranging from $25 to $55.

As it turns out, Thursday's shows are canceled, as is this entire tour.

I'm told the producers for this new show had not secured all of the necessary permission to greenlight this show using the name and likeness of Bing Crosby.

HLC Properties is a Nevada limited partnership formed in 1980 for the purpose of managing the entertainment empire created by Harry Lillis Crosby, professionally known as Bing Crosby, who died in 1977.

Crosby's personal representative and widow Kathryn transferred to HLC his interests in various record masters, television programs, motion pictures, radio programs, music compositions, music publishing agreements, literary works, and the contract rights related to those interests, as well as the right of publicity.

The general partner of HLC, Hillsborough Productions, Inc., manages the operations, including making all creative and business decisions about the interests, with lawyer Mark Brodka, the second husband of actress Mary Crosby, Bing's daughter, handling most matters.

Ron Ranke of Ron Ranke and Associates Ltd. of Barrington, Ill., began touting this new Christmas stage tour back in July sending out the following press statement: "In 2011, for the first time, a live Broadway styled production co-starring a cast of 40 performers will give audiences the opportunity to re-live those magical Crosby moments in a musical recreation. It's a return to the big holiday extravaganza experience so rarely seen on stage today. Bing's greatest Christmas hits come to life in an inspiring setting of themed holiday stage props to revisit the Crooner himself captured in an amazing collection of film-clip highlights of Bing and his friends Bob Hope, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, David Bowie, Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong."

The Palace Theatre in Waterbury, Conn., which had the show booked for Nov. 26, informed patrons: "Bing Crosby Christmas Spectacular tour that was slated to make a pre-holiday stop at the Palace Theater has canceled all 2011 tour dates due to an issue with the show's licensing agreement."

SOURCE

Friday, December 9, 2011

BING CROSBY SAVINGS BOND AD

Do they even still sell savings bond? Even though Bob Hope gets all the credit for his efforts during World War II, Bing did a lot for his country before and after the war...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

HOLIDAY MEMORIES OF BING

Holiday Memories
by Nancy Strakna

It’s that “most wonderful time of the year” again, and for me and many of us, the holidays wouldn’t be complete without the lights, the decorations, the presents, and (especially) the food! It’s a time of over-indulgence and celebrations with family and friends, but the abundance we enjoy today was not always so. During World War II, with the war effort in full swing, rationing severely limited many things we now take for granted. Although this created some hardship, it was a small sacrifice that most were honored to make if it helped keep their loved ones safe and sound. Still today, many of us are separated from our loved ones and may be struggling to make do with less.

Nothing evokes the feeling of Christmas like the music; the songs conjure up memories of Christmases past and how we celebrated with family and friends. Even now I find myself humming “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby. Recorded during World War II, the melancholy lyrics of “White Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” with their comforting images of home and yearning for family, touched the hearts of American civilians and soldiers alike.

Join us on Tuesday, December 6th at 7:00, as we welcome Mary Rasa to the Perryville Branch Library. In a period uniform, accompanied by holiday music of the era, she will be sharing images of Christmas during World War II, both at home and in military settings. She will describe the decorations and how food was prepared, and will explain shortages and rationing and how that affected daily life. The day after the program–December 7th–marks the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which propelled the United States into the fray. Take a step back in time with us, to hear about Christmas memories from those days.


What are your favorite holiday traditions and memories?

SOURCE

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

BING CROSBY CHESTERFIELD AD

I love this Bing Crosby advertisement for Chesterfield cigarettes. The ad features Bing and Arthur Godfrey and Perry Como - who also had radio shows sponsored by the cigarette company. Smoking in 1948 was a lot different than it is now...

Monday, November 28, 2011

MICHAEL FEINSTEIN'S BING APPRECIATION


There’s no more important subset of American popular singers than the crooner, whose smooth, mellow sound is “easy listening” in the best sense of the phrase. Crooners require no effort on the part of the listener, who can just sit back and spend some quality time with a good voice, some nice tunes, and terrific arrangements. Bing Crosby was the king of the crooners. His sleepy-eyed, “buh-buh-buh-boo,” pipe-in-mouth, hat-down-low style of singing lasted for almost fifty years and we never grew tired of it. Bing was always professional, always busy, filling up every spare moment with either singing or swinging―a golf club, that is.

Crosby was a transitional figure but also his own man and most of all, a great talent. Whereas Jolson wore his emotions on his sleeve, his style stripped bare and without nuance, the next great singer, Bing Crosby, kept his personality in check. He gave us nothing to make us cry, nothing to make us laugh―but he could draw a big smile, a pang of nostalgia, a wistfulness. Crosby dealt in emotions lite, keeping the audience entertained, singing as if he were singing just for you, and all without offering a clue as to who he was or what he thought. We bought it all. He asked little of us and we asked little of him.

Even Bing’s friends and family couldn’t tell what was going on behind his fa├žade. Dogs wag their tails when happy, snarl when they’re mad. Cats flick their tails when they’re annoyed. Bing had his own set of signals and we were forced to look for them in order to discover the person underneath the performance.


For Maxine Andrews, it was his hat: “He could be very moody, and when he came into the recording studio we could always tell what mood he was in by looking at his hat. If his hat was square on his head, you didn't kid around with him. But if it was back a little bit, sort of jaunty, then you could have a ball.”

His own wife, Kathryn, searched for clues in his dress: “People who didn't know thought Bing had difficulty expressing affection. Not at all. As I was to learn much later, the secret was in that top button on the pajamas. If it was fastened, it was going to be a quiet read-in-bed and lights-out-at-10 p.m.-after-chaste-prayers [night]. If it was unbuttoned, however, watch out.”

Hats and pajamas as the windows to a man’s soul? Some claimed he was self-absorbed but perhaps he was just introspective. That’s why Johnny Burke was the perfect lyricist for Crosby, his work full of down-home homilies, the joys of living simply and simply living, the notion that money can’t buy happiness.

Though Crosby was one of the richest men in Hollywood, and certainly enjoyed his wealth, he was never pretentious. As Wilfred Hyde-White reported, “Sinatra would turn up with three or four Karmen Ghias. The doors would open and bodyguards would march down. But Bing would turn up in a little car, stop at the gate for his dressing-room key, and then park it himself! The difference was rather marvelous.”


His image, relaxed and easy-going, was carefully controlled. James Cagney noted, “Here he had been to all appearances perfectly loose and relaxed, but not at all. He was giving everything he had in every note he sang, and the apparent effortlessness was a part of his very hard work.”

We all know about the great friendship between Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. They mock-feuded, appeared on each other’s radio and television broadcasts, enjoyed a long relationship on film in the “road” movies, and popped up in cameos in each other’s film and stage vehicles. They honestly enjoyed each other’s company. They clicked. And yet, there’s no record of Bing and Bob ever getting together for a vacation, let alone a meal, in all their years together.


Perhaps he was the only one to truly know himself, but that’s true of most of us. Still, it doesn’t diminish one of the greatest singers of the 20th century. A man who brought us out of the acoustic age and into the electronic. Jolson could take or leave a microphone, his actions meant everything. Crosby embraced the microphone and used it to draw us into the music. He refined Jolson’s emotional peaks and smoothed out the edges on Jolson’s need for approval. He led the way to Frank Sinatra, a complex man who let us into his id. Crosby was a transitional figure but also his own man and most of all, a great talent...

SOURCE

Saturday, November 26, 2011

SPOTLIGHT ON BUDDY COLE

I used to complain about Buddy Cole's backing of Bing Crosby, but upon listening to the recordings more, they are really enjoyable. Not being an organ music fan, Cole's orchestrations never did much for me, but they do have an appeal backing Bing. Edwin LeMar Cole, known as Buddy Cole, was born December 15, 1916 in Irving, Illinois, and started his musical career in the theater playing between movies.

He moved to Hollywood and played with a couple of bands, most notably the Alvino Ray big band, before becoming a studio musician. He played piano for Bing Crosby for a number of years and also toured with Rosemary Clooney. Albums with his combo were recorded on piano and Hammond organ. He became Bing's primary orchestrator in the mid 1950s after Bing and John Scott Trotter ended their association. Like Cole, Bing was a fan of the organ and had a great admiration for Buddy Cole's work. Buddy backed Bing in the recording studio as well as on radio and television.

Cole recorded for Capitol Records as both Buddy Cole and Eddie LaMar and His Orchestra. He did both commercial and transcription recordings for Capitol.

Although primarily known as a pianist, he had an abiding love for the organ, both Hammond and theatre pipe. In his capacity as a studio musician, he worked extensively with Henry Mancini, who used his distinctive Hammond organ sound for the sound track to the TV series "Mr. Lucky." He also recorded several albums for Warner Brothers records on piano, Hammond organ and theatre pipe organ.


The theatre organ heard on these albums was the 17-rank Wurlitzer organ from the United Artists theatre plus nine ranks from a one-time radio studio Robert Morton theatre organ which he installed in the garage of a former residence in North Hollywood and on which he recorded three albums for the Columbia and Capitol labels. The combined ranks were installed in a specially built studio next to his home.

Two albums - "Modern Pipe Organ" and "Autumn Nocturne" were recorded for Warner Brothers, as well as two albums done in conjunction with arranger Monty Kelly, one of which contained an arrangement of Richard Rodgers' Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, and the other of which contained transcriptions of big band arrangements with spaces for the organ. These two albums - for the Alshire label - were his last recordings.


He married Yvonne King, member of the King Sisters, and with her had two daughters, actress Tina Cole and Cathy Cole Green.

He later married Clare Cole, who already had two children, Jeffrey and Jay Woodruff. Jeffrey often helped him tune his organ.

He suffered a series of heart attacks during the early sixties culminating in a fatal one November 15,1964...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

BING: THE SOLO YEARS

Crosby recorded over 1,700 songs for commercial release, beginning with “I’ve Got the Girl” (Columbia) in 1926 – and ending in 1977, the year of his death. He recorded in every one of those 51 years. From 1926 through 1928 he recorded with Paul Whiteman on the Victor label and then on Columbia again until 1931.

From 1931 into 1934 Crosby recorded for the Brunswick label. But in 1934 Jack Kapp, who had been an executive at Brunswick, started the Decca label and he signed Crosby to be Decca’s first recording artist. Crosby recorded exclusively for Decca through 1955, after which he free-lanced for several record companies, including Frank Sinatra’s Reprise label. The vast majority of Crosby’s recordings were for Decca, which was purchased by MCA in 1962.

When Crosby died he was considered the world’s most successful singer, in terms of record sales. And there are currently more than 100 CDs available of his recordings, on a variety of labels.

Crosby’s success was in good measure due to his laconic, laid-back delivery and his impeccable sense of timing, coupled with that mellow voice. But these gifts and talents would have been of little value if the recording industry had not undergone a major change just as his career was beginning.

Until 1926 the recording industry used acoustic and mechanical means to make a master record. Singers and musicians gathered around a large horn, which funneled the sounds they produced down to a diaphragm, which vibrated and moved the cutting needle which translated that acoustical energy into a groove in the wax master recording.


But in 1926 the industry changed over to electric microphones and electrically-driven cutting needles. This made it possible to “close-mike” a singer, who no longer needed to project or “belt out” – or virtually shout – over the top of the musicians, as if on stage. (A similar revolution would soon bring microphones and amplification to the stage.) And this recording revolution made possible Crosby’s distinctively soft singing style, which quickly became known as “crooning.” Crosby’s first 1926 record advertised on its label the fact that it was made electrically, an obvious selling point.

Crosby sang as though he was standing next to you, almost conversationally. It made for a more intimate experience. And in Crosby’s wake other crooners would soon follow – most notably Frank Sinatra, who, as a youthful singer with the Dorsey Brothers band, would all but wrap himself around the mike stand on stage.

Crosby was a pioneer in the next stage of recording development as well: tape recording. He was the first major star to make use of this new recording medium. He used it first to record and produce his radio show in 1947, and in mid-1949 he began making his Decca recordings on tape. Until tape, it was almost impossible to edit a recording. If, in the course of recording, someone missed a cue or played a wrong note, that “take” had to be discarded and a new one begun all over again from the beginning.


These messed-up disk recordings sometimes included “blow-ups” from Crosby – a demonstration of his well-known temper – directed at whoever had messed up on that occasion. Some of these were not destroyed (as was supposed to be done) but were bootlegged into the hands of Crosby’s fans. These 78 rpm disks are now highly valued by collectors. They include a botched version of “I Wished on the Moon” from 1935, “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams” from 1939, and “Crosby Blows His Top” a disk released as “Private for Decca Officials in N.Y.” in 1940. There is also a 1950s label, Crosby Blows His Top, devoted to his recorded explosions of temper; it had a yellow label with black print.

Crosby spawned an incredible amount of memorabilia in his 51-year career. A check of eBay revealed over 1,200 items for auction, ranging from publicity photos to sheet music, and including cassettes of his 1940s radio shows. A signed letter was offered on another website for $500. And his music remains widely available on CD – a perfect accompaniment to the holiday season: music to listen to with a loved one while cuddling before a cheery fire in the fireplace.


SOURCE

Friday, November 18, 2011

BING: THE FIRST CROONER

Bing Crosby – The First Crooner
The Early Years

Bing Crosby died more than 30 years ago, in 1977, but his legacy and his music are still with us, especially during the Christmas holidays season. Many of his best-selling records were Christmas songs, dating back to 1942’s perennial classic, “White Christmas.” Among his other gold records: “Silent Night” (1942), “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” (1943), and “Jingle Bells” (with the Andrews Sisters) (1943). There is still something warm and comforting about that rich voice singing the Yuletide favorites and Crosby’s original Christmas recordings can be found for auction on sites like eBay while they are also to be found on currently available CDs.

Harry Lillis Crosby was born May 3, 1903, in Tacoma, Washington. As a boy he was a fan of a comic strip called The Bingville Bugle, which starred a character with protruding ears named Bingo. Crosby also had ears that stuck out and soon his friends were calling him “Bingo,” which was eventually shortened to “Bing.” The name stuck with him all his life.

Bing’s parents loved music and loved to sing, and Crosby was briefly given formal singing lessons, but he soon dropped out. He was more interested in popular songs than classical opera, and his hero was Al Jolson. In college, planning to become a lawyer, Crosby bought a drum set by mail-order and was soon good enough on them to be invited to join a local band, The Musicaladers, where he met Al Rinker. The band was so successful that Crosby dropped out of college in his senior year to focus on a career in music. But the band itself fell apart, leaving Bing and Al on their own. They took Al’s Model T and went to Los Angeles, where Al’s sister, jazz singer Mildred Bailey, helped them get into show business. Within a few weeks of their arrival in Los Angeles in 1925 Bing and Al were on the vaudeville circuit and singing in movie theaters throughout California.

That’s when Paul Whiteman, who called himself “The King of Jazz” and led the most popular band in America, heard them. He hired them to sing with his band, which they joined at the Tivoli Theatre in Chicago in December, 1926. Crosby used the opportunity to study music with such Whiteman band musicians as Bix Beiderbecke, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang.

While waiting to join Whiteman, Crosby and Rinker made their first record with the Don Clark band. Clark was a former member of Whiteman’s orchestra, and on October 18, 1926, he recorded them singing “I’ve Got the Girl,” which was released by Columbia Records (824-D), with an instrumental piece on the B-side. On December 22 they cut their first records with Whiteman, “Wistful and Blue” and “Pretty Lips.”


When Whiteman’s orchestra opened at the Paramount in New York in January, 1927, there was a problem with the duo’s vocals. The theater had no amplification and the orchestra was drowning out the singers. To overcome this problem a third singer, Harry Barris, was added to the duo – which became a trio known as “The Rhythm Boys.”

Crosby was surprisingly nonchalant about his work, drank a lot, and developed a “playboy” image. He was jailed for drunk driving after an accident which put his date through the windshield in November, 1929. This was while the movie, The King of Jazz, featuring the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, was being filmed, and Crosby had to be escorted from jail to the studio whenever the Rhythm Boys were needed, but he missed out on the chance to take a major solo role in the movie. Whiteman “released” the Rhythm Boys from his orchestra in May, 1930.

Crosby and the Rhythm Boys trio began singing with the Gus Arnheim band at the Coconut Grove in Los Angeles. The Grove did live radio broadcasts and Crosby could be heard throughout California, which brought increasing crowds to hear him in person. At the same time Arnheim was pushing Crosby to the front as a soloist, leaving the other two in the trio to sing backup. On January 19, 1931 Crosby recorded his first solo, “I Surrender Dear,” written by Harry Barris, and it was a hit.


But as Crosby’s solo career began to take off he started skipping performances at the Grove. This led the club’s manager to dock his pay, and Crosby walked out in protest, taking the Rhythm Boys with him. When the club persuaded the local musician’s union to ban the trio for breach of contract, the Rhythm Boys dissolved. (They performed together only once after that, in a July 4, 1943 reunion for the NBC radio broadcast of Paul Whiteman Presents. A excerpt from the program was included on the MCA anthology on CD, Bing: His Legendary Years.)

SOURCE

Monday, November 14, 2011

BING'S ELKO BLUE SURGE DAY

Bing was and is a big part of Elko, Nevada and its history. Here is a day set aside for Bing in 1951. It is a pretty interesting advertisement...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

BING'S FINAL RESTING PLACE


Bing Crosby
1904 - 1977 (INCORRECT DATE OF BIRTH)
Holy Cross Cemetery

Though best known as a laid-back crooner, Bing Crosby was also an Academy Award-winning actor.

Crosby started his career as a singer and drummer in a small combo while studying law at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Crosby and his band, The Rhythm Boys, appeared in several films in the early 1930s. His first starring role was in "The Big Broadcast" (1932). Crosby also appeared in several two-reel musical comedies produced by Mack Sennett, and audiences loved his natural, easy-going style, as both an actor and a singer.

Crosby appeared in a series of musicals in the 1930s, including "Blue of the Night" (1933), "College Humor" (1933), "Going Hollywood" (1933), "She Loves Me Not" (1934), "Here is My Heart" (1934), "Rhythm on the Range" (1936), "Anything Goes" (1936), "Waikiki Wedding" (1937), "Sing, You Sinners" (1938) and "Dr. Rhythm" (1938). Crosby teamed with off-screen pal Bob Hope in "Road to Singapore" (1940), the first in a series of seven "Road" pictures -- lightly scripted mixes of adventure, slapstick, ad libs, inside jokes and cameos by top Hollywood stars, from Humphrey Bogart to Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The other films in the series were "Road to Zanzibar" (1941), "Road to Morocco" (1942), "Road to Utopia" (1946), "Road to Rio" (1947), "Road to Bali" (1952) and "Road to Hong Kong" (1962).


Crosby co-starred with Fred Astaire in "Holiday Inn" (1942), and Crosby's version of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" quickly became the biggest-selling recording of all time. For his dramatic performance as Father O'Malley in "Going My Way" (1944), Crosby won the Academy Award as Best Actor, and he was nominated for the same award in the sequel, "The Bells of St. Mary's" (1945). Crosby received his third nomination for his performance in "The Country Girl" (1954).

Crosby returned to musicals with "White Christmas" (1954), "High Society" (1956) and "Robin and the Seven Hoods" (1964). His final film role was a dramatic performance in a remake of "Stagecoach" (1966). Crosby appeared regularly on television in the 1960s and 1970s, performing on variety shows and hosting an annual Christmas program that usually featured members of his family.

Crosby died in 1977, just after finishing a round of golf in Madrid, Spain.

Despite his laid-back image, Crosby was a savvy businessman. When he died, Crosby was reportedly one of the wealthiest entertainers in Hollywood, with an estate estimated at up to $400 million.

In his will, Crosby provided detailed funeral instructions, with a request that "my funeral services be conducted in a Catholic church; that they be completely private with attendance limited to my wife and the above-mentioned children; that a low Mass be said and that no memorial service of any kind be held. I further direct that, insofar as possible, services be held without any publicity, other than that which my family permits after my burial, which shall be in a Catholic cemetery."

Next to Crosby is the grave of his first wife, an actress and singer who performed under the name of Dixie Lee, but is buried under her real name, Wilma W. Crosby (1911 - 1952). They were married in 1930, and had four sons, Gary, Philip, Dennis and Lindsay. Crosby married his second wife, actress Kathryn Grant, in 1957, and they had three children, Harry, Nathaniel and Mary Frances.

Next to Wilma Crosby are Bing Crosby's parents, Harry Lowe Crosby (1870 - 1950) and Catherine H. Crosby (1872 - 1964).

Crosby purchased four plots at the cemetery when his father died in 1950. At the time, he planned that the spaces would be used by his father, his mother, himself and his wife, Dixie. By the time Crosby died in 1977, the other three spots were already filled, and he was married to Kathryn. And there were no other plots available nearby. So where will Kathryn be buried?

Crosby anticipated that problem when he wrote out his funeral instructions. Instead of being buried at the customary depth of six feet, Crosby was buried nine feet deep, so that, if Kathryn wishes, she can be buried in his plot, on top of him, and his grave marker can be replaced with one containing both of their names.

Crosby died on Oct. 14, 1977, in Madrid, Spain...

SOURCE

Monday, November 7, 2011

RIP: HAL KANTER, WRITER FOR BING

Hal Kanter, an Emmy Award-winning comedy writer, and a director and producer whose career included writing for Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, directing Elvis Presley and creating a landmark 1960s TV series starring Diahann Carroll, has died. He was 92.

Kanter, who for decades was a writer for the annual Oscar telecast, died Sunday of complications from pneumonia at Encino Hospital in Los Angeles, said his daughter, Donna Kanter.

"What a dear man," longtime friend Carl Reiner said Monday after learning of Kanter's death.

"He was considered one of the wits of the industry; there's no question about it," said Reiner, noting that Kanter was master of ceremonies for the Directors Guild of America's awards dinner for many years. "Any time he was called upon, he always could make the audience laugh.

"He was a funny elder statesman, and there's nothing better than having a witty elder statesman."

After launching his comedy writing career in radio in the late 1930s, Kanter moved into television in 1949 as head writer for "The Ed Wynn Show," a live comedy-variety show.

He went on to create, produce and head the writing team on "The George Gobel Show," another live comedy-variety program for which he shared an Emmy Award in 1955 for best written comedy material.

In the 1960s, Kanter made TV history when he created and produced "Julia," the 1968-71 NBC sitcom starring Carroll as Julia Baker, a young widowed nurse and the mother of a young son, Corey (played by Marc Copage), whose best friend is white.


Eighteen years after Ethel Waters debuted as the star of the TV version of "The Beulah Show," an ABC situation comedy about a stereotypical black maid, Carroll became the first black actress to star in her own TV sitcom playing a character who was a professional woman rather than a domestic worker.

Although "Julia" was not carried on some TV stations in the South the first couple of weeks, "eventually, the show became such a hit, they were forced to carry it," Kanter recalled in a 1997 interview with the Television Academy Foundation's Archive of American Television.

Carroll's Julia "opened a door," Kanter said in a 1969 Los Angeles Times interview. "Bill Cosby in 'I Spy' first opened it (in 1965), but Julia opened it wider."

Kanter said "Julia" had been criticized for not dealing in depth with any social issues. "But that was not our purpose," he said. "We wanted to create an entertaining comedy, nothing more.

"You see, I feel that if we had starred (white actress) Hope Lange in 'Julia' and Diahann Carroll in 'The Ghost and Mrs. Muir,' the results would have been about the same. I also feel that if we made social comment within our context, our show would have been a failure."

On the other hand, he said, "there is a fallout of social comment. Every week we see a black child playing with a white child with complete acceptance and without incident. One of the recurring themes in the thousands of letters we get is from people who thank us for showing them what a black child is like - he's like any other child."

Kanter, who also created the TV series "Valentine's Day" and "The Jimmy Stewart Show," was a writer and producer on "Chico and the Man" and had a brief 1975 stint as executive producer of "All in the Family."


Among his movie credits as a writer are Hope and Crosby's "Road to Bali," Hope's "Bachelor in Paradise" and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis' "Money from Home" and "Artists and Models" - as well as the movies "Pocket Full of Miracles" and "Move Over, Darling."

He also directed Presley in the 1957 movie "Loving You," which Kanter co-wrote; and he wrote the screenplay for Presley's 1961 film "Blue Hawaii." And in a change of pace from comedy, he collaborated with Tennessee Williams on the 1955 screen adaptation of Williams' drama "The Rose Tattoo."

Kanter's longest-running writing job was the annual Academy Awards ceremony. Beginning in 1952, a year before the broadcast moved from radio to television, he wrote for the Oscar show at least 33 years.

In 1991 and 1992, Kanter was among the Oscar show writers who shared Emmys for outstanding writing in a variety or music program.

"Giving some actors a joke is like handing a straight razor to a baby," Kanter, who was a member of the Academy's Board of Governors, told Newsday in 1994. "You can never give an actor a blank piece of paper. You have to give him something with words on it before he can destroy it."

Many presenters and hosts, however, had a way with Kanter's words.

When The Associated Press asked him in 2001 for his favorite line from past Oscar telecasts, Kanter recalled: "On one of the shows, Walter Matthau announced that the broadcast was being seen simultaneously in 300 countries. I had him say, 'If my tailor in Hong Kong is watching, it still doesn't fit.'"

For decades, Kanter was the go-to wit to act as master of ceremonies or speak at Hollywood functions and other events.


At a testimonial dinner, he introduced comedy writer Sherwood Schwartz by saying: "Sherwood Schwartz. He sounds like Robin Hood's rabbi."

He even enlivened memorial services, including one for playwright Robert E. Lee, at which Kanter introduced himself by saying, "I'm the internationally famous writer-director who's known to his barber as 'Next!'"

Kanter was born Dec. 18, 1918, in Savannah, Ga., and moved to Long Beach, N.Y., when he was about 16. Or as he liked to say, he moved "from the deep South to the shallow North."

His Russian-born father, Albert, who exposed his children to great literature and was a humorous storyteller, later created and published "Classic Comics," a popular comic-book series featuring adaptations of famous literary works that became known as "Classics Illustrated."

At age 11, while living in Florida, Kanter began writing Boy Scout news for The Miami Herald. At 14, he was freelancing as a cartoonist and selling cartoon gags. And he was not quite 18 in 1936 when a job for a comic strip ghost writer took him to Hollywood, where he got his start in radio.

Kanter, who also contributed topical jokes to Olsen and Johnson's long-running hit Broadway revue "Hellzapoppin," served in the Army during World War II. As part of Armed Forces Radio Service in the South Pacific, he helped build an AFRS station on Guam and hosted his own shows.

After the war, he resumed his career in radio, including several years writing for Bing Crosby's show.

Kanter, who titled his 1999 memoir "So Far, So Funny: My Life in Show Business," received the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television from the Writers Guild of America in 1989.

In addition to his daughter Donna, he is survived by his wife of 70 years, writer Doris Kanter; his other daughters, Lisa Kanter Shafer and Abigail Kanter Jaye; his sister, Saralea Emerson; and a granddaughter...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

MY FAVORITE BING MOVIES


Anyone that knows me knows I like to rank everything. Call it OCD or insanity, but I love to make a list about everything. Of course, my love of Bing Crosby is no different. I took all of Bing's major film roles and ranked them by favorites.

I am interested in your comments and observations - feel free to get the conversation started!

MY RANKING OF BING CROSBY MOVIES
1. The Country Girl
2. Blue Skies
3. Holiday Inn
4. High Society
5. Going My Way
6. Road To Utopia
7. Just For You
8. Pennies From Heaven
9. Bells Of St. Marys
10. Here Comes The Groom
11. Road To Rio
12. Mr. Music
13. Man On Fire
14. Road To Morocco
15. Here Comes The Waves
16. Going Hollywood
17. Birth Of The Blues
18. Rhythm On The Range
19. High Time
20. Welcome Stranger
21. White Christmas
22. Dixie
23. Rhythm On The River
24. Road To Zanzibar
25. Robin And The Seven Hoods
26. Double Or Nothing
27. Riding High
28. Little Boy Lost
29. The Starmaker
30. A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court
31. Sing You Sinners
32. Anything Goes (1956)
33. Dr. Rhythm
34. East Side Of Heaven
35. If I Had My Way
36. Road To Singapore
37. We're Not Dressing
38. Emperor's Waltz
39. Waikiki Wedding
40. Mississippi
41. Road To Bali
42. Anything Goes (1936)
43. Two For Tonight
44. Top O' The Morning
45. She Loves Me Not
46. Too Much Harmony
47. College Humor
48. Top O' The Morning
49. Here Is My Heart
50. Say One For Me
51. The Stagecoach
52. Paris Honeymoon
53. The Road To Hong Kong


Thursday, November 3, 2011

HOWARD CROSBY: BING'S NEPHEW

Bing’s nephew Howard is a chip off the old block
By Alan Owens

A SHARED love for the game of golf bonded Howard Crosby and his late Uncle Bing, but a love for music discovered in later life has seen the nephew attempt to emulate the legendary crooner.

Howard Crosby will perform at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance in UL this Friday in aid of the Derry based charity Children in Crossfire. The charity’s founder, Richard Moore, was behind the visit of the Dalai Lama to UL.

Crosby will perform old Bing favourites as well as sharing anecdotes and stories about his famous relation, who had strong Irish roots.

“This whole idea sprung from a friend of mine in Dublin, who saw that we did a show in the UK last year which was very well received,” explains Howard, a 60-something native of Spokane, Washington, where Bing was also from.

“We were asked to come to Ireland because he is a friend of Richard Moore of Children in Crossfire. We have done the show for charities in the States and in England and it will be pretty much the same show, with a few additions that are designed to stir the Irish spirit if you will, some of the Irish songs that my uncle recorded years ago,” explains Howard.

Bing and Howard’s father’s own grandparents emigrated from Schull in Cork in 1870 and there was always a strong tradition of music in the family. Howard, however, didn’t take up singing until later life, and is a successful businessman in his own right.

“As I like to tell people, if your uncle is Bing Crosby, you need to find another line of work, which I did,” he laughs. “I started out singing in a church choir when I was in my mid-20s and the next thing you know they had made a soloist out of me and pretty soon after that I was singing and performing more and more. I will say that it is true that anywhere I sing some of his songs, it is in the same key as Uncle Bing, so let’s just leave it at that,” he smiles.

While Howard’s heritage ties him to Hollywood royalty, he shares more with his late uncle than a love of golf and his talent is no mere mimicry, having performed in London, Dublin and the US, singing jazz and contemporary American classics as well as Bing favourites.

Howard Crosby performs in Theatre 1 in UL’s Irish World Academy this Friday at 8pm.

SOURCE

Saturday, October 29, 2011

SAY ONE FOR ME: A 1959 REVIEW

The movie Say One For Me is often on the list of worst movies of all time. When I found this review from the NY Times on June 20,1959 I was very interested in reading the review. The soundtrack is more interesting than the film but here is what the Times had to say...

Bing Crosby Portrays Priest...Again
by Bosley Crowther

AFTER all the times Bing Crosby has played a priest in films, you'd think by now he would be a Bishop or a Monsignor, at least. But no, he is still a parish pastor in Frank Tashlin's "Say One for Me," another romance of religion and show business, which came to the Paramount yesterday.

Mr. Crosby is still atmosphering informally in cassock and biretta (or just toupee) in and about the vicinity of a small Catholic church off Broadway, mixing piety and wisecracks in about equal measures and snatching brands from the burning that is going on all the time just up the street.

The principal brand that takes some snatching is a young night club impresario, entertainer and general sin-doer among the showgirls at the club. This fellow, played by Robert Wagner, is a real gone type ("know what I mean"), given to impudent indifference toward the squareness of a priest. He tees off on Father Conroy (that's our Bing, of course), accuses him of stealing his routines for an old vaudevillian and other such. Needless to say, the good father regards him dubiously.

Particularly does he do so because one of his best parishioners, a little college girl played by Debbie Reynolds, goes to work at this fellow's club. Of course, she is not a usual showgirl, she just needs money for a father who is ill, and so there is really no good reason for the burning anxiety of Father Bing. But he worries and probes the situation. This takes him to the club. This leads him to the pious business of poking his mitts into the fire.


In the process, he does score some rescues. The most obvious and delightful save he makes is that of a beat piano player who is trying to make his home in a bottle of booze. This character, played by Ray Walston, is more of Bing's vintage and type, and the two do some gratifying chumming and crooning in the war on John Barleycorn.

Father Bing also plucks from the embers a moody showgirl who has a tiny tot without the benefit of a marriage license. He gives baby and mother the sign.

But we really can't credit him with saving the impudent impresario. That job is mainly done by Miss Reynolds, who looks great in tight slacks or opera hose and also in the color and wide-screen effectively used here. It is she who really angles the young scapegrace to 2 A. M. mass (or what Father Bing calls his "late, late LATE show"). But then Bing's successes in the priesthood have usually had strong assists from Cupid's bow.

It is a pleasant show-world entertainment, this obvious "Say One for Me," full of pretty girls with shapely legs, a few song numbers (two sung by Bing) and religious images. Robert O'Brien has contributed a screen play that is loaded with slang. Broadway gags that are easily comprehended and not too much clerical sentiment. Connie Gilchrist as the priest's housekeeper has some of the cutest lines and, next to Mr. Walston, is the most solid comic in the show.


As for Bing—well, he's just about as usual, a little less lively, perhaps, a little older looking, but still casual and sincere. He'll never make Monsignor. He'll always be a parish priest, whenever he turns his collar backward, because you always sense a sport shirt underneath...

SOURCE