Friday, January 11, 2013


Bing Crosby, one of the greatest singers of all time, and one of the most beloved icons of the 20th century has seen his reputation tarnished over the last thirty years. Bing has been dead since 1977, but after his oldest son Gary Crosby published a supposed "tell-all" book called "Going My Own Way" in 1983, the memory of Bing has been ruined in the public eye. It is so unfortunate because people refuse to put aside the family rumors, and they take Gary's book as the absolute truth. Every week I find myself correcting people on Bing Crosby rumors. I even had one person ask me if it was true that Bing attempted to murder one of his sons. Now come on!

Decades later the rumors have grown and have a life of their own. I was amazed that the National Enquirer continued to perpetuate the gossip by running a December story called Bing Crosby: A Black And Blue Christmas. I made myself read to article in hopes that maybe the title was deceiving, but alas it was the same old story. Gary Crosby has been dead since 1995, but the tabloid magazine used old stories Gary told in the 1980s when he was pushing his book. I am just so tired seeing these negative stories about Bing Crosby.

People assume that Bing Crosby was the cold and heartless child beater just from one book his alcoholic and bitter son wrote about him. No one remembers that four of Bing's children have come to his defense, saying he was a great father. No one remembers that before Gary Crosby died he recanted most of the fabrications he put into his book. No on remembers the countless selfless acts Bing did throughout his career such as entertaining with the USO during World War II, and also helping out other stars when they hit rough times like Mildred Bailey, Judy Garland, and Peggy Lee. It is such a shame that after 2500 plus recordings and countless appearances in movies, and on radio and television that Bing is remembered as a child beater.

I do not know the truth about Bing Crosby's parenting skills. I do not know that he did not hit his children, but then again none of us know for sure if he did. As listeners and fans is it any of our business what personl issues Bing had in his life. Other stars like Frank Sinatra, Dick Haymes, Betty Hutton, and Betty Grable had rumors and gossip persist about their family lives - however, people are allowed to appreciate them for their body of work. For some reason, people can not let go of the rumors that swirl around about Bing, and just appreciate Bing for what he gave to this country and the world for that matter.

In my opinion, Bing Crosby was not father of the year by any stretch of the imagination, but he was not the Adolf Hitler of parenting that he is being portrayed. Bing Crosby, like millions of other parents in this world, were trying to do the best they can. He might not have made the right decisions all of the time, but none of us are perfect. What is known is Bing Crosby shared his talent with millions of people for a better part of 50 years while he was alive. That should be what we remember him for 35 years now after his death...


  1. I appreciate your efforts in revealing and maintaining interest in this popular American icon. Interesting posts and in depth information. I've always enjoyed learning about Bing as my grandfather new him. Cheers!

  2. Seems that the truth is probably somewhere in the middle between the book and "we was a great dad." I am guessing that part of the motivation to "he was a great dad" was to protect his reputation and probably the value of his music, movie, image, etc rights of which I'm sure they all got a piece. Gary's book may or may not have been the truth and his recanting may have had to do with embracing the real truth or trying to make amends to the family and his father's memory.

    I think for the most part people separate their 'love' of the artist and his art from the person. There are ugly rumors (or truths) regarding many artists out there. Back in the day much of these were swept under the rug as people were paid off by studios etc to not report drinking problems, drugs use, affairs, homosexuality, etc, Many of these things are now commonly ignored or blow over with the public or are complete non-issues and media coverage is so much more intense that almost everything eventually comes out.

    Bing's issues (whatever they were) were more shocking because he had such a lily white image and they came from a close family member and he was an icon with a different generation. As I said we don't know the truth but, I'm guessing from the family history of alcoholism, divorce, depression, and suicide in his sons that there is something to these stories to what extent? Who knows? The bottom line is his work is what it is and those of us who enjoy it should do so regardless. The truth is artists, singers, actors, and geniuses are all humans and they all have their flaws or perceived flaws. It is best to enjoy the persona and their work and not dig too deep unless you are prepared to handle what you find.

    If you are a fan of the cinema and are a homophobe it is best to avoid looking into your favorite stars' lives as many of them will leave you disappointed. Personally I don't care about that or many other issues when I watch, look at, read, or listen to their performances. I do have a few flaws that I can't ignore but, don't we all. Imagine how much poorer we'd be if we threw away all the art, music, writings, and movies produced by someone that doesn't meet some lofty standard.

    I think that for the most part Bing is remembered fondly and rarely do I see these references and when I do they are a passing joke with little or no impact.

  3. Gary’s book was not at all a trashing of his father. You have either overlooked or confused the following truly venomous book with Gary’s book:

    Bing Crosby: The Hollow Man by Donald Shepherd and Robert F Slatzer (1982)

    While Gary documented a close and complicated relationship with his dad, he made clear throughout his great respect and deep love for Bing, and acknowledged the pressure and stress that was a daily part of Bing’s life.

    The book that really damaged Bing’s reputation was this one:

    Bing Crosby: The Hollow Man by Donald Shepherd and Robert F Slatzer (1982).

    I think that as your post is currently written it reflects far too negatively on Gary, who throughout his book and especially in the heartfelt and deeply moving last pages that describe the final rapprochement between the father and the son, makes abundantly plain his appreciation of Bing as a father and as a genius talent.

    Jay Diamond,


    It was Shepherd and Slatzer who defamed Bing, not his son Gary.

    1. These men were professional writers, who had no axe to grind. So what if Crosby was a fine singer and a good actor; Hitler liked dogs and children. Any questions about Crosby's mindset as a human being should be answered during the last segment of "Hollow Man." Despite their supposedly happy, fulfilling marriage, Crosby set it up in his will that the mansion he and Kathryn shared would be divided the following way: she would retain the interior items (belongings)...but the exterior---building and real estate---would go to the State of California. The last thing the writers said in the book was that Kathryn was fighting the last portion of the will. And "Not to bet against her." Even if she was her husband's INTENT that is significant. This sequence by itself should tell the public not only that even if Bing Crosby wasn't hollow, he was filled with venom and vindictiveness.

    2. Hal, I respect your beliefs and opinions and thank you commenting on the article. However, unless we lived with the Crosbys we will not fully know how life was with Bing. We do not know Bing was jerk just like we do not know 100% he wasn't a jerk.

      However, he has been demonized for the last 35 years and in reality if he was such a jerk no one would of wanted to work with him, and people would have come forward with more stories on how "horrible" Bing was.

      In regards to Kathryn's inheritance in the will - I will not publish what I know here, but there are two sides to the story. Email me and I'll send you what I know about that arrangement.

      The bottom line - Bing was not the carefree crooner her portrayed in his movies but he was not the monster the media portrays him as.

  4. jay diamond! a huge bing fan who trumpeted bing's talents on his radio programs, whenever he had the chance. we need you back, jay. mark simone never misses the opp. to trumpet sinatra. i certainly did not agree with you politically; however, the left could use a "trumpeter" on, say, fox.

  5. Gary, recanted much of what was written and while I too, am of the opinion that the truth is somewhere in the middle, the mindset of a child abuser, does not seem to be what Bing had. Not excusing it, but he seemed to be of a time when "spare the rod and spoil the child" was the norm and commonplace. Wouldn't it be let the personal lives past be just that and enjoy the talent? God help us all if our own skeletons are exposed and put out there for public commentary.

  6. I agree. Ive been a major fan of Bing's since I was 14! I think Bing wasn't always home to help raise his sons because of his work schedule. I do NOT think that he was a child abuser by any means. Ive never read Gary's book, only a few sentences, and I just couldn't bring myself to read any further; it portrayed Bing in such a bad way; and as a result, tarnished his reputation. If he was such a bad and abusive father, why did his other sons and daughter speak otherwise of him?

  7. The rest of the family benefited in a monetary way by keeping his image clean, sadly many confuse the artist with the real person.
    Bing on screen is him acting/ playing a part, reading a script