Monday, June 29, 2015


Inger Stevens was born Oct. 18, 1933, in Stockholm, Sweden. Her parents separated and she came to the United States to live with her father when she was 13. Inger ran away from home while in high school and ended up in a Kansas City burlesque show where she danced as a "popcorn girl." At 18 she moved to New York and enrolled in the Actors Studio. Soon she had her first acting job and began appearing regularly in television dramas.

Her big break came in 1956, when she auditioned for the role of Bing Crosby's new love interest in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's Man on Fire. The movie is a realistic study of a child custody battle between Crosby and his ex-wife, played by Mary Fickett.

"I never thought in a million years that I would get the role in Man on Fire. But I went in there and just sort of did it. It scared the daylights out of me. I had never done a movie before -- and to work on a film with Bing Crosby!"

When Inger was carried off the set with an appendicitis attack, Crosby visited the hospital with flowers every day. They soon became fodder for gossip columnists -- the young bedimpled Swedish beauty and the millionaire widower. Bing's wife of 22 years, Dixie Lee, had died in 1952. Crosby was previously linked with Joan Caulfield, Mona Freeman, Kathryn Grant, Grace Kelly, and Paramount dancer Betty Hannon.

"I thought Bing loved me," Inger told a friend. Her hope to marry Bing apparently continued until the very day Crosby wed Kathryn Grant in October, 1957. Inger was devastated. She had thought Bing's relationship with Grant had ended.

Inger took Bing's rejection hard and, based on Kathryn's biography of Bing, may have threatened both suicide and litigation. Inger later said the reason Bing didn't marry her was because she was not Catholic. (The new Mrs. Crosby, Kathryn, converted to Catholicism before her marriage to Bing.)

"One day he called me up and told me to go buy new drapes and curtains for the Palm Springs house," she said afterwards. "He wanted me to decorate it to my taste. He even told me that it was going to be my house so I had better fix it up the way I liked it. It may not have been a proposal but I sure took it as one. Believe it or not, I was down in the house, supervising some workmen in putting up the new drapes when I heard the news announcement over the radio that Bing had married another girl. I went into a state of shock. It took me months to recover. I actually became physically sick from all the distress."

Later, the Swedish beauty would say, "After you go out with Bing, you're spoiled for young men of say 25 or 26. Being with an older man is a secure feeling for me. There was a big age difference, too. Also I was guilt-ridden because I was dating a man and I wasn't yet divorced."

Inger moved on to star in several more movies as well as the 1960s TV show The Farmer's Daughter. Throughout her career she suffered from frequent bouts of depression and attempted suicides. She eventually succumbed to a drug overdose on the morning of April 30, 1970, at age 36...

Monday, June 22, 2015


One of my favorite posters from the old days of the Bing Crosby Internet Museum was Candace Scott. (If anyone has her contact info, let me know). Candace always have the greatest topics to post about such as this one regarding her least favorite Bing recordings...

There are several Bing songs which I love but which I feel have been compromised (or even ruined) by one element. Sometimes it's the background singers, sometimes it's the orchestration or arrangement, but I always end up thinking, "boy, that was a great record, but ruined by that one irritating thing." Back in the days of vinyl, I would always just pick up the needle and skip over the offensive part. It's harder ot do that with CD's so I end up not playing some of these songs.

So here goes-- here's my list of good Bing songs which were brought down many pegs by one single bad element:

1. Sweet Leilani: the obvious #1 choice. I refuse to listen to the first 55 seconds of that horrible guy singing the first verse. Awful! It's a great song and Bing sings it perfectly, but that Hawaiian fellow utterly wrecks it for me.

2. Deep in the Heart of Texas: I love Bing's vocal, love the arrangement, love the orchestra. But I don't like the overly l-o-n-g middle section with the orchestra which goes on forever. I want more Bing, less orchestra.

3. Silent Night (the gorgeous 1944 version) This is one of Bing's most sublime vocals, he's in rare form here. But the background chorus sounds like a Lawrence Welk reunion. No background singers, please.

4. White Christmas ('47 version) I'm loathe to criticize this song, but the Ken Darby singers add nothing to this classic recording.

5. Remember Me? One of my favorite Bing vocals, but the long orchestration in the middle grinds on way too long.

6. Yes, Indeed! I wish Connie Boswell wasn't on this track. Satcho instead.

7. Hey Jude -- admittedly a tired-sounding performance from Bing, but it's not that wretched. It's the "pom pom pom pom-pom-pom-pom's that sink it!

8. Don't Fence Me In-- when the Andrew Sisters drag out the line, "Oh give me l-a-n-d, lots of la-ha-ha-ha-and..." and the song moves into that bluesy beat. Horrors! I want to hear Bing sing that verse, not Laverne, Patty and Maxine.

One common thread on my list is that Bing is never at fault, it's ancillary elements rearing their unattractive heads. OK, fire away, I'll put on my bulletproof vest...

Monday, June 15, 2015


Jack Crosby, a nephew of Bing Crosby who served as the first art director on the ABC daytime drama General Hospital, has died. He was 88.

Crosby died Sunday of complications from Alzheimer’s disease in Henderson, Nev., according to his daughter, Cynthia Crosby. His father was Larry Crosby, the eldest of Bing's six siblings. Larry was the actor-singer's longtime publicity director and manager of Bing's "clambake" golf tournament held each year at Pebble Beach, Calif.

Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1940s as Bing’s first-born nephew, Jack would pal around with the singer, going to baseball games and horse races. They also played golf and fished together, his daughter noted.

In the 1950s, Crosby worked as a draftsman and then as an assistant art director for CBS during the early days of television. He moved to ABC in 1961 as an art director for the game show Seven Keys, hosted by Jack Narz. Two years later, Crosby took a job to design scenery for the new black-and-white series General Hospital, created by husband-and-wife writers Frank and Doris Hursley, and remained with the program for 17 years.

After retiring from ABC, Crosby taught art direction at Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine University. In addition to Cynthia, survivors include his wife Barbara, sons Michael and James and grandchildren James, Jennifer, Justin and Lucy...

Larry Crosby, with portrait of son Jack in the background


Bing Crosby guru Bruce Kogan is back for another guest review of a Bing Crosby film. This time around he is reviewing the rare early Crosby film - Too Much Harmony from 1933...

This was Bing Crosby's third feature film on his new Paramount contract and by now Paramount discovered that they didn't have to put much production values into his films. Just give Bing some good songs to sing and the picture sells itself.

That was definitely the case here. Crosby was supplied with a nice score by Arthur Johnston and Sam Coslow that contained two of his early film hits, Thanks and The Day You Came Along. For Crosby fans that's enough recommendation right there.

However what makes the film sad is that this is a backstage story with enough opportunities to do some really nice production numbers. When you consider what Busby Berkeley was doing at Warner Brothers at the same time Paramount was making Too Much Harmony, this film comes off much the worse by comparison to any of Berkeley's work.

They gave Bing a nice supporting cast with Jack Oakie, Skeets Gallagher, Ned Sparks and Harry Green. Bing is caught between two girls in this one Judith Allen and Lilyan Tashman. Lilyan is the bad girl and gold digger that she is, you kind of wonder why Bing is bothering with good girl Judith Allen.

Judith Allen, I understand was the current inamorata of one of the Paramount studio bigwigs and he foisted her on this film. She's so bad she makes Ruby Keeler look talented. Her singing was as bad as Ruby and her acting was insipid. She didn't last long at Paramount, she was doing B westerns at Republic with Gene Autry by the end of the decade and dropped out of sight after that.

My favorite number in this takes place in a train boxcar where Bing, Ms. Allen and the rest of the cast gradually join in as Bing kids his image by singing All the World is Singing Buh boo boo boo. It has that very impromptu look that a lot of Crosby's best movie numbers have. Too bad he didn't make a record of it.

He did however make a record of another song from the film that he didn't sing in Too Much Harmony. An actress named Kiity Kelly does a lovely torch number called Black Moonlight. However Crosby did record it for Brunswick records like the other two numbers mentioned and it did enjoy a good sale considering this was Depression America. He always liked it and said so on his Musical Autobiography for Decca that came out a generation later. He said he hoped some of the newer generation of singers revived it. No one else has ever sang it to my knowledge...


Monday, June 8, 2015


Even the most mundane of connections to the great Bing Crosby is news worthy, even in 2015. Here is an obit from last month...

Her career spanned a half-century, covering an era when Las Vegas marriages enjoyed growing national popularity. Hunt died Friday at her home, 68 years after she started as deputy county clerk in 1947.
The civil servants — then, as now — sometimes rub elbows with the rich and famous who come to Las Vegas to get married. Hunt signed and issued a marriage certificate in 1957 to crooner Bing Crosby and his bride, Kathryn Grant.
That bit of paperwork led to her making an appearance on the CBS show where a group of panelists asked guests questions in an effort to learn their occupation and career highlights.
“Loretta was an institution in Clark County,” County Manager Don Burnette said in a prepared statement. “She was an important and influential member of the criminal justice community in Southern Nevada for many years.”
According to a county documentary feature on Hunt’s life, she didn’t “stump” the panel of experts, but still received $50 in prize money.
A newspaper clipping about her TV appearance said she “brought invaluable publicity to Las Vegas.”
Hunt was appointed county clerk in 1965 to fill a vacancy, and she went on to serve eight four-year terms before her 1999 retirement when she was 79.
She was born Loretta Bowman on Feb. 10, 1919, according to her obituary, the daughter of Elmer and Elizabeth Bowman, and married James Charles Hunt after retiring.
Issuing nuptials to Crosby was just one accomplishment.
Hunt was president from 1977 to 1978 of the National National Association of County Recorders, Election Officials and Clerks.

Monday, June 1, 2015


I have been a Bing Crosby fan for over 35 years now, and what amazes me is the wealth of pictures out there featuring Der Bingle. Now with the internet, everyday I find pictures of the great crooner that I haven't seen before. Here are just a few more candid pics of Bing you might not have seen yet:

With The Rhythm Boys

With a Frank Sinatra fan