Friday, August 10, 2018

SR. HELEN CROSBY: A CROSBY NIECE


I have been trying to research Bing's family more extensively. With all of the siblings Bing had, he had an extended family that you never heard about. One example of that is Bing's one niece - Sr. Helen Crosby. Sr. Helen was the daughter of Bing's brother Edward (Ted) Crosby. Sr. Helen Dolores "Dixie" Crosby was born on May 18, 1934. She died on July 22, 2007. Here is her obituary, which was surprisingly pretty extensive:

Sister Crosby, a longtime educator, died of cancer in her convent home in Spokane. She was 72.
Sister Crosby, known as Dixie to her friends and family, grew up in Spokane, the niece of famed crooner Bing Crosby. When she and her twin sister were born, their dad sent Bing Crosby a telegram: "It takes three of a kind to beat two queens." A few months later, when Bing Crosby's twin sons were born, the singer sent a telegram: "A pair of kings arrived today."
After teaching in Spokane, Sister Crosby moved to the Seattle area, where she taught at Holy Rosary School in Edmonds and served as principal at Our Lady of the Lake School in Seattle and Immaculate Conception School in Everett.

Whenever Franklin High School basketball coach Jason Kerr would send an e-mail to his beloved teacher, he would proofread it four times before sending it.

Sister Dolores Crosby "was better than spellcheck," said Kerr. "She'd never miss an opportunity to correct something we wrote." Kerr, who attended Lady of the Lake, said he remained friends with Sister Crosby until her death. "She had a big impact on my life, keeping me grounded," he said. "She ... had a big part in what I do."

Sister Crosby's twin sister, Katie Ferguson, who lives in Richland, said her sister always called her "womb mate" and the two were very close. When they were in grade school, the two sisters would be seated next to each other, and Sister Crosby would whisper the answers to her sister.

Throughout her career, Sister Crosby liked preparing her students for life beyond grade school, friends and family said. Longtime friend Marge Davis, who met Sister Crosby when she worked in Spokane, said, "Everything she did was such a joy. The kids loved her and would go back and visit her long after they graduated. I never met a person who could keep so many friends."

Sister Crosby was also a Seattle Mariners fan and was named a Seattle Times Fan of the Week in 2001. She could rattle off batting averages and pitching records. She carried her keys on a Joey Cora key ring, decorated the walls of her Brier home with baseball calendars and cooked from a Mariners cookbook.

Sister Crosby also is survived by brothers Howard, of Walla Walla, and Ed, of Spokane, and sister Antonia Crosby, of Peabody, Mass...



Wednesday, August 1, 2018

REST IN PEACE: MARY CARLISLE

One of Bing Crosby's earliest co-stars has passed away. Mary Carlisle made her last movie in 1943, but she was one of the most beautiful actresses of her time. She made three memorable movies with Bing, as he became a superstar in the 1930s.

She also appeared in Garbo's Grand Hotel and opposite the likes of Jack Benny, John Barrymore and Basil Rathbone.

Mary Carlisle, the lovely blonde actress who was the object of Bing Crosby's crooning affection in three breezy musical comedies of the 1930s, has died. She was 104.

Carlisle, who appeared in more than 50 films in the decade, died early Wednesday morning at the Motion Picture Television Fund retirement home in Woodland Hills, a spokeswomen for the home told The Hollywood Reporter.


Carlisle also played a giggling honeymooner in Greta Garbo's Grand Hotel (1932) and showed no favorites when it came to one of college football's biggest rivalries back then, starring in Hold 'Em Navy (1937) and then Touchdown, Army (1938).

The 5-foot-1 Carlisle displayed a cozy chemistry with Crosby in the Paramount movies College Humor (1933), Double or Nothing (1937) and Doctor Rhythm (1938).

In their first pairing, Crosby performed "Moonstuck" as she looked on, and in the second he employed shadow puppets as he sang "It's the Natural Thing to Do" to her. And in the last, Crosby serenaded a park statue with "My Heart Is Taking Lessons" as Carlisle watched on horseback nearby.


Carlisle's co-stars also included Jack Benny (It's in the Air), John Barrymore (Should Ladies Behave), Basil Rathbone (Kind Lady), Will Rogers (Handy Andy), Buster Crabbe (The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi), Maureen O'Hara (Dance, Girl, Dance) and Lloyd Nolan (Tip-Off Girls).

After appearing with George Zucco and horror-film icon Dwight Frye in Dead Men Walk (1943), she retired from the movies.

Carlisle was married to James Blakeley — an actor and later a film editor and head of postproduction at 20th Century Fox, where he worked on such series as Peyton Place and Batman— from 1942 until his death in 2007 at age 96.


Born Gwendolyn Witter in Boston on Feb. 3, 1914, she was brought to Hollywood by her widowed mother. At age 14, while they were having lunch at the Universal commissary, the blue-eyed girl was spotted by producer Carl Laemmle Jr. and given a screen test, though she did not sign with the studio.

After completing high school, however, Carlisle met a casting director at MGM, then showed up in uncredited roles in such films as Madam Satan (1930) — as Little Bo Peep — The Great Lover (1931) with Adolphe Menjou and then Grand Hotel.


In 1933, Carlisle received a big career boost when she was selected as a "Baby Star" — a young actress thought to be on the threshold of stardom — by the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers. (Others picked that year included Gloria Stuart and Ginger Rogers.)

After she was finished with acting, Carlisle managed an Elizabeth Arden beauty salon in Beverly Hills.

Survivors include her son, James Blakeley III, and two grandchildren...