Friday, August 7, 2020

PHOTOS OF THE DAY: BING IN THE 1970s

Unfortunately for the whole world, Bing Crosby died in 1977. However, he was very present in the 1970s and made a lot of appearances and recordings in his final years. Here are some great photos from that decade...












Thursday, July 23, 2020

Friday, July 17, 2020

REMEMBERING: ZIZI JEANMAIRE (1924-2020)


French dancer and singer Zizi Jeanmaire, an iconic cabaret showgirl whose grace and glamour was celebrated on stage and in film the world over, died Friday in Switzerland aged 96, her family told AFP.

"My mother passed away peacefully last night at her home in Tolechenaz," a town bordering Lake Geneva, her daughter Valentine Petit told AFP by telephone.

Jeanmaire starred in ballets, cabarets, musicals and film, mixing styles but never compromising on the rigour of her classical training.

Many of her roles were created by her husband Roland Petit, the renowned choreographer who died in 2011.

It was her leading performance in Petit's modern interpretation of "Carmen" in 1949, which featured the short-cropped hairstyle that became her trademark feature, that launched her into the spotlight.

The new-look production caused a sensation when it was performed in Paris, London and New York.

Jeanmaire and Petit met in 1933, when they were around nine years old and students at the Paris Opera Ballet. They married in 1954 and had a daughter.


"They became the power couple of Sixties Parisian cultural life, wearing Yves Saint Laurent and collaborating with Andy Warhol," The Telegraph wrote in an obituary of Petit.

Jeanmaire was born in Paris on April 29, 1924, her real name Renee Marcelle Jeanmaire. Her nickname is reportedly rooted in her childhood pronunciation of "Mon zizi" for "Mon Jesus" (My Jesus).

She left the Paris Opera Ballet at 19, saying she wanted to see the world and eventually making her way into Hollywood and New York.

Her leading films roles were in the 1950s, including in the Hollywood musical "Hans Christian Andersen" (1952), about the life of the Danish storyteller, and "Anything Goes" (1956) starring Bing Crosby.


She triumphed at Paris' Alhambra music hall in 1961 with a performance of "Mon Truc en Plumes" -- her legendary costume of huge, pink ostrich feathers designed by Saint Laurent -- and in 1966 danced alongside Rudolf Nureyev for the film version of Petit's ballet "Le Jeune Homme et la Mort" (The Young Man and Death).

Saint Laurent, who dressed her for 40 years, once said she "only had to walk on stage for everything to take life, fire and flames."

Sealing her place in stardom is a reference in the opening line of Peter Sarstedt's name-dropping classic "Where Do You Go to My Lovely" (1969), which says: "You talk like Marlene Dietrich, And you dance like Zizi Jeanmaire."

A public ceremony in her honour will be organised in September, her daughter said...



Monday, July 6, 2020

FLASHBACK: 1950


It was the day America’s favourite crooner wowed the crowds at the home of golf and needed a police escort to escape. Bing Crosby played in the British Amateur Golf Tournament on May 21 1950 under his real name, Harry.

The match play clash with local builder James Wilson and the world-famous singer and actor at St Andrews resulted in a media avalanche....


Monday, June 29, 2020

BING ON FILM: LITTLE BOY LOST - PART TWO

By 1953, Hollywood was ready to expose some of the horrors of war, and this movie really showed how lives were destroyed by the Nazis. The film Little Boy Lost was adapted from the book of the same name by Marganhita Laski. She originally sold the rights to actor John Mills, but he sold the rights then to Paramount Studios. The author was worried that the role that she created would be ruined by having an American singer play the title role, but after she saw the movie, she was extremely happy with the way Bing Crosby portrayed the title character. 

This movie Bing made at a tough part of his life. Urged by his ailing wife Dixie and her doctors, Bing traveled to Paris in September of 1952 to film the movie. In France Bing worked a little over a month on the film before going home to be with Dixie. Bing was not fully aware of how sick Dixie was. Dixie, weakened by cancer, met Bing at the train station. However, the next day she slipped into a coma and died five days later. This marked a dark time for Bing, but even though he filmed most of Little Boy Lost already, he still had some reshoots to do. He also had pivotal scene to film with Claude Dauphin, where Dauphin makes Bing’s character listen to how his wife in the movie was murdered by the Nazis. Everyone on the set was worried how Bing was going to film the scene after his own wife passing away. Reportedly Bing got through the scene in one take, but after the scene was done Bing excused himself to his trailer, and he remained in there the rest of the day. While I can not imagine what Bing was thinking as he filmed the movie, his own personal tragedy added to the emotion of what his character was going through.

This role for Bing was different than any other movie role to date, but his superb acting should not overshadow the performance of Christian Fourcade as the orphaned boy. Bing’s character could not believe at first that the boy could be his son, because the boy was sickly and meek – but Christian Fourcade not only conveyed that weakness but brought strength to the little boy’s character. As a boy, probably the same age as the character, I was a non-athletic kid with not many friends who lived a lonely life like the boy, so I have always felt a sense of kinship to the boy, even though I was not an orphan. Nicole Maurey, as Bing’s wife, was not in the movie long, but her and Bing definitely had a great chemistry. Bing enjoyed working with Nicole so much that almost a decade later he made sure she would be cast as his love interest in 1960’s High Time. The acting in the Little Boy Lost in general is top notch.

Even though the film was a drama, there was some music in the movie. Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen wrote most of the score. They wrote two French-styled songs “A Propos De Rien” and Cela M’Est EGal”, but the standout song for me was the song “The Magic Window” which he sang to the boy while they were bonding at the zoo. It’s slight song, but a song that has always stuck with me through the years. The movie also included a cute version of “The Dark Town Strutter’s Ball” which Nicole and Bing sing together in French as they are falling in love. I wish Bing would have recorded the song, but he never did except in 1962 for one of his sing-along albums.
 



The critics seemed to like the film, and it had its New York premiere on September 21, 1953. The following day Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote:

“…here Mr. Crosby is playing a straight dramatic role in a picture of deep emotional content and genuinely tragic, overtones. Except for two or three song numbers that are worked in consistently, there are few other points of contact with the bright and chipper Bingle of old. And yet it must be said for Mr. Crosby that he manages to convey a strong sense of real emotional torment in a tragically wracked character and that he serves as a credible buffer in a candidly heart-socking film..."


I watched this film as a young boy in the mid-1980s, feeling much like the little boy at the orphanage, but now over thirty years later I am viewing the film as a married man with two beautiful children, one being a son, and I can not fathom what Bing Crosby’s character was going through trying to find his son. It is a horror I would never want to face. Knowing now that Bing’s wife Dixie was dying during the making of the movie, makes Bing’s acting even more remarkable in the movie. It is a shame that this film has never been officially released on VHS, let alone DVD, but if you can find a copy to view, this is required Bing Crosby watching. It is a movie that will remain in your mind a long time after watching it.

MY RATING: 10 OUT OF 10


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

BING ON FILM: LITTLE BOY LOST - PART ONE

I had the pleasure of watching for the first time in over a decade Bing Crosby’s tense drama Little Boy Lost (1953), and even though the film is dark, it brought back many memories of the movie for me. Little Boy Lost was one of the first Bing movies that I had on VHS in the mid-1980s. To capture the music, I did not have any records of the songs Bing recorded for the film, so I had to put a microphone up to the television speaker and record the songs that way. Wow, how things have changed in 30 years! Digging out my copy of the film, I have a 4th generation of the movie on DVD, so I had to search for a DVD player that would play it in the house. Some of my DVD players refused to even play the disc! However, I got the movie going, and the film is as amazing as I remember it being. The whole movie in general is sad, but in the end, there was hope and optimism.

The movie starts during the beginnings of World War II. Bing plays an American journalist who lives in Paris. He meets a beautiful radio performer (played by Nicole Maurey), and they fall in love and have a little boy. Just as the boy is born the Nazis invade Holland, and it is only a matter of time before France will fall. Bing tries to get his wife out of Paris, but he is called up to join the Allied soldiers. France falls to the Nazis, and Bing is unable to return to Paris and his beautiful family. He still hears his wife on the radio, but one day her broadcasts abruptly stop. Bing later finds out that his beloved wife was murdered by the Nazis for being a part of the French resistance during the war. As you can see this is no happy-go-lucky Bing Crosby film! Bing really never accepts that his wife is dead, but he begins his search for his son who was placed in an orphanage after his mother’s murder. Bing goes to the orphanage where he meets the Mother Superior (played wonderfully by Gabrielle Dorziat), and she hesitates to get Bing’s hopes up but lets Bing meet a boy that could be his son. His potential son was played by Christian Fourcade, making his American film debut and deserving an award for his striking portrayal of the boy. Bing is frustrated, because he can not figure out if the boy is his son or not. Bing tries to stimulate the boy’s mind by singing songs from when he was a baby, spraying the boy’s mother’s old perfume that she wore, and even going to the apartment where they all first lived at before the war tore them apart. At the apartment the boy amazingly remembers things, but he remembers things incorrectly. 


Bing goes on to learn that the boy was told why Bing was there, so the boy tells Bing what he wants to hear so he can be adopted. Meanwhile Bing’s friend (played by Claude Dauphin), who knew Bing and his wife during the war years, finally makes Bing come to terms with his wife’s death by telling Bing her final moments, which included being tortured and beat by the Nazis before being shot. You can see Bing’s character is tortured, and he has never recovered. When his wife was pregnant, she had had a nightmare where she sees Bing all alone and hears shrieking. Bing brushes off the dream, but fast forward to the present time and Bing is all alone at the train station, a man without a direction or purpose, and he hears the shrieking of a train whistle which his wife described from her nightmare. It is at that point that Bing needs to move on and live his life. He finds a stuffed dog that his son had had called “Binky”, and he sends it to the orphanage to give to the boy. Bing returns to the orphanage just as the boy is opening it, and the boy exclaims “It’s Binky”, which proves that he was actually Bing’s son all along...

TO BE CONTINUED...


Monday, June 1, 2020

SEASONS: A PERSONAL REVIEW

To start out the month of June, here is another great article from rising Bing Crosby guru, ModernBingFan0377...

I am here again for another review, today's being Bing's masterful last album, Seasons. I might review Bing's last BBC sessions at one point, but as of now it will just be Seasons. I will give each song a description and review then an overall review at the end.

Seasons - A really nice song sung by Bing with a great vocal performance. This song is like Sinatra's 'It Was A Very Good Year" in many ways, although the funny thing is that this song had the original French melody with lyrics added for Bing, whereas Bing's equivalent of 'My Way' (That's What Life Is All About) was written in English and had English writers which is the opposite of the Frank equivalents.

On The Very First Day Of The Year - A very nice overlook of the year with a very bouncy arrangement from Pete Moore that I find personally very catchy.

June In January - This song is hard to review as it is a great classic from Bing, and personally I can't decide between this one and the original 1934 version.

Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year - This is a wonderful classic, although it's interesting performed as a swinger, that is not a complaint though.

April Showers - Although his '50s version is vocally superior I much prefer the arrangement on this one, so this might be my favorite version of it from Bing. His vocal is a little weak on this one, but being 74 and a few weeks before his untimely and sad death it's still very amazing.

June Is Bustin' Out All Over - A somewhat cheesy song gets given a great performance that makes it less cheesy. Bing's voice is a little weak on the slow parts on this one, but on the faster parts he's great.

In The Good Old Summertime - Another good old chestnut, that is given the same treatment as the previous only it helps the chestnut quality of it and Bing's voice is good throughout.

Summer Wind - I know this is blasphemy to say, but I prefer Bing's performance of this compared to Sinatra's. Bing had a great way to portray his vocal as reminiscing on the past and this song really deserves and rightfully gets that treatment from Bing, Frank's swinger doesn't fit the song as much to me.

Autumn In New York - Another Frank staple I prefer Bing's version of, Frank's Capitol comes very close to me. Pete Moore did an amazing job on the arrangement on this beautiful song.

September Song - Another definitive, to me anyway, version of a great song, that gets given the same reminiscing treatment as Summer Wind and it works out great for this song, Bing's vocal is great on this song. Pete Moore on these slower songs has really outdone himself.

Sleigh Ride - This might have to been my least favorite Christmas song Bing sang, his Decca version is great, but this one? The first 30 second and the bridging parts are pretty good, but the rest of it gets this very dated arrangement that doesn't fit Bing or the song well at all. Crosby's vocal on it is okay, but the arrangement really brings this version down

Yesterday When I Was Young - This song is great, Bing does great on it and it's a great last song for Bing's last album.

                          

Album overview: I gotta say this is one of the best concept albums I own. Besides it being Bing's last album which makes it a staple enough to listen to, it's a masterpiece of an album I'd say, and even Sleigh Ride, my least favorite, has it's charms. By this point he had came a long way from 'I've Got The Girl', and it shows, but in a great way. This album is one that should be known, it's amazing. Most of Bing's album were great in the mid-late 70s, but this, to me, takes the cake for the best one. Seasons is more of a passage through life, than a concept album of seasonal songs. It leads you through the start, a happy beginning, a love lost that is then found again, the middle of life with all it's glories and triumphs, the slowing of the age once you retire and reminisce, with it ending off with a family and friend filled last few years, and then finally looking over your own life. I can't say this is a 10/10 because of a certain winter song, but in my book it's a winner!

ModernBingFan0377'S rating: 9.75 out of 10
My Rating: 9 out of 10



Tuesday, May 19, 2020

GUEST REVIEWER: HERE IS MY HEART


ModernBingFan0377 is back with an excellent review of a film that is forgotten among Bing fans - Here Is My Heart...

In my search for entertainment while being stuck at home, I've decided to check out some Bing films I haven't watched. The first film on the list is Here Is My Heart.

Here I am 9 minutes in, and so far so good. Bing's performances on "June In January" and duetting on "Love Is Just Around The Corner" with Claire, played by Marian Mansfield, were very enjoyable and arguably better than the Decca recordings. The plot so far is thin, with Bing as Jasper (J.) Paul Jones, a millionaire radio performer, who is going through his bucket list before performing again. He has already done 4 of the 5 'missions' per say on his bucket list. The last one is to present 2 Jones pistols to the U.S. Naval Academy, which were made by John Paul Jones (think Jimmy Van Heusen presenting Van Heusen shirts to Old Navy). He had just sailed out of Monte Carlo and had "saved" a 'damsel in distress', one of the things on his bucket list, and fished in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, another thing on the list. He and the 'damsel in distress' hit it off when Jasper gets a telegram from Jimmy Smith that tells him the 2nd pistol is in Monte Carlo, so they start heading back.

When Jasper gets to Monte Carlo and the hotel he's staying at he gets "rejected" by a girl in the elevator. He goes to his hotel room and finds Jimmy Smith, played by William Frawley, who tells him that Princess Alexandra owns the pistol, but won't sell it to anyone, but a king or queen. Jasper stays in the hotel room and duets with himself on "June In January." A drunken waiter comes into his room with food that was ordered for another room. The waiter passes out after Jasper tells him off and follows him into the hallway. Jasper is mistaken for the waiter once a lady from the correct room comes out and finds him with the food. It just so happens the lady in the elevator was the princess, played by Kitty Carlisle, and keeps under cover as the waitor. Jasper is then sent out to find a tie and he steals one from the drunken waitor. Jasper keeps under cover as the waiter, but he also buys the hotel. The Royal Family staying at the hotel are revealed to be broke.


Jasper begins to give money to the Royal Family. They think he likes Alexandra, and Alexandra has him get tea for her. He sings a bit of "With Every Breat I Take" , and she likes it and has him come back to sing later. He kisses her which gets her mad so she gets a new waiter, which is just him in disguise. Prince Nicki, played by Roland Young, plots with Jasper to get her in love with him. The family wants the "other waitor" back, so he "comes back", but has to take care of the animals. While taking care if the parrots he has a wonderful performance of "Love Is Just Around The Corner" and the maid, played by Cecilia Parker a.k.a. Andy Hardy's sister in many of the Andy Hardy movies, falls in love. Jasper sings "With Every Breath I Take" again and the maid kisses him. Jasper gives away his original gun for the family and he reveals his identity to them. The Princess doesn't like Mr. Jones and leaves. Jasper and Nicki get tipsy after reading a note saying they'll never find her. Jasper goes back to the boat and finds that Claire bought a parrot fom a shop behind the cathedral. Jasper jumps out of the boat and finds Alexandra. Claire and Nicki get together and Jasper and Alexandra get together.

This movie was enjoyable. I would recommend this movie, but Kitty Carlisle's character was too snooty for my liking. The performances on many of the songs were better than the commercial recordings, to my liking anyways. Roland Young as the Prince was a good choice and William Frawley, despite not being in it much, was enjoyab;e when on screen. This movie isn't a masterpiece, but enjoyable for the hour and 16 minutes it's worth...

MODERNBINGFAN0377'S RATING: 7 OUT OF 10
MY RATING: 6 OUT OF 10


Thursday, May 7, 2020

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Monday, May 4, 2020

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Saturday, April 25, 2020

SPOTLIGHT ON GARY CROSBY

I have taken a look at three of the sons Bing Crosby had with his first wife, Dixie Lee. However, I hesitated to profile Bing's oldest son Gary Crosby. As a lifelong fan of Der Bingle, I have been bitter against Gary for the scathing book he wrote about his father in 1983. However, now nearly 40 years later, it is what it is. Bing had a very difficult relationship with his four sons especially Gary. Despite that book, Gary's life was a life worth living, and I feel his life should not be forgotten.

Gary Crosby was born on June 27, 1933 in Los Angeles and graduated from Stanford University. He entered the entertainment business and performed in a harmony singing group, The Crosby Boys, with his three brothers, Philip, Lindsay, and Dennis, during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. As a teenager, he sang with his father on numerous records songs, and two of them "Sam's Song" and "Play a Simple Melody",  became the first double-sided gold record in history.  He also recorded duets with Louis Armstrong and at least one 45-single with Sammy Davis Jr.. He also performed on several variety programs, including ABC's The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom and NBC's The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford. In the mid-1950s, Gary also had his own radio program, the Gary Crosby Show on CBS. The musical variety program debuted June 6, 1954, as a summer replacement for Bing Crosby's show.


As an actor, Crosby appeared in many television programs. On March 20, 1955, he appeared on the Jack Benny Program Season 5, Episode 13. Later, he was briefly under contract to 20th Century-Fox in the late 1950s. He appeared in a number of supporting roles for the studio, normally comedies in which Crosby played a soldier: Mardi Gras (1958) with Pat Boone; Holiday for Lovers (1959), as Carol Lynley's love interest; A Private's Affair (1959), with Sal Mineo; The Right Approach (1961) with Frankie Vaughan. Gary spent a small stint in the military where he was stationed with Elvis Presley whom he would make Girl Crazy with in 1965.

He is perhaps best-remembered for his recurring roles as Eddie the scheming bellhop on The Bill Dana Show and Officer Edward "Ed" Wells on NBC's Adam-12 from 1968–75, as well as appearances on several other shows produced by Jack Webb's Mark VII Limited (including an episode of Dragnet 1969 and five episodes of Emergency!). In addition to the aforementioned, he also appeared in three episodes of The Rockford Files.


In the 1970s, he appeared occasionally on game shows such as Match Game and Tattletales as a guest panelist. He married and divorced three times; he had one stepchild as a result. A lifelong alcoholic, Gary jumped at the change to write about his famous father. The children of other famous stars such as Christina Crawford (daughter of Joan Crawfrod) had made millions off of the tell-all tales of growing up famous.

In 1983, six years after his father's death, Crosby published an autobiography, Going My Own Way, which revealed the effects of his alcoholism and his difficult childhood as a result of his mother's alcoholism and his father's emotional and physical abuse. Some, especially his brother Phillip, said the abuse was not as severe as Crosby described. Gary himself reportedly admitted the book was a big exaggeration to make money.

In the late 1980s, Gary gained peace in his life and became sober. At the time of his death, he was planning a duets album with his father like Natalie Cole had done with her father Nat King Cole. Gary Crosby died of lung cancer in Burbank, California on August 24,1995, and is interred at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills Cemetery. Just like Gary Crosby made peace with his father, I feel I need to make peace with Gary's book. Who know how anyone would have turned out if they had Gary's life. The important thing is that he finally had peace at the end...


Thursday, April 23, 2020

HOW THE MODERN GENERATION CAN BECOME INTERESTED IN BING - A PERSONAL ACCOUNT

Here is a guest writer to this blog. ModernBingFan0377 makes some great points on keeping Bing's memory alive...


The first exposure to Der Bingle was when I was 2, Disney had separated some of their half hour shorts from the 40s on VHS. I had 'Mickey and the Beanstalk', but the trailers before the main program showed clips from the others including 'The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow'. I was entertained by the Ichabod song and wanted to watch it, but alas I never did. A few years later I was helping my mother put up Christmas decorations, and we had on a TV that played Christmas music, and Bing's 'Frosty the Snowman' came up. I remember initially judging it as I loved Jimmy Durante's version of 'Frosty'. I would encounter his Christmas music from time to time after that and watched Holiday Inn and White Christmas with my family.


About 10 years after hearing him sing 'Frosty', as a Christmas fanatic, I decided to find a few free Christmas albums on Amazon Prime music, and I greatly enjoyed what I heard. Around this same time my parents and I were trying to find music I liked besides Christmas music. I didn't like modern stuff or Elvis, I tried Frank Sinatra and he just didn't grab my attention. I grew to like some of Frank's Christmas outings as well as Bing's, so a picked up 2 Christmas CDs of theirs. A Laserlight mostly radio CD of Bing, and a Columbia Christmas Compilation for Frank. Another year went by and I got a few more CDs, mainly of Bing, The Complete Decca Christmas Songbook and the Christmas TV Specials, Volume 2 of the the Television Specials. At the time I didn't realize I was buying duplicates. I listened to the CDs and decided to look for some non-Christmas outings by Bing, and enjoyed them. I then bought a import 2CD set from Amazon called 'The Very Best Of Bing Crosby' and loved it. Later on that spring I decided to buy my first load of regular Crosby stuff (not counting the 2CD set mentioned), ordering multiple records and the His Legendary Years set. From then on I was a set-in-stone Crosby fan.

To help keep his legacy alive I've introduced him to many of my friends both at school and online. This has made a few more people Crosby fans. One tip I will give is to, if you have children, have your children, if they like Crosby, tell their friends about him. I know I was glad to find his music...

By ModernBingFan0377


Monday, April 20, 2020

COMING SOON: HAPPY BIRTHDAY BING

To celebrate what would have been Bing Crosby's 117th birthday on May 3, 2020 - we are doing seven days of audio aspirins! From May 1st to May 7th we will be playing a recording of Bing and remembering what a wonderful singer he was. The songs will be from movies, radio, and records. So please feel free to leave comments and come join the birthday party!


Monday, April 13, 2020

NEW CD: BING CROSBY - PHILCO RADIO TIME

A new excellent two CD set will be coming out in May from Sepia records called "Bing Crosby - Philco Radio Time". From the Philco Radio Time series starring Bing Crosby broadcast between 1946 & 1949 this 2CD set picks up Bing's cover versions of the hits of the day. It's a historical archive of those immediate post-war years and demonstrates Bing's versatility with all kinds of songs as he duets with Ezio Pinza, Al Jolson, Burl Ives, Dick Powell, Peggy Lee, Rhonda Fleming, Dorothy Kirsten..



TRACKS:

CD1:
Five Minutes More
Timber
In The Evening By The Moonlight
You Are My Sunshine
If You Were The Only Girl In The World
La Borrachita
(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons
The Anniversary Song
Among My Souvenirs
Guilty
Country Style
Linda
How Are Things In Glocca Morra?
Time After Time
Mam'selle
Peg O' My Heart
Feudin', Fightin' And Fussin'
That's My Desire
I Wonder, I Wonder, I Wonder
I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now?
Almost Like Being In Love
Sweet Betsy From Pike
Clementine
Just An Old Love Of Mine
You Do
 I Still Get Jealous
With A Hey! And A Hi! And A Ho! Ho! Ho!
The Best Things In Life Are Free
I Only Have Eyes For You
With Plenty Of Money And You
You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby
Jeepers Creepers
Shuffle Off To Buffalo
Thanks A Million
How Lucky You Are
Love Is So Terrific
Hooray For Love



CD2:
I May Be Wrong
Blue Shadows On The Trail
Baby Face
Nature Boy
You're Too Dangerous, Cherie
My Happiness
A Tree In the Meadow
Rambling Rose
Something To Remember You By
Hair Of Gold, Eyes Of Blue
Cuanta La Gusta
My Darling, My Darling
The Missouri Waltz
I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm
So In Love
Sunflower
You Was
Once In Love With Amy
While The Angelus Was Ringing
Down The Old Ox Road
Cruising Down The River
Riders In The Sky
Blue Hawaii
Careless Hands
When Is Sometime
Again
Buttons And Bows
It's Magic
So Dear To My Heart
I Got Lucky In The Rain
Far Away Places
So Tired
Powder Your Face With Sunshine
Some Enchanted Evening


Saturday, April 4, 2020

THE ETHNICITY OF BING


Birth Name: Harry Lillis Crosby, Jr.

Date of Birth: May 3, 1903

Place of Birth: Tacoma, Washington, U.S.

Date of Death: October 14, 1977

Place of Death: Alcobendas, Madrid, Spain

Ethnicity: English, Irish

Bing Crosby was an American singer and actor. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for Going My Way (1944).

His father, Harry Lillis/Lincoln/Lowe Crosby, was of English descent and his mother, Catherine Helen (Harrigan), was of Irish descent. Bing was raised Catholic.

Bing was married to actress and nightclub singer Dixie Lee, until her death, and to actress Kathryn Grant, until his death. He had four children with Dixie, and three children with Kathryn.

Actor and businessperson Harry Crosby is his son. Actress Denise Crosby is his granddaughter.

Bing’s patrilineal line can be traced to Anthony Crosby, who was born, c. 1545, in Holme-on-Spalding-Moor, Yorkshire, England.

Bing’s paternal grandfather was Nathaniel Crosby (the son of Nathaniel Crosby and Mary Lincoln). Bing’s grandfather Nathaniel was born in Maine, and was of English descent, from a family resident in New England since the 1600s. Bing’s great-grandfather Nathaniel was the son of Nathaniel Crosby and Ruby Foster; Ruby was the daughter of Chillingsworth Foster III and Sarah Freeman. Mary was the daughter of Isaac Lincoln and Mary Foster.

Bing’s paternal grandmother was Cordelia Jane Smith (the daughter of Jacob Smith and Priscilla Fearnley). Cordelia was born in Indiana. Priscilla was born in England.

Bing’s maternal grandfather was Dennis Harrigan (the son of Dennis Harrigan and Catherine Driscoll/Driscol). Bing’s grandfather Dennis was born in Williamstown, Northumberland County, New Brunswick, Canada, and was of Irish descent.

Bing’s maternal grandmother was Catherine Ahearn/A’Hearn (the daughter of John Ahearn and Ann Meighan). Catherine was born in New Brunswick, to Irish parents...

Friday, March 20, 2020

BING ON FILM: TOP O' THE MORNING - PART TWO


This would be the third pairing of Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald. They hit movie gold twice with their pairing as priests in the landmark film Going My Way in 1944, and as doctors in Welcome Stranger in 1947. Paramount figured that three times was a charm, but it was not exactly. The best part of the film was the interaction between Bing and Barry Fitzgerald, but the script did not allow for much of the friendly banter that was seen in their previous two films together. Personally, I feel they should have made Bing and Barry Fitzgerald both policemen – one young and one old – who had to settle the case of the missing Blarney Stone, using new techniques and old techniques of investigation to crack the case. I was not around in 1949, so Paramount was not able to ask me for my script recommendations!


Like many of Bing Crosby films, the singing was the major draw of the film. My favorite number was Bing singing “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”. Bing did not record the number for the movie soundtrack, but he did record it a few years before the film was made, on May 7, 1946. The songwriting team of Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke were commissioned to write new songs for the film, but only two songs were written. They wrote the title song “Top O’ The Morning”, which was my favorite song from the film. Bing must have liked the song too, because he sang it three times in the film. The songwriters also wrote a pretty forgettable ballad called “You’re In Love With Someone”, which Bing sang, and then it was sung later in the film as a duet with Bing and Ann Blyth. Rounding out the music were traditional Irish songs like “Kitty Coleraine”, “The Donovans”, and “Oh Tis Sweet To Think”.

Bing was in fine voice towards the end of the 1940s, and as always, he was his charming self in the movie, so he cannot be blamed for this misguided film. Bing did however personally selected David Miller as director of Top O’ the Morning.  Groucho Marx recommended him to Bing.  Miller had just completed what turned out to be the final Marx Brothers’ film.  It was Love Happy, the least revered of all the Brothers’ films. I think also movie audiences were changing as television was beginning to take hold.


Some of the critics liked the film though:
Bing Crosby, after two lush Technicolored musicals, has been handed a light, frothy and more moderately budgeted picture by Paramount to cavort in, which should put him once more at the top of that studio’s breadwinning list.
      …Under David Miller’s light-handed direction, Crosby and the rest of the cast fall right into the spirit of the story. Groaner, despite his having to play to a gal (Ann Blyth) who is so obviously younger, is socko. His easy way with a quip, combined with his fine crooning of some old Irish tunes and a couple of new ones, is solid showmanship.
      …Johnny Burke and James Van Heusen have cleffed two bright new tunes for the film, both of which, with Crosby to introduce them, should get plenty of play. “You’re in Love with Someone,” a ballad, has the edge but the other, “Top O’ the Morning,” has the lilt that Crosby fans go for. Crooner also gets a chance to dispense a round of traditional Irish airs, ranging from “Irish Eyes” to the lesser-known but more sprightly variety.
(Variety, July 20, 1949)

In my opinion, Top O’ The Morning is not a great Bing Crosby movie, but even a bad Bing film is worth viewing. The last fifteen minutes of the movie is the best, and some of the plot is pretty sinister for a lighthearted Bing film. Bing and the cast does the best they could with the script, and this film is worth watching. My copy came from a showing on AMC Network in 1998, and now TCM has also shown the film, so if you get a chance check out this slight Bing film. The film was not great but pleasant enough..

MY RATING: 6 OUT OF 10




Monday, March 9, 2020

BING ON FILM: TOP O' THE MORNING - PART ONE

It is easy to review and write about High Society or Holiday Inn, but I wanted to look at a film that was not as remembered as other Crosby films. So that is why I picked Bing’s 1949 Top O’ The Morning. I have had the film on a bootleg DVD for years, but I just never could bring myself to watch the film. I am not sure why, but I finally viewed the film, and it is not too bad. It is not great either.

After making some great Technicolor vehicles like Blue Skies and The Emperor Waltz, Top O’ The Morning looks drab and boring in black and white. I don’t know how Paramount could make a movie about colorful Ireland without the film being in color. The plot is slight, and at times I surprisingly find the movie hard to follow. Although the film has a marvelous cast, it is only mildly entertaining, with the story stumbling along in fits and starts, though it does pick up speed in the last half.  Crosby plays a New York insurance investigator sent to Ireland to search for the missing Blarney Stone. Yes, it's been stolen! Barry Fitzgerald plays the ineffectual police sergeant in a nearby town, with Blyth playing his pretty daughter, Conn, and Hume Cronyn is his assistant, Hughie. John McIntire, who later appeared in Blyth's charming comedy Sally And Saint Anne (1952), plays a police inspector working on the case.


The original name of the film was supposed to be Diamond In The Haystack. Very little happens in this rather slow-moving film, which spends a great deal of time on the mysterious prediction of a townswoman (Eileen Crowe) regarding who will marry Conn; eventually, of course, the Blarney Stone mystery is solved and true love prevails. Even though I am of Irish decent, I did not really know what the Blarney Stone was. The Blarney Stone is a block of Carboniferous limestone built into the battlements of Blarney Castle  about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from CorkIreland. According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of the gab (great eloquence or skill at flattery). The stone was set into a tower of the castle in 1446. The castle is a popular tourist site in Ireland, attracting visitors from all over the world to kiss the stone and tour the castle and its gardens.

Back to the film, Bing Crosby looked quite bored in the film as if he was going through the motions of a substandard script. I do not know if it was because of the age difference of Bing and his co-star Ann Blyth, but their pairing did not seem to gel to me, and they did not seem to have too much chemistry. Bing Crosby had wanted Deanna Durbin to costar in this picture as well as A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949). Miss Durbin, about to retire from the screen with the finish of her Universal-International contract on August 31, 1949, declined both offers from Bing. In place of Miss Durbin, Universal loaned Ann Blyth to Paramount for this film...

TO BE CONTINUED...



Friday, February 28, 2020

PHOTOS OF THE DAY: MORE MEMORIES OF DIXE LEE CROSBY

Almost eight years ago I published some great photos of the Bing's first wife Dixie Lee (1911-1952). Dixie was the love of Bing's life, and here are some more candid photos...















Friday, February 14, 2020

ST. VALENTINE'S DAY


Just in time for Valentine's Day, I wanted to spotlight a little compilation album that I used to have on an old 10 inch album. It was a cute album. St. Valentine's Day is a Decca Records compilation album of recordings by Bing. Bing Crosby had enjoyed unprecedented success during the 1940s, with his output including six No. 1 hits in 1944 alone. His films, such as Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary's, were huge successes as were the Road films he made with Bob Hope. On radio, his Kraft Music Hall and Philco Radio Time shows were very popular. Decca Records exploited this by issuing a number of 78rpm album sets, some featuring freshly material and others using Crosby's back catalogue. Ten of these sets were released in 1946, nine in 1947 and nine more in 1948. Most of these 78rpm albums were reissued as 10" vinyl LP's in subsequent years.

St. Valentine's Day includes two of Crosby's No. 1 hits from 1944 – "I'll Be Seeing You" and "I Love You" – two other chart entries ("You and I" and "Miss You") plus re-recordings of the singer's first ever recordings for Decca in 1934 "I Love You Truly" and "Just A-Wearyin' for You".



Track Listing:
1. "I Love You Truly"
2.. "Just A-Wearyin' for You"
3. "The Sweetest Story Ever Told"
4. "Mighty Lak' a Rose"
5. "You and I"
6. "Miss You"
7. "I'll Be Seeing You
8. "I Love You" 

The album was also issued as a 10" vinyl LP in 1949 with the catalogue number DL 5039...