Thursday, August 30, 2012


by Ron Hall
Beyond legendary entertainers, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope were very generous, patriotic Americans.  They filled their days with a variety of work and play.  A typical week (1930s thru 1950s) involved rehearsing and performing a radio show, filming movies, making personal appearances, filming TV shows, playing golf, visiting the race track and in Bing's case making records.  Still they found time for worthy causes like entertaining the troops, government public service films, hosting the Oscars, religious films and honoring golf caddies!  Since they were friends they often teamed up for charity.

My friend since 1970, Bob DeFlores had a special love for vintage music and Bing Crosby.  He collected rare Crosby films and was privileged to visit Bing in 1977 six months before Bing's untimely death.  Years later this meeting led to an association with Kathryn Crosby and several trips through Bing's basement film and audio collection to help evaluate and preserve other rare films.

In 1994, Bob and I slowly realized that he had many rare films that happened to be in the public domain, and I had a video company that could sell them.  We put together a 90 minute collection of obscure Bing Crosby/Bob Hope shorts, called it On The Road With Bing and Bob and then looked around for Bing Crosby fans.  They were not hard to find! 

"The Fifth Freedom"
So Bob and I issued the VHS video in 1995 and were widely publicized in the Bing Crosby magazines, which resulted in over 200 sales.  Five years later we offered the same films on better quality DVD for another round of sales.  We also issued everything we had about Bing Crosby that happened to be in the public domain, such as Bing's Mack Sennett Shorts, the 1957 Edsel Show, Bing Crosby Cavalcade and more.

About four years ago I arbitrarily stopped selling the films because we had reached all the Crosby fans and Bing Crosby Enterprises was starting to produce their own music and film projects.  However, since I now sell on, I thought I would reissue our first release to see if Bing and Bob fans might find it there.  All of the films are in the public domain, they have not been chosen by Bing's estate for DVD release and many are still quite rare...
DVD Re-issue
On Sale Now!
Theatrical Trailers to Road to Singapore, Road to Zanzibar, Road to Morocco, Road to Utopia and Star Spangled Rhythm.

The Road to Home (1945) Bing and Bob caution sailors not to jump ship at end of the WW-II as they reminisce about their Road pictures.  Who even knew the armed forces had this kind of problem?

Command Performance (1944) Bob Hope, Jerry Colonna, June Allyson, Gloria De Haven and Francis Langford entertain the troops.  Bob hosted over 40 of these variety shows that were sent to the troops during WW-II. 

The Fifth Freedom (1951, Color)  Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Perry Como and Arthur Godfrey remind us of our American freedom of choice.  On the surface a patriotic film about american freedoms, but everyone smokes Chesterfield cigarettes!  Contains some great small-town Americana scenes from 1951. 

You Can Change the World (1954)  Bing and Bob join Loretta Young, William Holden, Irene Dunne, Anne Blyth, Paul Douglas, Rochester and Jack Benny to hear Father Keller tell how all of us can help change the world for the better.  Bing sings “Young American" in this episode of The Christophers TV show.  We traded our excellent copy to The Christophers in 1996 in exchange for their film "Faith, Hope and Hogan" that is included in the September release Golf Mania. 

Excerpt from The Edsel Show (1957)  Frank Sinatra joins Bing on a musical road tour of the world until they run into old ski nose himself.  This is not a public service film, but continues the theme of rare Crosby/Hope "Road" films, this time with Frank subbing for Bob.  (Newly added to this video release.)  

1954 Academy Awards Show (1954)  Bing Crosby comes to the dais to help Bob Hope hand out music Oscars.  (Newly added to this video release.)

Honor Caddie (1954)  Color.  Bing and Bob in an excerpt from a public service short honoring golf caddies.  (Newly added to this video release.) 

The Road to Peace (1949)  Bing joins Ann Blyth in an inspirational plea for world peace.  They sing “When Irish Eyes are Smiling."  Added last to the disc since the message goes on a bit long! 

These films are highly entertaining today.  The following clip from "You Can Change the World" shows Bing Crosby, Jack Benny, Father Keller and Bob Hope's phoned in contribution.

***You can purchase On the Road with Bing and Bob directly from Festival Films***

Thursday, August 23, 2012


I guess next to horses and golf, baseball was one of Bing's other favorite past times. From 1946 until the end of his life, he was part-owner of baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates. Although he was passionate about his team, he was too nervous to watch the deciding Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, choosing to go to Paris with Kathryn and listen to the game on the radio. Crosby had the NBC telecast of the game recorded on kinescope. The game was one of the most famous in baseball history, capped off by Bill Mazeroski's walk-off home run. He apparently viewed the complete film just once, and then stored it in his wine cellar, where it remained undisturbed until it was discovered in December 2009. Here are some pics of Bing and The Pittsburgh Pirates...

Friday, August 17, 2012


One More Chance
Tile #198 on the Studio City Walk of Fame

Production Company: Mack Sennett Comedies

Cast: Bing Crosby, Arthur Stone, Patsy O'Leary, Matty Kemp, George Gray, Alice Adair, Kalla Pasha

Directed by Mack Sennett

Bing Crosby stars as 'Bing Bangs' in One More Chance. The two-reel musical comedy short, produced and directed by Mack Sennett the "King of Comedy", was released on November 15, 1931.

Songs in the film include "One More Chance" and "Wrap your Trouble in Dreams" performed by Mr. Crosby.

One More Chance is one of six musical comedies Mr. Crosby made for Mack Sennett that include I Surrender, Dear (1931), Billboard Girl (1932), Dream House (1932), Blue of the Night (1933) and Sing, Bing, Sing (1933).

Mr. Crosby went on to become the first multi-media superstar entertainer with records, radio, television and film. Between 1931 and 1939 alone, Crosby produced more than 150 charted hits, which included twenty-two #1 hits and fourteen songs that landed at the #2 spot.

Patsy O'Leary appeared in 47 shorts and 3 feature films from 1927 to 1932. The majority of her films were for Mack Sennett and filmed at Mack Sennett Studios, now home to CBS Studio Center.


Saturday, August 11, 2012


The year 1945 was a time of war, peace, chaos, and calmness. This was the year that President Franklin D. Roosevelt took the reins. This was his fourth term in office. He suffered a stroke on April 12, 1945, and died within hours. Harry S. Truman took oath on April 12, 1945.

Going to the grocery store was quite the shopping affair, from the popcorn vendor on the outside to the fresh produce displays and penny candy counters on the inside. Remember some of the penny candy such as BB Bat suckers, Kit Kats, Tootsie Roll Pops, and a variety of bubble gum? Cracker Barrel Restaurant has many of the old time candies. Remember when the popcorn machine was outside of the Indiana Theater, which many people enjoyed the popcorn.

Service station attendants cleaned windshields, checked fluids, and often provided treats for the children. Mailmen would deliver packages with a friendly greeting, and sometimes there would be a brief visit before delivery continued. I remember Mr. Jim Evans and Mr. Bob Stanley, who were two of these type mailmen.

Buying war bonds in 1945 was encouraged by many businesses to use for Christmas and Birthday gifts. They were $18.75, and at maturity they became $25 in 10 years. Over the course of the war, 85 million purchased bonds, totaling close to $185 billion dollars. Uncle Sam was posted several places on posters to encourage buying bonds.

Memories of childhood in 1945 were often shaped by what kids heard on the radio. Backyard playgrounds were expanded in Western Plains. Homemade baseball diamonds utilized stones and boards for bases. Tall trees were goal posts. Blankets were thrown over clothes lines to become tents. Young people would take cookies and milk into their tent for snacks.

Hopscotch was a popular game which we made on driveways and sidewalks. Girls loved to make bracelets and necklaces our of beads and buttons.

How many can remember your parents leading you in your nighttime prayers, and then they would read you a bedtime story. At mealtimes the father would say grace, and as the children grew older, they took their turn to return thanks.

Many fond memories of 1945 were enjoying each other in the activities of the youth. Some had picnics, and it was followed by a game of Croquet. Later it was ice cream time. Bowling, roller skating at a rink, and ping pong, caught the fancy of the youth and the young at heart.

Radio stars and the hits of 1945 were Ellery Queen, Amos and Andy, Bing Crosby, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Fibber McGee and Molly, Green Hornet, Lone Ranger, Sherlock Holmes, Buster Brown, and Tommy Dorsey.

Top Hits of 1945 were “Till the End of Time” by Perry Como, “Sentimental Journey” by Les Brown, “I Can’t Begin to tell You” by Bing Crosby, “Chickery Chick” by Sammy Kaye, and “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby, which is still heard at Christmas time.

The minimum wage was 40 cents per hour. Bread was nine cents a loaf, bacon $0.41 a pound, eggs 58 cents a dozen, milk 3l cents a gallon, movie tickets 35 cents each, cars $1,020 each, and homes around $4,600.

Those were the days...


Friday, August 3, 2012


1952 Olympic Telethon

Three old friends, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope at table and Dorothy Lamour at microphone, lead 14 1/2 hour Olympic Telethon that received more than $1,000,000 in pledges for the U.S. Olympic team.

A story in the June 23, 1952, Los Angeles Times reported:

Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and scores of other personalities went to bat for the 1952 U.S. Olympic team yesterday and smashed a sizzling home run – worth more than $1,000,000.

The two stars sang and joked their way through a 14 1/2 hour television marathon which was beamed to a nationwide audience estimated at 50,000,000. And their efforts – plus those of hundreds of other persons responsible for the show – raised the Olympic fund well over its goal.

Two television networks – NBC and CBS – carried the show by microwave to 68 stations in 48 cities from coast to coast. The telethon, staged at NBC studios in the El Capitan Theater, began at 8 p.m. Saturday and ended for the tired performers at 10:30 a.m. yesterday after switching to New York for appearances by several noted sports figures.

Crosby, who teamed with Hope to answer hundreds of telephone calls and introduce the more than 250 actors, dancers and singers on the program, was making his television debut on the record-breaking telethon.

He and Hope deserted the cameras for three or four hours early yesterday morning to freshen up but were back on the stage for the finale and exchange comments with the New York end of the show.

Avery Brundage, president of the U.S. Olympic committee, opened the program Saturday night with an announcement that the Olympic fund was still nearly $500,000 short of the money it needs to sent the nation’s athletes to Helsinki this summer. Fourteen and a half hours later, just three minutes before the show ended, contributions donated and pledges across the nation as a result of the program were announced as $1,000,020.

Officials said this figure, however, probably will be swelled by many thousands of dollars this week as mail contributions are received ….

Hope and Crosby, obviously weary after their long stint before the cameras, were still joking as they posed with Miss Lamour after the show.

“Well, Bob, ready for a fast 18 holes. Where’il it be? Lakeside or Rivera?” Crosby cracked.

The telethon was a big success — or so it seemed. A brief mention in the Hedda Hopper’s July 12, 1952, column reported that “Bing Crosby and Bob Hope are terribly upset because only a third of the money pledged on their Olympic telethon has been collected.”

But the $300,000 was enough to help get the U.S. team to Helsinki. According to a story at, once the telethon doubled the stated goal of $500,000, many donors refused to honor their pledges...



The marriage of Bing and Dixie Crosby had its ups and downs as any marriage may have. What added to the ups and down is Bing Crosby was the most widely recognized person in the world in the 1940s and poor Dixie was a closet alcoholic. It was the 1940s, and people did not talk about their problems or feelings as they do now. It seemed like looking back at the marriage of Bing and Dixie, Bing buried himself into his work and Dixie became sort of a recluse. However, there has always been a rumor that Bing and actress Joan Caulfield had an affair.

Joan Caulfield was an unknown 22-year-old actress when she got the call in 1945 to play the leading lady in Bing Crosby's motion picture Blue Skies. Mark Sandrich, who was preparing to produce and direct the movie, discovered Caulfield in the rushes of her first Paramount movie, Miss Susie Slagle’s. He was so impressed by her beauty that he wanted to cast her as a song-and-dance star in the Crosby musical -- if Joan could dance. Joan let her enthusiasm overwhelm her honesty and assured Sandrich she could indeed dance. She couldn't. Sandrich sent her to Carmalita Maracci’s dance school at her own expense in the hope that her role could be salvaged.

Sandrich died suddenly on March 4, 1945, at the age of 44, before filming could begin. His replacements were much less sympathetic toward Joan, especially since Crosby's co-star and choreographer, tap-dancer Paul Draper, also wanted Joan out. He did not want a leading lady with two left feet, even if they were pretty feet. Joan's name disappeared from the cast sheets and press releases. Meanwhile, Draper began auditioning other actresses for Joan's part.

Then, suddenly, Joan was reinstated, Draper was fired, the script was rewritten and Fred Astaire was coaxed to replace Draper. Why were these extraordinary steps taken for an unknown actress? (Joan's first movie, Miss Susie Slagle’s, would not be released until 1946.) Obviously, someone very powerful had taken an interest in Joan and was determined to keep her in that movie. That someone most likely was Bing Crosby, who had just won the Oscar for his role as Father O'Malley in Going My Way. Not only was he Hollywood's leading box-office attraction, Bing was also a major stockholder in Paramount.

Most likely Bing met Joan late in 1944 during the filming of Paramount's all-star movie version of the radio show Duffy's Tavern. Bing, Joan and the four Crosby boys all made an appearance in this film. He and Joan became friends and were seen in public together socially. They recorded the radio version of Bing's movie Sing You Sinners for the Lux Radio Theatre on April 6, 1945.

That Joan and Bing had grown close was widely rumored around Hollywood. Moreover, neither Blue Skies nor Miss Susie Slagle’s had been released when Paramount announced that Bing's next movie, Welcome Stranger, would also co-star Caulfield. Clearly a special relationship had developed between the two. In 1954 Joan admitted to a relationship with a "top film star" who was also a married man with children who eventually chose his wife and children over her.

That this "top film star" was Bing Crosby was confirmed by actress Patricia Neal, who shared a cruise ship to England with Caulfield in 1948. At the time Neal was having her own affair with a much older married actor, Bing's friend Gary Cooper. Like Bing, Coop eventually decided to stay with his family too. Neal wrote:

She [Joan Caulfield] was a lovely girl and we had some good talks. She, too, was in love with an older married man who was quite as famous as Gary [Cooper]. She confided to me that she desperately wanted to marry Bing Crosby. We were in the same boat in more ways than one, but I could not tell her so." (Neal, As I Am, Simon and Schuster, 1988, p109)

Bing requested permission from the Catholic hierarchy to divorce his wife, Dixie, so he could marry Caulfield. The church denied his request and Bing remained with Dixie until her death in 1952. In 1950 Joan married Hollywood producer Frank Ross. They divorced nine years later. She married her dentist in 1960. They divorced in 1966. She never remarried. Each marriage produced a son. Joan died of cancer on June 18, 1991.

To be honest, is an affair really any of our business? Probably not, but it is what good stories are made up. Hopefully the rumors will be confirmed or put to rest when author Gary Giddin's second book on Bing Crosby comes out in the near future...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Why this is only being released on BluRay is beyond me. I like High Time but not enough to buy a new player for...

'High Time' Announced and Detailed for Blu-ray

Blake Edwards' 1960 musical comedy starring Bing Crosby will have a limited Blu-ray run this August.

In an early announcement to retailers, Twilight Time will be bringing 'High Time' on Blu-ray on August 14.

Order 'The Hunger Games'

Coming to Blu-ray August 18th

Widower and hamburger restaurateur Harvey Howard decides to go to college at 51 years of age. Resisting the easy path, he insists on not receiving preferential treatment, and lives in a dorm like the other students despite the disapproval of his grown son and daughter. As the years pass, and he gets involved in study sessions, fraternity initiations, and sporting events, he begins falling in love with Professor Gautier, the French teacher, but doesn't consider re-marrying appropriate.

The Blu-ray will be limited to 3000 units and will feature 1080p video, a DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 soundtrack, and supplements include an isolated score track by Henry Mancini and the original theatrical trailer.

Suggested list price for the Blu-ray is $29.95 which can be pre ordered here.

You can find the latest specs for 'High Time' linked from our Blu-ray Release Schedule, where it's indexed under August 14.