Saturday, May 25, 2019


A forgotten player in the early years of Bing was Al Rinker. Rinker was an American musician who began his career as a teen performing with Bing Crosby in the early 1920s in Spokane, Washington in various musical groups. In 1925 the pair moved on to Los Angeles, eventually forming the Rhythm Boys trio with singer/songwriter/pianist Harry Barris.

Barris wrote the songs "Mississippi Mud", "I Surrender, Dear", and "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams" among others. The singing group worked with Paul Whiteman's Big Band for three years. They went out on their own for a year until Crosby effectively dissolved the group to go solo. The Rhythm Boys were filmed for the Paul Whiteman movie The King of Jazz (1930) singing "Mississippi Mud", "So the Bluebirds and the Blackbirds Got Together", "A Bench in the Park", and "Happy Feet".

According to a filmed interview of Rinker, Crosby performed the first two weeks on his first film while on daytime work release from jail after crashing his car into a telephone pole while driving drunk. After the Rhythm Boys broke up, they reunited only once, to appear together on the Paul Whiteman Presents radio broadcast on July 4, 1943.

In 1952, a song for which Rinker wrote the music with lyrics by Floyd Huddleston, "You Can't Do Wrong Doin' Right", appeared in the films Push-Button Kitty and The Affairs of Dobie Gillis. He also wrote the song "Everybody Wants to Be a Cat" also with Floyd Huddleston for the Disney animated children's movie The Aristocats (1970). Rinker had also written the songs for the MGM musicial The Duchess Of Idaho starring Van Johnson in 1950.

Rinker was born on December 20, 1907 in Tekoa, Washington; his mother, Josephine, was an enrolled member of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe and a devout Roman Catholic. He and his siblings grew up on the Coeur d'Alene Indian reservation near DeSmet, Idaho.

It was a musical family: their father, Charles, played fiddle and called square dances, and their mother played piano every evening after supper. His younger brother Charles Rinker became a lyricist who worked frequently with composer Gene de Paul. Rinker married Elizabeth Neuberger on October 25, 1938.

Their older sister Mildred, under her married name of Mildred Bailey, had embarked on a musical career in Los Angeles before Rinker and Crosby became known. She became a well-known jazz singer after the Rhythm Boys arranged for Paul Whiteman to "discover" her singing at a party; he hired her to sing with his band. For a time she was known as "Mrs. Swing."

Julie Rinker is Al Rinker's daughter. Julie Rinker was one of Dean Martin's original Dean's Girls on The Dean Martin Show. Julie Rinker is also the female voice of the Three's Company Theme Song. Al died suddenly at on June 11, 1982 at the age of 74. In later years, Al appeared to be bitter towards to Bing Crosby. He seemed to say that Bing forgot his Rhythm Boy roots and discarded his former partners. Bing did give numerous movie roles to Harry Barris, and he recorded a couple of Rinker's sons, so whether or not the bitterness was deserved is beyond me. Al Rinker was talented in his own right, and he was a part of an exciting time in popular music...

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


Funny man Tim Conway (1933-2019) made us laugh for decades. Here he is with Bing from his appearance on the Hollywood Palace. Rest in peace...

Wednesday, May 8, 2019



Seventy-five years ago today, the movie “Going My Way” was released in theaters. The musical featured Spokane’s own Bing Crosby in a role that would win him an Academy Award and that featured him singing a song that would win an Oscar.

This would be Crosby's first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and the only time he’d win an Oscar. He’d be nominated again the next year for “The Bells of St. Mary’s” and then one more time in 1954.

But Crosby, in fact, was well- acquainted with the Oscars. Even by 1944, Crosby had sung songs in movies that had been nominated five times for Academy Awards.

Crosby did a lot more than just star in movies and sing in musicals. He recorded 50 to 70 records a year during the 1940s. He pioneered the use of prerecorded radio shows on reel-to-reel magnetic tape — reportedly, so he could spend more time playing golf. In 1963, Crosby would receive the first Grammy Global Achievement Award.

Crosby gave benefit concerts to help sell war bonds and did special programs for the Armed Forces Radio Network. He traveled to France to entertain troops just months after the D-Day invasion.

And he took his golf seriously. He worked his way to a 2 handicap and played in both the British and U.S. Amateur Championships. He started a tournament in 1937 that has evolved into the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Crosby was born in Tacoma but his family moved to Spokane when he was 3 years old. He attended Gonzaga University and would perform between films in Spokane’s Clemmer Theater — which is now named after Crosby.

Crosby died in 1977 after playing a round of golf at La Moraleja Golf Course near Madrid, Spain. He was 74...

Friday, May 3, 2019


Five years ago I published a list of my five favorite Bing Crosby movies, and in honor of what would have been Bing's 116th birthday, I figured I would update my list. I did not look at the 2014 list when writing this to see if there are any changes...

5. JUST FOR YOU (1952) - This Crosby film is not widely remembered today, but it should be. It is probably the closest Bing ever got to a biographical film about himself. In the film, Bing is a father to two children (Natalie Wood and Robert Arthur), but he is also trying to juggle fame and stardom. This was the second pairing of Bing with actress Jane Wyman, and the duo got to introduce the new song "Zing A Little Zong", which is a personal favorite.
2011 ranking:#7     2014 ranking: NA

4. HOLIDAY INN (1942) - This movie cemented Bing Crosby as a Hollywood movie superstar. This film was destined to be a classic with Bing, Fred Astaire, and an Irving Berlin song track. Bing got to sing countless Irving Berlin standards like "Easter Parade", "Be Careful It's My Heart", but it was in this movie that Bing got to introduce his signature song "White Christmas". This movie would be the first movie Bing would make with Fred Astaire, and it was also his first movie with songs by Irving Berlin.
2011 ranking:#3     2014 ranking:#3

3. BLUE SKIES (1946) - This was the second pairing of Bing, Fred Astaire, and Irving Berlin. It almost did not happen because Broadway dancer Paul Draper was supposed to be in the Astaire role, but due to his stutter and his disagreements with Bing, Draper was replaced. This was also supposed to be Fred Astaire's "swan song" from movies. Bing got to sing countless great Irving Berlin tunes like: "Blue Skies", "All By Myself" and the new "You Keep Coming Back Like A Song". The story was corny spanning the time between two World Wars, but this has always been one of my favorite Crosby films.
2011 ranking:#2     2014 ranking#2

2. HIGH SOCIETY (1956) - After Bing would leave Paramount Studios in 1956, after 24 years he moved to MGM for this great Cole Porter musical. Bing was paired with Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Celeste Holm, and Louis Armstrong, and the result is film magic. Bing had a hit with Grace Kelly on the song "True Love", and I named my daughter after the Grace Kelly character and Cole Porter song "I Love You, Samantha". Bing and Sinatra were great together, and they got to duet on the great number "Well, Did You Evah". In my opinion, this is one of the last truly great MGM movie musicals made.
2011 ranking:#4     2014 ranking:#4

1. THE COUNTRY GIRL (1954) - I would always have a debate with my Grandfather about this movie. He hated this movie, because Bing played a different role that he was used to. The film was dark, and Bing played an alocholic actor who gets one last chance to make a comeback. Bing was nominated for the third time for this film, but lost to Marlon Brando. Grace Kelly won though for playing Bing's lost suffering wife. Reportedly for the one drunken scene, Bing paced and stayed up all night to get a more haggard look. Watch this movie, and I dare you to say that Bing Crosby was not a great actor!
2011 ranking:#1     2014 ranking:#1