Thursday, July 25, 2019


Interesting Bing story from an unlikely source...

A popular young entertainer jeopardized a promising career with his out-of-control drinking. Sometimes he missed singing engagements while he went on binges lasting several days. One time when he did try to appear on stage when he was drunk, according to his biographers, “he stood pale and unsteady at the mike while the orchestra played the introduction to his song.” When he opened his mouth to sing, “he vomited—on his suit front, his shoes, and on several members of his socialite audience, who had gathered close to the bandstand to hear him sing.”

If this singer were performing today, he would be rushed immediately to the Betty Ford Center for treatment, after which we would read in People magazine of his gratitude to the treatment center and its twelve-step A.A. program for showing him he was a lifelong alcoholic who could never drink again. We might read later about his various relapses, but these could be handled by A.A. and the treatment center, which would always be there for him.

Actually, the singer’s name was Bing Crosby, nicknamed “Binge” Crosby early in his career. His hard-drinking days occurred more than half a century ago, when alcohol abuse was regarded as a problem in living rather than a lifelong disease. Life could still take its natural course; in this case, Crosby stopped drinking self-destructively when he began to socialize with the prominent people he previously had only entertained. As biographers Donald Shepherd and Robert Slatzer tell it, “It was during Bing’s Gatsby period that he stopped drinking himself into unconsciousness. He quit drinking entirely for a while, and when he resumed, he would drink occasionally, but never let the bottle get the best of him again.” Crosby simply found that public drunkenness was not in keeping with his emerging image as a superstar.

No alcoholism treatment center in America today would turn down someone like Crosby. If they accepted Betty Ford, they would hardly turn down a man who went on three-day benders and appeared in public falling-down drunk! But what would Crosby have gained from deciding he was an alcoholic for the rest of his life instead of mastering his destructive drinking habits as he matured?

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