Thursday, November 28, 2019


Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote a very favorable review of Here Comes The Waves on December 28, 1944:

"Paramount and its favored son, Bing Crosby aren't going precisely the same way that they went in Mr. Crosby's last picture—and everyone knows which way that was—but they are taking an agreeable turn together in "Here Come the Waves," which trooped into the Paramount yesterday. They are ambling along that vein of comedy, with vamped-in music, that Mr. Crosby used to rove, and they have Sonny Tufts and Betty Hutton as convivial companions this time. Sure, the traveling is nothing like as charming as it was on that last prize-winning tour, but it offers a few attractive vistas and several gaily amusing jolts.

In this one our old friend, the Bingle, doffs mufti for nautical attire and plays a swoon-throwing crooner who becomes a member of Uncle Sam's fleet. As a gob he runs into Miss Hutton playing twin sisters, both of them Waves—one a dignified lady and the other a jive-happy chick. He also becomes somewhat violently involved with Mr. Tufts, who is likewise a side-wheeling sailor with a strong luff toward one of the girls. And, what with confusion of identities and a Wave recruiting show to put on, a plot of comic sorts is concocted and the musical numbers are hauled in. 

Mr. Crosby sings most of the latter, either solo or in company with his pals, and does very nicely by them, as he does by his droll and genial role. "Accentuate the Positive," which is sung with Mr. Tufts, is probably the best of the several Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer tunes. Miss Hutton, in her broader characterization—meaning that of the more rambunctious sis—is also terrific in a gag song called "Strictly on My Own Tonight." Regarding Miss Hutton's dual performance, it should not be mistaken for high art, but it certainly can be commended as very vigorous virtuosity. And Mr. Tufts is dry and diverting as a mildly disturbing element.

There are several scenes in the picture of Waves in training which are atmospherically good, and the settings contrived for the Wave show are well above regulation grade. Paramount, in short, has been generous to the service in every respect. But the humor is the best part of the picture—and the best part of the humor is that which has Bing crooning in travesty of a famous "swooner" who shall be nameless (just this once)”

A Variety review from December 20, 1944 was favorable as well:

"A kinda corny title, “Here Come the Waves” manages to surmount the handle and emerges as a tiptop film. Interspersed in Crosby’s nifty song logy, Johnny Mercer-Harold Arlen have supplied a set of excellent songs, including a dandy novelty in “Accent-Tchu-ate the Positive”; two corking ballads in “Let’s Take the Long Way Home” and “I Promise You,” the latter as a duet with Betty Hutton playing the alter ego...‘Old Black Magic’ is reprised in a delicious rib on Frank Sinatra. Crosby is cast as the new pash crooner, and his mike-clutching stance, accented by the whinnying dames, leaves no secret as to whom Der Bingle refers. It’s a dandy take-off on The Voice, but it’s not harsh; in fact, it’s a sympathetic salve for all out-of-service crooners..."

Like I said earlier I am not sure about the pairing of Bing and Betty Hutton, but they were two very popular stars in 1944. Hutton does a good job playing twins, and when I was younger and first saw the film I thought they were two separate people. Sonny Tufts was a good foil for Bing, but in his other movies I have always found Sonny to be a bit wooden. However, I don’t want to dwell on the negative, because this is really a great Bing Crosby movie. I enjoy it for Bing and the music, and I also enjoy it for how it shows how life was like during the war years. Yes, this is not a war movie on the lines of Back To Bataan or Destination Toyko, but Here Comes The Waves could be considered a little biographical in a way. It shows the emergence of the bobby soxer crazy, and it also shows a famous people who wants to do his part for the war effort, which is what Bing wanted to do. The film admittedly contains more than its share of enthusiastic flag waving, but it is a clever spoof of what life was supposed to be like for a popular crooning idol.

I have been starting to show my two younger children Bing Crosby movies, and I was going to show them this film, but my son said to me “I’m just not ready to see a black and white movie yet”, so I showed them High Society to them. This movie is on my list of Bing films I want to show them though. Like I said, Here Comes The Waves is not a 100% accurate portrayal of the war, but it is accurate at showing the amount of patriotism the country and the war had in 1944 as it fought the evil powers that were threatening the world. If you have not seen this movie in awhile, do yourself a favor and give the film a viewing. You may find yourself humming and dancing to songs that are over 70 years old, or it may just inspire you to join the navy...

MY RATING: 10 out of 10

Thursday, November 21, 2019


Filmed in Hollywood from May to August of 1944, it was the first and only time that Bing was paired with musical dynamite Betty Hutton. It was an odd pairing since Bing was so laid back, and Hutton was a nervous ball of energy. Hutton at the time was the musical queen at Paramount Studios so it would be natural to pair them together. Bing by this time had approval of his leading ladies, but I had the opportunity to interview actress Marjorie Reynolds’ daughter Linda in the mid 1990s, and she says that Bing had wanted Marjorie for the role of the twins, but the studio insisted on Hutton. Suprisingly Bing and Betty had a good bit of chemistry in the movie. However, Betty Hutton was one of those stars that had good things to say about Bing in the 1970s, but as the years went by she changed her mind. It was also reported that Bing dated Hutton in the 1950s after Dixie Lee died, but I find that hard to believe with all the personal problems that Betty Hutton had.

Like so many musicals of the time, the music makes the movie. Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen usually wrote the songs for Bing’s movies, and they won an Oscar for their song “Swingin On A Star” for Bing’s last movie Going My Way. However, for Here Comes The Waves, Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen were brought in to write the score. The song “That Old Black Magic” was featured in the movie, but Mercer and Arlen had written the song in 1942. The song was first recorded by Glenn Miller & His Orchestra, and Mercer wrote the lyrics with Judy Garland in mind. Bing sings the song and makes it his own as he croons in a style of a young Frank Sinatra. I do not understand why Bing did not record this song in 1944, because it was the musical highlight for me in the film, but he did record it late in his career in 1976.

There are also two really underrated love songs in the movie that Bing sang with Betty Hutton, but he recorded them as solos for Decca-“Let’s Take The Long Way Home” and “I Promise You”. Probably the most notable song in the film was “Accentuate The Positive”. In the film Bing and Sonny Tufts sings the song in a blackface number (this would be the last movie in which Bing would appear in blackface), but Bing recorded the number commercially with the Andrews Sisters. The song would be nominated for Best Song in 1945, but lost to the ballad “It Might As Well Be Spring” from State Fair. Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer also wrote a song that was not used for the film called “My Mama Thinks I’m A Star”. I have never heard the song, but I am guessing it was written for Betty Hutton....



This is a huge loss to the world of Bing Crosby fandom...

Frontis Burbank (Wig) Wiggins, Jr., retired Foreign Service Officer and internationally recognized Bing Crosby expert, died on October 29, 2019, at his home in Arlington, Virginia at the age of 90.

He was born in Thomasville, Georgia, on April 7, 1929 to Frontis Burbank and Emma Louise (King) Wiggins and grew up in Albany, Georgia, where his father owned a small business. After earning an Industrial Engineering degree from Georgia Tech (1950), he attended the University of Birmingham, England, on a Rotary Club scholarship, leaving in 1951 with a Graduate Commerce (MBA) degree plus lifelong friendships with fellow students and a permanent disgust for Brussels sprouts. While working for Standard Oil in Baton Rouge in 1952, he was called to naval service. After the Korean War he entered the University of California at Berkeley on the GI Bill, earning a 1956 Master of Political Science for his thesis on the election dispute that in 1946 briefly left Georgia with 3 simultaneous governors.

He entered the Foreign Service in 1956 and served his country at home and abroad for nearly 35 years. His first posts were Kenya and Guatemala, followed by Indonesia, where in 1960 he married an Embassy colleague, Laura Ponnone of Farmington, Connecticut, and where their daughter Joanne was born. His next post, Italy, was the birthplace of his son, Frontis Burbank III. His next overseas appointment was Deputy Chief of Mission (and frequent ChargĂ© d’Affaires) for Malta. After serving on, then heading, the Board of Examiners (which selects new Foreign Service officers), his final post was U.S. Consul for Brisbane, Australia. He retired in 1991.

He loved music of all kinds, from Hot Jazz and the Weavers to opera and Broadway, but his favorite by far was Bing Crosby. He was a serious collector, serving for decades as the American Representative for the International Club Crosby. He developed enduring friendships with Bing enthusiasts all over the world and contributed to the preservation of Crosby’s musical legacy. His encouragement sustained John McNicholas’ mission to issue all Bing’s recordings via the Chronological Bing Crosby, AKA the Jonzo Series. In 2015, he and co-author Jim Reilly published “The Definitive Bing Crosby Discography: From 78s to CDs.” He was invited by MCA records to edit a series of re-issues of Bing’ recordings, and he selected the music for over a dozen CDs featuring Bing’s wide range, including 21 gold records, Hawaiian, Irish, and Western songs, and of course Christmas music, the genre Bing pioneered. He was also closely involved with Hofstra University’s 2002 “Bing! Crosby and American Culture” conference.

He lost his wife Laura in 2007 after 47 years of devoted partnership. He is survived by his brother, James Marvin (Adele Cooke), of Glen Eden Beach, Oregon, his daughter, Joanne (Shelley Platt), of Richmond, and his son, Frontis Burbank III, and grandson, Frontis Burbank (Primo) IV, of Fairfax...

Thursday, November 14, 2019


When World War II broke out, Hollywood did its part for the war effort. Many Hollywood stars from Jimmy Stewart to Tony Martin served bravely in the war. Other stars like Bob Hope and Der Bingle performed countless times for the soldiers and raised money for war bonds. Reportedly, Bing tried desperately to enlist. However, due to his age (Bing was 38 when Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941) and color blindness, Bing was not accepted into the military. Unfortunately, Bing never really made an official “war” movie but I would say 1944’s Here Comes The Waves was probably the closest Bing ever came to making one.

The first thirteen minutes devotes itself to the Allison twins, Susan and Rosemary (Betty Hutton), sisters of very different personalities entertaining at New York City's Cabanna Club. Susan, a happy-go-lucky twin born 12 minutes after her dignified older sister, Rosemary, worships Johnny Cabot, a singing idol of millions. In spite of their popularity, Rosemary enlists in the Navy, with Susan following suit, each becoming members of the WAVES. Both girls going through their five month training process with other female recruits at the Naval Training School in the Bronx. While on liberty leave, Susan takes Rosemary to a movie theater, seated seated thousands of swooning teenage bobby soxers, attending the personal appearance of Johnny Cabot (Bing Crosby) following the release of his latest motion picture.

After the performance, Windy Windhurst (Sonny Tufts), Johnny's Navy pal, introduces him to his girlfriends from back home, who happen to be Susan and Rosemary. While Susan is overly excited seated next to her living legend, Rosemary snubs him. Because Johnny is tired of being chased by female fans, disguising himself to avoid being attacked, finds the serious-minded Rosemary a welcome change of pace, a girl who actually dislikes him. Initially rejected from Navy enlistment because of his color-blindness, Johnny gets his wish enlisting after the Navy requirements become less strict, stationed at a Navy Base in San Diego, California, leaving his thousands of swooning females fans behind him. With Johnny attempting to be a good a sailor as his father was during World War I, thanks to one of the Allison twins, also stationed in San Diego, does Johnny get himself involved in some theatrical project rather than fulfilling a personal obligation he's long wanted to do. Other members of the cast are: Ann Doran (Ruth); Gwen Crawford (Tex); Noel Neill (Dorothy); Mae Clarke (Ensign Kern); Harry Barris (The Bandleader), and in bit parts, Mona Freeman and Yvonne DeCarlo, among others...


Monday, November 11, 2019


HARRIMAN, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Wilma Winifred Wyatt was born on November 4, 1909 in Harriman, Tennessee.

In 1928, she kicked off her stage career after winning a Chicago singing contest and changed her name to Dixie Lee after she joined Fox Film Corp. in 1929.

On November 8, 2019, more than 100 years later, the City of Harriman held a Dixie Lee Day to celebrate their most famous hometown girl.

The day featured a discussion of Lee's film career with radio host Bradley Reeves and Chris Hammond. Afterwards, attendees were treated to "Love in Bloom," arguably Lee's most famous film.

In 1930, Lee married Bing Crosby, and retired from acting in 1935.

She later died in 1952 of ovarian cancer.

Photo courtesy of Chris Hammond

Friday, November 1, 2019


American singer and actor Bing Crosby was a devoted husband and father. However, despite his fame and success he never got over the death of his first wife, Dixie Lee. She died 67 years ago today on November 1, 1952. Despite almost divorcing twice, they were together until her death.

When the two first met Bing was immediately smitten. The couple met again at a party in Hollywood and this time, Dixie couldn’t resist Bing’s charm. They got married when the actress was 18 years old at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Hollywood.

Dixie died from ovarian cancer a week after Bing’s returned home from filming Little Boy Lost and three days before her 41st birthday. The actor and his wife were married for more than two decades. The couple had four children — Gary, Phillip, Dennis, and Lindsay.

Bing traveled a lot during their marriage and during that time, Dixie looked lost without him. The actress wrote letters frequently to let him know how much she had missed him. That’s so sweet and romantic! Whenever Bing returned home from travel, he and Dixie were inseparable. They enjoyed taking care of the horses at their home in Del Mar or Santa Anita. The actress on her part loved the Christmas holidays, as she used to spend months preparing for gift giving in advance.

Neither of them was of the opinion that marriage was a trap. Bing and Dixie got married because they were so in love and would not have allowed family and homes cage their love. He loved Dixie even after her death. His children and friends noted that the actor was really devastated by his wife's death, despite being close to getting divorced. Though he eventually remarried, others close to him say he never recovered from the death of Dixie.

When asked about coping with the loss of Dixie, he said:

"I will never talk about my grief at losing her. But in the years ahead I’m going to sorely miss her love, steadfast and constructive support."

Dixie Lee was definitely the woman behind the man....