Now that we’ve finished celebrating Deanna Durbin as the Star Of The Month (for February), it’s time to move on to our next Star! For the month of March, that would be actor and singer Bing Crosby!
Table Of Contents
Quick Film Career Bio
Birth: May 3, 1903
Death: October 14, 1977
Harry Lillis Crosby, Jr., the fourth of seven children, was born to Harry Lowe Crosby and Catherine Helen in 1903 in Tacoma, Washington. The family moved to Spokane, Washington a few years later. While there are several different versions of how he got his nickname, the more common one seems to be that he got the nickname from a neighbor who called him “Bingo from Bingville” (referring to a comic strip from the local paper, The Bingville Bugle). After graduating from Gonzaga High School, he went to Gonzaga University. While there, he joined the Musicaladers, a band of students that included Al Rinker. After the group disbanded, Bing and Al continued to be part of various musical groups, and went out to California together. They were part of different acts in show business, that eventually got the eye of someone in bandleader Paul Whiteman’s organization. They were hired to work with him, and pianist/songwriter Harry Barris was added to the group to form the Rhythm Boys. The Rhythm Boys starred alongside Paul Whiteman in King Of Jazz (1930), but they later broke off from Whiteman’s orchestra. The group did some work in other films, either singing or actually appearing onscreen, while continuing to perform at the Cocoanut Grove in California. With Bing becoming the star attraction (and the other members having diverging interests), the group broke up.
Bing started doing radio shows in 1931 (doing 15 Minutes With Bing Crosby to start), and his popularity took off from there. He did some short films for Mack Sennett and had his first starring role in The Big Broadcast (1932) for Paramount Pictures. He worked pretty steadily at Paramount throughout the decade, with a few brief one-film detours at MGM (Going Hollywood) and Columbia Pictures (Pennies From Heaven). However, it wasn’t until he made Road To Singapore in 1940 that he established his screen persona and himself as part of a comedy team with Bob Hope, partnering with him and Dorothy Lamour for five more films (and one more without Dorothy in the lead). In 1942, he made Holiday Inn with Fred Astaire, which provided him with his biggest song hit in the form of the Irving Berlin tune “White Christmas.” 1942 also saw the start of a new “tradition,” where Bing made cameo appearances in some of his Road co-star Bob Hope’s films (starting with My Favorite Blonde, and ending nearly thirty years later with Hope’s last starring role in Cancel My Reservation). Two years later, he made Going My Way, for which he won the Best Actor Oscar (and followed up with a nomination for the following year’s The Bells Of St. Mary’s, marking the first time that somebody was nominated for playing the same role in two different films). Starting in the mid-1930s, he was in and out of the list of the top ten stars in terms of box office draw, but 1944 saw the start of a five-year streak where he was the largest in the world.
Things slowed up a little for him going into the 1950s, but he still enjoyed some successes, particularly with White Christmas in 1954 and his final Oscar nomination for his more dramatic role in The Country Girl that same year. With his box office star power waning (particularly as he ended his longtime association with Paramount after 1956’s Anything Goes remake), he made the transition into TV, mainly via TV specials and his own production company. His theatrical film career finished in the 1960s, with The Road To Hong Kong (which would turn out to be the final film in the Road series when plans for another film in the late 1970s fell through because of his death) and a few supporting turns in the likes of Robin And The 7 Hoods and his final movie, the 1966 Stagecoach remake (although he made some cameo appearances in other films and was one of the hosts for the first That’s Entertainment after that). On TV, he made an attempt at starring in a short-lived sitcom (The Bing Crosby Show), did more TV specials and frequently hosted The Hollywood Palace. His final TV special, Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas (in which he did a duet of “Peace On Earth/ Little Drummer Boy” with David Bowie) aired nearly a month after he suffered a fatal heart attack while playing golf in Madrid.
This is a list of all the films that I personally have reviewed from his filmography so far (cameo appearances included). Obviously, I will be adding to it throughout the month of March, and it is my plan to add to it as I review more and more of his films even beyond this month’s celebration.
My Favorite Blonde (1942) (cameo)
Son Of Paleface (1952) (cameo)
Alias Jesse James (1959) (cameo)
Entries For This Month
Thoughts From The Music(al) Man –
Since this blogathon lasts a month, I’ll keep the rules here in case anybody is still interested in joining in:
- At this point, I am not putting any restrictions on topics related to the various stars, whether it be any of their films, or biographies, lists of favorites, etc.
- These celebrations are intended as tributes to these stars, so I would ask that any participating posts be respectful of the stars themselves. Obviously, if you don’t care for that specific star, that would probably not be a good month to join in.
- I’m requesting that all posts would be new material, and not any previously published ones.
- As previously indicated, these celebrations of the stars and genres will last a whole month each, so you will have that whole month to work with. I myself will be publishing about four or five posts per month (depending on the number of Sundays and whether there are any recent disc releases that would fit the bill), so you can decide how many you want to do (within reason).
- If you are interested in joining, I would certainly suggest you either comment on this post, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or, for the Facebook savvy, contact me at my FB page. And feel free to use the banners I have put together (I’m still unsure of how much space I will have to work with over time on pictures, so for now I am doing one each).