Monday, April 27, 2009

Bing Crosby Lives Again!

Bing Crosby’s dulcet tones made him the most influential and loved singer and entertainer throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s and into the 1950’s and beyond until he died on Oct. 14, 1977 after completing one last round at a golf course in Spain. Now, after more than 30 years since he left us, Bing lives again.
Bing (image right) lives through his songs that still reach large audiences. Those audiences also see him perform, this time on videos. They hear that melodic voice not only on their CDs and albums but also on a number of radio stations around the world and on their ipods.
They listen on Sirius XM Satellite radio, too. In fact, Sirius devoted an entire channel to Bing during the 2008 Christmas season in which Regis Philbin and Crosby family members shared memories of Der Bingle. Bing’s decades-long monopoly on Christmas music, led by the largest selling single record in history, “White Christmas,” remains unchallenged.
Bing continues to be remembered as well through many of his movies, which are shown year-round on a number of television channels. He’s especially prominent during the Christmas holiday season when his Oscar-winning role as Father O’Malley in “Going My Way” and also in “The Bells of St. Mary’s” reaches millions. Many look forward every Christmas season to watch "White Christmas" on television with their families.
Starbucks and WalMart have taken Bing’s singing and acting talents to many old and new fans through the sale of a colorized version of Bing’s black and white movie, “Holiday Inn,” co-starring Fred Astaire and Marjorie Reynolds. The song, “White Christmas,” introduced in that 1942 movie, won the Oscar that year for Best Song.
Bing isn’t forgotten on the Internet, either. Many of his more than 2,000 discs, including 22 gold records, and most of his albums are available for sale on a number of Internet sites.
While Elvis Presley’s memory is kept alive at Graceland and Frank Sinatra stays in the limelight through his family’s Website, Bing Crosby (image left) lives through his fans on many Websites.
Fans can even keep up with Bing’s current exploits on Yahoo Alerts, which offers daily emails showing the frequent media mentions of the world's most famous crooner.
Bing stays alive also at, a relatively new site where his family has shown a renewed interest in his legacy. He lives, too, in "Bing" an International Club Crosby glossy magazine. The club has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s longest running fan club. Its magazine is published three times a year, keeping fans up-to-date on Crosbyana. He's also remembered on a site called "The Immortal Talents of Bing Crosby." If you don’t think Bing is making it big with the Internet world,        take another look. He not only appears on dozens of sites devoted to him and his career, he’s even on Facebook! How cool is that? See:
A number of books written about Bing over the years have kept Bing in the public eye. Most notoriously was “Going My Own Way” by his son, Gary, which unfairly stained Bing’s reputation. That book has been panned by many, including many of Bing’s relatives.
But Bing’s life has been competently and fairly documented in Gary Giddins' "Pocketful of Dreams" (2001), which tells his story from his birth in 1903 to 1940 – “The Early Years.” Giddins’ second and final volume, eagerly awaited by Crosby fans, is on the drawing board and expected to be published this year.
On top of all that, Bing remains alive on the fairways and greens of the exclusive Crosby Club at Rancho Santa Fe in San Diego County and in the newsletter published regularly by Bing’s Friends and Collectors Society. A chain of five upscale Bing Crosby restaurants in California closed after the owners -- not connected to the Crosby family -- ran into debt and cited the poor economy for its action.
The old Clemmer Theater in Spokane, Wash., where Bing, Al Rinker and Harry Barris performed as the Rhythm Boys, had been operating as the Metropolitan Performing Arts Center, was renamed the Crosby Theater in 2006.
Bing’s widow, Kathryn Crosby, has kept Bing alive in books she penned about her life with Bing, including her latest, "My Last Years With Bing" and in performances she occasionally makes in a stage show memorializing Bing. Also, an entertainer named Bob Pasch has been presenting a "Tribute to Bing" show featuring musical selections reminiscent of Bing for more than 25 years. Bing’s niece, Carolyn Schneider, recorded her memories of Bing in her first book, “Me and Uncle Bing” and has since published a follow up about her famous uncle, "Bing: On the Road to Elko." The newer book captures the old groaner during his years (1943-58) as owner-operator of a large cattle spread in Elko, Nevada, where Bing was "Honorary Mayor."
Crosby, of course, remains alive and well at his alma mater, Gonzaga University, in Spokane, Wash., where Bing grew up. He moved there from Tacoma, where he was born on May 3, 1903. Gonzaga has been the beneficiary of Bing’s largesse throughout his life and from the proceeds of his estate as well. He had financed the construction of the university’s library, later converted to the Crosby Student Center, which houses Bing’s memorabilia in its Crosbyana Room.
Elko, Nevada's Mayor Dave Dotta presented Bing with the Key to the City and named him “Honorary Mayor” on Feb. 7, 1948 by virtue of his support of local causes. Bing was like "one of the boys" around Elko, where he enjoyed ranching. A Crosby Exhibit is maintained at Elko’s Northeastern Nevada Museum, but it was recently moved to a smaller area in the museum, drawing sharp criticism from Crosby fans and even some of Bing’s relatives. In 1951, Elko hosted the premier of Bing’s movie, “Here Comes the Groom,” which co-starred Jane Wyman, Alexis Smith and Franchot Tone.
Bing is not forgotten. Bing will never be forgotten. Bing lives! 


Comp-smart said...

Who was this guy Bing Crosby!? I have read so many autobiographies, and it seems Bing Crosby has inspired some of the greatest actors, (too many to mention) and singers of our time!

Great Blog!

William F. Torpey said...

I appreciate your comment, compu-smart. Bing not only inspired most of our great popular singers but also pioneered a number of other changes, including the personalization of the microphone and transcription of radio shows. He was a knowledgeable hunter and fisherman and at one time sported a 2 handicap on the golf course. All this is not to mention his ownership of race horses and part owner of the Del Mar Race Track.

Nancy said...

Thanks for visiting my blog! It's been fun reading what you have here on Bing.