- Bing’s Bio
Bing Crosby sang as if he were addressing only one person with his voice.
“What Bing created was the art of intimacy,” says singer Tony Bennett. “He sang very quiet and very understated …. You’re singing to someone’s eyes, you’re singing to someone’s ears, and you don’t have to push.”
In this film excerpt, entertainer Michael Feinstein uses the song “Moonlight Becomes You,” from the film Road to Morocco (1942), to illustrate how Bing would change a song’s phrasing and melody to make it more conversational. Bing’s knack for adding something different to a song was something that songwriters never complained about, says Feinstein.
“Moonlight Becomes You” was written by Jimmy Van Heusen (music) and Johnny Burke (lyrics).
Bing Crosby (May 3, 1903-October 14, 1977) was, without doubt, the most popular and influential multi-media star of the first half of the 20th century. For more than three decades, through radio, film, television and records, he reigned supreme.
The new documentary American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered, premiering nationwide Tuesday, December 2 at 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) as the series’ Season 28 finale, explores the life and legend of this iconic performer, revealing a man far more complex than his public persona. The film is available December 2 on DVD from PBS Distribution. A holiday encore presentation airs Friday, December 26 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).
Crosby’s estate, HLC Properties, Ltd., granted American Masters unprecedented access to the entertainer’s personal and professional archives, including never-before-seen home movies, Dictabelt recordings, photos and more. Narrated by Stanley Tucci, the film features new interviews with all surviving members of Crosby’s immediate family — wife Kathryn, daughter Mary and sons Harry and Nathaniel. The film reveals Crosby’s struggles with his first wife, Dixie Lee, and their sons Gary, Dennis, Phillip and Lindsay. Mary addresses accusations of abuse first published in Gary’s 1983 memoir, which tarnished their father’s legacy. Gary speaks candidly about both his and his mother’s alcoholism as well as his difficulties with his father in a never-before-seen 1987 interview. Other new interviews include singers Tony Bennett and Michael Feinstein, record producer Ken Barnes, biographer Gary Giddins, and writers Buz Kohan and Larry Grossman, who both share the story behind Crosby’s Christmas special duet with David Bowie.
American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered – The Soundtrack features songs heard in the documentary, including 16 previously unreleased recordings, and is available November 24, 2014, via Bing Crosby Archive and Universal Music Enterprises.
“I’ve never seen an entertainer more comfortable in his own skin, more certain of who he was,” says Emmy-winning director Robert Trachtenberg, whose past films for American Masters include Mel Brooks: Make a Noise, On Cukor, Gene Kelly: Anatomy of a Dancer and Cary Grant: A Class Apart. “With the new material I’ve found, I think the breadth, depth and candor of his story will hopefully allow people to see him in a new light.”
Thirty-seven years after his death, Bing Crosby remains the most recorded performer in history with nearly 400 hit singles, an achievement no one — not Sinatra, Elvis or the Beatles — has come close to matching. A brilliant entrepreneur, Crosby played an important role in the development of the postwar recording industry. As one of Hollywood’s most popular actors, he won the Oscar for 1944’s Going My Way and starred in the iconic “Road” films with Bob Hope.
“We naturally think of Bing at Christmastime, but with more No. 1 recordings than anyone, it is easy to overlook all of his other achievements. Thankfully, this film delves deeply into all of his remarkable work, and will surprise many viewers with a unique perspective on his private life,” says Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters.
Launched in 1986 by series creator Susan Lacy, American Masters has earned 28 Emmy Awards — including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series since 1999 and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — 12 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards and many other honors. Now in its 28th season on PBS, the series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET. WNET is the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21, New York’s public television stations, and operator of NJTV. For more than 50 years, THIRTEEN has been a partner with the tri-state community, using its rich resources to inform and inspire the passionate people of New York and the world to better understand and address the issues that challenge our diverse communities.
American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC’s American Masters for WNET. Robert Trachtenberg is writer, director and producer. Gillian McCarthy is editor. Junko Tsunashima is supervising producer. Julie Sacks is series producer. Susan Lacy and Michael Kantor are executive producers.
American Masters is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rosalind P. Walter, Anne Ray Charitable Trust, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Rolf and Elizabeth Rosenthal, Jack Rudin, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation and public television viewers.
Bing Crosby, the most popular and influential multi-media star of the 20thcentury, continues to delight audiences well into the 21stcentury. His music continues to resonate and will soon be featured in two hit television series, Boardwalk Empire on HBO and Lilyhammer on Netflix.
The 2014 holiday season promises to be a bonanza for Crosby fans.
American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered premieres December 2nd nationwide on PBS (check local listings), and a DVD of the film arrives that day from PBS Distribution. The film will also get an encore airing on December 26th on PBS (check local listings). Bing Crosby’s remarkable appeal was in his seemingly effortless ability to pull an audience in with his intimate, laid-back voice. For over three decades – through radio, film, television and records – he reigned supreme. A brilliant entrepreneur, Crosby played an important role in the development of the postwar recording industry. As one of Hollywood’s most popular stars, he won an Academy Award as Best Actor for 1944’s Going My Way and starred in the iconic “Road” films with Bob Hope. Crosby recorded nearly four hundred hit singles, an achievement no one – not Sinatra, Elvis or the Beatles – has come close to matching. Thirty-seven years after his death, he remains the most recorded performer in history. American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered explores the life and legend of this iconic performer, and reveals a man far more complex than his public persona.
HLC Properties, Ltd. the company formed by Crosby’s estate, granted American Masters unprecedented access to the entertainer’s personal and professional archives, including never- before-seen home movies, Dictabelt recordings, photos and more. The film – directed by Emmy- winner Robert Trachtenberg (American Masters – Mel Brooks: Make a Noise) and narrated by Stanley Tucci – features new interviews with all surviving members of Bing Crosby’s immediate family – wife Kathryn, daughter Mary, and sons Harry and Nathaniel – as well as singers Tony Bennett and Michael Feinstein, record producer Ken Barnes, biographer Gary Giddins and writers Buz Kohan and Larry Grossman.
“Much like his talent, Bing Crosby is a natural for the series. With more No. 1 recordings than anyone, it is easy to overlook all of his other achievements. Thankfully, this film delves deeply into all of his remarkable work, and will surprise many viewers with a unique perspective on his private life,” says Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters.
American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered – The Soundtrack includes several previously unissued recordings of songs heard in the film, and is one of four new CD releases coming on November 25th from the Bing Crosby Archive and Universal Music Enterprises. Also coming, Bing Sings the Irving Berlin Songbook, a brand new compilation featuring familiar classics from Bing’s Decca catalog alongside rare previously unissued recordings. The album features the first ever CD release of the 2012 Michael Bublé – Bing Crosby duet of “White Christmas.” Expanded reissues of two classic Decca Crosby albums, Songs I Wish I Had Sung the First Time Around (Deluxe Edition) and Some Fine Old Chestnuts (60th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) also feature previously unissued recordings, as well as newly remastered versions of the albums taken directly from the original master tapes, which had been stored in the Crosby archive for decades.
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas Diamond Anniversary Edition from Paramount celebrates the 60thanniversary of the holiday classic starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. The Blu-Ray Combo Pack arrives on October 14thand includes new special features, such as five classic Christmas television show appearances by Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, including a virtual duet between Bing Crosby and Michael Bublé. There’s also an exclusive twelve-song Christmas CD featuring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney, with guest appearances by Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and Judy Garland. The CD includes eight never- before-released tracks. The release also celebrates the 60thanniversary of Danny Kaye’s appointment as UNICEF’s first Goodwill Ambassador, and The Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine Kaye Foundation and Paramount Pictures are proud to make a combined $100,000 donation to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to support UNICEF’s lifesaving work for children around the world. Danny Kaye received an honorary Academy Award for Assignment Children. The 1954 short film documented his world travels for UNICEF. Assignment Children – with a new introduction by Michael Bublé – is included among the bonus features of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas Diamond Anniversary Edition.
Bing Crosby: The Silver Screen Collection presents the legendary performer in 24 of his most memorable films, and also includes American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered. The thirteen- DVD collection arrives on November 11thfrom Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Bing Crosby was a superstar of movies, music, radio and television during a spectacular career that lasted over 50 years. From his Academy Award-winning performance in 1944’s Best Picture winner Going My Way to his series of classic “Road” films with Bob Hope, to entertaining musicals enlivened by his distinctive baritone, Crosby is featured in top form crooning some of his most memorable songs such as “June in January,” “Swinging on a Star,” “Sweet Leilani,” “I’ve Got a Pocketful of Dreams” and the evergreen “White Christmas” from Holiday Inn. This timeless collection will entertain longtime fans and introduce a whole new generation to the legendary style of the most popular singing star of the 20th century in his most unforgettable roles and diverse performances from his early career in the 1930s to his superstar roles in the 1940s. The collection also features iconic screen legends Bob Hope, Fred Astaire, Carole Lombard, Donald O’Connor, Barry Fitzgerald, and many more.
Bing Crosby: The Silver Screen Collection includes College Humor (1933); We’re Not Dressing (1934); Here is My Heart (1934), Mississippi (1935); Rhythm on the Range (1936); Waikiki Wedding (1937); Double or Nothing (1937); Sing You Sinners (1938); East Side of Heaven (1939); Road to Singapore (1940); If I Had My Way (1940); Rhythm on the River (1940); Road to Zanzibar (1941); Birth of the Blues (1941); Holiday Inn (1942); Road to Morocco (1942); Going My Way (1944); Here Come the Waves (1944); Road to Utopia (1946); Blue Skies (1946); Welcome Stranger (1947); Variety Girl (1947); The Emperor Waltz (1948); and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1949.)
On November 4th Universal Music Enterprises and the Bing Crosby Archive will reissue three out- of-print Crosby DVD releases. From 1954 to 1977, Bing Crosby starred in 30 eagerly anticipated, highly rated television specials. Often the highlight of the entire season, the programs showcased him in the company of the top stars of the day.
The two-disc collection, Bing Crosby: The Television Specials – Volume 1 includes Bing’s debut special from January 3, 1954, featuring Jack Benny; the landmark September 29, 1959 show for Oldsmobile, with Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong; the May 14, 1962 special, with Bob Hope, Edie Adams, Gary Crosby and the Smothers Brothers; and the April 13, 1970 show, Cooling It, with Dean Martin, Bernadette Peters and Flip Wilson.
Bing Crosby: The Television Specials – Volume 2: The Christmas Specials showcases Bing’s beloved holiday shows. Included in this two-disc collection are Bing’s first holiday special from December 11, 1961; his first color special from December 24, 1962; Bing Crosby and the Sounds of Christmas from December 14, 1971; and Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas, broadcast November 30, 1977, and taped just five weeks before his death. That final Crosby special features the iconic duet of The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth with David Bowie. Bonus material includes: Happy Holidays with Bing and Frank, a 1957 episode of The Frank Sinatra Show filmed in color, and out-takes from the 1962 special with Mary Martin.
These treasured programs have all been meticulously restored from the original film and videotape sources, and are presented with all the original performances intact, along with a selection of rare bonus items.
The acclaimed 2010 public television special, The Legendary Bing Crosby presents many of the entertainer’s best performances from his classic network specials. The program seamlessly blends full-song performances and duets with enlightening comments from Bing’s wife Kathryn, his daughter Mary, film critic Leonard Maltin, television personality Regis Philbin, music legend Andy Williams, and performer/musicologist Michael Feinstein. Performing with Bing in the show are Louis Armstrong, Fred Astaire, David Bowie, Carol Burnett, Jose Feliciano, Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Andy Williams. Bonus material not seen in the broadcast includes additional interview segments and Crosby solos as well as performances with Maurice Chevalier, Andy Williams and The Crosby Boys.
The 60thanniversary of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is also being celebrated in honor of Bing’s costars. On October 7th MVD Entertainment Group will release the two-DVD collection, The Best of the Danny Kaye Show. Danny Kaye was at the height of his popularity when The Danny Kaye Show debuted on CBS in the fall of 1963. He won the Emmy Award for best variety performer in 1964, and the show was honored with three more Emmys, including outstanding
variety series. The Danny Kaye Show was the perfect showcase for its star’s unequaled range of talents. In this collection of six uncut episodes – available for the first time since their original broadcast – Danny sings with Ella Fitzgerald, Nana Mouskouri and Harry Belafonte. He sings and dances with Liza Minnelli and Gene Kelly, and deftly clowns his way through comedy sketches with Art Carney, Rod Serling, Jackie Cooper, and a certain perennially 39-year old legend of comedy, who makes an unannounced cameo appearance. Also featured in this collection are Michelle Lee, Buddy Greco, John Gary, Joe & Eddie, Lovelady Powell and Alan Young. Series regulars include Harvey Korman, Jamie Farr, Joyce Van Patten and orchestra leader Paul Weston. Among the numerous gems found in The Best of the Danny Kaye Show: Danny conducting the Television City Philharmonic, a spoof of The Twilight Zone with Rod Serling, and performances of Danny Kaye classics “Pavlova” – originally seen in the film The Kid From Brooklyn, and “Ballin’ the Jack” from On the Riviera. Danny’s other numbers include, “You Make Me Feel So Young”, “Pennies From Heaven”, and a rollicking duet of “Hava Nagila” with Harry Belafonte. Whether discovering the joy that is Danny Kaye, or revisiting his extraordinary gifts, viewers of all ages will find the irresistible and legendary entertainer at the top of his game on The Best of the Danny Kaye Show.
Another White Christmas costar, Rosemary Clooney, also happened to be one of Bing Crosby’s closest friends. Crosby’s production company created and produced Rosemary’s CBS radio programs in the mid-1950s. On Clooney’s commercial recordings of the period, her talent was often awash in overly produced (and in the early days, gimmicky) middle-of-the-road material. But her personal taste tended more toward authentic compositions by America’s great songsmiths, and in a stripped-down setting, she could positively glow. Rosemary’s record producers might have reined her in with iron fists, but Bing Crosby let her record what she wanted to record for her radio shows. And those recordings appear – most for the first time since they were broadcast – on the new Mosaic Records five-CD, 104 track boxed set, The Rosemary Clooney CBS Radio Recordings 1955-61. With Bing’s frequent musical collaborators Buddy Cole and His Trio backing her, Clooney’s voice shines on compositions by Cole Porter, Billy Strayhorn, Johnny Mercer, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, and George and Ira Gershwin. Plus music made famous by Joe Bushkin, Illinois Jacquet, Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and more. The radio shows were a blank canvas for great songs and singing. The original session tapes from the Bing Crosby Archive have been restored and remastered to Mosaic’s exacting standards. The Rosemary Clooney CBS Radio Recordings 1955-61 is the perfect companion to Mosaic’s 2009 seven-CD release, The Bing Crosby CBS Radio Recordings 1954-61. Many of the tracks on these collections come from the same recording sessions. The duets from these sessions are available on the two-CD set, Bing & Rosie: The Crosby-Clooney Radio Duets from the Bing Crosby Archive / Universal Music Enterprises.
Because Rosemary Clooney was under contract to Columbia Records when Irving Berlin’s White Christmas was filmed, she did not appear on the Decca Records soundtrack album that featured Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, who both recorded for Decca. Instead, Columbia recorded an entirely different album of songs from the film with only Clooney. That eight song, 10” LP will be released as a fifteen song CD from Real Gone Music on November 4th. Rosemary Clooney: In Songs from the Paramount Pictures Production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (Expanded Edition) features the original album and seven bonus tracks from the Bing Crosby Archive – including a previously unissued Crosby – Clooney duet on “Silver Bells.”
The Bing Crosby Archive was formed in 2009 by HLC Properties, Ltd. as an outlet for the vast film and tape library maintained by Bing Crosby and his family. The initial 2010 compact disc releases included long out-of-print albums, new compilations of hitherto unavailable recordings, and an album recorded in 1962, but never issued. Subsequent releases have included expanded editions of Crosby’s classic Decca albums, and DVD releases of his television specials. The Bing Crosby Archive has also produced Bing’s Basement, a series of one-hour specials for SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
The Bing Crosby Archive unexpectedly made headlines in 2010, when a long-lost film of the deciding game of the 1960 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates was discovered in Bing Crosby’s film collection. Crosby, in addition to being a baseball fan of the highest order, was part owner of the Pirates. He had a kinescope made of the game – considered by many to be the greatest ever played. Fifty years later that film was shown on the Major League Baseball Network and premiered at an event in Pittsburgh attended by members of the 1960 Pirates team and Crosby’s son, Nathaniel. The game is now available on DVD.
About Bing Crosby:
Bing Crosby (1903-1977) remains the most recorded performer in history. He made over 2000 commercial recordings including White Christmas, the best selling record of all time. The Guinness Book of World Records reports worldwide sales for Crosby’s recordings of the song at over 100 million copies. White Christmas has entered the American pop charts twenty separate times.
Bing Crosby has sold close to one billion records, tapes, compact discs and digital downloads around the world. He may be the best selling recording artist of all time. Only The Beatles, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson can rival his sales figures. He scored 41 number one records – more than The Beatles (24) and Elvis Presley (18). His recordings reached the charts 396 times – more than Frank Sinatra (209) and Elvis Presley (149) combined. Bing’s closest rival is Paul Whiteman (220) with whose orchestra he sang early in his career.
The 2014 International Motion Picture Almanac lists Bing Crosby in a four-way tie for second place on the All Time Number One Box Office Stars list. (Tom Cruise tops the list. Crosby is tied with Tom Hanks, Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds.) Crosby is ranked as the seventh highest grossing movie star of all time, trailing only John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Tom Cruise, Gary Cooper, Clark Gable and Tom Hanks. Films starring Bing Crosby are estimated to have sold over one billion tickets. Bing’s films appeared in the annual top ten grossing films of the year list 29 times. He was the number one box office star for five consecutive years from 1944 – 1948.
Crosby won the Academy Award as Best Actor for his performance in Going My Way in 1944, received the recording industry’s first Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1962 and a Peabody Award for his contributions to the television industry in 1970, but he might have been most proud to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, an honor he received posthumously in 1978.
Crosby was also a brilliant and innovative businessman, playing critical roles in the development of the magnetic tape recording and frozen foods industries. His television production company was responsible for such hits as Hogan’s Heroes and Ben Casey. In the world of sports he founded Del Mar Race Track and the first Pro Am Golf tournament, and for many years was a part owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team.
Bing Crosby has three stars on Hollywood’s walk of fame – one for recording, one for radio, and one for motion pictures.
He referred to himself as, “an average guy who could carry a tune.”
For more than three decades, through radio, film and records, Bing Crosby reigned supreme. The first true multimedia star, he won the Oscar for 1944’s Going My Way, recorded nearly 400 hit singles — an achievement no one has come close to matching, and played a pivotal role in the development of the postwar recording industry. Thirty-seven years after his death, he remains the most recorded performer in history.
Friday, December 26, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET