Bing The Television Star
Apart from his obvious connection to Christmas, Bing Crosby may be best remembered today for his appearances in TV commercials for Minute Maid orange juice in the 1960s and 1970s. But that obscures not only an unsurpassed career in music, film, and radio, but also an impressive television track record.
Bing made only a handful of guest appearances in America’s living rooms before unveiling his first television special on January 3, 1954—a modest, measured, filmed half-hour with bankable special guest star (and, by that time, relative veteran of the small screen) Jack Benny. A handful of guest spots and specials followed, and in 1956 Bing starred with Julie Andrews in the first made-for-TV movie, Maxwell Anderson’s High Tor.
Bing didn’t care for live television, so his first two specials were actually filmed at Paramount on the very soundstages where he made his films. Only with the advent of videotape did he begin to appear regularly on television. (Bing’s Edsel Show special became the first network show broadcast on videotape on October 13, 1957.)
The musical-variety special suited vaudeville veteran Bing, and he would make a handful of them nearly every year until he died, save for a stretch in the 1960s during which he was a semi-regular host of The Hollywood Palace – ABC’s answer to CBS’s ever popular Ed Sullivan Show.
In 1970, Crosby was honored with a Peabody Award for his contributions to television.