October 12, 2022
Crosby House Museum will unveil Norman Rockwell painting of Bing Crosby
The pairing of two American classics like Bing Crosby and Norman Rockwell is so natural that it’s no wonder that Spokane’s famous son was rendered several times by the illustrator and painter best known for his work done for the “The Saturday Evening Post” magazine for nearly five decades.
One of those Rockwell pieces of Bing is about to take up permanent residence at the Bing Crosby House Museum at Gonzaga University, and it will be unveiled Sunday, Oct. 16, at 2:30 p.m. Doors open at 2 p.m., and the museum will be open the day of the unveiling until 3:30 p.m.
The painting was originally commissioned in 1947 by the California Peach Association to be used in its Canned Cling Peaches advertisements. While Rockwell became famous through his 323 “Saturday Evening Post” covers, and also created many original pieces addressing the social issues of American culture during his career, he also did work for many commercial companies hoping to tap into his all-American style.
It hardly gets more all-American than Bing Crosby, and the painting being unveiled at Gonzaga is based on a promotional photograph from the 1949 movie musical “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.” Crosby plays opposite Rhonda Fleming in the movie based on a Mark Twain novel in which a mechanic bumps his head in 1912 and wakes up in 6th Century England.
Trailside Galleries in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, owned the piece for 25 years and donated it to Gonzaga University in February 2020. Due to COVID, it was stored in the University Archives and Special Collection’s vault until October 2022. This is the first public viewing of this Rockwell gem.
The Advocates for Bing Crosby are hosting an open house free to the public for the unveiling, and a short program at 2:30 p.m. will include remarks by Paul Bracke, Dean of Library Services, and Paul Manoguerra, Director of the Jundt Art Museum. The first 75 attendees will receive special “Bingsday” buttons, a replica of buttons distributed for the original Bingsday in 1946 when then-Spokane Major Arthur Meehan offered them to Spokane citizens to celebrate Crosby’s return to the radio airwaves after several months away.
The Bing Crosby House Museum is located at 408 E. Sharp on the Gonzaga campus.