Kevin kindly submitted this story for all of us. My comments are in parenthesis. Thanks so much, Kevin. You are a Findadeath.com star!
Next to Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby is considered one of the greatest voices (and biggest pricks) of the twentieth century. He is also most commonly associated with the season of Christmas. Alternatively, he is well known for the abuse he gave towards the children of his first marriage.
Bing Crosby was born Harry Lillis Crosby in Tacoma, Washington, on May 3, 1903. He had no birth certificate, and his real birthday was not disclosed until after his death. Bing himself celebrated May 2, 1904 as his birthday. (That makes him a liar too.)
In 1906, the Crosby family moved to Spokane, Washington. There, Bing became a friend of a neighbor boy, Valentine Hobart. The two had a favorite comic strip, the Bingville Bugle, who had a leading character named Bingo, with big ears. As Crosby himself had big ears, Hobart started calling him Bingo. Soon all of Bing's other friends were calling him Bingo. Eventually, Bingo became Bing, and he carried that name for the rest of his life.
Bing entered Gonzaga College in Spokane in 1920, intending to become a lawyer. While attending Gonzaga, he bought a set of bass drums through mail order. He became so good playing drums that he was invited to join a local band known as the Musicaladers. The band was managed by Al Rinker. Bing dropped out of college in his senior year to pursue a career as a musician. The band eventually broke up, and Bing and Al headed to Los Angeles to break into show business.
With the help of Al's sister, Bing and Al were soon singing in movie theatres throughout California. Paul Whiteman, the most popular band leader at the time, heard Bing and Al when they were appearing at the Metropolitan Theatre in Los Angeles and invited them to join his band. They made their debut with the Whiteman Orchestra in Chicago in 1926.
While waiting to join the Whiteman band, Bing and Al recorded their first record, I've Got The Girl, in Los Angeles. When Bing and Al appeared with the Whiteman Orchestra at the Paramount Theatre in New York, the audiences were not kind. Whiteman removed them from the group. A violinist within the orchestra, Matty Malneck, teamed Bing and Al with a third vocalist, Harry Barris, and the Rhythm Boys were born. Bing was arrested for drunk driving, and Whiteman released the Rhythm Boys, again. Bing became the frontman for the group, and as his popularity grew, the group took a back seat.
Mack Sennett spotted Bing, and signed him for the musical comedy, I Surrender Dear. It was so successful that Sennett signed Bing for five more features. This happened at the same time as Bing was involved with the Rhythm Boys, and his movie success made him want to start a solo career even more. The Rhythm Boys broke up soon after.
Paramount Pictures signed Bing to star in a series of motion pictures. The first was The Big Broadcast, which co-starred George Burns and Gracie Allen. The last of the series, The Big Broadcast of 1938, was the vehicle that launched Bob Hope's career. (Ugh.)
And that was the start of a long and successful career for Bing. Everyone has heard White Christmas. It was his most successful recording, and the number one selling single for many years, until Elton John's (ruined a beautiful tribute to Marilyn, and made it a) tribute song for Princess Diana, Candle in the Wind. Bing recorded more than 1700 songs for commercial release from 1926 to 1977. He would also go on to be successful in movies as well, most notably his "Road" movies with Bob Hope (Ugh) and Dorothy Lamour. He also won an Academy award for Going my Way.
Bing married twice in his lifetime. His first marriage was to actress Dixie Lee, in 1930. They had four sons, Gary, Lindsay, and twins Phillip and Dennis. Dixie was an alcoholic, and died of ovarian cancer in 1952. Bing himself had a drinking problem, and that, along with his constantly being away from the family, led to Dixie's alcohol abuse. Bing remarried in 1957 to Kathryn Grant, a woman he'd met at the Paramount lot. Kathryn was thirty years younger than Bing, and they had three children, Harry, Mary Frances, and Nathaniel. Here is their home.
The marriage lasted until Bing's death, after which Kathryn wrote a book about her life with Bing.
Bing Crosby was one of the wealthiest entertainers in Hollywood. He had property in Florida, as well as music holdings, and interests in different ventures. He was also a part owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team. His net worth ranged from $80 to $100 million.
In 1973, Bing was suffering from chest pains and fever. On New Year's Eve, he was hospitalized, and a tumor the size of a small orange (why do they always associate tumors with food? Yuck.) was removed from his left lung. After he recovered, he began recording and doing live performances with a vengeance. He had stopped recording as the sixties came to a close, and he hadn't toured in decades. In March 1977, during a televised concert to celebrate his fifty years in show business, he fell backwards into an orchestra pit headfirst. He ruptured a disc in his back, and was hospitalized for a month. After recovering yet again, he made appearances all over the world, from Norway, to England to tape a Christmas special, which featured David Bowie. After taping the special, he recorded his final album, Seasons.
Bing's next stop was the London Palladium for a two-week engagement. Then he and his band went to Brighton where they performed their final performance on October 10. The next day Bing was a guest on the Alan Dell radio show, where he sang eight songs with the Gordon Rose Orchestra. Later that day he posed for photos for the Seasons album. The next day Bing headed for Spain to play golf. (and die)
On the afternoon of October 14, 1977, Bing was playing at the La Morajela golf course near Madrid, Spain. This is one of the last pictures taken of him.
He finished 18 holes with a score of 85, and with a partner, defeated two Spanish golf pros. After his last putt, Bing bowed to applause and said, "It was a great game." He was about 20 yards from the clubhouse, when he collapsed from a massive heart attack. His 3 golfing companions remarked that he did not look tired and was even singing around the course, though he seemed to be favoring his left arm near the end of the game. They thought he had slipped. They carried him to the clubhouse, where a physician attempted to revive him, to no avail. Bing Crosby was dead on arrival, at the Red Cross hospital. He was 74.
Findadeath.com friend Kieran Smith sent me this a while back, "Sometime before his death, a doctor in England had told Bing to play just 9 holes of golf, because of his ill health. On the day he died however, Bing decided to do the Full Monty and play 18." Thanks Kieran.
A few hours after learning of her husband's death, Kathryn issued a statement, "I can't think of any better way for a golfer who sings for a living to finish the round." (Psh.) Their son Harry, 19, and the family's former butler, Alan Fisher, flew to Spain to accompany Bing's body back to LA. She also said she had a phone call from one of the golfers Bing was with. "He told me that Bing had a very good round. I'd like that to be said." (Psh.)
Bing's funeral was held on October 18, at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. Bing's will had specified only family to be present at his funeral, but Kathryn invited his other family members, as well as Bob Hope and Rosemary Clooney (hey Mambo!). Geraldo Rivera (hey dirt ball!- says The Pot) covered the funeral for ABC.
(WARNING! DEAD PIC) Wanna See Der Bingle in Der Box?
Thanks to Kevin Hogan.
Six years later, Bing's son Gary wrote the book Going my Own Way. It shocked the world. Gary detailed the years of physical and emotional abuse from his father, from his nickname of "Bucket Butt", weekly weigh-ins, and beatings that drew blood. Gary said in his book that to endure the pain, he would dream up ways to kill his father. Gary's brother Lindsay supported the charges in the book, stating, "I hope it clears up a lot of the old lies." Bing's second family was outraged at the book, but Gary said he wanted the truth to be told. It was a completely different view of Father O'Malley. It is a great book, if you are able to find a copy. I do not intend to disrespect Bing's memory, but I am going by what the book said. (Very kind of you Kevin, but I will. Bing was a nasty, mean man. There, I said it.) Bing left money for all of his children, with a catch. It was left in a blind trust, until they turned 65. Reminds me of an old joke. How do you know Bing Crosby was uncircumcised? There was just no end to that prick.
Gary Crosby died of lung cancer at 62, on August 24th, 1995. Dennis and Lindsay both died by suicide from self-inflicted gunshot wounds, Lindsay in 1989, and Dennis in 1991. Phillip is a nightclub owner, living in Woodland Hills now, and vehemently denies that Bing was a bad man. I don't believe him.
August 2000 - Findadeath.com friend Tara Akinlose writes in: "One of the kids from Bing Crosby's second family is named Mary Crosby and she was on the TV show, Dallas, as Sue Ellen's younger sister (as I recall). It was her that shot JR and she ended getting killed off soon after. She's really gorgeous. I don't think she's done a lot of acting since then (I guess when you're family is that rich, you don't have to do too much to survive). She's really good looking, she must look like her mom. I saw her on Entertainment Tonight after that book about Bing written by his son came out. She denied all the allegations and said he was a great father." Thanks Tara!
September 2000 - Findadeath.com friend Glen Ivory writes in: "In regards to the children from the second marriage of Bing Crosby, his son Harry took up acting and appeared in the original Friday the 13th film, in 1980. His character copped an arrow in the eye. Also The Private History of a Campaign that Failed and Hollow Venus; Diary of a Go-Go Dancer. He later became an investment banker and was working at Credit Suisse First Boston in New York City." Thanks, Glen.
October 1, 2000 from Findadeath.com friend Donna Leaf: Nathaniel, the third of Bing's kids with second wife Kathryn Grant, filled Bing's golf shoes after Bing passed on. For several years, while still in his teens, Nathaniel ran the Pebble Beach tournament founded by his dad. He was the 1981 U.S. Amateur champion, traveled on the European golf tour for 3 years, and most recently (1998) joined the Orlimar Golf Company as executive vice president. Thanks Donna.
September 2000 - Got this from C.L.Vaden:
You give two birth dates, May 2, 1903 and May 3, 1904. Bing was not born on either of those two dates. Like many entertainers in his day, he (or his press agents) thought it would be a good idea to make him younger than he actually was, so after a certain point, they changed the date of his birth to May 2, 1903, then to 1904, and once even to 1907. The fact of the matter is that Bing was born on May 2, 1901.
Also, Bing was not the prick you make him out to be. I met him in person on two occasions, and he was very nice to me.
He was taught to be a stern disciplinarian with children, and so he was so, with his first family. The way he decided to raise his boys was his own business, not ours.
No one gave Bing his fortune. He earned it. And, he was not under any obligation to leave his boys everything he had accumulated during his entire lifetime. Most of us would feel very fortunate indeed, if we were left the amount of money that Bing DID leave to his family members. He owed them no more than that. (Okey Dokey - Scott)
Read on: Updated October 1, 2000 from Findadeath.com friend Bob Siler - "I was just reading your piece on Bing Crosby. If you wanna read about what a prick Der Bingle was, read "The Hollow Man" by Donald Shepherd and Robert F. Slatzer, (who claimed to have been married to Marilyn Monroe). Also, you haven't lived until you've heard Bing sing Hey Jude." (yer scarin me, Bob.)
From Findadeath.com friend Jim Mueller: "You were correct to go on the muscle with Der Bingle. He was a monster.
Updated April 2001 thanks to Findadeath.com friend Nutty Nut Buster. Yes.
When Dixie Lee died, she left money to her 4 sons. It was paid out from the time she died, until it ran out in I believe 1984 or there abouts. Once the money ran out, the boys started killing themselves. I always read Daily Variety and when one of the boys killed himself in the early 80's, they did a story on it. The wife of one the second one who killed himself (can't remember which one) was on the Phil Donahue Show talking about the book Gary wrote. She talked about Gary's drinking and her husband's as well. Soon after her visit to the show, her husband killed himself. Why Phillip is sticking to his guns (pun intended) that Bing was as sweet as apple pie is beyond me. Maybe he was not cruel to Kathryn and her kids but he was not kind to his boys by Dixie.
May 2001 - By Donna McClish: In the last few months I've been on a "Grace Kelly kick" and started
Great stuff Donna. Thank you!
More Trivia from Kevin Hassell (the good guy):
Bing was offered the lead in the TV series Columbo, but passed, supposedly because it would get in the way of his golf game. I have also heard that he felt that the character would ruin his neat image. I am not sure which is true.
November 2001: Findadeath.com friend Nutty NutBuster sends this in: It appears as though "the heirs", I guess that means Katherine Grant (Mrs Bing #2), the kiddies and some lawyers want at least $16 million in back payments of royalties on Bing's Decca recordings. They say the Crosby Estate was "cheated" by Universal (Now Decca/UMG - Deca/Universal Music Group). The shit hits the fan in court come Nov 5, 2001. As Jack Lord would say: Be there, Aloha!
UPDATED! Thanks to Nutty NutBuster again!
As of Mon 01-14-2002, since the Lorretta Lynn and the heirs of Buddy Holly and Bing Crosby sued Decca Records (separately) and not UMG (which now owns Decca), they were excluded from the proposed $4.75 million settlement. Lawyers for those plaintiffs locked out of the settlement (Lynn/Holly/Crosby) have until 03-08-2002 to decide if they want to join the class action filed by Peggy Lee & Company and a hearing in May 2002 will determine the final settlement amount. Bing's reach from beyond the grave to keep his family out of the money is still a force to be reckoned with.
January 2002 - Findadeath.com friend Dave sends this trivia: There is a statue of Bing at Gonzaga University, as well as gold records for White Christmas and his Oscar for Going My Way. The pipe that he smokes has to be removed from the statue every night due to theft.
Tumors and Food, March 2002: Findadeath.com friend Kay Daver sends us this: Back in the early days of medicine, pioneers in pathology
like Giovanni Morgagni in the 1600's and 1700's, didn't use a lot of the latin-based medical terms that are used today. Most of the doctors practicing at that time didn't know these big high-falutin' words, so it became standard
practice to use descriptives that had a common reference that everyone would understand...food. This practice continues today but alas is becoming largely only used
by older physicians. Most of the younger ones don't use the colorful albeit descriptive terms.
Mmm. lish. Thanks for that.
March 2002: Just in, from Findadeath.com friend Mark L. Childrev: Thanks to Bing Crosby, the honorary Ph.D degree that was once given in America to prominent citizens, was abolished.
UPDATE February 2003, from Findadeath friend Gregg Moeller:
Hey, Great Site!
Thanks for the info, Gregg!
June 2003, a different point of view on Bing from Findadeath friend Henry Zecher:
Thanks for sharing your opinions, Henry. Check out that book, people!
UPDATES JULY 2005:
Findadeath friend EJ Fleming writes:
I'm pretty sure that the picture of the house in the listing is not the Beverly Hills house where he lived. I've played Pebble Beach a number of times, and his house there is on the 11th...or 13th...doesn't matter, hole. He used to have a big clambake in the backyard there between the house and the golf course during his tournament, which is why the Bing Crosby Pro-Am used to be known as "The Clambake." The house is the picture is identical to the house at Pebble, in Monterey. The Beverly Hills house was not the same style, and was torn down to make way for the Spelling Chateau de Cindy. I have a friend that used to work for Aaron Spelling; Spelling used to put his home TV Guide on his expense accounts, to save $12.
Also, Bing was a far bigger dick than even your description. For years - and particularly during the time his wife Dixie was dying of cancer - he would sneak next door to his neighbor Alan Ladd's house to have sex with his girlfriends. His favorite was Grace (the biggest whore in the history of Hollywood, but that's another story) Kelly. Ladd left the gate to his pool area open for Bing; he and Grace hung out, as it were, by the pool and cabana. He started publicly dating within two weeks of her death. He must have been a very fast mourner.
Just for detail, and because people want to know...Lindsey Crosby put a shotgun in his mouth on December 11, 1989 at his house at at 5460 Round Meadow Drive in Sherman Oaks. He pissed away all of his money and went through three marriages (I love a love story), and was basically kind of a loser. He said later in life that, "I hate Christmas because of Pop and I always will. It brings back the pain and fear I suffered as a child. And if I ever do myself in, it will be at Christmastime. That will show the world what I think of Bing Crosby and White Christmas." He particularly hated the song "White Christmas," and the movie. So it's weird that he watched it on the night of December 11 and then ate a bullet.
His brother did the same thing, without the movie and popcorn, on May 4, 1991. Dennis Crosby put a shotgun in his mouth on May 4, 1991 in a cheap boarding house apartment thing in Novato, California, in Marin County north of San Francisco. Same reasons, no movie. The other one, Gary, died at his house at 1856 Loma Vista in Beverly Hills on August 24, 1995. Lung cancer. Maybe Bing made him smoke.
See Bings Grandson here.
Findadeath.com friend Mark adds:
Could you please update your page on Bing Crosby to say that his son Philip died in January 2004, from a heart attack at the age of 69. As is often in cases of physical abuse, one child defends the parent even though Lindsay & Dennis (who both shot themselves) confirmed what Gary wrote. All four of Crosby's children from his marriage to Dixie Lee are now dead.
Richard adds: If there is any question about Bing's
date of birth, the SSDI should resolve the question. Even Hollywood stars
had to produce some proof of date of birth... but it is rather sad to think that Der Bingle was drawing max social security while people
starved on the streets of California
I remember watching Mary Crosby on "Entertaiment Tonight" when Gary's book on Bing came out. She blasted it, yet admitted that Bing hit her, but only once (as opposed to, I guess, Gary's claim that Der Bingaroo was always going berserk on his boys!) I remember the way she sounded when she said it, as if she was trying to either hide something or convince herself she deserved that smack across the face. i found it weird, to say the least.
Says Jeff: I understand that Bing was somehow related to Robin Crosby of the Rock n Roll band called RATT. In Ratt's first pro music video Milton Berle appears in drag in quite a large part of the video. I understand Berle's son was a promoter who helped manage RATT and get them a record deal.
Henway sends this:
This is very telling about the relationship between Bing and second wife Kathryn Grant Crosby. Somehow holy roller Kathryn, without telling Bingle, committed $1 million of Bing's money to the Catholic Church. It was then that Bing decided to give her and the kids the shaft and set up trusts and administrators, causing them to scratch out on a budget.
Kathryn got a swell idea after Bing died. I was bombarded while living in San Francisco with TV commercials and print ads featuring Kathryn, as spokesperson for Coit Drapery Cleaners. You could even get a tour of her (and Bing's) house in ultra-rich Hillsborough, California through Coit. It seems that not only did it provide Kathryn with money and showed the world what a skinflint Bing was, but also she may well have liked the idea of tours of total strangers traipsing through the living quarters of Bing, an intensely private and unfriendly man. The unflattering and privacy-shattering photo of dead Bing on Findadeath also gives a clue as to Kathryn's real feelings.
Regarding the beating/spanking issue raised earlier, if you believe Gary's Going My Own Way (I have my own hardcover copy), and I do believe it, the punishment was administered by Bing after the zaftig Gary had to step nude on the scale and if he exceeded his weight limit. Bing would work Gary over with a switch or belt until the kid got bigger than his old man and finally refused to drop his drawers and told Bing he'd beat the crap out of him. Without a word, the beatings ended.
Findadeath.com friend Gerhard sends this: I attended Gonzaga (92) and there was a legend about Crosby on campus: that he was expelled for pushing a piano off of a fire escape at Desmet dorm.
No idea if it happened but it sounds good. There is a statue of Crosby located in front of the old library that used to have a pipe in its mouth.
Alum predating my time insist that students stole the original
pipe plus replacements and used them for whatever it was they smoked in
Lorelei sends us this:
I am sending along one juicy one I found somewhere of his second wife, Kathryn.
She used to be such a dish! Now, they outta wheel her off to keep her safe and out of public view until she at least springs for some decent faux hair! Jeesh! Ya know she's gotta have some cash laying around. Anyhoo...I am attaching the pics. The one of the plaque is pretty sketchy...that's my disfunction with my little macro thingy.
But, I even got one of the mailbox! :)
The statue is one of Bing that is outside of the building dedicated to Bing on the Gonzaga campus - Crosby Hall.
Blessings and thanks to the Honorary Queen Lorelei
Top Findadeath friend Dave in Spokane sends us these:
Here are some photos from the Crosby Library at Gonzaga University.
I thought you might get a kick out of them.
Here is Bing toothpaste,
a Bing standee
P.S. The "17" flag was taken from the hole where Der Bingle had his last "stroke."
Carla sends this: On your Bing Crosby page, I saw where someone had input alot about how lovely his daughter was, Mary Crosby. So, of course, I looked it up, to see if she took after her less-than-sexy (IMHO) father in the looks department. I was surprised that she is quite lovely. However, the same person also mentioned that after her "Dallas" days, she hadn't heard of any other shows that Mary had been involved with.
Apparently, though, and this is going under the google.com searches for images, and the name Mary Crosby, so I don't know if it's actually her; She played as one of "Warf's" ex-lover's, and also a movie called Cupid (Directed by Douglas Campbell). I haven't seen the film, as I just stumbled over it, and I admittedly don't know much about Bing Crosby. I just thought this would be something you could take a look at concerning one of his, obviously, more fotunate children. It is a shame that there is such controversy over his parenting skills, and that his children seem destined to off themselves in some cliche way.
Anyway, I'm including
some of the links I found. I forgot to mention "The Ice Pirates", which also includes Mary Crosby in the list of actors and actresses in the film. Again,
I haven't seen it. However, the page for this film that I include the link for at the bottom does have a link to her page/a mini bio on Mary, which
boasts, and I quote; "As an adult actress, Mary seemed determined, either by accident or design, to go against the grain of the "wholesome" image
perpetrated by her father." - Which I find amusing. Then again, I find alot of rather superfluous things amusing.
Here are the links that I could find on her.
Thank you for the story, Kevin. I really appreciate your help. I hope you forgive my bitterness.