There’s the happy couple above — Quiz subject Joan Caulfield and Bing Crosby.
As mentioned in yesterday’s blog, although largely forgotten today, Caufield really was a big star — one with above-the-title billing — during much of the Forties. After that, she had quite a run on television.
But today she might best be remembered as much for her romantic fling with Bing Crosby as for her less than lengthy career comprising 14 movies beginning with 1945’s Duffy’s Tavern, a comedy with — you guessed it — Crosby as its star. (The picture below graced the cover of Life Magazine in the mid 40s.)
Over the next few years, Caulfield appeared in at least three pictures with Crosby: 1945’s Blue Skies; 1947’s Welcome Stranger along with Barry Fitzgerald; and 1947’s Variety Girl, a musical about the Variety Club charity with an overstuffed cast that included Bob Hope.
But the story many in Hollywood remember is that when Crosby thought their affair needed to end, he tried to foist her off on his pal Hope. Caulfield wouldn’t cooperate however. (Interestingly, she’d starred with Hope in 1946’s Monsieur Beaucaire.) Some say Crosby thought of divorcing his wife to marry her, but this was never verified.
Anyway, both Crosby and Caulfield survived to go on to other affairs. Now let’s get to the answers to our Monday Quiz. To review the questions, just scroll down below. Ok, here we go:
1) Answer: d) See introduction above.
2) Answer: We suspect that (a) True, is the correct answer. Supposedly after seeing a movie marquee emblazoned with the names of Joan and costar William Holden — the movie was 1947’s Dear Ruth — J.D. Salinger settled on the name Holden Caulfield for the protagonist in his 1951 novel, The Catcher in the Rye. Literary sleuths cast doubt on this story since the timing doesn’t quite work out (the character name was used in a Salinger short story published in 1944), but conclude that Salinger borrowed Joan’s surname after tracking her early acting career, which started in 1942.
3) Answer: b) Jean Arthur and Caulfield shared a husband. In 1950, Joan married producer Frank Ross who’d been married to Arthur. The union lasted less than a decade with the divorce coming in 1959. The story goes that Arthur always held a grudge against Caulfield for “stealing” Ross, and vowed to outlive them both. Ross died in 1990. He was 85. Joan died of lung cancer at 69, on June 18, 1991. Arthur died the next day.
4) Answer: b) False. Caulfield was no dummy. Before deciding to become an actress, she matriculated at Columbia Univ. Her combination of looks and brains was highly appealing to many suitors including, of course, Crosby.
5) Answer: Joan appeared late in her career in a) Murder, She Wrote, but is best recalled for her starring roles in the two Fifties tv series (b) My Favorite Husband on CBS and (c) Sally on NBC.