It’s odd that a star as big as Bing Crosby is seemingly under-appreciated today by younger cineastes. Perhaps they really fall for his nonchalant public pose, that he really wasn’t much as an actor and perhaps just okay as a singer.
To buy this sight unseen is to forget a few readily available statistics. For example, Crosby was Hollywood’s number one box personality from 1944 through 1948, and ranked among the top 10 most popular screen figures for a full two decades, from 1934 to 1954.
On radio, he was the top rated star in 1931, and remained so for 17 years thereafter. As for his vocalizing, forget about it. He had 38 No. 1 singles, even surpassing Elvis and the Beatles. Crosby records are still selling.
And, he logged than a 100 movie credits, and won a best actor Oscar. Was Crosby the biggest all-media personality ever to come out of Hollywood?
While you’re debating that question, take a look at our answers to our Monday Bing Crosby Quiz. He’s certainly worth knowing more about. (To review the questions, just scroll down to Monday’s blog below.)
1) Answer: b) There were seven Road To… pictures made between 1940 and 1962. The titles: Road to Singapore , 1940; Road to Zanzibar, 1941; Road to Morocco, 1942; Road to Utopia, 1945; Road to Rio, 1947; Road to Bali, 1952; and The Road To Hong Kong, 1962. (Dorothy Lamour played a cameo role in the latter, not the femme lead which went to Joan Collins.) British producer Lew Grade tried to reunite in the late seventies Crosby, Bob Hope and Lamour in Road to the Fountain of Youth. Unfortunately, Crosby died at age 74 after completing a round of golf in Spain shortly after the reunion announcement was made.
2) Answer: b) No. Crosby, self-conscious about his height, stood five-foot-seven, and often wore lifts. Alan Ladd was about a half-inch shorter.
3) Answer: c) Duke Ellington, who regarded Crosby as the premier popular singer of his time. Early on, Crosby actually recorded with the Ellington Orchestra, and sounds great. Ellington once advised his regular band singer at one time, Herb Jeffries, to lower his voice and sing like Der Bingle.
4) Answer: b) Grace Kelly, who costarred with Crosby in 1954’s The Country Girl. He fell for her like a ton of bricks, and she reciprocated in kind despite the fact that at the time she was 26 years younger than he was.
5) Answer: d) Crosby costarred memorably as Father O’Malley opposite Barry Fitzgerald in director Leo McCarey’s Going My Way, which won him his Oscar. He repeated the role in The Bells of St. Mary’s with Ingrid Bergman (above)
6) Answer: b) Crosby first sang the White Christmas song in 1942’s Holiday Inn costarring Fred Astaire. He repeated four years later in the movie Blue Skies and then again in 1954’s White Christmas.
7) Answer: b) No. Both Crosby and Astaire were pretty accomplished drummers starting out, before they went on to other things.
8) Answer: c) Gary Crosby.
9) Answer: d) Five Easy Pieces, the 1970 title costarring Jack Nicholson and Karen Black. The movie was coproduced by BBS Productions and Columbia Pictures.
10) Answer: b) Grace Kelly. (See question four.)