He claimed he was just plain looking baritone, of uncertain acting skills and a casual singer — no big deal, really.
But, as the whole media world seems to be rediscovering these days, Harry Lillis Crosby was a big deal, a very big deal.
He has a good case as the most popular American to appear in movies, finds British critic David Thomson. (Interestingly, Crosby’s longtime screen cohort, Bob Hope, is currently being assessed in similar terms.)
Crosby was huge on radio, in movies, on tv and in record sales (enormous then and still selling). When he won his best acting Oscar, he dismissed himself as a broken down saloon singer. He made Irving Berlin’s White Christmas part of America’s musical lexicon.
For all this huge popularity, Crosby tends to be overlooked or taken for granted by younger cinephiles. Let’s see how much young know — perhaps should know — about Bing Crosby, the subject of today’s Monday Quiz. As usual, answers tomorrow.
1) Question: Among Crosby’s best known movies are the Road To… pictures costarring Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour. How many titles are in the Road To… series? a) 21; b) seven; c) 11; or d) eight.
2) Question: Crosby was not tall, and self conscious about it. Was he shorter than the notoriously diminutive Alan Ladd? a) Yes; b) No.
3) Question: Crosby was much admired as a singer by which one of these American jazz masters, (who praised him as the nation’s best vocalist.)? a) Louis Armstrong; b) Artie Shaw; c) Duke Ellington; or d) Count Basie.
4) Question: Crosby had an extended affair with one of his younger costars. Can you identify this actress? a) Joan Collins; b) Grace Kelly; c) Dorothy Lamour; or d) Ingrid Bergman.
5) Question: Crosby won his best actor Oscar for which one of the following movies? a) The Country Girl; b) The Bells of St. Mary’s; c) Blue Skies; or d) Going My Way.
6) Question: In which movie did Crosby first sing Irving Berlin’s famous song, White Christmas? a) Dixie; b) Holiday Inn; c) Road to Utopia; or d) White Christmas.
7) Question: Crosby and Fred Astaire share a talent in common. Does it have to do with dancing? a) Yes; or b) No.
8) Question: Crosby was the subject of an unflattering book, casting him as an overly harsh disciplinarian as a father, by which one of the following? a) Lindsay Crosby; b) Dennis Crosby; c) Gary Crosby; or d) Phillip Crosby.
9) Question: Not commonly known is the fact that Crosby was a highly successful movie and tv producer in addition to his other talents. Which one of the following movies was NOT produced by Bing Crosby Productions? a) Terror in the Wax Museum; b) The Great Santini; c) Final Chapter: Walking Tall; or d) Five Easy Pieces.
10) Question: Crosby’s second and final wife, Kathryn Grant, deeply resented his pre-marital fling with which one of his following costars? a) Rosemary Clooney; b) Grace Kelly; c) Jean Heather; or d) Vera-Ellen.