Monday, January 1, 2018


Happy New Year! Here is episode 3 of my pod cast on You Tube. I think the bugs and kinks of episode 2 has been corrected. I hope you enjoy the episode, and please keep the comments and suggestions coming...

Saturday, December 23, 2017


Made during the early years of the movie musical, this exuberant revue was one of the most extravagant, eclectic, and technically ambitious Hollywood productions of its day. 

Starring the bandleader Paul Whiteman, then widely celebrated as the King of Jazz, the film drew from Broadway variety shows of the time to present a spectacular array of sketches, performances by such acts as the Rhythm Boys (featuring a young Bing Crosby), and orchestral numbers overseen by Whiteman himself (including a larger-than-life rendition of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”)—all lavishly staged by veteran theater director John Murray Anderson and beautifully shot in early Technicolor.

Long available only in incomplete form, King of Jazz appears here newly restored to its original glory, offering a fascinating snapshot of the way mainstream American popular culture viewed itself at the dawn of the 1930s.

Disc Features:

-New 4K digital restoration by Universal Pictures, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
-New audio commentary featuring jazz and film critic Gary Giddins, music and cultural critic Gene Seymour, and musician and bandleader Vince Giordano
-New introduction by Giddins
-New interview with musician and pianist Michael Feinstein
-Four new video essays by authors and archivists James Layton and David Pierce on the development and making of King of Jazz
-Deleted scenes and alternate opening-title sequence
-All Americans, a 1929 short film featuring a version of the “Melting Pot” number that was restaged for the finale of King of Jazz
-I Know Everybody and Everybody’s Racket, a 1933 short film featuring Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra
-Two Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons from 1930, featuring music and animation from King of Jazz

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


This interesting story was originally published in 1995...

When Rosemary Clooney sang seasonal standards like "Let It Snow" and "I'll Be Home For Christmas" in her recent show at Feinstein's at the Regency Hotel here, it brought back happy memories of her in the classic 1954 movie "White Christmas." But her flawless rendition of the more sentimental "Count Your Blessings," which she sang with costar Bing Crosby in the film, is the heart and soul of her Christmas show (to be repeated in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles later this month) and her amazing career.

In an interview, the internationally famous star, who celebrated her 50th year singing professionally in 1995, called family her biggest blessing. "I'm so grateful for my family. My children. My 10 grandchildren and my husband, Dante. He's the love of my life," Ms. Clooney said. "But I've never quite forgiven Dante because he chose to be in the movie 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' over 'White Christmas,' " Ms. Clooney joked. "He has on occasion sung with me in nightclub acts, but he would prefer to sing by himself because he likes to sing all of his songs in Italian!"

Ms. Clooney and Mr. DiPaolo, a former dancer and singer, married three years ago after having been close friends for more than 20 years. Ms. Clooney was first married to the late stage and screen star José Ferrer, with whom she had five children. "I'll never forget one Christmas when Joe [Mr. Ferrer] was doing a play on Broadway. We had a suite at The Plaza; a Christmas tree from FAO Schwartz; a live tree that they had decorated. It was one of the nicest Christmases I ever had," she reminisces.

Ms. Clooney's career started when she sang duets with her sister Betty for WLW Radio in Cincinnati in 1945. Two years later, "The Clooney Sisters," as they were billed, made their debut at the famed Steel Pier in Atlantic City, N.J. Ms. Clooney became a star when she recorded her first single, "Come On-a My House" in 1951, and it became a huge hit.

Ms. Clooney, who sees her better-known nephew, TV and movie star George Clooney, at family gatherings ("he's very close to my oldest son," she said), applauds him for pursuing his career so vigorously even though it seems to have been at the expense of having a family.

"Let me tell you, I know that this is a time to focus on career, when you're young," Ms. Clooney said. "In my own case, I had the more portable career. As a singer I could take my work under my hat so if Joe [Ferrer] was doing a picture in Europe, I could go, too, and be there with the kids."

Having recorded more than 20 albums and sung in some of the world's most famous nightclubs, Ms. Clooney is perhaps best known for costarring in "White Christmas" opposite Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Vera-Ellen.

Ms. Clooney intersperses her live Christmas show with banter about and film clips from "White Christmas," much the same as on her recent DVD album about the movie. She says costar Kaye was a much better singer and actor than he was a dancer; she couldn't dance very well, either; and costar Vera-Ellen could dance but not sing, and her songs were dubbed. So it's little wonder why there were plenty of laughs from the audience at Feinstein's when she wryly concluded before showing a film clip: "So here you have a singer who can't dance and a dancer who can't sing!"

"I have never understood the whole plot of 'White Christmas,' " Ms. Clooney continued at her live show. "It has many plot turns, but there was one that took the cake. I got mad at Bing, and I go racing off to New York and get a job - just like that was the easiest thing in the world! And I'm singing in this very beautiful nightclub, and Bing comes down from Vermont to get me."

Asked why Ms. Clooney didn't marry Bing Crosby, a great friend and screen costar but someone with whom Ms. Clooney says she was never romantically involved in real life, Mr. DiPaolo, who never misses a live performance of Ms. Clooney's, said with a laugh, "She liked me better!"


Friday, December 8, 2017


Tis the season for Bing at the holidays! Here is an ad that I found in 1950, and it talks about Bing and his co-star from his movie Mr. Music, decorating a friendship tree. Cute idea!

Sunday, December 3, 2017


Here is episode two of my You Tube series. This time around we take a look at my five favorite female singers - enjoy!

Monday, November 27, 2017


Frank McHugh is another one of those characters, where you know his face but maybe not his name. I remember him most from his role as another priest alongside Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald in Going My Way (1944).

Born in Homestead, Pennsylvania on May 23, 1898, McHugh came from a theatrical family. At age ten, Frank McHugh began performing in his parent's stock company, side by side with his siblings Matt and Kitty. Another brother, Ed, became a stage manager and agent in New York.

By age 17, McHugh was resident juvenile with the Marguerite Bryant stock company. Extensive vaudeville experience followed, and in 1925 McHugh made his first Broadway appearance in The Fall Guy; three years later, he made his movie debut in a Vitaphone short. Hired by Warner Bros. for the small role of a motorcycle driver in 1930's The Dawn Patrol, McHugh appeared in nearly 70 Warners films over the next decade. He was often cast as the hero's best pal or as drunken comedy relief; his peculiar trademark was a lightly braying laugh. Highlight performances during his Warners tenure included Jimmy Cagney's pessimistic choreographer in Footlight Parade (1933), "rude mechanical" Quince in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), an erstwhile poet and horserace handicapper in Three Men on a Horse (1936) and a friendly pickpocket in One Way Passage (1932) — a role he'd repeat word-for-word in Till We Meet Again, 1940 remake of Passage. One of the biggest movies he was in was Roaring Twenties (1939) with Jimmy Cagney.

He appeared in over 150 films and television productions and worked with almost every star at Warner Bros. By the 1950s, his film career had begun to decline, as evinced by his smaller role in Career (1959). From 1964 to 1965, he played the role of Willie Walters, a live-in handyman on ABC's sitcom, The Bing Crosby Show. Reportedly Bing insisted he be cast alongside him. His last television appearance was as Charlie Wingate in the episode "The Fix-It Man" on CBS's Lancer western series. McHugh played a handyman in that role too.

McHugh was married to Dorothy Spencer. He had three children and two grandchildren.

Frank McHugh's last film role was in the Elvis Presley film Easy Come, Easy Go(1967). He basically left Hollywood for the next decade. He died on September 11, 1981...largely forgotten for the great supporting roles he starred in...

Friday, November 17, 2017


Bing Crosby guru Bruce Kogan is back with another review. This time it's the overlooked 1957 drama Man On Fire...

The movie opens with Bing Crosby singing the Sammy Fain-Paul Francis Webster title song over the opening credits. But that's all you hear from Crosby the singer. For the first time Bing starred in a film without any singing at all.

The story involves a pair of divorced parents who have fallen out of love and are contesting the custody of their son. Crosby the father has the kid and wife Mary Fickett and her new husband Richard Eastham want him.

It's a well acted film and Crosby proves he doesn't need to sing to carry a film. His Earl Carleton is a troubled man, a loving father wounded terribly by the divorce. Mary Fickett is a loving mother who's been denied custody of her son by a hastily signed agreement at the time of her's and Bing's divorce. Her new husband Richard Eastham wants a share of custody for his wife's sake.

The point is that this is a film without villains. These are just good people caught in a bad situation trying to do the right thing as they conceive it. And in probably the best performance of her long career, Judge Anne Seymour has to decide it. The custody hearing scene in her chambers is the best acted scene in the film.

This situation may have inspired some of the situations portrayed in the current series Judging Amy. The film has an honored place in the films of Bing Crosby. A must see.


Thursday, November 9, 2017


Welcome to my first episode of my You Tube show - titled as you guessed it A Trip Down Memory Lane. From time to time I will do a little 30 minute episode highlighting some of the great stars of our times. For this first episode I will count down my five favorite male singers. I hope you enjoy it, and I encourage comments and suggestions...

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


The decade of the 1940s was marked by the horrors of World War II. However, Bing owned the 1940s. He was the biggest star of that decade, the most widely beloved American, and was the most recorded human voice. Bing was at the height of his career in the 1940s as theses photos show...

with Dinah Shore 

with Bob Hope

with Joan Caulfield

Monday, October 30, 2017


On this day 42 years ago, Bing's long time orchestra leader John Scott Trotter passed away. He never fully got the recognition that he deserved. Here is the original NY Times article from October 31, 1975...

HOLLYWOOD, Oct. 30 (UPI) —John Scott Trotter, whose entertainment career spanning a half century took him from the side of Hal Kemp in the bigband era to Bing Crosby on radio and records and George Gobel on television, died yesterday of cancer at Mt. Sinai Hospital. He was 67 years old.

Mr. Trotter's most remembered musical achievement was that of arranger and conductor for Mr. Crosby, an association that lasted 17 years on radio and included recordings that encompassed some of the crooner's best‐known songs, such as “White Christmas” and “Swinging on a Star.”

Only last month, Mr. Trotter joined with the Bostorl Pops conductor, Arthur Fiedler, in recreating the big‐band sound on a public television fund‐raising broadcast.

He was the recipient of an Academy Award nomination in 1970 for his musical work on the Charles Shultz animated movie “A Boy Named Charlie Brown,” and he received an Emmy nomination for the music of one of the peanuts television specials.

Mr. Trotter, who was born in Charlotte, N. C., June 14, 1908, began his musical career at the University of North Carolina, playing piano for a college band formed by Mr. Kemp in 1925.Continue reading the main story

Mr. Trotter was the orchestra's pianist and principal arranger for 11 years, creating the “fresh, happy sound” of Mr. Kemp that produced such music as “Got a Date With an Angel” and “You're the Tops.”.

In 1936, while vacationing in California, Mr. Trotter was signed to orchestrate five songs for the film “Pennies From Heaven,” starring Bing Crosby, and a year later he took over as musical director for Mr. Crosby's radio show.

Mr. Trotter was Mr. Crosby's arranger and conductor for 364 consecutive weeks on NBC radio shows.

In 1954, when the Crosby radio shows came to an end, Mr. Trotter began a 10‐year career as musical director for the “George Gobel Show.”

He is survived by his sister, Margaret Kinghorn, and three brothers, William, Thomas and Robert...