I love this Bing Crosby advertisement for Chesterfield cigarettes. The ad features Bing and Arthur Godfrey and Perry Como - who also had radio shows sponsored by the cigarette company. Smoking in 1948 was a lot different than it is now...
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
There’s no more important subset of American popular singers than the crooner, whose smooth, mellow sound is “easy listening” in the best sense of the phrase. Crooners require no effort on the part of the listener, who can just sit back and spend some quality time with a good voice, some nice tunes, and terrific arrangements. Bing Crosby was the king of the crooners. His sleepy-eyed, “buh-buh-buh-boo,” pipe-in-mouth, hat-down-low style of singing lasted for almost fifty years and we never grew tired of it. Bing was always professional, always busy, filling up every spare moment with either singing or swinging―a golf club, that is.
Crosby was a transitional figure but also his own man and most of all, a great talent. Whereas Jolson wore his emotions on his sleeve, his style stripped bare and without nuance, the next great singer, Bing Crosby, kept his personality in check. He gave us nothing to make us cry, nothing to make us laugh―but he could draw a big smile, a pang of nostalgia, a wistfulness. Crosby dealt in emotions lite, keeping the audience entertained, singing as if he were singing just for you, and all without offering a clue as to who he was or what he thought. We bought it all. He asked little of us and we asked little of him.
Even Bing’s friends and family couldn’t tell what was going on behind his façade. Dogs wag their tails when happy, snarl when they’re mad. Cats flick their tails when they’re annoyed. Bing had his own set of signals and we were forced to look for them in order to discover the person underneath the performance.
For Maxine Andrews, it was his hat: “He could be very moody, and when he came into the recording studio we could always tell what mood he was in by looking at his hat. If his hat was square on his head, you didn't kid around with him. But if it was back a little bit, sort of jaunty, then you could have a ball.”
His own wife, Kathryn, searched for clues in his dress: “People who didn't know thought Bing had difficulty expressing affection. Not at all. As I was to learn much later, the secret was in that top button on the pajamas. If it was fastened, it was going to be a quiet read-in-bed and lights-out-at-10 p.m.-after-chaste-prayers [night]. If it was unbuttoned, however, watch out.”
Hats and pajamas as the windows to a man’s soul? Some claimed he was self-absorbed but perhaps he was just introspective. That’s why Johnny Burke was the perfect lyricist for Crosby, his work full of down-home homilies, the joys of living simply and simply living, the notion that money can’t buy happiness.
Though Crosby was one of the richest men in Hollywood, and certainly enjoyed his wealth, he was never pretentious. As Wilfred Hyde-White reported, “Sinatra would turn up with three or four Karmen Ghias. The doors would open and bodyguards would march down. But Bing would turn up in a little car, stop at the gate for his dressing-room key, and then park it himself! The difference was rather marvelous.”
His image, relaxed and easy-going, was carefully controlled. James Cagney noted, “Here he had been to all appearances perfectly loose and relaxed, but not at all. He was giving everything he had in every note he sang, and the apparent effortlessness was a part of his very hard work.”
We all know about the great friendship between Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. They mock-feuded, appeared on each other’s radio and television broadcasts, enjoyed a long relationship on film in the “road” movies, and popped up in cameos in each other’s film and stage vehicles. They honestly enjoyed each other’s company. They clicked. And yet, there’s no record of Bing and Bob ever getting together for a vacation, let alone a meal, in all their years together.
Perhaps he was the only one to truly know himself, but that’s true of most of us. Still, it doesn’t diminish one of the greatest singers of the 20th century. A man who brought us out of the acoustic age and into the electronic. Jolson could take or leave a microphone, his actions meant everything. Crosby embraced the microphone and used it to draw us into the music. He refined Jolson’s emotional peaks and smoothed out the edges on Jolson’s need for approval. He led the way to Frank Sinatra, a complex man who let us into his id. Crosby was a transitional figure but also his own man and most of all, a great talent...
Saturday, November 26, 2011
He moved to Hollywood and played with a couple of bands, most notably the Alvino Ray big band, before becoming a studio musician. He played piano for Bing Crosby for a number of years and also toured with Rosemary Clooney. Albums with his combo were recorded on piano and Hammond organ. He became Bing's primary orchestrator in the mid 1950s after Bing and John Scott Trotter ended their association. Like Cole, Bing was a fan of the organ and had a great admiration for Buddy Cole's work. Buddy backed Bing in the recording studio as well as on radio and television.
Cole recorded for Capitol Records as both Buddy Cole and Eddie LaMar and His Orchestra. He did both commercial and transcription recordings for Capitol.
Although primarily known as a pianist, he had an abiding love for the organ, both Hammond and theatre pipe. In his capacity as a studio musician, he worked extensively with Henry Mancini, who used his distinctive Hammond organ sound for the sound track to the TV series "Mr. Lucky." He also recorded several albums for Warner Brothers records on piano, Hammond organ and theatre pipe organ.
The theatre organ heard on these albums was the 17-rank Wurlitzer organ from the United Artists theatre plus nine ranks from a one-time radio studio Robert Morton theatre organ which he installed in the garage of a former residence in North Hollywood and on which he recorded three albums for the Columbia and Capitol labels. The combined ranks were installed in a specially built studio next to his home.
Two albums - "Modern Pipe Organ" and "Autumn Nocturne" were recorded for Warner Brothers, as well as two albums done in conjunction with arranger Monty Kelly, one of which contained an arrangement of Richard Rodgers' Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, and the other of which contained transcriptions of big band arrangements with spaces for the organ. These two albums - for the Alshire label - were his last recordings.
He married Yvonne King, member of the King Sisters, and with her had two daughters, actress Tina Cole and Cathy Cole Green.
He later married Clare Cole, who already had two children, Jeffrey and Jay Woodruff. Jeffrey often helped him tune his organ.
He suffered a series of heart attacks during the early sixties culminating in a fatal one November 15,1964...
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
From 1931 into 1934 Crosby recorded for the Brunswick label. But in 1934 Jack Kapp, who had been an executive at Brunswick, started the Decca label and he signed Crosby to be Decca’s first recording artist. Crosby recorded exclusively for Decca through 1955, after which he free-lanced for several record companies, including Frank Sinatra’s Reprise label. The vast majority of Crosby’s recordings were for Decca, which was purchased by MCA in 1962.
When Crosby died he was considered the world’s most successful singer, in terms of record sales. And there are currently more than 100 CDs available of his recordings, on a variety of labels.
Crosby’s success was in good measure due to his laconic, laid-back delivery and his impeccable sense of timing, coupled with that mellow voice. But these gifts and talents would have been of little value if the recording industry had not undergone a major change just as his career was beginning.
Until 1926 the recording industry used acoustic and mechanical means to make a master record. Singers and musicians gathered around a large horn, which funneled the sounds they produced down to a diaphragm, which vibrated and moved the cutting needle which translated that acoustical energy into a groove in the wax master recording.
But in 1926 the industry changed over to electric microphones and electrically-driven cutting needles. This made it possible to “close-mike” a singer, who no longer needed to project or “belt out” – or virtually shout – over the top of the musicians, as if on stage. (A similar revolution would soon bring microphones and amplification to the stage.) And this recording revolution made possible Crosby’s distinctively soft singing style, which quickly became known as “crooning.” Crosby’s first 1926 record advertised on its label the fact that it was made electrically, an obvious selling point.
Crosby sang as though he was standing next to you, almost conversationally. It made for a more intimate experience. And in Crosby’s wake other crooners would soon follow – most notably Frank Sinatra, who, as a youthful singer with the Dorsey Brothers band, would all but wrap himself around the mike stand on stage.
Crosby was a pioneer in the next stage of recording development as well: tape recording. He was the first major star to make use of this new recording medium. He used it first to record and produce his radio show in 1947, and in mid-1949 he began making his Decca recordings on tape. Until tape, it was almost impossible to edit a recording. If, in the course of recording, someone missed a cue or played a wrong note, that “take” had to be discarded and a new one begun all over again from the beginning.
These messed-up disk recordings sometimes included “blow-ups” from Crosby – a demonstration of his well-known temper – directed at whoever had messed up on that occasion. Some of these were not destroyed (as was supposed to be done) but were bootlegged into the hands of Crosby’s fans. These 78 rpm disks are now highly valued by collectors. They include a botched version of “I Wished on the Moon” from 1935, “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams” from 1939, and “Crosby Blows His Top” a disk released as “Private for Decca Officials in N.Y.” in 1940. There is also a 1950s label, Crosby Blows His Top, devoted to his recorded explosions of temper; it had a yellow label with black print.
Crosby spawned an incredible amount of memorabilia in his 51-year career. A check of eBay revealed over 1,200 items for auction, ranging from publicity photos to sheet music, and including cassettes of his 1940s radio shows. A signed letter was offered on another website for $500. And his music remains widely available on CD – a perfect accompaniment to the holiday season: music to listen to with a loved one while cuddling before a cheery fire in the fireplace.
Friday, November 18, 2011
The Early Years
Bing Crosby died more than 30 years ago, in 1977, but his legacy and his music are still with us, especially during the Christmas holidays season. Many of his best-selling records were Christmas songs, dating back to 1942’s perennial classic, “White Christmas.” Among his other gold records: “Silent Night” (1942), “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” (1943), and “Jingle Bells” (with the Andrews Sisters) (1943). There is still something warm and comforting about that rich voice singing the Yuletide favorites and Crosby’s original Christmas recordings can be found for auction on sites like eBay while they are also to be found on currently available CDs.
Harry Lillis Crosby was born May 3, 1903, in Tacoma, Washington. As a boy he was a fan of a comic strip called The Bingville Bugle, which starred a character with protruding ears named Bingo. Crosby also had ears that stuck out and soon his friends were calling him “Bingo,” which was eventually shortened to “Bing.” The name stuck with him all his life.
Bing’s parents loved music and loved to sing, and Crosby was briefly given formal singing lessons, but he soon dropped out. He was more interested in popular songs than classical opera, and his hero was Al Jolson. In college, planning to become a lawyer, Crosby bought a drum set by mail-order and was soon good enough on them to be invited to join a local band, The Musicaladers, where he met Al Rinker. The band was so successful that Crosby dropped out of college in his senior year to focus on a career in music. But the band itself fell apart, leaving Bing and Al on their own. They took Al’s Model T and went to Los Angeles, where Al’s sister, jazz singer Mildred Bailey, helped them get into show business. Within a few weeks of their arrival in Los Angeles in 1925 Bing and Al were on the vaudeville circuit and singing in movie theaters throughout California.
That’s when Paul Whiteman, who called himself “The King of Jazz” and led the most popular band in America, heard them. He hired them to sing with his band, which they joined at the Tivoli Theatre in Chicago in December, 1926. Crosby used the opportunity to study music with such Whiteman band musicians as Bix Beiderbecke, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang.
While waiting to join Whiteman, Crosby and Rinker made their first record with the Don Clark band. Clark was a former member of Whiteman’s orchestra, and on October 18, 1926, he recorded them singing “I’ve Got the Girl,” which was released by Columbia Records (824-D), with an instrumental piece on the B-side. On December 22 they cut their first records with Whiteman, “Wistful and Blue” and “Pretty Lips.”
When Whiteman’s orchestra opened at the Paramount in New York in January, 1927, there was a problem with the duo’s vocals. The theater had no amplification and the orchestra was drowning out the singers. To overcome this problem a third singer, Harry Barris, was added to the duo – which became a trio known as “The Rhythm Boys.”
Crosby was surprisingly nonchalant about his work, drank a lot, and developed a “playboy” image. He was jailed for drunk driving after an accident which put his date through the windshield in November, 1929. This was while the movie, The King of Jazz, featuring the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, was being filmed, and Crosby had to be escorted from jail to the studio whenever the Rhythm Boys were needed, but he missed out on the chance to take a major solo role in the movie. Whiteman “released” the Rhythm Boys from his orchestra in May, 1930.
Crosby and the Rhythm Boys trio began singing with the Gus Arnheim band at the Coconut Grove in Los Angeles. The Grove did live radio broadcasts and Crosby could be heard throughout California, which brought increasing crowds to hear him in person. At the same time Arnheim was pushing Crosby to the front as a soloist, leaving the other two in the trio to sing backup. On January 19, 1931 Crosby recorded his first solo, “I Surrender Dear,” written by Harry Barris, and it was a hit.
But as Crosby’s solo career began to take off he started skipping performances at the Grove. This led the club’s manager to dock his pay, and Crosby walked out in protest, taking the Rhythm Boys with him. When the club persuaded the local musician’s union to ban the trio for breach of contract, the Rhythm Boys dissolved. (They performed together only once after that, in a July 4, 1943 reunion for the NBC radio broadcast of Paul Whiteman Presents. A excerpt from the program was included on the MCA anthology on CD, Bing: His Legendary Years.)
Monday, November 14, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
1904 - 1977 (INCORRECT DATE OF BIRTH)
Holy Cross Cemetery
Though best known as a laid-back crooner, Bing Crosby was also an Academy Award-winning actor.
Crosby started his career as a singer and drummer in a small combo while studying law at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Crosby and his band, The Rhythm Boys, appeared in several films in the early 1930s. His first starring role was in "The Big Broadcast" (1932). Crosby also appeared in several two-reel musical comedies produced by Mack Sennett, and audiences loved his natural, easy-going style, as both an actor and a singer.
Crosby appeared in a series of musicals in the 1930s, including "Blue of the Night" (1933), "College Humor" (1933), "Going Hollywood" (1933), "She Loves Me Not" (1934), "Here is My Heart" (1934), "Rhythm on the Range" (1936), "Anything Goes" (1936), "Waikiki Wedding" (1937), "Sing, You Sinners" (1938) and "Dr. Rhythm" (1938). Crosby teamed with off-screen pal Bob Hope in "Road to Singapore" (1940), the first in a series of seven "Road" pictures -- lightly scripted mixes of adventure, slapstick, ad libs, inside jokes and cameos by top Hollywood stars, from Humphrey Bogart to Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The other films in the series were "Road to Zanzibar" (1941), "Road to Morocco" (1942), "Road to Utopia" (1946), "Road to Rio" (1947), "Road to Bali" (1952) and "Road to Hong Kong" (1962).
Crosby co-starred with Fred Astaire in "Holiday Inn" (1942), and Crosby's version of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" quickly became the biggest-selling recording of all time. For his dramatic performance as Father O'Malley in "Going My Way" (1944), Crosby won the Academy Award as Best Actor, and he was nominated for the same award in the sequel, "The Bells of St. Mary's" (1945). Crosby received his third nomination for his performance in "The Country Girl" (1954).
Crosby returned to musicals with "White Christmas" (1954), "High Society" (1956) and "Robin and the Seven Hoods" (1964). His final film role was a dramatic performance in a remake of "Stagecoach" (1966). Crosby appeared regularly on television in the 1960s and 1970s, performing on variety shows and hosting an annual Christmas program that usually featured members of his family.
Crosby died in 1977, just after finishing a round of golf in Madrid, Spain.
Despite his laid-back image, Crosby was a savvy businessman. When he died, Crosby was reportedly one of the wealthiest entertainers in Hollywood, with an estate estimated at up to $400 million.
In his will, Crosby provided detailed funeral instructions, with a request that "my funeral services be conducted in a Catholic church; that they be completely private with attendance limited to my wife and the above-mentioned children; that a low Mass be said and that no memorial service of any kind be held. I further direct that, insofar as possible, services be held without any publicity, other than that which my family permits after my burial, which shall be in a Catholic cemetery."
Next to Crosby is the grave of his first wife, an actress and singer who performed under the name of Dixie Lee, but is buried under her real name, Wilma W. Crosby (1911 - 1952). They were married in 1930, and had four sons, Gary, Philip, Dennis and Lindsay. Crosby married his second wife, actress Kathryn Grant, in 1957, and they had three children, Harry, Nathaniel and Mary Frances.
Next to Wilma Crosby are Bing Crosby's parents, Harry Lowe Crosby (1870 - 1950) and Catherine H. Crosby (1872 - 1964).
Crosby purchased four plots at the cemetery when his father died in 1950. At the time, he planned that the spaces would be used by his father, his mother, himself and his wife, Dixie. By the time Crosby died in 1977, the other three spots were already filled, and he was married to Kathryn. And there were no other plots available nearby. So where will Kathryn be buried?
Crosby anticipated that problem when he wrote out his funeral instructions. Instead of being buried at the customary depth of six feet, Crosby was buried nine feet deep, so that, if Kathryn wishes, she can be buried in his plot, on top of him, and his grave marker can be replaced with one containing both of their names.
Crosby died on Oct. 14, 1977, in Madrid, Spain...
Monday, November 7, 2011
Kanter, who for decades was a writer for the annual Oscar telecast, died Sunday of complications from pneumonia at Encino Hospital in Los Angeles, said his daughter, Donna Kanter.
"What a dear man," longtime friend Carl Reiner said Monday after learning of Kanter's death.
"He was considered one of the wits of the industry; there's no question about it," said Reiner, noting that Kanter was master of ceremonies for the Directors Guild of America's awards dinner for many years. "Any time he was called upon, he always could make the audience laugh.
"He was a funny elder statesman, and there's nothing better than having a witty elder statesman."
After launching his comedy writing career in radio in the late 1930s, Kanter moved into television in 1949 as head writer for "The Ed Wynn Show," a live comedy-variety show.
He went on to create, produce and head the writing team on "The George Gobel Show," another live comedy-variety program for which he shared an Emmy Award in 1955 for best written comedy material.
In the 1960s, Kanter made TV history when he created and produced "Julia," the 1968-71 NBC sitcom starring Carroll as Julia Baker, a young widowed nurse and the mother of a young son, Corey (played by Marc Copage), whose best friend is white.
Eighteen years after Ethel Waters debuted as the star of the TV version of "The Beulah Show," an ABC situation comedy about a stereotypical black maid, Carroll became the first black actress to star in her own TV sitcom playing a character who was a professional woman rather than a domestic worker.
Although "Julia" was not carried on some TV stations in the South the first couple of weeks, "eventually, the show became such a hit, they were forced to carry it," Kanter recalled in a 1997 interview with the Television Academy Foundation's Archive of American Television.
Carroll's Julia "opened a door," Kanter said in a 1969 Los Angeles Times interview. "Bill Cosby in 'I Spy' first opened it (in 1965), but Julia opened it wider."
Kanter said "Julia" had been criticized for not dealing in depth with any social issues. "But that was not our purpose," he said. "We wanted to create an entertaining comedy, nothing more.
"You see, I feel that if we had starred (white actress) Hope Lange in 'Julia' and Diahann Carroll in 'The Ghost and Mrs. Muir,' the results would have been about the same. I also feel that if we made social comment within our context, our show would have been a failure."
On the other hand, he said, "there is a fallout of social comment. Every week we see a black child playing with a white child with complete acceptance and without incident. One of the recurring themes in the thousands of letters we get is from people who thank us for showing them what a black child is like - he's like any other child."
Kanter, who also created the TV series "Valentine's Day" and "The Jimmy Stewart Show," was a writer and producer on "Chico and the Man" and had a brief 1975 stint as executive producer of "All in the Family."
Among his movie credits as a writer are Hope and Crosby's "Road to Bali," Hope's "Bachelor in Paradise" and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis' "Money from Home" and "Artists and Models" - as well as the movies "Pocket Full of Miracles" and "Move Over, Darling."
He also directed Presley in the 1957 movie "Loving You," which Kanter co-wrote; and he wrote the screenplay for Presley's 1961 film "Blue Hawaii." And in a change of pace from comedy, he collaborated with Tennessee Williams on the 1955 screen adaptation of Williams' drama "The Rose Tattoo."
Kanter's longest-running writing job was the annual Academy Awards ceremony. Beginning in 1952, a year before the broadcast moved from radio to television, he wrote for the Oscar show at least 33 years.
In 1991 and 1992, Kanter was among the Oscar show writers who shared Emmys for outstanding writing in a variety or music program.
"Giving some actors a joke is like handing a straight razor to a baby," Kanter, who was a member of the Academy's Board of Governors, told Newsday in 1994. "You can never give an actor a blank piece of paper. You have to give him something with words on it before he can destroy it."
Many presenters and hosts, however, had a way with Kanter's words.
When The Associated Press asked him in 2001 for his favorite line from past Oscar telecasts, Kanter recalled: "On one of the shows, Walter Matthau announced that the broadcast was being seen simultaneously in 300 countries. I had him say, 'If my tailor in Hong Kong is watching, it still doesn't fit.'"
For decades, Kanter was the go-to wit to act as master of ceremonies or speak at Hollywood functions and other events.
At a testimonial dinner, he introduced comedy writer Sherwood Schwartz by saying: "Sherwood Schwartz. He sounds like Robin Hood's rabbi."
He even enlivened memorial services, including one for playwright Robert E. Lee, at which Kanter introduced himself by saying, "I'm the internationally famous writer-director who's known to his barber as 'Next!'"
Kanter was born Dec. 18, 1918, in Savannah, Ga., and moved to Long Beach, N.Y., when he was about 16. Or as he liked to say, he moved "from the deep South to the shallow North."
His Russian-born father, Albert, who exposed his children to great literature and was a humorous storyteller, later created and published "Classic Comics," a popular comic-book series featuring adaptations of famous literary works that became known as "Classics Illustrated."
At age 11, while living in Florida, Kanter began writing Boy Scout news for The Miami Herald. At 14, he was freelancing as a cartoonist and selling cartoon gags. And he was not quite 18 in 1936 when a job for a comic strip ghost writer took him to Hollywood, where he got his start in radio.
Kanter, who also contributed topical jokes to Olsen and Johnson's long-running hit Broadway revue "Hellzapoppin," served in the Army during World War II. As part of Armed Forces Radio Service in the South Pacific, he helped build an AFRS station on Guam and hosted his own shows.
After the war, he resumed his career in radio, including several years writing for Bing Crosby's show.
Kanter, who titled his 1999 memoir "So Far, So Funny: My Life in Show Business," received the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television from the Writers Guild of America in 1989.
In addition to his daughter Donna, he is survived by his wife of 70 years, writer Doris Kanter; his other daughters, Lisa Kanter Shafer and Abigail Kanter Jaye; his sister, Saralea Emerson; and a granddaughter...
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Anyone that knows me knows I like to rank everything. Call it OCD or insanity, but I love to make a list about everything. Of course, my love of Bing Crosby is no different. I took all of Bing's major film roles and ranked them by favorites.
I am interested in your comments and observations - feel free to get the conversation started!
MY RANKING OF BING CROSBY MOVIES
1. The Country Girl
2. Blue Skies
3. Holiday Inn
4. High Society
5. Going My Way
6. Road To Utopia
7. Just For You
8. Pennies From Heaven
9. Bells Of St. Marys
10. Here Comes The Groom
11. Road To Rio
12. Mr. Music
13. Man On Fire
14. Road To Morocco
15. Here Comes The Waves
16. Going Hollywood
17. Birth Of The Blues
18. Rhythm On The Range
19. High Time
20. Welcome Stranger
21. White Christmas
23. Rhythm On The River
24. Road To Zanzibar
25. Robin And The Seven Hoods
26. Double Or Nothing
27. Riding High
28. Little Boy Lost
29. The Starmaker
30. A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court
31. Sing You Sinners
32. Anything Goes (1956)
33. Dr. Rhythm
34. East Side Of Heaven
35. If I Had My Way
36. Road To Singapore
37. We're Not Dressing
38. Emperor's Waltz
39. Waikiki Wedding
41. Road To Bali
42. Anything Goes (1936)
43. Two For Tonight
44. Top O' The Morning
45. She Loves Me Not
46. Too Much Harmony
47. College Humor
48. Top O' The Morning
49. Here Is My Heart
50. Say One For Me
51. The Stagecoach
52. Paris Honeymoon
53. The Road To Hong Kong
Thursday, November 3, 2011
By Alan Owens
A SHARED love for the game of golf bonded Howard Crosby and his late Uncle Bing, but a love for music discovered in later life has seen the nephew attempt to emulate the legendary crooner.
Howard Crosby will perform at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance in UL this Friday in aid of the Derry based charity Children in Crossfire. The charity’s founder, Richard Moore, was behind the visit of the Dalai Lama to UL.
Crosby will perform old Bing favourites as well as sharing anecdotes and stories about his famous relation, who had strong Irish roots.
“This whole idea sprung from a friend of mine in Dublin, who saw that we did a show in the UK last year which was very well received,” explains Howard, a 60-something native of Spokane, Washington, where Bing was also from.
“We were asked to come to Ireland because he is a friend of Richard Moore of Children in Crossfire. We have done the show for charities in the States and in England and it will be pretty much the same show, with a few additions that are designed to stir the Irish spirit if you will, some of the Irish songs that my uncle recorded years ago,” explains Howard.
Bing and Howard’s father’s own grandparents emigrated from Schull in Cork in 1870 and there was always a strong tradition of music in the family. Howard, however, didn’t take up singing until later life, and is a successful businessman in his own right.
“As I like to tell people, if your uncle is Bing Crosby, you need to find another line of work, which I did,” he laughs. “I started out singing in a church choir when I was in my mid-20s and the next thing you know they had made a soloist out of me and pretty soon after that I was singing and performing more and more. I will say that it is true that anywhere I sing some of his songs, it is in the same key as Uncle Bing, so let’s just leave it at that,” he smiles.
While Howard’s heritage ties him to Hollywood royalty, he shares more with his late uncle than a love of golf and his talent is no mere mimicry, having performed in London, Dublin and the US, singing jazz and contemporary American classics as well as Bing favourites.
Howard Crosby performs in Theatre 1 in UL’s Irish World Academy this Friday at 8pm.