Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Hard to believe another end of the year is here. The fading year of 2013 marked what would have been Bing Crosby's 110th birthday. It seems like only yesterday! This year was a fairly good year for Bing Crosby fans. Many new CDs have really assisted with filling in the gap in the libraries of Bing collectors.

Sepia Records continues to champion rare and unusual material. They issued two great CDs in 2013. The first one was "Bing In The Hall". That CD centered on Bing's rare recordings from the Kraft Music Hall. It was a radio show Bing starred on from 1935 to 1945. Many of the radio recordings on the release, Bing never recorded commercially. Their second issue was "Bing Crosby Sings For The AFRS". These recordings were taken from broadcasts Bing specifically made for the troops. One of the highlights was Bing singing "Johnny Doughboy Found A Rose In Ireland". Those two issues were among the best of 2013.

Another two great CDs were issued by The Bing Crosby Enterprises label, which is now aligned with MCA records. They issued a 60th anniversary issue of Bing's classic "Le Bing" album. It was Crosby's first long-playing album, and was released by his longtime label Decca Records. "Le Bing" is a concept album where all the songs are sung in French. My personal favorite from this album is "La Mer" (which later became "Beyond The Sea"). The other issue from BCE/MCA was "Bing Crosby Sings The Johnny Mercer Songbook". Some of the tracks were radio remotes, but I had all of these tracks. I still need to buy this issue which I will, just to support these rare issues.

Bing's movies still come out in a trickle. Bing's 1959 Say One For Me was recently released on DVD. I have my copy from a third generation copy, and it is enough for me. The soundtrack and music for the 1959 film was much better than the movie (in my opinion), but it is a movie that has not even been released on VHS. Here's hoping that in 2014 more movies will be released!

Unfortunately, there is always some sad news to report on. The year started with the death of the great Hobie Wilson on January 15th. He ran The Bing Crosby Friends And Collector's Society for decades with his devoted wife Cathie Wilson, and Hobie was one of the great Bing fans out there. He is sorely missed among Bing collectors. Another loss to the Bing Crosby world was the closure of Worlds Records. They sometimes were expensive, but they supplied many collectors with rare releases and their catalogues were always great to read. They were in business for nearly 40 years, opening up in 1974.

With that we close the pages on the book that was 2013. Here is to a great 2014 and more great things to come to Bing Crosby fans worldwide. Happy New Year...

Wednesday, December 25, 2013




Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Decades before Paris Hilton and voracious media hordes anxiously awaited her release from a county jail, aspiring crooner Bing Crosby was quietly jailed with nary a mention in the newspapers. And after he became a star, his arrest and court records just as quietly vanished. Crosby, then 27, crashed his car in front of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in November 1929 after a night of drinking. This was during Prohibition, when liquor was illegal in the U.S. The incident is also documented in a 2001 biography by Gary Giddins and in a 1955 Hollywood Reporter article written by Crosby.

In 1929, Crosby and his trio, the Rhythm Boys, came west to film the Whiteman musical, a vaudeville-type production. To make the band feel at home, Universal Studios, the film's producer, built a recreational lodge for the 24 musicians on the back lot. Whiteman arranged for each of them to buy a Ford to drive around L.A. "We all bought autos -- or at least we made the down payments with money which Pops [Whiteman] advanced to us, then deducted from our salaries," Crosby wrote in the Nov. 15, 1955, article in the Hollywood Reporter. Bing chose a convertible. "Pops had promised me a song, 'Song of the Dawn,'" Crosby wrote in the article. "I rehearsed and rehearsed, then took time out to see the SC-UCLA game." Crosby was a fan of St. Mary's College, or SMC, and the Galloping Gaels beat UCLA at the Coliseum on Nov. 16, 1929.

"There was quite a shindig after the game in our studio bungalow, involving some tippling, but not to excess," his brother recalled. Bing evidently drove an unknown party guest to her hotel, the Hollywood Roosevelt. There, Bing told his brother, "a car bumped mine after the party," and he was taken to the slammer. The other driver, also allegedly drunk, was arrested, though his name is not known. "Bing made a left turn into an oncoming car with such force that he and his passenger were knocked over the windshield and onto the pavement. He was fine, but the woman was bloody and unconscious,"

Giddins wrote in "Bing Crosby, A Pocketful of Dreams: The Early Years 1903-1940." "He practically drove through the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel," Bobbe Brox Van Heusen, a singer in Whiteman's film, told Giddins. From the Lincoln Heights jail, Crosby called a friend and he was bailed out a day later. Golfing attire in court At his court hearing, he came "directly from the golf course, wearing green plus-fours, an orange sweater and check socks," Giddins wrote. The judge didn't take kindly to his attire, or to his drinking. He asked the singer if he was familiar with the 18th Amendment, the constitutional measure enacting Prohibition. "Yes, but no one pays much attention to it," Crosby reportedly replied. Crosby maintained his innocence, claiming he was a victim of a bad driver and a zealous cop. "But it was his brazen court performance," Giddins wrote, that got him a sentence of 60 days. Crosby fumed in his cell over the severity of his sentence. He was later transferred to a jail with a liberal visitation policy.

His new jailers apparently allowed two police officers to escort Crosby to the studio during the day and back to jail at night. But during the two weeks or so it took to arrange the deal, Whiteman gave Crosby's solo to John Boles, arguing it was too costly to hold up filming. It's not clear how Crosby's arrest records were erased, how his sentence was calculated or whether the judge specified he serve it all -- but he got out early. Once Crosby became secure in his career, he became philosophical about the 1929 arrest and his loss of the solo. "[Boles] had a bigger voice and a better delivery for that kind of song than I had, and I often wondered what might have happened to me if I had sung it. I might have flopped with the song. I might have been cut out of the picture. I might never have been given another crack at a song in any picture."


Friday, December 20, 2013


The now famous Barbara Walters interview was conducted at Bing's San Francisco home in May, 1977, while he was recovering from a ruptured intervertebral disc suffered in a fall two months earlier following a concert commemorating his 50th anniversary in show business. His 17-year-old daughter, Mary, had already moved out of her parents' home into her own apartment and was contemplating moving in with her boyfriend, Eb Lottimer. Following her father's death, Mary and Lottimer did move in together and later married. Neither Mary's mother nor her two brothers attended the wedding. Mary and her husband divorced in 1989.

WALTERS: Suppose one of your sons came home and said, "Dad, I've got this girl and do you mind if we share a room here in the house?"

BING: In OUR house? No chance!

WALTERS: It happens in other families.

BING: Well, it wouldn't happen in MY family. If any one of them did that I wouldn't speak to them ever again.

WALTERS: Ever again?

BING: Ever again!

WALTERS: Do you mean that if one of your sons came home and said "I like this girl and I'm living with her and we're not married" you would never speak to him again?

BING: Aloha on the steel guitar.

WALTERS: That's awfully stern.

BING: Well, I was raised a Catholic. We believe in marriage.

WALTERS: And you'd rather he be married than maybe spend some time and found out what she was like?

BING: He doesn't have to take her to bed to find out what kind of woman he's marrying.

WALTERS: What would you do if Mary Frances, who is now 17, came to you at 19 or 20 and said "Dad, I'm having an affair. There's somebody I care about."?

BING: I'd say take your things and move where you're having the affair.

WALTERS: And you wouldn't talk to her or see her?


WALTERS: This daughter whom you adore?

BING: Yes.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Joan Fontaine, the Oscar-winning actress who was one of the last remaining links to Hollywood’s golden age of the 1930s and ’40s, has died at age 96, her assistant confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.

In her most famous films — Rebecca, for which she was Oscar-nominated, and Suspicion, for which she won — Fontaine came across as appealingly passive-aggressive. She could seem radiantly shy, believably insecure, gazing into the middle distance with a hesitancy that drew you immediately to her side. Yet she fashioned a movie career out of willpower and, quite possibly, large reservoirs of spite.

The younger sister of Olivia De Havilland, she maintained a ladylike-yet-intense rivalry with the sibling who beat her to the big screen. Peer between the cracks of Fontaine’s filmography and you’ll find a more intriguingly aggressive persona than the actress was generally given credit for. Maybe she wasn’t Born to be Bad, as the title of her juicy 1950 Nicholas Ray noir claimed, but she was much more than the second Mrs. DeWinter — or the other De Havilland. Both sisters, in fact, were born to entitlement, the daughters of Walter de Havilland, a British patent attorney with distant royal blood, and his actress wife. The children were born in Tokyo, Joan in 1917, and after their mother learned of the father’s affair with his Japanese maid, she whisked them to California. (The studio publicity later ascribed the move to health reasons for the “sickly” children.)

Olivia kept her family name and made a splash in early talkie Hollywood; Joan, by contrast, looked to stepfather George Fontaine for a screen alibi and struggled in smallish roles for RKO and other studios — to see her timid, wooden performance opposite Fred Astaire in A Damsel in Distress (1937) is to realize the appropriateness of the title. She saw her sister take roles she had hoped for; she auditioned for and lost the part of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, only to see Olivia score the part of Melanie. Despairing of ever making it, Fontaine curled up in bed to read a new best-seller called Rebecca and instantly saw herself in the put-upon heroine struggling against a powerful (if dead) rival. The next night she found herself at a dinner party seated next to producer David O. Selznick, who owned the rights. “Would you like to test for it?” he asked.

Rebecca made Fontaine’s name, and she returned to director Alfred Hitchcock for Suspicion,as a young wife convinced husband Cary Grant wants to do her in. She was nominated for Best Actress — and so was De Havilland, for Hold Back the Dawn. Fontaine won by one ballot, and late in life, Olivia was still kicking herself for voting for Barbara Stanwyck. In the career that followed, Fontaine tried to stretch with lustier roles — a lady on a pirate ship in Frenchman’s Creek (1944), a poisoner in Ivy (1947) — and was nominated once more for The Constant Nymph (1943). But victimized elegance kept calling her back, no more so than in the sublime heart-breaker Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948).

Joan went on to star opposite Bing Crosby in Billy Wilder's ill-conceived The Emperor Waltz (1948). Bing, who had co-star approval originally wanted to star alongside Greta Garbo or Deanna Durbin in the film. Fontaine was his third choice. Supposedly Bing and Joan did not have chemistry on the screen as well as off the screen, and the film was not either star's best work.

Friday, December 13, 2013


Watching an episode of "The Twilight Zone" this weekend, I was reminded of what a wonderful actress Inger Stevens was. She died way too young in 1970 at the age of 36.Inger Stevens was born Inger Stensland in Stockholm, Sweden. She was an insecure child and often ill.

When she was nine, her parents divorced and she moved with her father to New York City. At age 13, she and her father moved to Manhattan, Kansas, where she attended Manhattan High School. At 16, she worked in burlesque shows in Kansas City. At 18, she left Kansas for New York City. She worked as a chorus girl and in the Garment District while taking classes at the Actors Studio.

Stevens appeared on television series, commercials and in plays, until she got her big break in the movie Man on Fire starring Bing Crosby. Although it did not create a sensation, it led to a romance between the baritone crooner and the young Swedish-born actress. Throughout her career, Stevens displayed a propensity for falling in love with her co-stars and Bing Crosby, 31 years her senior, was no exception. The affair began after Inger suffered an appendicitis attack on the set in December of 1956. The two grew close during Crosby’s visits with her at the hospital.

Inger had hopes of marrying Crosby although she refused to convert to Catholicism for him. Soon after the release of Man on Fire, Bing invited her to supervise the renovation of his Palm Springs home. Stevens was under the mistaken impression that this was to be their matrimonial home. Unbeknownst to her, Bing was also seriously involved with another young actress named Kathryn Grant. It was while working on the house that Inger learned about Bing’s marriage to Kathryn.

Roles in major films followed, but she achieved her greatest success in the ABC television series The Farmer's Daughter, with William Windom. Previously, Stevens appeared in episodes of Bonanza, Route 66, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Eleventh Hour, Sam Benedict and The Twilight Zone.

Following the cancellation of The Farmer's Daughter in 1966, Stevens appeared in such movies as A Guide for the Married Man (1967), with Walter Matthau, Hang 'Em High, with Clint Eastwood, 5 Card Stud, with Dean Martin, and Madigan, with Henry Fonda and Richard Widmark, all in 1968. Stevens was attempting to make a comeback on television with the detective drama series The Most Deadly Game when she died.

Her first husband was her agent, Anthony Soglio, to whom she was married from 1955 to 1957. From 1961 until her death, she was secretly married to Ike Jones, an African-American actor. She was also romantically linked with Bing Crosby, Anthony Quinn, Dean Martin, Clint Eastwood, Harry Belafonte, Mario Lanza, and Burt Reynolds.

On the morning of April 30, 1970, a house guest found Stevens lying face down on her kitchen floor, having overdosed on Tedral (a combination drug of theophylline, ephedrine and phenobarbital, commonly prescribed in the treatment of breathing disorders such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis), washed down with alcohol. After an autopsy, her body was cremated and her ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean...

Monday, December 9, 2013


I normally do not post videos on my blog anymore, but here is a fascinating interview with Mary Carlisle. She is now in the Motion Picture Retirement Home, but she is pretty amazing for 100...

Saturday, December 7, 2013


In a career spanning six decades, composer-arranger-conductor,Pete Moore’s music was and is known to millions the world over, but his name is less familiar to the average person. As a composer, he wrote themes for many TV commercials including such famous brands as Coca Cola and Lux Toilet Soap, numerous songs recorded by such artists as Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee, Frankie Laine and Fred Astaire. But it is his composition “Asteroid” – the famous theme for Pearl and Dean’s cinema advertisements – that remains his most familiar and most successful composition. Apart from being heard every day (for the last 45 years) on cinema screens in the U.K., it is constantly featured around the world in commercials and documentaries. For many people, the very sound of its “pa-papa-pa” fanfare spells “cinema.” It has also been “sampled” by modern-day pop artists and enjoyed chart success on more than one occasion.

But that is only a small portion of a career that saw him providing orchestrations and accompaniments for such artists as Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Julie Andrews, Frankie Laine, Rosemary Clooney, Slim Whitman and Randy Crawford – to name but a few. His orchestrations can be found in the repertoires of such world famous musical units as the London Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops and the Rochester Symphony Orchestra – in addition to writing scores for such luminaries as Burt Bacharach, Marvin Hamlisch and Liberace.

A quiet, soft-spoken and unassuming man, cockney-raised and academy-trained, Pete Moore usually declined to do interviews because he was always “too busy.” In fact, it would seem that he never actively sought work, it just came to him. Which is why he was often referred to as “The Invisible Genius.” As a person and as a musician, he was liked and admired by everyone who knew him. While he may not be a household name, Pete Moore’s music remains alive and well. As it has for the past half-century.

His funeral takes place at 1.20 pm next Friday December 13th at Mortlake Crematorium, Kew Meadow Path, Townmead Road, London TW9 4EN

Pete Moore with Johnny Mercer and Ken Barnes


Wednesday, December 4, 2013


This is an excellent review that Bing Crosby fan Richard Pearson did way back in 2003. I thought it was an appropriate CD to review at the holiday season...

This Bing Crosby Christmas album is roughly 30 years old and I had the pleasure of purchasing it when it first came out back in the early l970s on LP. I was completely knocked out by the tunes, arrangements, brilliant background chorus and finally the great unique voice of Bing Crosby singing in the twilight of his years. His sincerity, workmanship, and seemingly effortless singing is so great that he makes each of these songs sound as though it was written for him! And the fact that I am not aware of hearing any other artists sing these songs makes me think that that the album was written for him! But irregardless of that, each song sounds as if it is a bonafide Christmas classic.

There is just the right amount of tradition and religious concepts worked into the beautiful lyrics that I cannot imagine a Christmas without listening to this album! Indeed I have downloaded the CD at work on my computer so I can listen to it in the office as well as home! The big mystery is why hardly anyone is aware of this album other than a few Crosby fans. This is indeed some of his finest work. Bing's voice had lowered a few notes by the 1970s but as mentioned before I can't imagine anyone singing the tunes any better! Those of you who love this album PLEASE write a review and let everyone know how great this CD is!