Monday, October 31, 2016


Here is an interesting review of Bing's early movie She Loves Me Not. This was originally published in the NY Times on September 8, 1934...

It is indeed a strange group of characters that are introduced during the hectic proceedings in the film version of last season's play,  She Loves Me Not. Mixed up with Princeton students are the university dean, his daughter, a fiery-tempered cabaret dancer, a couple of cool gunmen and an energetic motion picture press agent and his persistent camera men. As on the stage, this adaptation is a swift-paced piece of hilarity, with occasional romantic interludes during which Bing Crosby and Kitty Carlisle contribute some tuneful melodies.

Some of the farcical episodes in this Paramount offering are apt to recall that famous old comedy, "Charley's Aunt," but in the present production, instead of having a varsity student in skirts, they dress up a cabaret girl in male attire after she has invaded a dormitory room. It has many madcap exploits, such as when the urbane Dean Mercer is felled unconscious by one of the students, just after a thug has been treated similarly. It gives the producers the opportunity to present the thug and the college dean bound together on a sofa. And not the least humorous aspect of this incident is the fact that that excellent actor, Henry Stephenson, impersonates the unfortunate dean.

The story slips from a night club in Philadelphia to Princeton, thence to New York and back to the university. Miriam Hopkins appears as Curly Flagg, a dancer who flees from a night club—where she was a witness to a killing—to Princeton, where she takes refuge in one of the students' rooms. She is a constant source of worry to two students, Paul Lawton and Buzz Jones, even when she is garbed as a young man. Then the gangster chief decides that Curly will probably squeal about the murder and he dispatches two hirelings to "take her for a ride."

A motion picture producer hears about the girl being hidden in the Princeton students' room and his imaginative publicity man conceives the notion of employing Curly as a star, after getting as much publicity as possible in discovering her.

Lawton, who is acted by Bing Crosby, becomes infatuated with Midge Mercer, the dean's daughter, and their romance offers opportunity for the singing of several songs, which include "Love in Bloom," "I'm Hummin'," "I'm Whistlin'," "I'm Singin'" and "Straight From the Shoulder, Right From the Heart." These are rendered quite effectively by Mr. Crosby and Miss Carlisle.

Miriam Hopkins gives a vivacious performance as Curly and Warren Hymer adds to the fun by his portrayal of a gangster. Lynne Overman is splendid as the publicity man and George Barbier is in his element in the rôle of a motion picture magnate. Mr. Stephenson makes the most of the rôle of the unfortunate Dean Mercer...

Monday, October 24, 2016


One of the first record labels Bing Crosby signed with was the Brunswick label, where he recorded some of his first hits like "Please", "Brother Can You Spare A Dime", and "Temptation". Here is a great advertisement I found of the Brunswick label with Bing from 1933...

Friday, October 14, 2016

OCTOBER 14, 1977

39 years ago, the music died for one of the most widely heard voices in history...

This article was originally published by the Daily News on October 15, 1977. This story was written by Amador Marin...

Madrid - Bing Crosby, the crooner of beautiful songs who dominated show business for three generations of lovers around the world, died here yesterday of a heart attack after completing a round of golf. "Der Bingle" was 73, and his death produced shock and grief among millions of devoted fans.

The end for the man with the gold baritone voice and relaxed, pipe-smoking humor came at the end of a 4 ½ - hour round of his beloved golf during which the great singer and actor was described as "happy and singing" - fresh from an acclaimed tour of Britain. He had come to Spain for a few days of rest and relaxation.

Crosby had been playing with three prominent Spanish golfers on the La Moraleja club course on the outskirts of Madrid, and the foursome had just left the 18th hole late in the afternoon. The four happy players were walking back to the clubhouse when Crosby was seized by a heart attack and slumped to the ground.

"We thought he had just slipped," said one of the Bing's playing comrades, Valentin Barrios, a champion Spanish golfer. "We took him to the clubhouse and he was given oxygen and cardiac tonic injections, but nothing could be done, Bing had shown no signs of fatigue. He was happy and singing as we went around the course."

Crosby, Barrios said, did not utter a sound as he fell to the turf.

"There were no last words," Barrios said.

It was about 6:30 p.m. on a warm sunny afternoon here when Crosby died. He was taken to the Red Cross Hospital in Madrid in an ambulance, but doctors there could do nothing. He was pronounced dead on arrival. "We carried him to the clubhouse, but it was already too late," said another member of the foursome, Manuel Pinero, the current Spanish golf champion.

"We were walking back to the clubhouse chatting and happy that we had won," Pinero said last night, as he recalled how he and Crosby had defeated Barrios and another Spanish golfer, Cesar de Zulueta, president of La Moraleja club.

Crosby's last game of golf was good. "Bing played better than Thursday, when he shot 92," Barrios told reporters...

Monday, October 10, 2016


Guest reviewer Bruce Kogan is back to take a look at the forgotten 1940 musical gem - Rhythm On The River...

Poor Basil Rathbone, an egotistical composer who's lost his muse. He's been faking it for some time, buying his lyrics and his music from various sources. Trouble is that two of the sources (Bing Crosby music) and (Mary Martin words) happen to meet and fall in love. And then they discover what they've been doing. Complications ensue, but all is righted at the end.

Crosby and Martin sing terrifically. Mary had signed a Paramount contract and also at the same time doubled as a regular on Crosby's Kraft Music Hall Radio Show. For reasons I don't understand, movie audiences didn't take to her, so she went back to Broadway and did One Touch of Venus in 1944 and stayed there.

Basil Rathbone in one of the few times he played comedy does it very well. His ego is constantly being deflated by sidekick Oscar Levant and again I'm surprised they didn't do more films together.

As in most of Crosby's Paramount vehicles, no big production numbers, but the title tune being done as an impromptu jam session in a pawn shop is cinematic gold. It shows what great rhythm Bing had. Good job by all.

Billy Wilder is co-credited for the story, and his unsentimental touch is noticeable in this quite original tale of ghostwriting songwriters who both work for burnt-out music legend Oliver Courtney. The obvious misunderstandings are gotten out of the way quite quickly, thank heaven, and what remains is a witty and breezy concoction with some fine songs (and some more forgettable ones).

Crosby at his most charming, a great turn by Broadway legend Mary Martin and Basil Rathbone and Oscar Levant providing most of the cynical barbs (Levant is in rare form and his quips haven't dated at all). Martin's singing gives hope and question to the ironic fact that she never scored in movies, given four years to try and make it at Paramount before giving up and returning to Broadway where she had greater luck. Crosby is his easy going self as usual, dropping deadpan lines like a dog with a bone after realizing that nothing else remained to gnaw on. A delightful surprise, and recommended for all fans of the genre.

A surprisingly original plot and great entertainment...


Monday, October 3, 2016


Born Wilma Winifred Wyatt, she adopted the professional name "Dixie Carroll" as a singer and showgirl. Winfield Sheehan of the Fox film studio changed the name to Dixie Lee, to avoid confusion with actresses Nancy Carroll and Sue Carol. She married Bing Crosby at the age of 18, and had four sons with him, all of them battled alcoholism as Dixie did.

Crosby's biographer, Gary Giddins, describes Dixie Lee as a shy, private person with a sensible approach to life. Giddins recounts that Dixie and Bing, as young marrieds, were often invited to parties where liquor was plentiful, and Dixie drank socially to keep up with Bing. She succeeded in curbing Bing's alcohol consumption, but ironically her own alcoholism worsened. She had a brief film career, starring in a few features for Bing's home studio Paramount Pictures in the 1930s; her most notable film is probably Love in Bloom (1935).

The two first met in November 1928 and Bing was immediately smitten. Dixie was a bit more hesitant. They met again at a party in Hollywood in early 1929 and the Crosby charm was too much to resist. The two married September 29, 1930, at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Hollywood. 

As Bing's stardom rose to superstar status in the 1930s, four boys arrived in the Crosby household. Gary Crosby arrived first in October 1933, the twins, Phillip and Dennis came along in 1934, and Lindsay rounded out the bunch in 1938.

However, despite her husband's fame and the four boys, Dixie was very tortured with what modern doctors would diagnose as depression. In the 1940s, Bing Crosby was one of the most recognizable men in the world, and with this fame he spent more and more time away from his family. As a result, Dixie was turning more and more towards alcohol.

In 1947, a movie came out called Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman starring Susan Hayward. It was a thinly disguised story based on the life of Dixie. It was directed by Stuart Heisler, who had directed Bing in Blue Skies the year before. Bing and Dixie were outraged at the film, and it further brought tension to their lives together.

Bing attempted to divorce Dixie following World War II to marry actress Joan Caulfield. The Catholic hierarchy denied Bing's request, and Caulfield was sent packing. In 1952 Bing learned that Dixie was dying of ovarian cancer while he was in France filming Little Boy Lost. She died Nov. 1, 1952, a week after his return home and three days before her 41st birthday. Bing's children and friends noted that Bing was devastated by his wife's death, despite their close encounters with divorce. Despite eventually remarrying in 1957, others close to Bing say he never recovered from the death of Dixie, who was there with him since the beginning of his rise to super stardom. Dixie Lee was definitely the woman behind the man, depite her demons...