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Fun Facts About Bing Crosby – A Detailed Overview


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Bing Crosby – Tacoma’s Melodious Son

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Fourteen things you might not know about Bing Crosby

1. Origin of “Bing”: Bing Crosby, originally named Harry Lillis Crosby, acquired his iconic nickname from a beloved comic strip. After relocating to Spokane at age three, a young Crosby found immense joy in “The Bingville Bugle,” a comic feature in The Spokesman-Review. This strip, parodying rural newspapers, amused him greatly. His laughter caught the attention of a neighbor, Valentine Hobart, who dubbed him “Bingo from Bingville.” Eventually, the name was trimmed to “Bing,” a moniker that remained with Crosby throughout his life.

2. A Potential Career in Law: Before his rise to fame, Bing Crosby was immersed in law studies at Gonzaga University. While juggling his education and a part-time job at a local attorney's office, Crosby performed with a dance band. Realizing his musical gigs paid and a legal assistant’s salary, he pondered his career path. This financial revelation led him to abandon law for a more lucrative future in music.

3. Golfing Prodigy: Crosby's golfing skills were exceptional. A five-time club champion, he competed in prestigious tournaments like the U.S. Amateur and British Amateur. His golf prowess was so noteworthy that even under the alias Harry L. Crosby, he attracted large galleries. With 13 holes in one, Bing's frequent play and skill on the golf course were undeniable.

4. Unseen Hero of the 1960 World Series: As a part-owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bing had a unique connection to the team's 1960 World Series victory. Opting to vacation in Paris during the series to avoid jinxing his team, he arranged for the final game to be filmed privately. This game, an iconic moment in sports history, was believed lost until rediscovered in Crosby's estate, providing a timeless piece of baseball lore.


5. Passion for Horse Racing: In 1937, Crosby and partners launched the Del Mar Racetrack, becoming a hub for Hollywood and horse racing enthusiasts. Bing's presence on opening day and the subsequent legendary race between Seabiscuit and Ligaroti underscored his influence in popularizing the sport and the venue.

6. Iconic Christmas Anthems: Crosby’s “White Christmas,” from the film “Holiday Inn,” stands as the best-selling single ever, testament to his enduring legacy. His portrayal of Father Chuck O’Malley in “Going My Way” earned him an Academy Award, solidifying his status in Hollywood's golden era.

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7. Unlikely Musical Pairing: Bing Crosby's Christmas specials, a seasonal tradition, culminated in a memorable duet with David Bowie in 1977. Their performance of “Peace on Earth” bridged musical generations, highlighting Crosby’s versatility and lasting appeal.

8. Philanthropic Endeavors: Crosby's contributions to Gonzaga University, including a significant donation raised through “The Edsel Show,” reflect his deep connection to his alma mater. Despite the show’s success, it ironically failed to boost sales for its namesake car, the Edsel.

9. Preserving History: Crosby’s childhood home in Spokane, where he lived until 1936, stands near Gonzaga University. Now a museum, it offers a glimpse into his life through various memorabilia, allowing fans to connect with Crosby’s legacy firsthand.

10. Technological Innovator: Crosby was a pioneer in the adoption of magnetic tape recording, which revolutionized the music and broadcasting industries. His investment in the technology allowed for the first-ever pre-recorded radio program and set a new standard for audio quality and production flexibility.

11. Humanitarian Efforts: Beyond his entertainment career, Crosby was known for his charitable work, particularly during World War II. He raised significant funds for war efforts and entertained troops, earning him the title of “the most admired man alive” during the war years for his contributions to morale and charity.

12. Style Icon: Bing's smooth, baritone voice and relaxed singing style set the standard for the crooner genre and influenced future generations of singers. His laid-back yet sophisticated persona, both on and off-screen, helped define the cool, debonair image of male vocalists in the mid-20th century.

13. Family Legacy: Crosby’s family life, while complex, contributed to his public persona. His seven children, some of whom followed in his entertainment footsteps, added to the Crosby legacy, with varying degrees of success and public interest in their careers.

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14. Environmental Awareness: Bing's love for golf and the outdoors extended to environmental conservation efforts. He was ahead of his time in advocating for the preservation of natural landscapes, particularly in California, where he resided and participated in conservation initiatives.

Bing Crosby's 10 Most Popular Songs:

Rank Song Title Year Notable Fact
1 “White Christmas” 1942 Best-selling single of all time, with over 50 million copies sold worldwide.
2 “Swinging on a Star” 1944 Won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
3 “Pennies from Heaven” 1936 Featured in the film of the same name, showcasing Crosby's smooth crooning.
4 “Don't Fence Me In” 1944 A popular American song, co-written by Cole Porter and Robert Fletcher.
5 “I'll Be Seeing You” 1944 A sentimental ballad that became an anthem of the World War II era.
6 “Blue Skies” 1946 Crosby's version of this Irving Berlin classic was a significant hit.
7 “Alexander's Ragtime Band” 1938 Crosby recorded this with Connee Boswell in a famous duet.
8 “Silent Night” 1942 One of the best-selling Christmas singles of all time.
9 “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” 1944 Recorded with The Andrews Sisters, highlighting Crosby's versatility.
10 “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” 1932 One of the best-known American songs of the Great Depression.

These songs not only highlight Bing Crosby's versatility as a singer but also underscore his impact on 20th-century music, with “White Christmas” being an enduring legacy of his career.

Bing Crosby's Filmography Highlights:

Year Film Title Role Notable Fact
1940 “Road to Singapore” Josh Mallon First of the “Road to…” series with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour.
1942 “Holiday Inn” Jim Hardy Introduced “White Christmas”; won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
1944 “Going My Way” Father Chuck O'Malley Won Academy Award for Best Actor.
1945 “The Bells of St. Mary's” Father Chuck O'Malley Nominated for Academy Award for Best Actor.
1946 “Blue Skies” Johnny Adams Known for its music and dance numbers, featuring Irving Berlin songs.
1947 “Road to Rio” Scat Sweeney Part of the popular “Road to…” comedy film series.
1952 “Road to Bali” George Cochran Last “Road to…” film to feature Crosby, Hope, and Lamour together.
1954 “White Christmas” Bob Wallace A classic holiday film that showcases Crosby's iconic song.
1956 “High Society” C.K. Dexter-Haven A musical remake of “The Philadelphia Story” with Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra.
1962 “The Road to Hong Kong” Harry Turner Final “Road to…” film, also featuring Joan Collins and Peter Sellers.
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This table summarizes key moments in Bing Crosby's film career, showcasing his versatility as an actor and his significant contributions to American cinema.

Bing Crosby's indelible mark on the world of entertainment reverberates through the ages, transcending the boundaries of time and genre. His melodious voice, innovative spirit, and charismatic screen presence have left an enduring legacy, painting the canvas of American culture with the warm hues of nostalgia and joy.

Crosby's journey from the humble streets of Tacoma to the pinnacle of global stardom is a testament to his unparalleled talent and enduring appeal. As the echoes of his iconic “White Christmas” continue to fill the air each festive season, Bing Crosby remains a beloved figure, whose contributions to music, film, and the broader entertainment industry continue to warm hearts and inspire generations.

In remembering Bing Crosby, we cherish not just the entertainment icon, but the man who brought a touch of humanity and a sprinkle of stardust to every melody, every role, and every endeavor he undertook, leaving the world a richer place with his timeless legacy.

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