An Overdue Tribute to Bing Crosby -- With 11 Music Videos

Singer, Actor, Entertainer

Bing Crosby Stamp Issued 1994
Bing Crosby Stamp Issued 1994 | Source

'Der Bingle,' 'The Groaner'

Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby

This tribute was written as an "Editor's Notebook" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on Dec. 23, 1994. I don't know what took me so long! Bing's family celebrated the 30th anniversary of his death with the launching of a new Website, bingcrosby.com on Oct. 14, 2007, the date on which he died in 1977 after completing a round of golf in Spain. For the uninitiated, Bing made the most popular record ever, "White Christmas," and had more charted records than anyone (396), and that includes Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and the Beatles. The Tacoma, Wash., native had 38 No. 1 hits and won a Best Actor Oscar for "Going My Way," one of some five dozen movies in which he starred. He was a major radio and television star for some 30 years. Contemporary youngsters may only know "Der Bingle" from his duet with David Bowie, "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy," but extensive information on him can be found at my blog

Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby, who lent his melodic voice, underrated acting talents and devil-may-care attitude to the world for more than five decades, once again brightens the holiday season with his ubiquitous "White Christmas."

The man who "crooned" his way into the hearts of millions in "Pennies From Heaven" in the mid-'30s was "Swinging on a Star" by the '40s. His "White Christmas" inspired GI's on the battlefields of World War II as well as their loved ones at home.

But Crosby was no ordinary singer and it would be a shame if we were to allow his talents to go the way of Russ Columbo, Morton Downey, Rudy Vallee and Al Jolson.

"Der Bingle," -- a nickname he got from the German soldiers who picked up his broadcasts to the Allies -- deserves not to be forgotten.

Easygoing Crooning Style

Crosby was the acknowledged precursor of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Perry Como and Mel Torme (who has performed his own tribute to Bing and his music) among others. His easygoing crooning style was sometimes panned by musical technicians, but the "Father O'Malley" of "The Bells of St. Mary's" joined in song with virtually "everyone who was anyone" throughout his long, successful career.

Bing not only sang with all the great vocalists of his time, including the tuneful Andrews Sisters, but was known for his wide-ranging repertoire; his hit songs included country and western, Hawaiian and jazz, in addition to pop music. Over five decades he recorded, (largely) on the old Decca label, more than 2,400 songs.

While "White Christmas" is widely believed to be his largest selling record, Bing once pointed out that his recording of "Silent Night" actually was No. 1 in sales. Bing donated all the proceeds of that song to charity.

A Self-effacing Man

Perhaps one reason that Bing's music is not widely promoted these days (as are those of Sinatra) is that much of his best work was done in the days before high fidelity and CDs, although (many) technically enhanced tapes and (CDs) are now available. Also, Bing was a self-effacing man who thought of himself as nothing special, just a singer. Not unlike the character he portrayed throughout his career, he was more interested in golf and fishing than in promoting his career.

Bing loved singing, but his friends say that he was rarely happier than when he was playing golf (He was a low handicapper) or casting a fishing line in some remote part of the world. For many years, until his death at 74 in 1977, he was host of the Crosby "Clambake," a pro-am tournament held annually at Pebble Beach.

Star of Radio, Television, Movies

Few people realize that Bing starred in nearly five dozen movies, beginning with a few Mack Sennett comedies and ending with a character in one of the "Stagecoach" remakes. He also had his own television (and radio) shows, and for several years hosted a family Christmas Special.

He's famous, of course, for the seven "road" pictures he made with a guy named Bob Hope, but he reached his zenith in 1944 with his Oscar-winning role in "Going My Way."

Aside from the lighthearted parts he played in many movies, Bing showed true talent as an actor in several serious roles, including "The Country Girl" with William Holden and Grace Kelly.

Sadly, Bing's reputation has taken a beating since his death, most notably through a book by his son, Gary, who portrayed Bing as such a strict disciplinarian that he brutalized the children he fathered with Dixie Lee, his first wife. Bing was described once as a "fallen down drunk" when he first hit the limelight in the late '20s when he (and the Rhythm Boys) split with the biggest bandleader of the time, Paul Whiteman.

Loved by Millions

Notwithstanding those allegations, Bing was loved by millions around the world and could warm the coldest heart with that great baritone voice. In my opinion he had no equal.

I would hope that after three decades of loud, cacophonous "music," the youngsters of today might be ready for a return to sanity -- a return to truly good music.

And, in my book, there is no better music than that left to us by Bing Crosby.

Thanks, Bing!

Having retired from The Hour newspaper in 2000, I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages. To view my HubPages Profile Click Here

Have You Seen the new colorized version of "Holiday Inn"?

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More about Bing Crosby, with videos, on my blog:

Who Was This Guy Bing Crosby Anyway?

Crosby's Pal Al Rinker Talks About Bing and 'The Rhythm Boys'

Bing Chats With Mary Pickford, Sings 'With Every Breath I Take'

Bing Crosby Sings 'Just a Gigolo' (1931)

Bing Crosby and Johnny Mercer Sing a Medley of Old Songs

Bing & Andrews Sisters: 'You Don't Have To Know the Language'

Bing Crosby Sings 'Brother Can You Spare a Dime'

Bing Crosby and The Temptations Sing 'My Girl'

Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra Sing 'Well Did You Eva'

Bing Crosby Sings 'Just One More Chance' & 'I Surrender Dear'

Bing Crosby Sings 'Moonlight Becomes You'

Bing Sings 'Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ra,' From 'Going My Way'

More by this Author


Comments 49 comments

Florida Fan 9 years ago

Great story about a great singer, actor, and an all around great guy!


TN fan 9 years ago

Thank You for recognizing Bing in this wonderful article.


A "Youngster" 9 years ago

<>I was sorely disappointed by the lack of coverage concerning the 30th anniversary of Bing's passing. Thanks for giving this wonderful entertainer a mention. I'm 21 and would much rather listen to Bing's glorious voice than whatever "music" is currently making the rounds on the charts.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks for your comment. I share your disappointment. It's encouraging to see someone your age enjoy the wonderful music of Bing Crosby. I can only hope that other youngsters will lend an ear. He has been an inspiration in my life.


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

I dont know how i missed this "Overdue Tribute to Bing" article!!

Bing Crosby deffinetly deserves more fame and recognition than he gets, and you really help!!

Good job!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I appreciate your comments, compu-smart. If the younger generations spent a few minutes listening to Bing sing and watching some of his great movies, I'm sure they would sing his praises as well. I really hope they take a moment to view the videos.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America

I missed this too, but am glad I found it now. Very nice tribute.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I'm glad you found it, too, Patty. Bing is the greatest!


Dottie1 profile image

Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

I don't know how I landed here William but I did.  So I had to stay and find out more about you and Bing.  I was just at that stupid age when I had no time for him.  I'm sure I hear you saying that it is my loss!  I always loved "White Christmas" and I just left a comment on ripplemakers hub about swingin on a star.  That was Bing Crosby's song?  Well he must have snuck upon me somehow without my written consent!  It was interesting to read about your idol.  Thanks for sharing your tribute to Bing! ;)


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I'm delighted you found this tribute to Bing, Dottie. Bing sang "Swinging on a Star" in his 1944 movie, "Going My Way." The picture was "nominated for 9 Oscars and won 7, including best actor (Bing), best picture and best song ('Swinging on a Star.') The film elevated Crosby to top box-office attraction among motion picture stars, where he stayed for a record 5 years." (Quote from Steven Lewis' Bing Crosby Internet Museum.) I hope you had time to look at the videos on this hub; they demonstrate Bing's talent and versatility. Thanks.


Dottie1 profile image

Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

I did listen to the videos too William and found them entertaining and very relaxing to watch. I remember watching the family christmas special with my mother and father. And now that I am my parents age LOL, I could probably appreciate Bing Crosby. Since I like that song "Swinging on a Star", I bet I would like that movie "Going My Way". I'll have to check that out. Thanks again William.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I don't think I ever missed one of Bing's family Christmas specials, Dottie. I think I'm safe in saying that I can guarantee you'll find "Going My Way" to your liking. Bing made some five dozen movies, including "Holiday Inn," "Pennies From Heaven," and "Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court." His theme song was "Where the Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day."


Dottie1 profile image

Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

Five Dozen Movies...Holy Moly! I've got "Going My Way" written down so now I know it will happen....eventually, but it will happen. Maybe even sooner than later. I will definitely let you know how I like it.

Would you like to swing on a star? Carry moonbeams home in a jar. And be better off than you are, or would you rather be a mule? William, this song is now stuck in my head. LOL


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I'd love to hear how you liked "Going My Way," Dottie. Nice words to "Swinging on a Star," aren't they?

I have to confess I really did laugh out loud when you said the words were stuck in your head. Now you're gonna get 'em stuck in my head, too!


Netters profile image

Netters 8 years ago from Land of Enchantment - NM

Holiday Inn is one of my favorite movies. Also Boy's Town. I love old movies. Thank you for the great hub!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I love old movies, too, Netters -- especially Bing Crosby movies. I haven't seen the new colorized version of Holiday Inn yet, but I'll be heading to WalMart soon to pick up the CD-DVD. They tell me it's great, even those who are not big fans of colorized movies. Merry Christmas.


Dottie1 profile image

Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

I just sooo smiled when I saw your profile today William.  As we discussed 4 weeks ago (has it really been that long) I was going to check out Bings movie "Going My Way".  Well last night as I was going to decorate my Christmas tree I thought it would be nice to watch the movie.  I went to the rental store and they did not have it, boo hoo...but they did have one, just one bing crosby movie and that was "The Bells of St. Mary's.  Have you seen this movie?  Bing Crosby is a CHARMER to say the least.  Now I could go on for a long time but let me just thank you for suggesting that I check his movie out.  I will definitely be watching more.  Thanks William.  I can see why you are a HUGE fan as I look up at your profile pic and can't help but smile :)


Shirley Anderson profile image

Shirley Anderson 8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

William!  All this time, I thought that you hadn't written about your beloved Bing and I wondered why.  Your hub is a wonderful tribute and I'm sure Bing would be pleased.  He really outsold The Beatles?? 

Although it's been a long time, I have seen many of his movies over the years, including Holiday Inn, Bells of St. Mary's, the 'Road to' flicks. 

The lyrics to White Christmas are searched for a lot on Google, so people must want to sing-a-long with him. 

Very nice hub, William.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I'm so glad you got to see "The Bells of St. Mary's," Dottie. It's the sequel to "Going My Way.' Unfortunately, Bing's movies are not always available in stores, but most are sold on the Internet. In fact, Bing's "Holiday Inn," (1942) with Fred Astaire, just came out in color. I just bought it at WalMart and watched it on Thanksgiving Day (the black and white version is great, too.) Two of my Bing favorites are "Pennies From Heaven" (1936), which may be hard to get, and "Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949.) I hope you get to see some of these as I know you'll love them!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Bing not only outsold the Beatles, Shirlty, but here's a quote from the Bing Crosby Internet Museum: "Between 1927 and 1962 he scored 368 charted records under his own name, plus twenty-eight as a vocalist with various bandleaders, for a total of 396. No one else has come close; compare Paul Whiteman (220), Frank Sinatra (209), Elvis Presley (149), Glenn Miller (129), Nat “King” Cole (118), Louis Armstrong (85), the Beatles (68)." I'm glad you enjoyed reading this hub. I enjoyed writing it. I only wish some of our younger generation would take a good look at Bing's work. They're not easy to find, but many of Crosby's radio shows and TV appearances can be found on the Internet. Thanks for your interest.


Shirley Anderson profile image

Shirley Anderson 8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Well, you know William, everything has a cycle and comes back into fashion. Happened with Johnny Cash and Neil Young already, so it's bound to do the same for Bing. Don't give up hope!


Dottie1 profile image

Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

Thanks William for the list of movies. I will definitely be checking some of them out. I so enjoyed last night decorating my tree with Bing. William, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner. ~Dottie~


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I hope you're right, Shirley. Satellite radio will be running a nonstop broadcast of Bing's holiday special radio shows from Dec. 13 to 25 (Channel 113 on Sirius and Channel 120 on XM.) The Crosby family is finally beginning to take an interest in promoting Bing's legacy, so I've got my fingers crossed that the new generation will eventually have the privilege of seeing and hearing his more than four decades of entertaining us with his songs and movies.


ChelseaDDillon profile image

ChelseaDDillon 8 years ago

Excellent piece on a true musical genius, I only wish Bing Crosby still received the credit he is due today.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thank you, Chelsea. The Crosby family has recently taken a greater interest in bringing Bing's great talents to the attention of the younger generation, and there are three new Crosby restaurants on the west coast. By the way, Bing's "Holiday Inn" just came out in a colorized version, which I found in WalMart. Although I love black and white, it sure looks great in color.


Lgali profile image

Lgali 8 years ago

thanks for list


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks, Lgali. If you get a chance, you can see Bing on television (Turner Classic Movies):The Bells of St. Mary's, Dec. 11, Pennies From Heaven, Dec. 11, High Society, Dec. 11, and Road to Bali, Dec. 12.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

I'm among your readers who can't believe I missed this Hub at the time you published. Oddly, today is December 11, and I would have missed the TCM lineup if I didn't read your Hub. I know what channel I'm going to be tuned to today and tomorrow (clearly, it was meant to be)! Thanks for this tribute to one of the great entertainment icons of my childhood!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I'm very pleased, Sally's Trove, that you found this hub in time to see those great Crosby movies on TCM. Thanks for commenting. I'll be watching "Der Bingle" with you.


gunsock profile image

gunsock 7 years ago from South Coast of England

I've just discovered this great hub about a great guy. Anyone who had the attention and praise that Bing did and still keep his feet on the ground is the tops for me.

Thanks William!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks, gunsock. Bing never sought the limelight. When he sang with others -- which he did more than any other singer ever -- he always put the spotlight on them. In his many movies, he wouldn't even take top billing, claiming he didn't want to be overexposed. Der Bingle actually isn't doing all that badly today, and I'm planning another piece about that. By the way, I really like your hubs, and I'm looking forward to reading a lot more (one needs 24 hours a day to keep up with all this computer stuff.) But I'll get there soon.


Cailin Gallagher profile image

Cailin Gallagher 7 years ago from New England

His singing has always warmed my heart..."White Christmas" being one of my favorite Christmas traditions. Pitch perfect. Thanks for the re-release!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thank you, Cailin, for commenting. Bing was a man of many talents, but his Christmas songs and movies are remembered today more than his other great records and movies -- and his wonderful radio and TV shows. "White Christmas" and "Holiday Inn" are truly great Christmas traditions. This hub is one of my early ones, and I just realized that many hubbers (and others) did not know about it. I know that those who don't know about Crosby will appreciate his talents.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 6 years ago from The English Midlands

"White Christmas" and "Holiday Inn" ~ Great seasonal films.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

For the holidays, Trish_M, "White Christmas" and "Holiday Inn" are truly wonderful. But many of Bing's other movies are equally enjoyable. "Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court," "Pennies From Heaven," "The Big Broadcast (of 1932)" and "Country Girl" are just four of his many movies that show off his great talent -- not to mention his seven "road" pictures with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour.


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

I adore Bing and thank you for such a wonderful tribute to Bing, the visuals and videos are a wonderful treat! Peace :)


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Bing Crosby was, and is, the best of them all, katiem2. Thanks for your nice comment.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

"Too-raloo-ra-loo-ra" was my mothers favorite song. She loved Bing Crosby. I saw every movie he ever made. There will never be anyone like him - no one will every equal his voice. Those "blue eyes" just twinkled. Such expressive eyes. He was such a talented actor that one forgets he is acting. Thank you so much for such a stunning tribute to Bing Crosby. Rated big thumbs up and awesome.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

"Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral" is a great song, vocalcoach, and anyone who saw Bing Crosby's Oscar-winning "Going My Way" can hardly forget him singing the song to Barry Fitzgerald. Your mother's love for Bing Crosby is shared by millions. I think it's virtually impossible to give too many accolades to Der Bingle. Thanks for your kind comment.


Fiddleman profile image

Fiddleman 5 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

Great write William. Bing was an icon in the music industry and if I remember didn't he have a brother, Bob Crosby who was also an entertainer.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 5 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks, Fiddleman. Bob Crosby was a Dixieland bandleader of a group called the Bob-Cats. He was also a singer. Bing and Bob had two other brothers, Everett and Ted, and two sisters, Catherine and Mary Rose.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America

I shared this one with my followers. Rated Up!


ciaron davies profile image

ciaron davies 5 years ago

Kudos!


safiq ali patel profile image

safiq ali patel 5 years ago from United States Of America

white christmas and little drummer booy are two of my favorites...


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 5 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks, Patty. I'm listening to Bing sing right now on bingcrosby.com He just sang "How High the Moon" and now is singing "Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral."


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 5 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks a lot, ciaron davies.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 5 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Two of Bing's great hits, safiq ali patel. You can find "Little Drummer Boy" on my other hub: Bing Crosby: Not Only White Christmas:" http://hubpages.com/entertainment/Bing-Crosby-Not-... Thanks.


AEvans profile image

AEvans 5 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

Although this was written sometime ago, I had to read about Bing Crosby. I was born in the wrong era. I love the classics and my grandmother gave me a record when I was small and I still have it. The 45 is "Pistol Packin Mama" with Mae West and Bing Crosby. Although a little scratched and worn, I can still remember my grandmother singing the part of Mae West and my grandfather singing the part of Bing Crosby. Thank you so much for this wonderful piece and bringing back a flood of memories. :)


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 5 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I'm very glad you got here, AEvans, and this hub still some nice memories. Bing and Mae West were great together. "Pistol Packin Mama" is a fantastic song, too.

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