Being Good Ought To Be Good Enough

'Entertainer of the Century'

Elvis Presley: "Entertainer of the Century," according to the 21st Century's first issue of TV Guide
Elvis Presley: "Entertainer of the Century," according to the 21st Century's first issue of TV Guide

Singer/Actor Bing Crosby

My Choice for Best Entertainer

Bing Crosby, 1903-1977 -- My Pick for Entertainer of the Century
Bing Crosby, 1903-1977 -- My Pick for Entertainer of the Century

What's wrong with being good?

I've always felt that being good is, well, good enough!

The more I read, listen to the radio and watch television, the more I see that others don't feel the same way.

It seems that many people have a congenital urge to be "the best."

Hurry Up . . . And Wait

Usually, it's the Type A personalities. You know, the kind of guy who's not going anywhere, but he just has to get there in a hurry.

He's the one who, when your foursome's about to play a round of golf at Oak Hills or Shorehaven (in Norwalk, Conn.), pulls out his watch on the first tee to estimate how quickly he can finish the 18 holes.

People -- especially those on radio and TV and even some newspapermen -- can't seem to survive without hyperbole.

In winter, it's not sufficient for weather reporters to talk about the big storm heading our way; it simply isn't enough to say the expected 14 inches of snow will be accompanied by 35 mph winds and gusts of 60 mph.

'Storm of the Century'

Those are merely facts, or at least prognostications. To do it right, any reporter worth his salt will add some drama by forecasting the impending "Storm of the Century."

Calling it anything less would be criminal -- at least until the next Storm of the Century in a week or two!

Same thing with trials. Who would pay any attention to the O.J. Simpson case if it weren't the "Trial of the Century?" If you thought the Bruno Richard Hauptmann trial for the murder of Charles Lindbergh Jr. in 1934 was the century's most dramatic and significant trial, forget it!

Anyway, that century's over; we have a new one. Perhaps some eager young TV reporter will make a name for himself soon by labeling his next report the "Storm of the Millennium."

'Entertainer of the Century'

Speaking of millenniums, the century's first TV Guide has crowned Elvis Presley "Entertainer of the Century." Incredibly, it thinks we'll agree with its picks for the Top 10 "Century Club," led by Presley. The other nine are, in order, Marilyn Monroe, the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Stewart, Michael Jordon, Johnny Carson, Katharine Hepburn and Mickey Mouse.

Just for the record, I don't agree -- not by a long shot!

These are all fine entertainers, sure, but TV Guide's strained efforts to come up with "the best" is "the worst." It may sell magazines, but it does little else.

The Best: Bing Crosby

I don't expect anyone to agree, but, if one has to pick "the best," my choice would be singer, actor, entertainer -- and a pretty good golfer, too -- Bing Crosby. He recorded over 2,000 songs and influenced generations of singers. Longevity counts.

TV Guide's selections are obviously geared to the present generation; it simply doesn't take the entire century into account.

Foolish Comparisons

Some names to ponder: Enrico Caruso, Clark Gable, Lillian Gish, Laurence Olivier, Greta Garbo, W.C. Fields, Spencer Tracy, Harold Lloyd, Errol Flynn, Bob Hope -- and the list goes on.

Comparisons are foolish, especially by anyone who never even heard of Eddie Cantor; entertainers, and others, must be judged in their own time.

Does Jack Benny compare to Douglas Fairbanks Jr.? Or, Fibber McGee and Molly to Elvis?

I wrote this column for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk on April 2, 2000. I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages. - To view my HubPages Profile Click Here

Who Was the Best Singer of the 20th Century?

See results without voting

Bing Crosby Sings 'Swinging on a Star'

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Comments 29 comments

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 8 years ago

This attitude is often reflected in the way people drive, cutting in and out. Not signalling and turning left in front of you, etc.


William F. Torpey profile image

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

That's true, Ralph. Some people have an overly high opinion of themselves, and a poor opinion of just about everyone else. Thanks for commenting.


Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 8 years ago from Sydney

I also laugh at those "best of the century" programs - they're obviously compiled by people who are only old enough to remember the last 20 years!

I agree with your general observation, too. Our society no longer values people who do their best, only those who win. It's sad.


William F. Torpey profile image

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

It's sad, too, Marisa, how soon we forget those who came before us. It seems every generation casts off the old for the new rather than taking what was good from the old and adding it to what is good with the new. Thanks.


Shirley Anderson profile image

Shirley Anderson 8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Yay, William!! You got your title back.

Um, William...you poll does not offer The Beatles as a possible selection. I voted 'Other', just thought I'd mention it. :) It is nice to see that your beloved Bing is leading the pack, though.

I fully agree with you about the over zealousness and sensationalism of news coverage these days. Not only is it often blown out of proportion and exaggerated, but once a news agency/station/reporter gets a hold of what they feel to be a selling piece, they rerun it ad nauseum!

I think the saddest result is the fact nothing is big anymore, because everything is big.


William F. Torpey profile image

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

Thank you, Shirley. "They" keep telling me how easy all this computer stuff is, but somehow I get thrown for a lot of loops. But, thanks to you and everybody on the HubPages forum I was able to restore the title of this hub (and learn a few new things as well.) I confess that I never gave the Beatles a thought, maybe because I was thinking of a best "singer," not a group -- although I have never been a Beatles fan. The ad nauseum reruns are one of my favorite pet peeves. It's true "everything" is big these days. I can't even buy a dozen small eggs at my supermarket -- they only sell large, extra large and jumbo!


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 8 years ago from India

Bing Crosby was my mother's favourite singer - so I've heard a bit of him too - and loved what I heard. However, when a generation hasn't even heard his name, it's rather difficult for them to think beyond the now and what is popular. It's not so much that they won't acknowledge them - just that they don't know! Great hub!


William F. Torpey profile image

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

I'm delighted that you've had the opportunity to hear Bing Crosby, Shalini. I'm not surprised he was your mother's favorite. He was the favorite of millions in the 1930s, '40s and '50s -- and even into the '60s and '70s. I see your point that the younger generations just don't know Bing. Nevertheless, it's a shame that Bing, and so many other great entertainers are virtually forgotten, especially in this day and age when CDs and Ipods, etc. are so widely available. I appreciate your welcome comment.


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

Its soo true William what you write and if i had to pick my favorite best writer it would be you! I always love your very good observations!

Keep on writing thats what i say!:)


rockinjoe profile image

rockinjoe 8 years ago from Standing right behind you!

Being the BEST writer on Hubpages, I totally agree with your article.

(Great hub William:)


William F. Torpey profile image

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

You are very kind, compu-smart. I'll keep writing if you'll keep entertaining me with your celebrity birthday hubs and blogs.


William F. Torpey profile image

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

Thanks, rockinjoe. I'll bet your just a great a comedian as you are a writer. I really enjoyed your latest hub on the mistakes of news comedians.


Gods Child profile image

Gods Child 8 years ago from New Orleans, La

Who hasn't heard of White christmas. I agree that things are blown out of proportion especially by the media. We all do it and maybe, just maybe, by our own limited experience and perspective; the way we see it, it is the biggest and best ever. Who's to say what is right?


William F. Torpey profile image

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

I'm sure we all put our own spin on things, Gods Child. I wouldn't say it's a matter of right or wrong so much as it is overreaching. If you set out to choose the Entertainer of the Century it would only be fair to give equal consideration to each entertainer. Those from the early decades are often not considered at all or given short shrift. In that case what you end up with is really only the Entertainer of the Decade. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.


AEvans profile image

AEvans 7 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

I am sorry it took so long to comment on this one, I have read so many of your articles and I love how you write. I didn't foret about you and promise to let you know that I am always here. This was a fantastic read and your correct when it comes to entertainer of the century, I wasn't born when Bing was popular but I certainly had a grandmother who watched all of his movies and listened to his music. Here is an oldy but goody , "Pistol Packin Mama" my grandmother played that over and over. Bing and Mae West wow and I can still here it in my head. :)


William F. Torpey profile image

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

Thanks, AEvans, for the kind words. I'm delighted that you enjoyed this piece. It's unfortunate, I think, that so many of the younger generation know so little about Bing Crosby. Your grandmother was not alone loving his music, and I'm sure the youngsters would love him, too, if only they could hear more of his records and albums.  My latest  blog post titled "Bing Crosby Lives!" has several links to Bings youtube videos, but, thanks to you, I've just added the video of "Pistol Packin' Mama" by Bing and the Andrews Sisters. Here's the URL to my blog: http://torpeyhour.blogspot.com/

 


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

William, I find these best lists usually wanting. Even my own lists of favorites is a problem. I have my mental list of the 10 best, say, rock and roll songs and find there are 20 songs on the list!

How can Micky Mouse be an entertainer! He isn't even real!


William F. Torpey profile image

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

You're absolutely right, Dolores Monet. Any list of "favorites" is fraught with controversy and confusion. Even my own hub on "favorite vocalists" omits some singers that I love. There's no satisfactory way of comparing one singer to another. But when you attempt to list the "Top 10" of anything you really open a can of worms.


Bibowen profile image

Bibowen 7 years ago

You make some good points. I guess people avoid "good enough" because it has been associated with "average." But I believe that what you are basically saying is true. A man that does what is required of him has done his duty and, while he may not achieve notoriety for being "the best", we should deem such a life sucessful.


William F. Torpey profile image

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

Thanks for commenting, Bibowen. Sometimes we ask to much of people. We're only human!


quicksand profile image

quicksand 6 years ago

Only when an analysis is required do we suddenly realize that we are or have been "good!" Perhaps always the case is somewhat similar to magnetic induction! We tend to absorb "ambiance" attitudes. LOL!

PS

By the way, I voted for "other." I meant Elvis Presley.


William F. Torpey profile image

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

Elvis Presley? It seems I've heard that name somewhere.


quicksand profile image

quicksand 6 years ago

LOL! I am sure nearly 90% of 6.5 billion people have too!


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

Well, there we go, forgetting such favourite luminaries as: Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Andres Segovia, Yehudi Menuhin, Ravi Shankar, Mario Lanza, Maris Callas, Tito Gobi, Joan Sutherland, James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Ray Davies, John Lennon, Cleo Lane ... There are/were so many prodigies that to presume to name the top ten is, well, presumptuous.


William F. Torpey profile image

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

That's certainly true, Paraglider. I could name dozens more as well -- and I do in the three hubs I've done on "Grampa's Favorite Songs,Singers" as well as "Torpey's Favorite Vocalists With Videos." That said, there's no one better or more successful than was Bing Crosby, my No. 1 favorite.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa

Such lists are always, of course, personal choices, because there are really no objective standards against which to measure entertainers. I agree with you that one such standard surely must longevity.

My personal vote would go to Pops - but then that's mostly because I'm a jazz fan!

Thanks for sharing your ideas - and your love of Crosby!

Love and peace

Tony


William F. Torpey profile image

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

It wasn't really possible to name all the greats that could be considered for such a "Top 10," tonymac04, but if there's anyone else I should have mentioned it would be Louis Armstrong. Thanks for commenting.


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona

hi William...My nomination for best entertainer of the century is the entire 112th US Congress...Their Alphonse/Gaston act is never ending...We have pathos and frivolity, tears and smears, and now we have the three stooges ( Reid, Pelosi, and Obama ) frolicking on the national stage while Rome burns...Now that's entertainment !!!

I agree, Bing was the best...Did you know that he and an unnamed Army 2nd lieutenant are the only ones to ever score a hole in one at Cypress Point in Pebble Beach, California..?..Larry


William F. Torpey profile image

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

I know about Bing Crosby's hole-in-one at Cypress Point, Larry, but I didn't know about the Army lieutenant. Bing was a one handicap at one time in his life. He loved to hit balls at the drop of a hat. The Alphonse/Gaston act, however, is staged by John Boehner and Mitch McConnell who could care less about the American people as long as the millionaires and billionaires and the corporations get to pay little or no taxes.

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