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Being Good Ought to Be Good Enough

Updated on February 18, 2019
William F. Torpey profile image

Graduated NYU 1963. Worked in NYC in public relations 2 years then as reporter/news editor 32 years at The Hour newspapers. Retired in 2000.

'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

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 newspaperof Norwalk, Connecticut, on April 2, 2000. I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages.

Who Was the Best Singer of the 20th Century?

See results

Bing Crosby Sings 'Swinging on a Star'


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