|Harry Lillis Crosby Jr|
|Date of Birth||May 3, 1903, Tacoma, Washington, United States|
|Date of Death||October 14, 1977|
Bing Crosby (May 3rd, 1903 - October 14th, 1977) was an American singer and actor.
Life[edit | edit source]
Crosby was married twice. His first wife was actress/nightclub singer Dixie Lee, to whom he was married from 1930 until her death from ovarian cancer in 1952; they had four sons: Gary, twins Dennis and Phillip, and Lindsay. The 1947 Susan Hayward film, Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman, is indirectly based on Lee's life. Bing and Dixie along with their children lived at 10500 Camarillo Street in North Hollywood for over five years. After her death, Crosby had relationships with model/Goldwyn Girl Pat Sheehan (who married his son Dennis in 1958) and actresses Inger Stevens and Grace Kelly before marrying the actress Kathryn Grant, who converted to Catholicism, in 1957. They had three children: Harry Lillis III (who played Bill in Friday the 13th), Mary (best known for portraying Kristin Shepard, who shot J. R. Ewing on TV's Dallas), and Nathaniel (the 1981 U.S. Amateur champion in golf).
Crosby was a registered Republican, and actively campaigned for Wendell Willkie in 1940 against President Roosevelt, arguing that no man should serve more than two terms in the White House. After Willkie lost, Crosby decreed that he would never again make any open political contributions.
Crosby reportedly had an alcohol problem in his youth, and may have been dismissed from Paul Whiteman's orchestra because of it, but he later got a handle on his drinking. According to Giddins, Crosby told his son Gary to stay away from alcohol, adding, "It killed your mother."
After Crosby's death, his eldest son, Gary, wrote a highly critical memoir, Going My Own Way, depicting his father as cruel, cold, remote, and both physically and psychologically abusive. Gary Crosby wrote:
We had to keep a close watch on our actions ... When one of us left a sneaker or pair of underpants lying around, he had to tie the offending object on a string and wear it around his neck until he went off to bed that night. Dad called it "the Crosby lavalier". At the time the humor of the name escaped me ...
"Satchel Ass" or "Bucket Butt" or "My Fat-assed Kid". That's how he introduced me to his cronies when he dragged me along to the studio or racetrack ... By the time I was ten or eleven he had stepped up his campaign by adding lickings to the regimen. Each Tuesday afternoon he weighed me in, and if the scale read more than it should have, he ordered me into his office and had me drop my trousers ... I dropped my pants, pulled down my undershorts and bent over. Then he went at it with the belt dotted with metal studs he kept reserved for the occasion. Quite dispassionately, without the least display of emotion or loss of self-control, he whacked away until he drew the first drop of blood, and then he stopped. It normally took between twelve and fifteen strokes. As they came down I counted them off one by one and hoped I would bleed early ...
When I saw Going My Way I was as moved as they were by the character he played. Father O'Malley handled that gang of young hooligans in his parish with such kindness and wisdom that I thought he was wonderful too. Instead of coming down hard on the kids and withdrawing his affection, he forgave them their misdeeds, took them to the ball game and picture show, taught them how to sing. By the last reel, the sheer persistence of his goodness had transformed even the worst of them into solid citizens. Then the lights came on and the movie was over. All the way back to the house I thought about the difference between the person up there on the screen and the one I knew at home. Younger son Phillip vociferously disputed his brother Gary's claims about their father. Around the time Gary made his claim, Phillip stated to the press that "Gary is a whining ... crybaby, walking around with a 2-by-4 and just daring people to nudge it off." However, Phillip did not deny that Crosby believed in corporal punishment. In an interview with People, Phillip stated that "we never got an extra whack or a cuff we didn't deserve." During a later interview conducted in 1999 by the Globe, Phillip said:
My dad was not the monster my lying brother said he was; he was strict, but my father never beat us black and blue, and my brother Gary was a vicious, no-good liar for saying so. I have nothing but fond memories of Dad, going to studios with him, family vacations at our cabin in Idaho, boating and fishing with him. To my dying day, I'll hate Gary for dragging Dad's name through the mud. He wrote Going My Own Way out of greed. He wanted to make money and knew that humiliating our father and blackening his name was the only way he could do it. He knew it would generate a lot of publicity. That was the only way he could get his ugly, no-talent face on television and in the newspapers. My dad was my hero. I loved him very much. He loved all of us too, including Gary. He was a great father.
However, Dennis and Lindsay Crosby confirmed that their father was physically abusive. Lindsay added, "I'm glad [Gary] did it. I hope it clears up a lot of the old lies and rumors." Unlike Gary, however, Lindsay said that he preferred to remember "all the good things I did with my dad and forget the times that were rough." Dennis asserted that the book was "Gary's business" and a result of his "anger," but would not deny the book's claims. Bing's younger brother, singer and jazz bandleader Bob Crosby, recalled at the time of Gary's revelations that Bing was a "disciplinarian," as their mother and father had been. He added, "We were brought up that way." In an interview for the same article, Gary clarified that Bing was abusive as a means of administering punishment: "He was not out to be vicious, to beat children for his kicks."
However, the Bing Crosby website asserts that late in his life, Gary claimed that he made up large portions of the book in an attempt to blame his irresponsible life decisions on his father. The website says:
However, several years after Bing died, Doubleday approached Gary to write an autobiography. To guarantee success, he was asked to wildly exaggerate Bing's self-acknowledged paternal strictness. Going My Own Way, published in 1983 and co-authored by Ross Firestone, was Gary's controversial attempt to transfer his professional and personal shortcomings onto his father; and to achieve the long desired leading role – playing Bing, no less – should his book be adapted to the screen. This wasn't to be, as the book created considerable turmoil within the Crosby family. Subsequently, Gary recanted large portions of his unfortunate memoir. To further the rehabilitation Gary decided in 1995 to record an album overdubbing his father's classic recordings. This came too late. With one side complete, a persistent cough interfered with the endeavor. A doctor's visit confirmed that he had advanced lung cancer. Gary died on August 24, 1995.
It was revealed that Crosby's will had established a blind trust, with none of the sons receiving an inheritance until they reached the age of 65.
Lindsay Crosby died in 1989 and Dennis Crosby died in 1991, both by suicide from self-inflicted gunshot wounds, at ages 51 and 56, respectively. Gary Crosby died in 1995 at the age of 62 of lung cancer and 69-year-old Phillip Crosby died in 2004 of a heart attack.
Widow Kathryn Crosby dabbled in local theater productions intermittently, and appeared in television tributes to her late husband.
Nathaniel Crosby, Crosby's youngest son from his second marriage, was a high-level golfer who won the U.S. Amateur at age 19 in 1981, at the time the youngest-ever winner of that event. Harry Crosby is an investment banker who occasionally makes singing appearances.
Denise Crosby, Dennis Crosby's daughter, is also an actress and is known for her role as Tasha Yar on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and for the recurring role of the Romulan Sela (daughter of Tasha Yar) after her withdrawal from the series as a regular cast member. She also appeared in the film adaptation of Stephen King's novel Pet Sematary. In 2006, Crosby's niece, Carolyn Schneider, published the laudatory book Me and Uncle Bing.
There have been disputes between Crosby's two families beginning in the late 1990s. When Dixie died in 1952, her will provided that her share of the community property be distributed in trust to her sons. After Crosby's death in 1977, he left the residue of his estate to a marital trust for the benefit of his widow, Kathryn, and HLC Properties, Ltd., was formed for the purpose of managing his interests, including his right of publicity. In 1996, Dixie's trust sued HLC and Kathryn for declaratory relief as to the trust's entitlement to interest, dividends, royalties, and other income derived from the community property of Crosby and Dixie. In 1999, the parties settled for approximately $1.5 million. Relying on a retroactive amendment to the California Civil Code, Dixie's trust brought suit again, in 2010, alleging that Crosby's right of publicity was community property, and that Dixie's trust was entitled to a share of the revenue it produced. The trial court granted Dixie's trust's claim. The California Court of Appeal reversed, however, holding that the 1999 settlement barred the claim. In light of the court's ruling, it was unnecessary for the court to decide whether a right of publicity can be characterized as community property under California law.