|Real Name:||Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby Jr.|
|Birthday:||May 3, 1903
Died: October 14, 1977
|Net Worth:||$50 million|
|Occupation:||American Singer, Comedian, Actor|
Harry Lillis “Bing” Crosby Jr. was born on May 3, 1903, and died on October 14, 1977, near Madrid, Spain. Crosby was a famous American singer, a comedian, and an actor. He was arguably the first to make the transition between different forms of multimedia. He led in record sales, radio ratings, and motion pictures from 1930 to 1954.
In his career, he made over 70 feature films and recorded more than 1,600 different songs. His early career peak coincided with the current innovations at the time. This allowed him to seamlessly develop his own soothing singing style, that would later have an influence on many other singers like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.
His work in the entertainment industry was thought to have boosted the morale of the men in service of the U.S Army during World War II. In 1948, American polls said he was one of the most admired men alive. He is one of 33 people to have 3 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was also known for many collaborations with his longtime friend and fellow actor Bob Hope.
He was the first performer to pre-record his radio shows and master commercial use of recordings onto magnetic tapes. His practices, directorial tools, and craftsmanship would become the gold standard for motion picture production. He was later involved in the production of early audiotape recordings and also involved in the finance and development of videotapes.
Crosby was also a businessman, he bred horses for racing, bought televisions stations, and co-owned the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Bing Crosby grew up in Tacoma, Washington, USA. He was the fourth of seven children. His parents were Catherine Helen “Kate” Harrigan and Harry Lowe Crosby. His father worked as a brewery bookkeeper. He was of English and Irish descent. His love for music became apparent at the age of 6. There is no information available to tell if he grew up with siblings.
Bing Crosby graduated from Gonzaga High school known today as Gonzaga Prep, in 1920 and enrolled at Gonzaga University where he studied law. He attended Gonzaga for three years but did not earn a degree, he was more interested in playing drums and singing in a local band.
In the year 1923, Crosby was invited to join a new band composed of high-school students a little younger than himself, the band included Al and Miles Rinker, James Heaton, Claire, and Robert Pritchard. They named the band the ‘Musicaladers’ and performed at dances for high school students and club-goers. The band broke up after 2 years. He and Al Rinker would later work for The Clemmer Theatre in Spokane now known as the Bing Cosby Theater. In 1925 Cosby and Al Rinker moved to Los Angeles for fame and greener pastures.
In L.A, they met Paul Whiteman who at the time needed something different. They were hired for $150 a week, alongside Harry Barris, an aspiring songwriter, and pianist. That was how ‘The Rhythm Boys’ was formed. It was under Whiteman that Crosby would develop potential and gain ample experience and matured as a performer. Crosby became the star attraction of The Rhythm Boys. Crosby later grew dissatisfied with Whiteman’s management, and this led the band to leave Whiteman’s Organization.
Crosby found success as a solo singer launching his own radio show, which was a huge success. At its peak, more than 50 people listened. He made his debut as a solo singer on September 2, 1931, and got signed with CBS Radio and Brunswick before the end of that year.
In 1930, Crosby signed a contract with Paramount Pictures. His easy charm and smooth voice won him a lot of audiences. His career continued to peak in the 1940s when he co-starred with comedian Bob Hope in a wildly popular series of Road pictures. On-screen, Bing Crosby, and Bob Hope formed a dynamic duo that captivated the audience, and the bromance continued off-stage too. He made his last Road film in 1962’s Road to Hong Kong.
Till today, Crosby remains one of the most top-grossing film producers of all time. He recorded 396 chart singles, roughly 25 of them were number 1 hits. He was the most successful American recording artist from 1930 to 1940. He sold over 200 million discs, and according to different sources, he sold over 500 to even 1 billion copies worldwide.
Bing Crosby won an Oscar award for Best Actor for his role as Father Chuck O’Malley in the 1944 motion picture ‘Going My Way’. He was also nominated for the role in The Bells of St. Mary’s making him the first of six actors to be nominated twice for playing the same character. In 1954, he received his final Academy Award for his role as an alcoholic in The Country Girl. In I993, Crosby received the first Grammy Global Achievement Award.
Personal Life and Family
He met the love of his life in Dixie Lee who was a rising actress and nightclub singer. Crosby married her in September of 1930. They had 4 sons together, Gary, Dennis, and Phillip who were twins, and Lindsay. In 1943, a fire destroyed their Toluca Lake estate of over 4 acres. Their personal possessions were destroyed and shortly after their marriage of 13 years went with it.
Dixie Lee was an alcoholic. She was sometimes found on the floor, passed out by her children. Her alcoholism also affected their twins who suffered from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. She died from ovarian cancer in 1952.
After her death, he had relationships with model Pat Sheehan and actresses Inger Stevens and Grace Kelly, before marrying Kathryn Grant. He and Kathryn had 3 children, Harry Lillis the III, Mary Crosby, and Nathaniel Crosby.
Crosby was also an absentee father because he was always away on sets or radio shows. He would obsess about not wanting his children to grow up corrupted like other celebrity kids at the time.
He is often described as a better father in his second marriage.
His eldest son Gary Cosby published a sensational biography titled ‘Going my way’. He made allegations about how violent and abusive Crosby was as a father. His siblings, Linsday Crosby and Dennis Crosby fluctuated between disagreeing and agreeing with Gary’s criticisms although Mary Crosby, defended and praised him as a loving and kind father in her later life.
The successful entertainer had an estimated net worth of about $50 million.