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Bing Crosby

Hollywood Independent

SIMPP Member (1946-1948)


Bing Crosby's rise to prominence as a singer in the late 1920s and early 1930s coincided with the popularity of sound film. Indeed he was one of the earliest multimedia crossover stars in radio and film. When he set out on a solo career in 1930, he was championed by Mary Pickford who featured the singer in several publicity shorts and in Douglas Fairbank's Reaching for the Moon (1931). His easy-going style and on-set ability at adlib created a unique film persona that endured decades of box office success.

One of his greatest triumphs came in 1944, when writer-director-producer Leo McCarey created Going My Way (1944) as a vehicle for Crosby, then a Paramount contract performer. The film became one of the highest-grossing films of the decade, and earned Bing Crosby the best actor Oscar for the year.

When McCarey decided to go independent, Bing Crosby joined McCarey's Rainbow Productions to make a sequel to Going My Way called The Bells of St. Mary's (1945). The sequel, which added to the cast Ingrid Bergman, became an even higher grossing film than Going My Way. The success of the independently-produced movie convinced the film's stars, Crosby and Bergman to form their own independent ventures—at a time when Bing Crosby was rating the number one male box office attraction, and Ingrid Bergam was the top female draw.

In 1946, Bing Crosby joined SIMPP, though his membership only lasted as long as the post-World War II independent production boom. He later went into TV production, and has been noted for his hand in helping to finance the invention of modern videotape.

In Hollywood, Crosby was the source of three recurring jokes: his inability to sire a daughter (until later in life); his ownership of racehorses that hardly ever won; and his seemingly-colorblind taste in casual clothes. The jokes often made their way into radio, film, animation, and in the routines of Bob Hope. More recently, Crosby's name has been tainted by accusations from his four oldest sons who criticized their father's harsh treatment. The description of his cold demeanor that seemed so contradictory with his on-screen character has cast a partial shadow over his reputation, however, his younger children from a second marriage have continued to praise him as a kind and loving father.


SOURCES:

Schatz, Boom and Bust; Crosby, Call Me Lucky.

See Bibliography.

  

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