American Masters A series examining the lives, works, and creative processes of outstanding artists. Wed, 26 Nov 2014 20:10:45 +0000 en hourly 1 Bing Crosby: The Crosby Family Today: A Web Exclusive Video Wed, 26 Nov 2014 20:10:45 +0000 knightc

In this exclusive clip, Bing Crosby’s family reflects on his life as a performer and family man. Hear all surviving members of Crosby’s immediate family — his wife Kathryn, daughter Mary and sons Harry and Nathaniel, and see archival footage from the film, American Masters – Bing Crosby Rediscovered.

American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered premieres nationwide Tuesday, December 2 at 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), with a holiday encore on December 26 at 9 p.m.​

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Bing Crosby: Listen to the Soundtrack of Bing Crosby Rediscovered Tue, 25 Nov 2014 20:19:10 +0000 knightc Bing_AmerMasters_Cvr
American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered – The Soundtrack features songs heard in the documentary, including 16 previously unreleased recordings, and is available now via Bing Crosby Archive and Universal Music Enterprises. The 22 songs on the soundtrack are available to listen to here on American Masters, and on Spotify, a streaming music platform.

Among the songs are the Academy Award-winners “White Christmas,” “Sweet Leilani,” and “Swinging on a Star”; Crosby’s recordings with Louis Armstrong, Judy Garland, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, Les Paul, and Maurice Chevalier; and Crosby’s duet with his first wife, Dixie Lee Crosby, and a collaboration with his sons on “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho.”

A note to the user: you’ll have to sign up for a Spotify account to listen, but it’s a free service. Use the scroll bar to play all 22 songs, below, or play on Spotify.

American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered – The Soundtrack

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Bing Crosby: Bing by the Numbers. His Amazing Music Records Tue, 25 Nov 2014 17:20:35 +0000 Alexandra White Bing By the Numbers
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Bing Crosby by the Numbers in the Music

Bing Crosby has sold close to one billion records, tapes, compact discs and digital downloads around the world. He may be the biggest selling recording artist of all time. Only The Beatles, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson can rival Bing’s sales figures. Bing had sold 200 million records by 1960 and the figure had doubled by 1980.

His version of “White Christmas,” written by Irving Berlin, remains the bestselling recording of all time with The Guinness Book of World Records reporting worldwide sales of over 50 million singles. Total estimated sales of the song are near 100 million. “White Christmas” has entered the American pop charts 20 separate times and reached the No. 1 spot three times, in 1942, 1945 and 1947.

Having made over 2,000 commercial recordings and approximately 4,000 radio programs in addition to an extensive list of film and television appearances, Bing Crosby is the most-recorded performer in history.

Bing Crosby scored 41 No. 1 records (43 including the second and third chart-toppings of “White Christmas”) — more than The Beatles (24) and Elvis Presley (18). His recordings reached the charts 396 times, more than Frank Sinatra (209) and Elvis Presley (149) combined. Bing’s closest rival is Paul Whiteman (220) with whose orchestra he sang early in his career. Bing’s records hit the Top 10 203 times and spent 173 weeks in the No. 1 spot.

Bing was the voice of 13 Oscar-Nominated songs, four of which won the Academy Award for Best Song: “Sweet Leilani” (Waikiki Wedding, 1937), “White Christmas” (Holiday Inn, 1942), “Swinging on a Star” (Going My Way, 1944), and “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening” (Here Comes the Groom, 1951).

Bing Crosby has been honored with three stars on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame: one for recordings, one for radio and one for motion pictures.

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Bing Crosby: The Road Films: Bob Hope and Bing Crosby Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:50:38 +0000 knightc View full post to see video)

At the age of 37, Bing Crosby had 24 films under his belt and his career in Hollywood was at a crossroads. He found a great comedic partner in Bob Hope, with whom he had first performed on stage in 1932. Starting in 1940, Hope and Crosby would star in seven “Road” films, along with co-star Dorothy Lamar. The films parodied Hollywood and revitalized Crosby’s career by exposing him to a younger audience. This film excerpt is rich in archival footage, including Crosby on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, audio interviews with Bob Hope, and scenes of Hope and Crosby hamming it up together.

The Road Films

The pairing of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope set the bar for future “bromances” featuring two male leads in a comedy who are sometimes adversaries, but stick together. The seven Road films parodied film genres such as adventure films. Learn about the ridiculous plots and gags of the films.

Road to Singapore (1940)
Road to Zanzibar (1941)
Road to Morocco (1942)
Road to Utopia (1946)
Road to Rio (1947)
Road to Bali (1952)
The Road to Hong Kong (1962)

American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered premieres nationwide Tuesday, December 2 at 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), with a holiday encore on December 26 at 9 p.m.​

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Bing Crosby: Filmmaker Interview with Director Robert Trachtenberg Mon, 24 Nov 2014 20:26:58 +0000 knightc View full post to see video)

Emmy-award winning director Robert Trachtenberg worked with the Bing Crosby estate to bring a wealth of audio recordings and images to the public from the first time. In this interview he speaks about the challenge of presenting the superstar who down-played how hard he worked to become a sensation in film, radio and television.

Robert Trachtenberg’s past films for American Masters include Mel Brooks: Make a Noise, On Cukor, Gene Kelly: Anatomy of a Dancer (see Trachtenberg’s interview) and Cary Grant: A Class Apart (see Trachtenberg’s interview).

American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered premieres nationwide Tuesday, December 2 at 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), with a holiday encore on December 26 at 9 p.m.​

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Bing Crosby: Quiz: Bing with the Best. Rediscover the Bing Crosby Era Mon, 24 Nov 2014 15:23:52 +0000 knightc Bing-Crosby-Quiz-Banner

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Mike Nichols: Mike Nichols on Theater, Film and Not Giving Up: An In Memoriam Tribute Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:54:08 +0000 knightc View full post to see video)
In this web-exclusive outtake from American Masters: Inventing David Geffen (2012), Mike Nichols speaks about the ability to not give up and refers to those such as Geffen, who started his career in a mailroom.

Celebrated director Mike Nichols died on Wednesday, November 19, 2014, in Manhattan. He was 83 years old. As one of the few people to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony Award, Nichols is a canonical figure. His early career was the subject of an American Masters film.

American Masters: Nichols & May: Take Two recounts his time performing with Elaine May in an award-winning improv group in the 1950’s and 60’s. Nichols and May combined a knack for improvisation with inspired political and social satire, bringing innovation to a field that was dominated by standup comics.

In the world of drama, Nichols was prolific. He made his Broadway directorial debut with Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park in 1963, and the next year took home his first of many Tony Awards for directing. Over the next several decades, Nichols was a mainstay in the theater, earning recognition for works like Plaza Suite (1968), The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1971), Chekov’s Uncle Vanya (1973), and more recently Spamalot (2005) and Betrayal (2013).

Nichols was perhaps most widely acclaimed for his achievements in film. He first directed an adaptation of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf in 1966, earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Direction. A year later he took home his first Oscar, for his second film, The Graduate (1967). A scathing social satire that anticipated the modern Hollywood anti-hero, The Graduate put a young and unknown Dustin Hoffman on the map, the first of many courageous casting decisions in Nichols’ career.

Nichols was known as an actor’s director, more recently casting the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in his last film, Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), and later in his Broadway production of Death of a Salesman (2012).

Mike Nichols on Directing

(View full post to see video)
In this web-exclusive outtake of his interview for American Masters: Inventing David Geffen (2012), Mike Nichols speaks about the role of the unconscious in film and theater.

Mike Nichols describes the great moment when an audience seated in the dark watching a drama comprehend that which is not spoken and not told, but sensed with the unconscious. A film director may have all details worked out down to the inch of a camera dolly, he says, but ultimately, the director’s, actors’ and audience’s unconscious must speak to each other in a scene.

“Plays and movies are not supposed to be answers to a thousand questions, but there’s supposed to be a few unanswered questions that you can’t get out of your head,” said Nichols.

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