Transcript:

Speaker I was 19, I had just lost the Miss Texas contest, but a judge was Bob O'Donnell and he said, if you want to make in Hollywood, I think you can. So my mother and I flew to Hollywood. We stayed at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. That was Sunday. Monday. We went to Paramount. On Wednesday, I tested with Bill Holden. And on Friday, I signed a seven year contract. A few months later, I met Bing Crosby. And then the story began.

Speaker So tell us about that first meeting.

Speaker I was walking onto the Paramount lot with my seven year contract, I had a horsehair petticoat on as everyone wore in those days, I was carrying some things to the drama department. And I heard a voice behind me, it said, hi, Tex, what's your hurry? And I stopped dead. It was Bing Crosby, he was Hollywood royalty, of course, I was royalty, too. I was MFAT stock in taxes. If that's not royal, I don't know what is. And how did he know you were from Texas or. That's it. How did you know I was from Texas? He just found out he was a very sneaky man. I think he knew everybody.

Speaker So.

Speaker He invited you into his dressing room.

Speaker He invited me for a cup of tea and we had tea and I looked into his big blue eyes and about 15 minutes later, I realized I was in love.

Speaker However.

Speaker This took quite a while, this courtship.

Speaker Well, it. Took four years, and that was the longest courtship of anybody at West Columbia, Texas, people were married and had grandchildren on the way. But the time I got married, I just thought nothing could be longer than that.

Speaker Now, you did in the book you write.

Speaker About.

Speaker The because essentially you dated day two, dated and then he proposed, but nothing ever happened, so he proposed.

Speaker I accepted you disappeared for six months. So I say that can start with that. He proposed. I accepted and he disappeared for six months. Why?

Speaker Who knows? Sometimes there were good reasons he had for kidney stones and during that four years and and that might have held him up a little bit.

Speaker But there were difficulties with his children and he thought I was too young for him. And maybe I was. I thought I was very grown, I mean, everybody at home was married. What were they doing in Hollywood, not being married at 20 and 21 and 22, when I reached 23, I thought, well, that's it, it's not going to happen. So I flew back to Hollywood and I talked to Harry Cohn, who strangely, because he was supposed to be a very mean man, he was very gentlemanly with me. He said, How may I help you, Miss Grant?

Speaker And I said, I need to get out of town, please send me somewhere to do anything. And he said, Well, I have a movie going in Spain, but how are you going to make a movie out of someone that's six inches tall? How are you going to make a star out of someone that's six inches tall? To which I responded, let's give it a chance. Let's give it a shot. So he sent me to Spain with Gorgeous Girl with Matthews. And we did the seventh voyage of Sinbad the.

Speaker At one point in your book, you describe that being says to you that he's getting and you should spit this back at me, that he's getting a ton of mail from his fans saying because it's come out in the press that you two are dating. Yes. And he's saying I'm getting a lot of mail and they're not for it.

Speaker Every woman in the world wanted to marry Bing Crosby, whether they were married already or not. He was quite, quite a man.

Speaker And the work he did in World War Two made him beloved of everyone in England and the United States. And for him to date, this little girl from Texas didn't make any sense to anyone with real knowledge of the world.

Speaker So I just went to Spain, but you should tell us that he was literally getting sacks of mail, he was getting stacks of mail saying leave her alone. And some people said he's already married my daughter and sent the copies of the letter to my father, who was a little upset about that.

Speaker So what finally turned the tide? Because you should you should tell us also that during this four years you said, leave me alone, keep away.

Speaker Well, I just actually I never would have said that to him, but I did say I need to go back to Hollywood. I have some business to achieve, some things I have to do. I had to find out if I still had a job or a contract because I'd refused a movie. When we were in Hayden Lake about to get married, I didn't know if I had a place to live. I had already decided to go to Hayden Lake instead of staying with Mary Banks, who was my good friend and who had been sort of my chaperone and my caretaker for years. So I talked to Harry Cohn and said, please get me a job, send me somewhere, anywhere. And then I disappeared to Spain. And when I got back from Spain, they wrote me a letter saying the lawsuit that I had talked to you about, somebody was suing him for where he was on September the 10th while we were in Hayden Lake on September the 10th. So I said I would testify for him if he wanted me to. Just everybody was always suing, being for one thing and another. And I said I'd be happy to testify to that. And and he said that the lawsuit has been settled amicably. So there's no need for that. And would you like to go to dinner? And I wrote back and said, yes, I still love you and no, I won't see you. And then he wrote me another letter and then he wrote me another letter. After five letters, he wrote the one that mattered. He said, I have I guess this will be my last letter to you since you won't see me. But I do think I should tell you what I want to say. I want to marry you any time, any place you wish. Well, I had to think about that.

Speaker So the next morning, I called out Mary to discuss it with her because she was wise and she would give me the straight story, she would tell me did not ever talk to that man because she had warned me about him for years. And she said he's on the other line. What have you done to that poor man?

Speaker He is so dear. You've got to see him. I said, get me some oatmeal with brown sugar and raisins and I'll see you in 20 minutes. So I drove from my apartment to hers and over breakfast she told me what they had talked about. He wanted us to go to Las Vegas that night and be married the next morning. And I just said, can I continue my nursing?

Speaker Because I'd started to work on nursing and can I continue my acting? So then she talked with him again. I never spoke to him. I hadn't spoken to him for six months at this point. And so then later she called me and said, yes, you can do anything you want to. You could act, you can nurse, you can do anything, but you've got to get home from the studio.

Speaker I went trying to do some Shakespeare that day. I was doing scenes with Gloria Krieger and Bill Schneider. And so I got home about four o'clock and we quickly packed, got to the airport and flew to Las Vegas. The next morning, Leo Lind, who was Bing's driver, came by the hotel, he was at the Sands and we were at the desert in and Leo walked in and boomed, happy as a sign that the happy is the bride the sun shines on. Imagine saying that in the hotel lobby because everybody was always trying to get us married and everybody was trying to mess it up. And so I said nothing and she said it. Mary said, Leo, let's get going. We have to get back to pick him up and get to the courthouse. So we did. He wanted to sit in the back seat with me. I just grabbed at Mary's hand and pulled her closer to be so he smiled, got in the front seat. We went to the courthouse. As we got out of the car, we started walking up the steps and a reporter came running out and said, Oh, Bing, are you going to marry Miss Grant? And I just turned and started to walk away. I had a wardrobe fitting at 10 o'clock. I was going to go abroad for another movie and I was ready. I was ready to leave. And he grabbed my elbow and said, Why, yes, we're going to be married in Yerington. I have a priest who's a good friend of mine up there. And and I think we're going to get married this morning. I looked at him. I thought he was crazy, but he was very smooth. And then he smiled and said, Yerington, five hours from here. Then we drove two hours around the block or two minutes around the block. And there was a church, Queen Anne's church. We went through the back door and the priest was there. He met us and he locked the door, which is totally illegal. In the Catholic Church. There were only two sweet altar boys. I think one of them became a senator in Nevada and the other one, they were both adorable. And we went to the altar and went through the service. Just the two of us at Mary was my witness. Leo Lynn was Bings witness and then gave me a ring that he had that Leo had bought at midnight the night before. It was lightly washed with gold. I think it was quite beautiful. It was blessed and that was my wedding ring. Then we walked off the altar backstage and Leo said, being those those fellows from the courthouse, all the reporters, they'll be driving to Yerington. It's five hours from here. And they said, well, I guess we'd better call them. So then we went to the Sands Hotel and Jack and Trada at a wonderful breakfast of scrambled eggs and champagne. And so our breakfast celebration was with about 70 newspaper people and lots of champagne.

Speaker You make it clear in the book that these periods where he would propose and then go away and bet you. You just were resolved to get on with your career. Yes, I mean, so you should tell us that for every proposal there was a period where you it was a stop start service.

Speaker Yes, yes, yes.

Speaker You should tell us that you were just adamant about pursuing your career.

Speaker And I was so lucky to work first for Paramount and then for Columbia Pictures and why Paramount was terribly afraid of television and what it would do to the industry. Columbia got into screen gems and there were 30 minute stories and a new actress could handle a 30 minute story where she's not quite able to to star in a two and a half hour movie or even a hundred minute movie.

Speaker But I did a lot of those 30 minute deals and worked with wonderful people, Elsa Lanchester and Cecil Holloway. And who was the second lead in all the Betty Davis films? Paul-Henri directed me and I had a huge crush on Paul Henry, and he was a wonderful director, too. But I got some experience and I loved it. And I really I really wanted to act. We did a movie called Operation Med Ball and I tested against all the girls at Columbia and I won the role opposite Jack Lemmon and with Ernie Kovacs, who became a wonderful personal friend.

Speaker The.

Speaker The basically what happened was, I need you to say this, he finally admitted that he couldn't get along without you, right? I mean, isn't that lovely?

Speaker Well, you should tell us that.

Speaker What was the final upshot after the fourth proposal and the fourth regret? Oh, I finally realized that I could I could get along without being and God bless him. Then realized that he couldn't get along without me, which couldn't have been a more wonderful situation to be in.

Speaker Now, he this was really interesting in your book. He he promised America that you could continue nursing, acting, all of it. But then in time, you make it really clear, Ricky, you've had some I well, he got pretty upset being promised that I could pursue acting and I could pursue nursing.

Speaker And that lasted about six months. And then I guess I have to understand, he he was not thrilled with my crawling out of bed at five thirty in the morning to get to the hospital before 7:00. That was about when he was getting to sleep for the second stage. He was an insomniac. He slept for hours. And then he woke up and read all night at about six o'clock. He would go back to sleep. Well, I got up at 6:00, so I upset him, which is. Too bad for him and an OK for me, because he had already promised me and I just plowed ahead. It did take me five years to finish a three year course in nursing. And I did have some wonderful movies of the big circus, was great fun. And Anatomy of a Murder was a wonderful movie. We did that.

Speaker I mean, you know, you recount these things and and you just you just plow ahead. You don't let him bully you at all.

Speaker No, because he seems to get really quite upset, you know. Well, he didn't get publicly upset.

Speaker He once he was in Europe playing at a golf tournament and we had a wonderful summer on the Alps marry team. We had lunch with Princess Grace at the Castle Montorgueil. And and then I went home and he went to play golf in a tournament with our Holocaust's daughter, who was a great golfer. And they had a great time. And I went home and he got in and he told his friends there, I was hoping to lick my wounds, rest after my big travaille. And I think they lost the golf tournament in Europe, too. But I got in and there I walked into a dance song. Jean-Louis had a new opening line opening and I was there modeled in his line. My sister modeled. Then we had a party at the house and Scandia had a huge buffet. And he said there I walked in on a Taedong song. He never, ever stopped me from anything I wanted to do. I tried not to ask him too many things, but when I did say that I needed to do something, he always backed me.

Speaker It's very interesting, you write and you should you should tell me this back to you when you were dating him, you write of your frustration of getting him alone. You said it was literally Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Groucho Marx, Marlena Dietrich and IRA Gershwin on and on. And you should tell me this line. You write too many people too damn often.

Speaker Yes, yes. Spit, spit, those names and all that back to me.

Speaker Well, it was so interesting. I mean, he said, you want to go out for a hamburger. And I got dressed in what I thought was a very nice dress. And he took me instead of to wheelwrights for a hamburger. He took me to Arthur Schwartz's home. He was having a party. He had done my tour with Bing and everyone in the cast and everyone in Hollywood was there. John Green was there and and and IRA Gershwin's wife was there. And she I always loved her because she looked at me, realized I was not dressed up for a big party and said, I always wear the first thing I see in my closet. Don't you think that's the smartest way? And I just sit back, you know, and I was looking at Oh man Donen Stanley Donen wife, who had a mink colored mink sleeved formal walking out there with satin and mink.

Speaker And and there I was. And she was adorable, but she was not as forgiving as as Mrs. Gershwin was.

Speaker But Bitzer, you should tell us that I need you to say that it was hard to get him alone and impossible.

Speaker It was impossible. When we first dated, he had a home in Palm Springs and he invited me down and we drove down together while he was learning high tour. And I held the book for him while he did his lines. And we got there and Bill Monroe was there with his girlfriend, Cletus Caldwell, and we were chaperoned always. You never went anywhere with a man alone? Never in those days. I don't know if you even realize that that was necessary in those days. Everyone accepted the the formality of it and it was quite right.

Speaker But and then when we were driving out in the morning, we'd go to visit people like Bobby Perlberg, Bill Perlberg wife, who was one of the Noonans sisters that he had known from the early days in his his career. And he loved her and he trusted her judgment. She didn't like me very much. I felt that he never saw it or felt it, but I felt that. We always went places where there were lots of people. He took me to.

Speaker Would U.S. help, but it was frustrating for you.

Speaker It was frustrating. I just wanted him to be quiet and say, marry me now and marry me. I mean, that could have been the easiest thing in the world. But but he always proposed the first time he proposed. We were listening to Maria de los Angeles on the radio in Palm Springs. And she sounded so beautiful. And we were looking at the stars and it was lovely. And his proposal came to, do you really mean you would marry me?

Speaker And I said, yes, it was about ten minutes before I realized he still hadn't put it in the positive test, will you marry me? He never said that. He just said, do you mean you'll marry? Yes. You know, and then he disappeared for six months. It was so bad. It was so bad. I finally I got more and more.

Speaker Upset about it.

Speaker And once I said, he said, why don't you come down and take a swim in Palm Springs, I said, No, not this time, thank you.

Speaker He said, Oh.

Speaker Well, if you can't, then I'm sure you'll understand when I have the same problem that I can't get away from something I said yes. And I let him hang up and let him sleep for a day or two. Then he called again.

Speaker The you describe in your book, when you move, when you finally did move into the house in Beverly Hills, that you had a sort of, for lack of a better phrase, you used you used the phrase, too. You entered a kind of Rebecca like situation because you came in and what you should tell us, that these things were everywhere, from the monogrammed towels to personal items. And you sort of had your own Mrs. Danvers, too. I did. I did tell us that when, you know, when you moved in.

Speaker Well, they was playing golf in Palm Springs. And I said, I'd like to go to see Dame Margot Fontaine and 3F and Romeo and Juliet. They said, right, I'll get tickets. But I drove it. He didn't come in. He was he had a golf game the next day. So I drove in and went to the valet and got to his house at about eleven thirty and it was dark. And I rang the doorbell for quite a while before the lady named Georgia came to the door. She was his housekeeper and I found out later she'd been Dixie's very good friend and she marched up to his bedroom and there was a big master bed there. But there were her blanket covers that were engraved DLC on them. And that I went into the bathroom and there was her beautiful picture. She was an exquisite blonde. And there she was sitting on the sideboard in his bath. And his closet was about this big. It was about three inches, three feet wide. Looks like three three inches wide. And I thought. I don't know if I'm going to be able to stay in this house. I really don't. I was so self-conscious and so upset. And so I called out Mary and then I talked to Ben's mother, who by that time had accepted me, and she said, don't worry about it. In the next day, all of Dixie's things were gone. She said, Ben, don't think about those things. Well, he should have thought about it, but he didn't.

Speaker You know, I think it's also important for you to talk about the fact that you're in a position where you're 20. Were you 20? I was 23. You're 23. And you're coming to us. I think it's really important for you to say you come into a situation that's so unlike, let's say, most of your friends from Texas, young married couples who go buy furniture together, go buy a house together, go form a life together. You married someone who didn't just have a life. He had an enormous life with staff and yes, not just children. And so you should you how did you act? You should tell us that. And you should tell us. How did you acclimate to that?

Speaker Yes. People used to say, what do you do with your grown children? I did nothing. They were grown children and they were going into the service one at a time or and at one time, all at once, being worked with them and loved them very much. And he particularly loved Lindsay, who was the youngest and had been it all been hard struck with their mother's death. But it was five years after she died that we started dating. So it went on for ages. Oh. I had nothing to do with the staff because I was off at the hospital and they trundled down the way they had done.

Speaker If you are overwhelmed by it all.

Speaker I didn't think so because his house was huge, but it was the prettiest house I'd ever seen, it was New Orleans architecture and there was a star from Texas right the front patio that in stonework. And there were bottlebrush trees and there were jacarandas.

Speaker And it was a wonderful house, were highly independent, which seemed unusual at the time. And you didn't fit into that mold of wife or Hollywood wife?

Speaker Well, I did try to prepare myself for my future because I decided the first 15 minutes I was going to marry being so I was going to UCLA. I did. I was a drama major and I was given a lead in a new play. And then I was asked to go to Korea by Paramount and I was thrilled. So I went and I came back and they wouldn't let me do drama anymore. So I said, well, I'll take cooking and I'll take interior design because that will make me the perfect wife of Bing Crosby. I told my cooking teacher or my interior design teacher that I would I needed to learn all of these things because I was going to marry Bing Crosby.

Speaker And she nearly fainted and she said, oh, there are other people to do that sort of thing.

Speaker And I thought, oh, and so by the time being and I married, I had done a Cliff May house as my interior design project. You furnished it for ten thousand dollars. That was it. That was full cost of a cliff. They house furnished. It was wonderful. And I met some interior designers too. And then I learned to cook and the teacher said I would be very good if I have any chemistry or do you what I was doing in the kitchen. So I never did cook very much. And the children as a result, are wonderful cooks. Harry is a chef and Mary Frances is a chef. And Nathaniel can make Hamburger Helper.

Speaker But they learned you you've you say he being was simple. And you had a great expression that I want you to explain. And she does. You've described him as a not as not a professional Catholic, not a professional white Catholic.

Speaker Oh, no. So you should say he.

Speaker Oh, he was he was a very quiet Catholic. He would every Sunday to mass at with me if I was on time and with with the children, if they were on time. So that was my big job to get them ready on time. But he never I Loretta Young, used to charge you 25 cents for every curse word that went on the set. Well, that happened on the set. So you just put up with it and and other people. Irene Dunne, as I had got my enquiry classes finished, it got confirmed as a Catholic. She would every time they had an enquiry class, she wanted to know all the facts of Catholicism, and they didn't do that. He he was a Gonzaga Jesuit trained guy and he learned a lot of Shakespeare and a lot of Latin, because every time you did something wrong, you had to memorize lots of lots of work, lots of Shakespeare, lots of Latin. And he did that. He also dressed up the statue of Saint Francis in a pirate uniform when his team was playing on the weekends. And so that was his punishment. Oh. He was he was very simple, he didn't make many holy days of obligation, and I'm sorry about that because Dolores Hope made every holiday of obligation and.

Speaker It's just the way it worked, you know, I think for the public, they sometimes have a hard time reconciling the fact that he was he prayed every night. He he went to church. He went to mass every Sunday because they think of him also. It's like, well, he's a musician. And so what musicians are hanging out of three or four in the morning playing cards and jamming and he's, you know, recorded. He's in a recording studio. And, you know, you must know the kind of lives musicians lead sort of thing. So there's a strange dichotomy.

Speaker There are he loved to record at nine o'clock in the morning and a lot of the jazz musicians would just stumble into the recording session from their night work or play, whichever. He just. And occasionally, I have to tell you this, on the way to Jamaica, we went to dinner, a dinner party, and our host, Chris Dunphy of Palm Beach, who had been a publicity man at Paramount years and years before, he said, we have the best wine here, but I'm not serving it to you. It's down to the wine cellar. Well, of course, he and George Colbert had to go down to the wine cellar and find that wine. And so they had a little and then we went out to a nightclub and were dancing. And the band was really good and they were so thrilled that thing was there. So he started singing with them and we sang and I got up there and sang with him. He was amazing. And he was the happiest, happiest, most wonderful drunk I've ever seen in my life. The only one, actually. But he was adorable when he was drinking and he sang and he just he must have been the happiest guy back in the early days when he was drinking and when he was doing vaudeville, he was a happy, happy, happy, happy.

Speaker And why did he decide to stop drinking?

Speaker He got a job that he cared about very much. He ever told me that when he got the word from Mr. Paley that they wanted him to sing every day on the radio shows in the back east. And he had his last drink and threw it overboard on the train that they were going back east on. And he never drank after that.

Speaker Now, this leads me to the fact that when he stopped, Dix's drinking got worse, right?

Speaker I've heard that from some people. I've never heard that from Bing. He told me two things about Dixy. He said she was an angel and she was a wonderful mother.

Speaker And he believed that. And I do, too. The.

Speaker You said that he well, you should tell us he grew up loving the outdoors.

Speaker Yes, yes. Explain that.

Speaker Well, he was a hunter and a fisherman. And he used to go with Gary Cooper up to the Basque country and hunt pheasant and geese and ducks, and they had a wonderful dinner made by the Basque sheepherder and. Gary said, you know, he explained why we have such wonderful bread and Gary said, come here. And they went out and there was a big rain barrel outside and there was a huge rat swimming around in the water. And that's where you got the water to make the great bread.

Speaker The going back to the Catholicism for a moment, you also see another great thing you wrote. You called him an undercover spiritual man because you said when he was doing Going My Way, he had a lot of conferences with priests. And and, you know, he was very worried about playing that role, right?

Speaker Yes, he was. They told me. But he he was told that this particular man, Father O'Malley, was just a very human priest. And that was easy for being to play. When I arrived in Hollywood, there was all the sisters were allowed to watch two movies, what was going my way. And one was the Bells of Saint Mary, the wonderful film he did with Ingrid Bergman.

Speaker You should tell me that phrase you have from an undercover spiritual man. You wrote that you called him an undercover spiritual man.

Speaker Well, he was he was told to spit that phrase back to me, though.

Speaker He was actually he was an undercover spiritual man. He didn't want to preach to anybody, but he wanted to be the best man he could be. He always tried to be a good man.

Speaker And Iran, we made it.

Speaker Did you ever have any stage fright?

Speaker Yes, yes, I had a television show in the 70s, 72 to 73, and at first he thought I shouldn't do it. And I said, yes, I'm going to do it. And so I did it. And after just a little bit, he came on and and sang on my show and he brought Phil Harris on and they talked. And he was so completely at home and he sang. But occasionally when he talked, there'd be a little creak at the side of his mouth that let me know he was nervous. I was never nervous talking, but singing. I was terrified.

Speaker The with all these years of hindsight now, what do you realize about him with all the years that have passed that maybe he didn't see why you were in the marriage or anything, sort of a new way of looking at him?

Speaker I just realized I learned little things all the time. I listen to some of the old Hollywood palace shows, and when we sang together, he adjusted his voice. So it was very soft because I have a voice the size of a teacup. And so my voice sounded fine with him. He always adjusted his voice to be. On par with anyone he sang with, and he always made everyone else look so good on his shows, the one thing that I asked him to do after Ernie Kovacs was suddenly killed and Bing had a special coming up, I said, please put Eddie Adams on it. And the special could have been presenting Eddie Adams because he did get her on the show and she had some beautiful shows, songs, and and he really presented her again at her. Her career took off again.

Speaker There is a great story in the book that you wrote that he said to you, and this is good, you should tell me the story because it shows again what how you were not a pushover in any way, shape or form where he looked at you one time and he said, what? What would you look like as a blonde?

Speaker And you said, somebody else tell us that story.

Speaker I was a brunette. What was it Helena used to say? You've got good coarse Indian hair. Well, maybe so.

Speaker And then being said, what would you look like as a blonde? And I just saw Dixie's face out in front and I said, no, no, no, no, somebody else. And you never said anything about it. But then Mary Frances got Goldilocks and she looked so beautiful, everybody was falling over it.

Speaker How beautiful my little bucktooth teenage girl looked. And I said, OK, we have to do something here. And I found my first gray hairs. There were three of them. I pulled them out, but they were going to come back. I knew that. So I got my hair dyed and I wound up looking like Vanessa Redgrave, Irish setter. And I was very happy with that.

Speaker You when you were dating. There's a great story. You should tell us where he came over to your house for dinner. And you you made dinner and you you caught him. He was emptying his pipe into his pants cuff.

Speaker Yes. Tell us the whole thing I made. Well, first, I started with the salad. I wanted to be prepared and I put out the romaine lettuce and put salad dressing on it, which made it go dead limp. And then I had a leg of lamb with rosemary in it that I'd learned and.

Speaker And then he came over and I had I think I had some wine or some hot tea or something, and then he started smoking his pipe and I went to the next room and then I turned around and he was emptying his pipe bowl into his cuff in his pants. I didn't have an ashtray out. And he said it's good for the it's good for the baths.

Speaker It's great you you should tell us that you actually auditioned for a white Christmas.

Speaker I did. I met Stanley Donen and he gave that wonderful I think it's tried and true. He said, oh, no, you're much too pretty for the role.

Speaker And I thought, you dirty rat, because it meant I was not right for it in his eyes. And the little girl who got it, they had her in almost Playboy kind of costumes at the last. And she was darling. But never mind, I would have looked good. But in the meantime, I interviewed being on the set and at the end of my interview they said, would you like to go to dinner? And the publicity man who had been with me said, Now that's what I call getting an interview.

Speaker Just so we get the top of that.

Speaker Say, I auditioned for Whitecross, I auditioned for White Christmas and didn't get the part. Stanley Donen didn't think I was right. And he said that tried and true phrase. Oh, you're much too pretty. I thought, oh, I'm not really is better here.

Speaker Yeah. Is it is it Dolen or Michael. My producer after work.

Speaker So it was Michael critize, not doing it. He did the music for White Christmas. Donna did. Oh he did. OK, I didn't ever meet Mr. Curtis.

Speaker OK, just making sure that's OK. Let me see here.

Speaker Did you would he there seems to be it in the public's mind, there seems to be very little or no difference between. He never seems to have clicked into showbiz mode, what he seems to have been constant from, you know, if you were going out and yet encountered the public, did you notice of flipping him or.

Speaker No, it was always the same. And from the time I met him, he was he was really offstage. Oh, Bob Hope was always trying out new stories. He was wonderful. I interviewed him on the set to do what he was doing, Casanova's big night with Joan Fontaine. He was very funny. I think I did something like ask her how old she was and and he cut right in and took the story away with a with a laugh and something funny. He saved my life. He saved me then. But he he always had stories to tell. He was trying things out, always planning a road tour. Later on, many years later, when I toured, Bob Hope had always just been to where I was going or was arriving next week. He was always on the move. Thing was fishing when the season opened. My first are hunting ducks when the season opened in November. But he he didn't have to appear on stage and he wasn't on stage. He was comfortable. The people he liked to hang around with were the guides. Oh.

Speaker Guide's friend Phil Harris went hunting with him for years and years and they would walk miles and miles in the hills getting quail and they would learn to cook quail. And I learned to cook ducks and I learned to cook trout, which we had up at the ranch at Rising River. That was my only domestic skill and I stuck with it.

Speaker So we you and I had talked about this before, and you should say this, that he did not have like so many performers of his contemporaries, whether it was Sinatra or Judy Garland, you should say this back to me.

Speaker He didn't have he wasn't needy. He didn't need an audience the way some of these other performers did. No, he never did.

Speaker So, Tom, say that is a big was really such a simple man. He he didn't need an audience. He had had an audience early on. They say that when he traveled from New York to Hollywood, by the time he arrived in Hollywood, he was a huge star from the Bill Haley contract.

Speaker And he in part repeated again say he was a huge star from the Bill Paley.

Speaker He was a huge star from the big Bill Paley contract, and he was an emcee for some of the vaudeville shows. He and Bob Hope first met each other then, and they loved working together. And Bob was the emcee supposedly, and then was the singer, but they would alternate. And then they started the Gallagher and Gene jokes and picked up on the vaudeville acts that they liked. And later on, they invited Bob to Del Mar and they invited all the Hollywood people from Paramount up to dinner after the after the race was over and they started to do some some numbers that they had done in vaudeville. And that's what the road shows were about.

Speaker But I think it's important to say he didn't have this. Sort of show biz.

Speaker By the time he met me. He had enjoyed.

Speaker All the adulation he wanted every day he did a film when he was filming during the war. The sets were full of soldiers that would come in and he was always being photographed with them and writing them. And later on, he wrote their parents. And he felt that the best thing he could do was the USO shows and during the week when he was filming, he did shows on the weekends at the local US hospitals or or bases. And then they traveled all over the United States and played golf. He and Bob played golf against the pros, which had a lot to do with the success of the PGA, but he had to had all of that excitement. And when we dated, he he took me to places where you weren't apt to be recognized and didn't want to be recognized. He just wanted. Well, that's why I did my cooking. He ate my cooking, which shows you how desperate he was for solitude and quiet the.

Speaker You also talk about how much the people on the left, the Grip's, the gaffer's, how much they all loved him.

Speaker Yes, they did. He should tell us that as a statement that, you know, that the crew really when he was making movies, he had a wonderful time with the crew.

Speaker He had made so many movies right at the first in the early years that he knew everybody. While he Westmore was his makeup man, there was another makeup band called Mile Away Ray, who was very good with him and Rosie. Oh, I was so late in the story. But he knew everybody, he knew the gaffer's, he knew the best boys, he knew the light and sound man, they were very important to him. And he always had he loved working with. Ethel Barrymore, and here comes the groom. He taught her about or she taught him about baseball and he got the radio there and they listened to it every afternoon. There used to be a lot of time between setups and it allowed you to talk with friends. They had a man named Barney Dean who was called a gag man, and he would come to Bing and say, look, when Bob comes through that door, what I want you to do is this. And then you go to Bob and say, look, when being comes in, what I want you to do is this and that's why all the road show sounds so improvised, because they were absolutely spontaneous. Neither one knew what the other word was going to do.

Speaker The what? Tell us about the decision to move up north.

Speaker Being felt that it was impossible to find peace in Los Angeles or Palm Springs. We no sooner arrived in Palm Springs and we'd get a sad message from one of the boys and their wives and have to come back again. Once there was a suicide attempt and I wound up staying in the hospital with Barbara. The boys were in Florida, but. Lindsey had said he was going to fracks. To enjoy the girls, and so Barbara took a handful of sleeping pills and fortunately we saved her and. She survived and Lindsay came back. And I said, you have to bury your child because the baby had not survived. And talk with Father Kousser and Dr. Hammer was a psychologist, said, no, Lindsay, don't you want to come with me to St. John's? And. So that's what he did and he never realized that he had had a child or that he owed something to the child and the mother. So I slept in the hospital with her for four nights and.

Speaker Pat Sheehan, who is Dennys wife, came to visit and walked in the door and looked at her and looked at me and backed out, and then after about five minutes, she came back. And again, I find out, you know, and she made funny stories and was very happy and supportive. It was very distressing, but it was one of the situations that made they decide to get out of town far enough so that nobody would follow him. So he had friends in San Francisco and we checked out all the houses between Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Carmel and San Francisco.

Speaker And you ended up in.

Speaker In Hillsborough, yes, we did, we went to Hillsborough, Ninni Martin was a great friend of things and she was a dear friend to me, too. She took me to all the houses in the area that were available and told me little things like, oh, you can't have this house.

Speaker The man tried to commit suicide here. I know you don't want to have this house. There is no room in it there. You could put a a troop in the front hall, but there are no bedrooms. And I understood that. And so she finally helped us find the room, the house that we got.

Speaker Ross, could you put out a little things, you know, going back to so what was the. What was the either spoken or unspoken agreement between you and being regarding the the first four boys?

Speaker He loved them and he met them.

Speaker And I never said anything, I mean, that was not my family, that was not my problem, but he did the best he could.

Speaker Oh, but you were all for making it your problem.

Speaker Yes, yes, yes, I did want to take care of everything. I wanted to solve all the problems of the world. And it took a long, long time for me to realize that I couldn't.

Speaker Finally, when we were living in San Francisco, Phillip came up and stayed with us. He had a nightclub performance there and he came home. He was always such a happy go lucky person.

Speaker And he said, I got silverware for 24 from Trader Vic's, just put it in his pocket.

Speaker And I thought, oh, no.

Speaker And I said, I don't ever want him here again, you can't you can't steal from your best friend and do that. You just can't. He didn't realize that it was wrong. And it was. I auditioned for White Christmas for Robert Imit, Dolan, and he said I was too pretty, which is just a cop out for somebody that says you're not smart enough or not tall enough or whatever. I hated it. I hated that part of it. But I went on the set to interview Bing and at the end of our interview, being invited me out to dinner, which led Frank Riiser, who was the publicity man shepherding me around, said that's what I call getting an interview.

Speaker That's great. So going back to you, was it an unspoken agreement or unspoken agreement where stay out of the boys, the boys lives stop, don't help me with that.

Speaker Well, I wasn't going to pay any attention to that. We had. Great event, Lindsay had a birthday, we had a little while at the house. Lindsay had a wedding, we had a wedding at St. Paul's and and in Westwood and then a big reception at the house. And Barney Dean, of course, had funny remarks to say about everything. And he said, I guess Florence couldn't come with her birds because we had some birdcages with doves right out in front of the front door of.

Speaker When things were rough being didn't he actively didn't want your help, right?

Speaker No, he didn't. He didn't.

Speaker Sometimes I had to listen to him, occasionally I listened to him not all the time, but sometimes he said things were so painful and a lot of times I thought I needed to interfere.

Speaker Don't interfere with a grown man or his children, you just don't do it. How certain things worked.

Speaker We had Sunday at the Crosby's and the girls would bring a dish and we'd all have and they'd boys would play football in the backyard and Bing would listen to that and take part in it for a couple of hours and he'd go off to Bel Air and play golf. Eventually, he let me know that he didn't want any more of that. Because the boys were having troubles. Oh. Sandra wanted to tell Philip how to treat her Dennis, his wife, Patty, she and Baker dated her, too, by the way. She wanted Dennis to stop drinking and couldn't tell anybody to stop drinking. Gary was not married until later. He married a girl named Barbara, too. She was big. Barbara Barbara Frederickson, Lindsey's wife, was little Barbara. Big Barbara was wonderful. She was from New York. She had a son named Dennis. And I think the best thing that Gary ever did was adopt.

Speaker Oh, Duke was his name. Steven, Steven was his name.

Speaker Robert, Gary's son, Gary, adopted Gary, adopted him. It was Stephen.

Speaker So did being ever express to you, though, what he thought went wrong or what?

Speaker He didn't discuss it, he didn't believe in psychiatrists, although Dixie was under a psychiatrist care for years and years, and Gary told me that when he was about 13, he was out in the backyard trying to kill Phillip. And the doctor said, get him into my office. Very soon are you going to have a murder in your backyard?

Speaker And that's. It was so sad because Dixy was ill for five years, very ill and with cervical cancer, and there was no pap smear in those days, there was no real treatment for it. And it was a very sad, lonely way to die. But he. They didn't know about psychiatry.

Speaker I'm not sure it ever works, but they call it the crackpot syndrome you get. Vessels glued together, but they still never hold water and Bill felt being felt that way. And he just wanted me to stay out of their business.

Speaker Did. So we were talking earlier about the hindsight of time, and it wasn't really until the early 60s that the term fetal alcohol syndrome even came into being, but. Now, in hindsight, would you would you say that absolutely, you should say it, I believe that the four boys were infected with foetal alcohol syndrome.

Speaker They used Dolores Hope taught me, she said, we just drank. They just drank. There was nothing wrong with that. Everybody just drank what's prohibition had been removed, they just drank. And they used to put Derris in this dumbwaiter and. For the streak in and get him down to the basement where he could get into the wine cellar. It was not a very big elevator dumbwaiter, but it was capable of carrying lots of bottles or a few bottles and a little boy.

Speaker So really, that's where the disease part of alcoholism comes into play. It's almost hereditary.

Speaker I think so. I understand the Irish have a hard time being from the time I met him, would take one drink and make it last all evening. That must be amazingly difficult for someone who's been an alcoholic and I don't know if he was an alcoholic or an Irish drunk, Dolores Hope said, if you missed being go back to the last place you were, you might find him under the table.

Speaker I never knew that being at all. Never.

Speaker What was your reaction when Gary's book came out?

Speaker I was very sad.

Speaker I was very sad. The publisher said, well, there won't be anything bad about you, I said, but there are bad things about Dixie. He. Things mother had a wonderful thing, she said it's a dirty bird that gets its own nest. Gary Desser. And do you know what, shortly after the book came out, Gary met some of his father's friends and he was amazed that they didn't want to give him a job. Because they'd given him jobs for years because of being. And after the book, they wouldn't give him work, and he was really shocked.

Speaker Did you ever talk to him about the book?

Speaker Oh, he said, you know, I would never say anything bad about you, I said, Really? He just didn't realize he had done anything wrong.

Speaker And again, hindsight, which is 20/20, do you now think as. A family for your family that when the book came out that you.

Speaker Perhaps should have done a little damage control with the public in the press because. It seems to have caused some damage to his reputation, to being reported when I met being.

Speaker Every woman in the world was in love with him and every man wanted to be his best buddy and go hunting and fishing with him and talk with him and tell stories and listen to stories.

Speaker I assumed. That people remembered how much they loved him. They never, never hurt his children, his mother did. Kate was a big spanker. I was a big spanker. But from the time I met Bing, he never touched his boys. And Gary just told stories that were. They got a good audience.

Speaker Tell me who. And see his name, who is John Scott Trotter?

Speaker John Scott Trotter was a gentleman from Carolina and he became the music man for the Craft Music Hall. He started out as a music man for the Craft Music Hall, and he played for him for 25 years. He was a wonderful friend of the family, too. He taught Harry about conducting an orchestra and he became my friend with antiques. He taught me about antiques and we shopped every Christmas and we would buy something that I thought was beautiful, like Cupps Teacups, Antiques or. Little jars, and we gave those for Christmas presents and he taught us and he played the piano for me when I sang my first song for a special Things The.

Speaker It's known that being didn't like to be around people when they were sick, etc., but it really ties into what happened with Eddie Lang, right? Yes. And you should tell us this because it explains why he didn't want to why it disturbed him so much.

Speaker Benny Lang was such a young Eddie Lang was was a genius, a guitar player. And he played with the Weitman band and he and being played together and then being started recording with just Eddie Lang and Eddie always had trouble with his tonsils. Tonsillitis used to be a big deal. I always had it. And things said, why don't you get your tonsils out there? Will be done, finished. And they took him in and the anesthetic killed him. And being always felt guilty, he thought it was his fault that Eddie had died. And I think his wife was Kitty, and she was a dear friend to us always, we said her presence every Christmas. She later took care of the elephants at a circus and in Reno, she was a very dear woman, but Eddie was such an amazing man and death is so unpredictable and Bing always felt so guilty. And he couldn't stand to be with sick people, so I cut you off so he couldn't he couldn't stand to be with sick people, he just couldn't be there any time. I had my tonsils out and Harry had his tonsils, that we had a tonsil party, the nuns went with us to Cedars of Lebanon Hospital and we had our tonsils out and they went to Mexico. He called me two days later and I picked up the phone, got my orders, of course, had gone somewhere else. And and he said, oh, you sound sick. If I'd known, I'd have been there with you. And I said you'd have gone to Timbuktu if I'd known I was going to be this sick.

Speaker The tell us the story about. Being going to see Louis Armstrong warm up on high society, you describe and repeat it back to me how his lip at that point was pure scar tissue and it was a four hour warm up like a rutabaga.

Speaker He said yes. Thing was, he said, look, I came in early in the morning for him like 10:00 or 11:00 and started warming up his lip and his horn and he would rub his lip and then he would try to blow. And there was a little blip and then a little blip and then maybe another little blip. And then he'd walk around and rub his lip and talk again. Again. And he and Bill are being visited. And then he would blow again. And then after about four hours, his lip was movable, malleable enough so that he could blow and do the work and do the recording for high society.

Speaker The.

Speaker I wanted to ask you about the. I found a letter from being in the oh, I don't know, it must be the mid to probably the late 50s, Robert, correct me if I'm wrong. A letter I found from the late 50s and he's writing to, I guess, of his attorney and he. Silvani yeah. O'Melveny anything that's very cool because he's saying quite honestly, he's saying I'm not I have no pretense about this. He said I've I haven't had a number one hit in a while. And he goes, it's not through lack of trying. He said it's just music has changed. And I've had a really good run. And he said, you know, I'll keep trying. And I and it just hasn't worked out that way. Of course I'd like to, but I haven't. Did he ever discuss that with you?

Speaker He said, my voice is not as good as it was. And I went in to talk to my tutor, Lillian Barclay, at Columbia Pictures, and she said, Katherine, don't you know people hear what they used to hear of things? Voice His voice will never change to them. I mean, there are so many voices that are totally hoarse and it doesn't mean they're not loved. But being started doing his daily radio show. And his voice just got more and more mellow and more and more beautiful. And John, Scott Trotter took his rage down almost a note every year. He was singing almost bass by the last years of his life. But the lovely part to me was that his voice was always beautiful.

Speaker Why did he decide towards the end to go back on the road? He hadn't been on stage in years and years and years.

Speaker Yes, he did a special a Bell Telephone Hour special that he sang and he got Joey Bushkin to write a few songs for him. Joey Bushkin wrote a medley of four or eight measures of his songs. The medley was 27 minutes long. And it was wonderful and being seeing it on television first, and he he loved it and Joy had such a good time doing it. So then again, I did for the first time because they couldn't do benefits. He didn't have an act. Well, with that twenty seven minute medley, he had an act. And so we started and we did a benefit for Louis Armstrong and then we did a benefit at the Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco. The children worked with us and I thought it was so great that our kids would get to know what their dad did for a living and they got to take part in it with him, not only the Christmas shows. So they were the best. They loved working with him. So did I. Rosie said she had just come out of the hospital. She said, I can't remember the melody. I can't remember the words. He said, well, here's the music. Put it up on the stand. She said, I can't do that. He said, why not?

Speaker But I mean, at that age, he wanted to get out in front of an audience again.

Speaker He loved it. He loved it. And then we wanted to do a Christmas show in London. And so we played at the London Palladium, too. First we went to Broadway, which was so great, and we stayed with our friend and Sleater in New York City and her chic apartment one East 81, and she had a care package for us with Tootsie Rolls and Butterfingers.

Speaker OK, no, I'm sorry.

Speaker And little things for us and the children stayed with us and we stayed in this amazing, gorgeous co-op on when he's 81 and Harry played the guitar for his father. And they saying, you've got a friend and Mary danced and Rosie's boyfriend, Dante DePaolo, worked with Mary on her dance and she was wonderful.

Speaker I think it's also important to note that around this time in entertainment, these the Christmas shows and all that, that it wasn't only being who put the family in a show, but it was Sinatra, put his kids in shows and Lucille Ball put her kids on the TV show. I think you should tell us that.

Speaker Well, it was the thing to do. Dolores Hope said people just wanted good, normal kids, which might have been why Bing always put his kids on the show and on the radio show and on the television show when television came. And then he put our kids on the show. Actually, I think it was because of Peter Pan that our children got to work with their father. I was going to do Peter Pan thing said. Do you think you can? Mary Martin is one of the great musical stars of our our era. Do you think you can sing? Do you think you can get away with it? So I auditioned for him. He said I would die first before I auditioned for Bing to sing. And she was a real singer. But I sang for him and he said, I think you could handle it. I said, What did you like best? The melody. He said, the medley and the not what? The lullaby. The lullaby. He said, No, I like the way you crowed, so I love that. And then I was asked to do the melody, the show Peter Pan in San Francisco at the Hyatt House Theater. And Mary Frances was going to be Jane. And they asked for Harry to be in the show, too, is one of the other children. And they said, no, that's enough. And Nathaniel wanted to be in it, too, and being took him to see the Vikings practice football. And Nathaniel was knocked about 40 feet off the sidelines by one of the tackles. And he was so proud and he got a signed football and he was thrilled. Mary was wonderful as Jane. She had a problem. Once the curtain went up, she couldn't do her homework, which I decided to do. She was following the show. And after we did the show, she went back and did the whole show at school and they had an assembly and she played Peter Fair.

Speaker What did what did being tell you about his childhood?

Speaker About his childhood? He had a wonderful childhood. His mother was working so hard to feed the family. Everyone said, oh, my mother didn't kiss us more than the fingers of my right hand. And they said she was probably cleaning your dirty diapers. He was very defensive about his mother. His father was evidently very jolly. They called him Hollywood Hairy and he ran the office in Hollywood after being started doing something seriously. But Harry sang on these Christmas special and they was pleased. Everybody was pleased. Harry played the guitar and he did that the first year. And so the next year, Bing said, well, we could do that. And our children worked very hard with a man named Joe Klein to learn the words to all the Christmas carols. So for the first time, they had his second family and we all sat on a little bench and it was in 1965 and we all sang the Christmas carols with him and we had a wonderful time.

Speaker The what would he tell you about his early days in Hollywood or actually early days in just starting out?

Speaker Well, he told Rosy more stories than he did me. He told Rosie about the time he was arrested and put in jail for 30 days because he went into court. And the judge says, don't you know, we have prohibition in this country? And he said, yes, but nobody pays any attention to that 30 days, he said. And they had to let him out for the time so he could go and sing the song for his first movie. But he missed on the great solo because he was in jail. But he had a lovely time in Hollywood and with Dixie, they had a westward marching and chowder society and Dixie did songs with Eddie Lang. And they had wonderful times, the.

Speaker Want to talk to you about he did the he did the last tour with you and then he well, you should tell us about the fall off the stage in Pasadena.

Speaker Yes. I was there.

Speaker I made a mistake during our show, I'd come in late. I didn't know how to sing with an orchestra. Dick Perito had an orchestra. They were wonderful. And I had done the show on our work in London. But this was a big television production and I was late. So I went down and started to roll up my hair because being in I would do it again after we were finished with the audience.

Speaker So upstairs he was just saying good night and the. Director walked forward. To take the microphone and then gave him the microphone and took two steps back. And while he had been on the on the platform in front saying good night to the people, the stage went down, it went down 40 feet and being stepped off into nothing.

Speaker He did a turn, a quick spin, and he grabbed the side curtains. There were plastic and they fell into the audience, but they broke his fall a little and.

Speaker Then he did a spin and he landed on his hip. And by the time I got to him in the basement. He was there. And I said, please wiggle your toes. And he did, he could. I said, will your hands? And he could.

Speaker So he was not paralyzed. Because that was a fatal fall and he didn't land on jacarandas drums, as he said, maybe Ellender Jake had his drums that would really hurt them, but then they got him on a gurney.

Speaker And they started to take him out. He was sort. Off we go into the wild blue yonder. Then he got to the hospital. And they weren't going to let me in with it. I said, I'm a nurse and I will not get in your way. But I'd like to be with him. So they let me with him. And I held his hand. And the man said, well, there's no break, you can go home now. And he said, yes, but I can't walk. So.

Speaker We stayed overnight and by morning, of course, his spine was so swollen he couldn't do anything. It took six weeks for the swelling to go down enough. So that he could be flown north.

Speaker And come home.

Speaker But we should say not only did he recover, but he went back, he went on this final tour. Yes.

Speaker So you should say that he recovered and he did a show with Mary Frances at Concord and she sang True Love with him. And they were wonderful. And Rosie was so thrilled in the Concord, people wanted to release an album of that show. But there had been a light blowout, the silence, the darkness for 34 minutes and being just ad libbed for 34 minutes. And then the lights came on and they resumed the concert. And I don't know how you could make up for that. So we didn't record that. And that's too bad. But we did go to London and do another show at the Palladium and do another Christmas show. And we toured and went to Manchester and Brighton. And then he was going to go to Spain with his friend Cezar Zulueta and go grouse shooting. So I flew home for a stupid Detlor Park appointment and he flew to Spain and Cezar said they went to mass that morning. Then they played golf that afternoon and he and his pro won ten dollars and on the way back Cezar said, Are you tired? They were going back to the clubhouse and they said, no, it's not hilly.

Speaker And then he dropped in.

Speaker When the reporters got to you, you said something really wonderful, I said, Daddy, where the money.

Speaker I thought that Rosie Clooney could do some more songs, that I could do some more songs and and or do a little more, and we could help him. Do his work. The last time we toured in England, they didn't even have an M.C.. He walked on the stage alone and everybody just died.

Speaker He was so wonderful and he was at his very best at the top of his form, and he didn't go out a crippled old man. He went out of Star, the best star that ever had been.

Speaker And then he went to play with his friends and he won the golf game.

Speaker And that's quite marvelous.

Speaker And we should also point out in 1975, he had an operation on his lung.

Speaker Yes, they took a tumor out of his lung that you see that started in 1975, in 1975, being had a little touch of pleurisy and nobody knew what it was for. They did all the tests going and finally they operated and found he had a tumor this big. And very fortunately, they got it out whole because he would have drowned in the no cardio, which was in his lung if they hadn't gotten it out a hole.

Speaker So he had had enough problems. But he went out on top of his game. He was wonderful and he was with friends and doing what he loved.

Speaker Fantastic. You need to tell us, because among your all your other credits and I needed as a complete statement, you said that, just tell me briefly if you would pull the children out of school, take them to Mexico every year. But we have to say you were an accredited teacher, so. Yes. So tell us.

Speaker Well, it was such a lucky thing for us because they wanted to go to Mexico and if we'd been in in Palm Springs would have had to put them in the local schools. But Mexico, I could homeschool them. Harry says very proudly, my mother's home schooled us and we did from the time she was still in kindergarten. They gave me the books to read. And then I met Dr. Sullivan and he gave me his program to education. Mary Frances was doing trigonometry when she was eight. She was as long as you paid attention to her, she was marvelous and the boys did their work. Even the manual worked on Spanish with us being joined us for classes in Spanish. The program, the education and the boys finished by 11 o'clock in the morning and then they'd go fishing with their dad or that we'd play on the beach. Mary Frances was very good at that. We were good at sea shelling and playing with the dogs. Our dogs and the neighbor's dogs all came down and we played together the you another good quote.

Speaker You're full of good quotes in this book and I need you to spit this back at me. You said you say being sang like he'd breathe completely natural. Was what you wrote being so you could tell me being sang like he breathed it was completely natural? Well, it was say that that to me he sang like he breathed.

Speaker It was absolutely natural. They said they couldn't afford lessons. Nobody had lessons or or needed to. But he had positive reinforcement. The boys started to tease him and his mother got him to sing for solidarity. So he sang a song for solidarity and walked past his friends with five dollar bill that he wrote to the bank and put it in. That's positive reinforcement. You really know, you sing well when you get five dollars for it.

Speaker You also said that if you've also you've noticed that in the early movies, you say he's he's moving like a band singer.

Speaker Yes, he was. He tapped his foot and he kind of rocked back and forth. But later on, he didn't move at all. Didn't need to. He just sang.

Speaker I think it's important for people, again, another Miskin, it's not even so much that it's a misconception, but people pose it as a negative when it's just not a negative, but a way of being. They say he was very he wasn't demonstrative with his emotions. And people construe that as cold.

Speaker He was Irish. What do you want from an Irishman? You're not going to get any I love you. I'm a Texas mongrel, Scotch, Irish, English, German and French. We did the I love you's everywhere. And Daddy hugged and kissed mother every day. I don't think Bing knew about that, but I taught him. He started shaking hands with Harry when Harry was four. I said, What are you doing? He said, Well, he's a big boy. We shake hands. I said, No, you don't. You hug him when he's 105, you will hug him.

Speaker And did he act when he minded and and so he warmed up, so to speak, you know? Yes.

Speaker Do you think that he ever felt sort of hemmed in by his association with Christmas or.

Speaker No. He loved Christmas, although for us, Christmas could have attacked any time of the year. We did Christmas in Sun Valley in April because they had snow at that time. We we shot the show in November, December, September. But April, I think, was the most weird time to have it.

Speaker And so he didn't mind that mantle of being just so firmly entrenched with Christmas.

Speaker What's bad about being associated with Christmas? It was the best holiday and was about Christmas, the earlier one. And those songs from Irving Berlin were the most beautiful ones always.

Speaker The the I think it's also I'm glad you mentioned that you should explain that Irving Berlin, in the case of high society, that they were right that say that those people were writing specifically for they knew being war was going to sing those songs.

Speaker Irving paid him a great compliment because he said, I will not do white Christmas unless being plays that role, which is very nice. And Cole Porter, of course, did High Society, which was lovely.

Speaker The again, putting this all in context, you should explain that because people look at this stuff through today's lens, that back then you it was OK to spank your kids. It was OK to spank your kids?

Speaker Well, yes, my mother spanked me every day of my life.

Speaker There is a psychological fact that you can't remember physical pain and you can't forget mental pain.

Speaker He gave the impression that he walked in, the cameras turned on, and he did it as casually and easily as if he had no rehearsal, but in fact, he rehearsed quite a bit right in our bedroom.

Speaker There was a turntable about as big as this table, and they had big desks and he would play them off before he got shaved or ready to go in the morning. And by the time he got there. He knew what he was going to do with the song he always had, songs are recorded for him and it was a great honor to record being songs or to record a song for Bing and then listen to it and decide what he was going to do with it. And then went to rehearsal and recording. And he used to they used to go to an old warehouse on the outskirts of Los Angeles, probably this building, and do an album in a weekend. But for the time I came along, he would go to a proper studio and record the songs and he always had it memorized and he always had it right.

Speaker Tell us, why did you never want to wear the toupee? But he never wanted to wear the toupee.

Speaker Oh, he was a gentleman and a gentleman, never wore a hat in the house and he never wore his hair outside. But being had to do that, it was what they did in the movies. Oh. He did, and he was very self-conscious about it. He had the ending of our show in London changed because there was some film of Fred Astaire dancing and he had no toupee.

Speaker And being said, take that out. You can't do that to Fred. Fred wore his toupee every day for all of his life and they would not tell on it.

Speaker And whenever Bing didn't have to wear a hat, but he could.

Speaker The the there are letters that he wrote that where he really expresses serious doubts about ever appearing on TV, he is.

Speaker But you said TV eats people, you've got to have a wonderful people like George Gobel, it'll eat you up in just a couple of years if you if you perform often and.

Speaker And you do. Your best numbers. You've given them away.

Speaker And Milton Berle will be waiting in the wings to steal your best jokes, but is that also another reason he never really did talk shows either? Right?

Speaker He did them very well, as a matter of fact, because on my talk show, he was fun to talk to and then we both were on Dinah Shore talk show. When she had that, he he was wonderful.

Speaker And then, of course, there's the Barbara Walters interview. Yes. And you were out of town when he did that?

Speaker I was out of town and he was still sick. He was recovering from the fall off the stage. But he did tell me about it that he didn't mean to say those things that he was. He just said what he said, and that's the way he had been reared.

Speaker And he sort of regretted doing the interview. Yes, he did. You should say he regretted doing it.

Speaker He regretted doing the interview. I did a worse one because somebody said if your children did what Gary did to you, what would you do? I said I'd kill them. And then later I called and said, please stop with that. And of course, they put it in.

Speaker He had a.

Speaker Theory that, again, that you don't he wanted the kids to feel as normal as possible, that you don't tell them how wonderful they are all the time. Right.

Speaker Which you should say that it's an Irish thing. I always was told I was wonderful but was never told he was wonderful because what a shame the devil is what you do. There's a there's an Irish kind of myth. Praise a child and shame the devil. You'll just be terrible if you if you're told how wonderful you are. And I thought that was silly, but never mind. I just told him how wonderful they were behind his back.

Speaker So he really was a product of that time, that upbringing.

Speaker Yes. I guess now I have to realize he was 30 years older than I was and he had had a wonderful marriage of 20 years and he had grown children.

Speaker And then he met me and I thought I had seen.

Speaker The man in the moon, he was wonderful when you entered that marriage and there were the four boys and let's say right at the beginning, did you? For example, ask your own mother for advice, like, how do I handle all this?

Speaker No.

Speaker I was you didn't ask anybody's advice.

Speaker I very stupidly said, I'm going to marry Bing Crosby to a group of girls that were with me on a USO tour of Japan, Tokyo and Korea and came out in a.

Speaker Newsletter on what was Variety and Radio Harris's column.

Speaker And he was very cross. And I was very embarrassed, so I never told anybody ever again anything. Why was he upset? The. He just there was certain things he felt were private marriage. Births, deaths, those things he wanted to keep to himself.

Speaker But even some horrible things that happened at his funeral, somebody was pushed into the into the grave. Oh, and being cried publicly, which he never would have done that if he had had a choice. And it was it was really awful for him, so he never was going to have any of those things public.

Speaker Did, and so you just pretty much sailed ahead without, you know, just made it up as you went along, so to speak.

Speaker Don't we always do that?

Speaker Well, it's considering the age difference and the for lack of a better phrase, the stature difference. It's pretty brave of you to have done that. I mean, don't you think?

Speaker Well, when I first met him, I said he was Hollywood royalty. But come on, I was Texas royalty. I was MFAT stock queen of the Houston Exposition and Livestock Show and Exposition. They called me this fat stock, but I want a Ford convertible.

Speaker There you go and got that was the Ford convertible that went to Hollywood.

Speaker The.

Speaker Did he tell you because this is documented, but did he tell you that in the early days with the boys there had been kidnapping threats against them?

Speaker Always there were kidnapping threats against my children.

Speaker So you could say they were kidnapping threats against the first four.

Speaker They were kidnapping threats against the first four boys. And they hated it when they were driven to school with the chauffeur in a car. And they made them park around around the block and they would walk to school from there. Our children took the bus, but the school in Hillsborough was just a few blocks from us and they were very happy. But there were kidnap threats and the police followed them. Mary Frances will tell you the story about it because they decided that the person who was in trouble, in danger was a girl who lived at Feighan Estates next door and after a few months that the policeman stopped following them.

Speaker He was nominated for the country girl, yes. And at that time, he decided he would go to the ceremony, right?

Speaker Yes, he did. And not only that, very casually, he said, can you get a you reckon you could get a long dress to wear the Academy Award this Saturday? I was in Palm Springs swimming and I said, yeah, I think so. So I fled to Columbia Pictures and Jalousie offered me Rita Hayworth guild address. It was green satin and strapless with long, full length opera gloves that I put it on and I thought, doesn't work, doesn't fit, didn't fit. Right. She had much better. And so I wore a normal dress and that was the night we went to the Academy Awards. And I guess we made front page history all over the United States. I loved it. I'm not sure he did, but we were out. He said we're public now. Now everybody knows.

Speaker You should mention that he supported his. Family, his not just you guys, of course, but brothers, sisters.

Speaker Oh, yes, the he was the one who made it in his family. He said, you know, we're just caretakers for the prosperity that we have. And all the kids got houses and he paid the mortgage owe.

Speaker This mother used to say, why don't you get Beyblade in movies, he's as good as you were, and Rosemary Clooney used to be furious, but they just did it did the best he could. He supported everybody and he always did what he could for his sons, once Gary said to me, You don't think I borrow money, Dad, I'd come to you first and let you give me the money to buy a new house.

Speaker I thought, OK, I mean, this thing with the boys, it's pretty much year in, year out for decades. Yes. It's decades worth of Pröll.

Speaker Well.

Speaker They got all the education they could, they did their service and and then being supported them. As long as he lived.

Speaker And you write in your book about in 1962, and I think again in 65, being getting a call from a psychiatrist at St. John's recommending they we were in Hawaii on the first vacation we'd had in a long time.

Speaker And it was so beautiful over there. And the psychiatrist called and said that Bing should commit Lindsay. Lindsay had a bad reaction to alcohol. First he was drunk, but then he did terrible things to his brain. And being said, I'll call you back. And he said and he looked 100 years old. And he finally said, I couldn't do it, I just can't do it. So we call the doctor back and said, I'm sorry, I can't do it.

Speaker The.

Speaker You tried to point out that you were the boys his age, you were their contemporaries. Yes, I was. I was a little younger than Gary.

Speaker OK, you should say that. Yeah, go ahead.

Speaker I was actually a contemporary of his four sons. I was a little younger than Gary, but the twins were my age and Lindsay was a couple of years younger. They were all very sweet to me most of the time. They must have had much more pressure than I did about the marriage.

Speaker But I.

Speaker I was off with things somewhere we were either fishing or at Palm Springs or at Mapleton. And I just didn't worry about it. They said, what would you do in this situation? I don't know what situation you're talking about. I've never been married before, I did know one thing big was a grown man, I wasn't going to shape him. I wasn't going to break any of his bad habits. He smoked a pipe. He smoked a cigar. He even smoked tobacco in cigarettes. And I finally said, I would hate for our children to see you smoking cigarettes. And, you know, he never smoked another cigarette. That was all I said, and it was done. He did smoke a cigar and he did smoke a pipe, but I liked the pipe tobacco. That was nice.

Speaker It smelled like apples the minute made commercials. Yes.

Speaker The decision to do those at the house, just that was my my occupation. They asked me to do it because they knew they would never do a commercial. But I was trying to raise money for the Immaculate Heart nuns. So they gave the nuns 100000 dollars every year. And I would do a commercial for them. Well, of course, then they had voice being do voice overs and then they had been do the show, the commercial itself.

Speaker The. Tell us about when being I know you weren't around, but you've talked about it when Dixie died being took Lindsey away to France, right?

Speaker Yes, being took Lindsey away to France. And they stayed a long time. They were together either before or after. He did little boy lost. And they traveled through Spain and they traveled through France. And his writer, Bill Monroe, was with them trying to take pictures. He was a worst photographer ever. He cut off all the heads, but he photographed many millions of shots and. Lindsay had a good time, they met Errol Flynn, Errol Flynn went broke at Monte Carlo and they were walking in the casino the next night and Lindsay said, what are you going to do? Earl and Earl said, we attack. And that was a story that went around in the family forever.

Speaker The president said he would not.

Speaker Is it true that he would not take any residual money, any fees for his recording of Silent Night?

Speaker Silent Night, yes. That went to a priest who had and tell us he wouldn't take any. He was asked to do Silent Night. And what else was it other Maria? He did, too. And he didn't feel it was right for him to take money for doing those songs. The songs were huge sellers, so they gave the money to a priest in China who had a foreign mission and had an orphanage. Yes, Robert.

Speaker It's the other side of that is invested in Dallas and the singing competition. It wasn't until.

Speaker What I didn't even understand what it was, and I wasn't even sure it was the best day of the day, we just it was silent night.

Speaker Oh, come all ye faithful, dusty fidelis. All right.

Speaker The for the common combat mission is so.

Speaker So keep it at Silent Night to say, start all over Dallas, he did it, just start off and just say he recorded Silent Night and go from there.

Speaker He recorded Silent Night and arrested Fideles and he would not take a residual for those. He gave it all to a Marine on a mission in China. They had orphanages. I think those were orphanages. And the children benefited largely from that.

Speaker And he did not, according to either Robert or she did not accept all the money that he made from any live performances at the nineteen thirty three he gave to charity, he was working for the USO.

Speaker And he loved that he did those shows every weekend and then he went across to France and I think he he chose well, Bob, Bob Hope was going to all those islands. And Bob went Bing went to Paris, which was great. Of course, he almost got shot at, but he was in the Battle of the Bulge to. And they did have an interesting experience, he borrowed a jeep to go out and do some little songs in the field. He just had a jeep and a microphone. He was going to do it a cappella. And as they went along these rutted roads, he noticed that there were no telephone wires. And you could always see the telephone wires that Maragos had been in there. And then he saw bodies dropping down behind chimneys that were burned out and he didn't recognize the helmets. And so he asked the driver, do you know of those uniforms? And he said, No, sir. Well, do you do you see the telephone wires? No, sir. So they turned and advanced to the rear. And when they got back to camp, the commander was furious and frightened and he said, don't you know that's in in German hands? And he said, well, we had it for a little while this morning.

Speaker What is.

Speaker What do you think the the staying power has been with the recording of White Christmas?

Speaker What do I think I think they've chosen. Well.

Speaker It's would you agree? He's been called the Voice of America.

Speaker Well, Kate, Kate Smith was the voice of America, but Bing was the soul of World War Two.

Speaker The.

Speaker He did he ever say to you the only thing he felt he or the audience was a good performance?

Speaker No. He never said that. OK, I just want to make sure we owe them the best life he could give them.

Kathryn Crosby
Interview Date:
2014-04-04
Runtime:
1:45:23
Keywords:
None
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
N/A
MLA CITATIONS:
"Kathryn Crosby, Bing Crosby Rediscovered." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 04 Apr. 2014, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1145
APA CITATIONS:
(2014, April 04). Kathryn Crosby, Bing Crosby Rediscovered. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1145
CHICAGO CITATIONS:
"Kathryn Crosby, Bing Crosby Rediscovered." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). April 04, 2014. Accessed December 08, 2021 https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1145

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