Transcript:

Speaker I think kids know everything, and so as a very, very young child, I knew that there was something different about my dad and that people responded to him in a different way and that he was something special. But of course, for me, he was just dad and he was the guy who taught me how to hunt and fish and play baseball. And, you know, he was dad, but I always knew that he was different.

Speaker And did it did he ever say to you, did he sort of have to? Sort of coach you and say, OK, we're going to go to dinner or we're going to go here and it's going to be go like this.

Speaker No, you know, Dad Dad didn't do the child-rearing in our family. I mean, my mom did all that, all the work. And and we knew from the get go that we had to behave a certain way. And and that was easy. That was like breathing. That was just something that we did. We didn't grow up in Hollywood. We grew up outside of San Francisco for the most part. I think I moved when I was two. So it was a fairly normal lifestyle. We went to school with lawyers, kids and plumbers, kids and doctors, kids and, you know, so. So aside from having a white Christmas song to us in June, it was a very different lifestyle than I think the Hollywood idea of how one grew up. And I think that the dad chose to move up there to raise his family in that environment because it was very important to him that. We were raised in a way that worked, and I think that he wanted to do it differently and that was one of his choices and I think it was a great choice. I think that was a great place to grow up.

Speaker And then tell us about being taken out of school and going to Mexico, but.

Speaker Mom was a jack of all trades, in addition to being an actress, she was a nurse and a teacher, and aside from any of that, she's pretty unstoppable. So if she wanted to take the kids out of school for a couple of months, then we were out of school for a couple of months. And she did homeschool us. And I think we were so lucky because dad was partially retired when we grew up. He wasn't doing that much. So we got an incredible amount of him. We were together in Mexico all the time and he would go off and fish or hunt. But we were we were together so much and that was a magical place to be away from the world and together as a family. It really it really was great.

Speaker Well, you sort of answered why he decided to. Decided to move out of L.A..

Speaker Feel can elaborate on that if you want. I think. You know, I think the first family had so many problems and one of the ways to distance us because we didn't know it as children, but as adults, in retrospect, we knew that, you know, the boys were beating their wives or trashing hotel rooms or running into people. I mean, that there were these really incredibly dramatic and difficult things going on. And then dad had this new family. And I know mom wanted very much to protect us. And I and I think, you know, the first four boys were in their 30s when we were born, so. It wasn't a question of integrating the families as much as trying to perhaps distance so that he could take care of put out those fires from a distance as opposed to having them be on the doorstep when.

Speaker Gary wrote his book. Pulled out of division for now. OK, we need to pull out.

Speaker And he stressed, you don't even need the diffusion. That's how good looking you are. That Vaseline on the lens will take it.

Speaker We're shooting you through Doris Day. That's nylon, a Navajo blanket.

Speaker As I said when Gary's book came out, you were already an adult. You were working and well. Tell me what your reaction was to Gary's book.

Speaker My reaction to Gary's book was. I was incredulous, I was horrified. I actually I just didn't I didn't get it because I was I was friendly with Gary. I didn't see him much, but but, you know. I was friendly and I I couldn't.

Speaker I couldn't believe that that he had said these things or done these things and, you know, in talking with the other four boys who I really I mean, the other three boys and and in talking with the other three boys who I didn't see much, but their reality was entirely different from what Gary had said. So I wasn't there. I don't know. I can only speak from my experience, which was that I had nothing like that man in my world or my life.

Speaker But I remember having dinner with Gary and saying, yeah, what's with that?

Speaker And he said, you know, it didn't really go down that way. But, you know, they said that it would sell a lot of books. And I don't know that I feel good about it. But I you know, I did what they said.

Speaker You know, I was like, Gary, you. I can't even say it because it's on film, but I just I remember thinking, you shit, how could you trash Dad like that, you know, because that's permanent, that's permanent damage.

Speaker And, you know, we were trained because dad was a very under the radar guy and he didn't. He didn't go out of his way to get in the spotlight. He just happened to be one of the greatest singers in the world. But he he never fought for that limelight. And we were sort of trained to stay under the radar. So when this thing came out, I was doing my own life. I had shot J.R. and, you know, as a family, we just figured it was a tar baby and that the more we left it alone, the sooner it would go away. And of course, in retrospect, that was a huge, incredible mistake because it it's one of the things that people think of when his name comes up, not this incredible legacy of good deeds and beautiful music, but, oh, he's the guy who hit his kid. And I just know that that was never in my experience with dad. And I remember what Gary said to me. About how it really didn't go down that way. So.

Speaker You know, that's one of those tar babies that just doesn't get better and, you know, in dealing with it now, people will believe what they believe, you know, and I think if people want to believe badly of someone, they're going to they're going to hang onto that anyway. But that was in no way my experience, it wasn't my brother's experience, and in talking to Lindsey and Dennis and Phillip, that was not their experience.

Speaker The.

Speaker Do you feel that he sort of thought he got a second chance with your mom and you guys?

Speaker I think dad did get a second chance. I think that, you know. Life is a sequence of lifetimes, and the dad had a lifetime with Dixie and the four boys and being the greatest star in the world and the incredible music that he did. And I think then he really got. A second life and maybe a second chance with my mom and with us and and the sweetness of that life, because mom was an entirely different woman from Dixie and they had quite an interesting love affair.

Speaker And, you know, Dad wasn't comfortable expressing affection physically, so mom just taught us to crawl all over, you know, and it's like a dog that's not used to being petted. You know, they're not entirely comfortable with it, but they end up loving it. So he did have another lifetime with us. And I know that he really wanted to make it work and. I think that's the move out of Hollywood and a lot more time together, and of course, his career was in a different place, you know.

Speaker So if you say that he didn't wasn't in charge of the parenting. So then what was what was a typical week, month? Day like if he wasn't.

Speaker Because he wasn't in charge of the parenting, he had the most impact mom would spank, mom would tell us what to do, but, you know, she was off doing her stuff, too. So. But if Dad. Wasn't happy about something, he would have a talk with us and he would be he would say, you know, you're such a smart child and I'm not really happy with the way you're doing in school. And, oh, my God, I was going to, you know, become a nun for the rest of my life. All he had to do was just say a few things. And they packed such a punch because. We knew we were deeply loved and we had such enormous respect.

Speaker You know. Did the so then.

Speaker OK, so like our life with dad was, we always eat meals together, breakfast and dinner, and, you know, sometimes he was off if he would hunt or fish or work occasionally.

Speaker But as a family, we were always together as a unit, whether it was going to Mexico or, you know, just being in Hillsboro. And then he gave us the great gift of performing with him. I think my brother was the only one with talent, Harry. He could play and and he could play guitar and piano. And, you know, the rest of us were sort of staggering around and singing badly. My mom is the exception. She was much more talented than that. But, you know, we got to be together. So I used to say everybody in the world had one Christmas and we got to because we could leave school and get our braces taken off and go to a Christmas show, wherever that was. And it was always a really fun experience for us to be together as a family and just to sort of play and I would say play. But that didn't mean we weren't prepared as an actress later on as an adult, I always felt that if Bing Crosby could be professional, then nobody else had the right not to be. So we were trained by example and he was always prepared and always early, not on time, but early and. Rehearsals weren't formal, we would sing songs around the piano at home or we would sing songs at the breakfast table, but by the time we got to L.A., we we knew our lines and we knew our songs.

Speaker You never detected a shift between the dad being and then when you got to the studio and he and. It was time to you know, Roland, he was with all the technicians, everything slightly different, like.

Speaker So I don't mean showbizzy, but a shift like, OK, now it becomes business, dad was always professional and always prepared and he made it look effortless, whether he was on stage or in front of the camera. And I think that's part of his gift as not just a singer, but as an actor, was that everything was very authentic and very who he was. And I think because there was such truth to how he performed, he resonated with just about everybody because it was it was true and it was honest.

Speaker We were never unprofessional and that was important to all of us.

Speaker So while he made things look easy. And it was fun and we played we weren't fooling around in a way that wasn't going to get the job done. So does that answer your question?

Speaker Yeah, I guess I guess what I mean also in a way, is that, like, he gets to the studio, obviously, he's probably known that crew for no, you know, the the Christmas shows, it was all different every year.

Speaker It was a different place, a different crew, a different cast, different director. Nick Harbeck did a lot of them. But there there were other directors. There were some through lines. There was Bob Sidney was the choreographer and he was there for many, many, many years. I think almost all of them. And some of the producers were the same. He had an ease when he performed that. Was so mind blowing and so extraordinary, I remember after 20 years of not being on stage, he decided that he wanted to go back and do some songs and go back to the theater. And he started at the Urus on Broadway, which is kind of an interesting way of starting back Robert, is that correct? Yes. OK, so he started at the Euros on Broadway and I remember going into his dressing room before opening night and he's reading the paper and he's drinking a Carnation Instant Breakfast, which is like a milk based drink. And I said, Dad, aren't you nervous? And he looked at me over the paper and he said, nervous. What's there to be nervous about? And that was real. That was who he was. And of course, there was nothing to be nervous about because he was perfect.

Speaker The and with.

Speaker There when you guys were teenagers, whatever form of teenage rebellion you guys had, was there ever a point where he said, look, I've been through this before. Do not start with me?

Speaker No, first of all. Any rebellion that we might have had. You know, I was I was pretty much out of the house, very, very young as as was, you know. Rebellion wasn't something that mom would have tolerated and it wasn't spoken about, Dad would never have mentioned it. But we were aware of the first four boys and as kids, it was kind of like we just didn't want to go down that road. So by God, we were not perfect kids, although I have to say I was pretty much out of the house, very young.

Speaker But we weren't we were we were pretty good kids. I think it's important that you should tell us that.

Speaker That time and variety television or TV, as I said, but spit it back to me that Lucille Ball put her kids in shows, Sinatra put his kids in shows your dad, Dean Martin, I believe. Yeah. Dean Martin. Yeah.

Speaker Because, you know, so I'll say that, you know, at that time it was pretty wonderful because families were welcomed onto the shows, Lucille Ball and Dean Martin. And, you know, I think Frank Sinatra, I mean, everybody kind of did shows with their kids.

Speaker So it was something that dad was very open to doing and it was also received really well. But I have to say, dad did it before it was necessarily the craze. You know, Gary got a gold record singing gone fishing with Dad. So Dad included. He I remember one of the boys, I'm not sure which one was was like drunk and got thrown out of the act. And it was the four boys and so, Dad, what was the story on that? Because it's a good story.

Speaker It's a place of humility. OK, I'll do that again, Gary.

Speaker OK, OK. But then when Dad sang and he did the number with the first with the four boys because one of them got thrown out, who was that.

Speaker You have to go to the battle of Jericho.

Speaker OK, OK, so I'll tell the story. So. So Dad was ahead of the game when it came to including his children. Because he did. You know, I think Gary was thrown out of the act for being drunk and obnoxious or something, and it was talking about the four Crosby's so dad filled in for Gary and then Gary got a gold record with dad. What was the song? OK. Gary got a gold record with dad on play, a simple melody. So, you know, Dad was sort of a front runner in terms of being inclusive of his kids, you know, and he he he loved that. He was he was proud of them, you know, and they could sing.

Speaker You should also say that, again, just to bring this all up, to say that, you know, you're aware that nowadays it would it would people would be appalled if their kids with stars put their kids on shows. It's so not the thing to do.

Speaker I think it was a different world. I think nowadays, you know, people would be horrified and extremely uninterested in seeing celebrities include their families on on film. And and it's not that we were any good, but it was still a really wonderful thing for us to have together as a family. And I think people liked it. I mean, I have people come up to me and say, I grew up with you.

Speaker The. Well, tell us about the. Bowie appearance, OK?

Speaker The Bowie appearance. It was also dad's last Christmas show. And it was this it was just this amazing experience, I was sitting with Dad on the set and David Bowie walked in with his wife, they're both wearing full length mink coats. They have bright red hair. That's about an inch out. I'm going to start this again. So the Bowie experience, it was dad's last show and I was with him on the set and the door opened and David Bowie walks in with his wife and they're both wearing matching full-length mink coats. Their hair is incredibly short and it's bright red. And they're both wearing the exact same very dramatic makeup. And I remember looking at my dad and thinking, oh, my God, how is this going to work? But David is an incredible musician. He was quite nervous, apparently. And when they got to the piano and they were playing, you could just see them both kind of go because it was all about the music and they both knew it was wrong.

Speaker I haven't seen the clip in a couple of weeks. I just want to just want to make sure because in the clip, is his hair red or blond?

Speaker Kind of like, OK, so it's not a burgundy. It's not a normal coat, OK? Yeah, I just want to make sure you feel like OK.

Speaker And it was his his last Christmas show, wasn't it, Robert?

Speaker Yeah. Yeah. OK, so in a case like that, are you and your brothers like I want to make the point that your dad was open to all sorts of new music. And were you and your brother sort of like cool or, you know, championing that kind of stuff for you?

Speaker Didn't even clock it really, you know. The thing about having Bing Crosby as a dad is that you're not really using him as a musical resource. He's just dad. So there was always music in the house, but it was in the form of whistling or singing a little bit of a song. It wasn't. Dad, I want you to hear this artist. It wasn't that at all. It was just part of our landscape. And to go back to Bowie, he was nervous and he was said, you know, I can only sort of sing in this key and this kind of part. And Dad's like, don't worry, I'll find a way to get in there. And, you know, he was dad was very generous and they were both I mean, they made magic together.

Speaker And you know, again, context, context, context, the idea that. These variety shows are looked at with a real not I'm not saying the big ones, I'm saying pretty much all primetime variety from around that era is looked at very cynically now. But people need to realize how it was huge ratings and huge, you know, it was like the norm and accepted and beloved.

Speaker You know, I think all the variety shows, they were beloved. They were what people wanted to see. People wanted to see the the real family of Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra or Lucille Ball. And and, you know, I think if you look in retrospect and you go, oh, my God, this is not great art. This isn't even decent music. This is this is just someone who is fantastic, who wants to share his family.

Speaker So it.

Speaker Provided a purpose and a function that was about what people wanted, rather than that the the show itself was going to be great. So the the four boys had a band together. They were called the Crosby Boys. And I don't know, they got furious at Gary and threw him out and they had to do a show that afternoon on the Bing Crosby show. And Dad just jumped in and filled in and was the fourth Crosby boy. So the other three continued in nightclub acts for quite a while, but dad could do anything and he was really, really supportive of them. So the four boys were singing quartet and they used to gig around and anyway, they got furious at Gary for something and threw him out and they were due to go on Dad's show. So Dad filled in at the last minute for Gary, immediately learn the number. And he was the fourth Crosby boy.

Speaker In hindsight, it seems pretty clear that now I need you to tell us that. The boys probably suffered from foetal alcohol syndrome.

Speaker Yeah, I don't think anybody knew about fetal alcohol syndrome back then and. So all of these horror stories that we sort of were vaguely aware of as children but then sort of knew about as adults, I don't think it was their fault. I don't think that Dixy, from what I understand, not from my mom, but from Rosie Clooney and from Dolores Hope, dad and Dixie were big parties. Dad and Dixie were big partiers in the early days. But what happened is that dad could handle it and Dixie couldn't. And then at one point, Dad stopped entirely. He lost his voice and he stopped drinking. And meanwhile, Dixie at that point was out of control and it only got worse.

Speaker And it got so that she didn't leave the House and she would pass out and the kids would come home and she'd be, you know, on the floor and, you know.

Speaker I think that that's permanently scarring on just about every level for anybody, but Dolores Hope, I remember used to say that, you know, Dixie couldn't keep up and it got her.

Speaker So basically what we're talking about is not only. Were they sort of victims of foetal alcohol syndrome, but they in fact, themselves, the result was that they were alcoholics, that they I think that the I think the four boys were victims of foetal alcohol syndrome.

Speaker And I think because of that, they were all alcoholics and had problems with drugs. And, you know, it wasn't something that was even known about at the time or could be helped, so.

Speaker You know, it's a tragedy.

Speaker It's also important to say it's kind of a vicious circle because your father, nobody knew what it was. They just thought that they were just being screw ups and couldn't focus and couldn't buckle down.

Speaker I, I don't think anybody knew how to handle any of that in Hollywood fashion. You know, they would they would hire a shrink to medicate them or to fix the problem.

Speaker Everybody I know, dad went through their lives fixing their mistakes in a way that didn't serve them. But what else could you do? I think one of the saddest things that happened to me.

Speaker Is that after after Lindsay committed suicide and I did not know Lindsay, I had a couple of phone calls with him in a lunch and, you know, but I really didn't know him because we had been kept very separate growing up.

Speaker Dennis came up to me at the church and said, you know, you were the good family.

Speaker And I thought that's so tragic that they would have that belief system, you know, and we were we were so lucky because we had mom we had this Texas spitfire who would never accept no for anything and, you know, gave dad this life full of love and sex and joy and insanity because God knows, she was, you know, always creating havoc in one way or another. But I just thought it was so sad for them that that's what they believed.

Speaker I think you should point out that I don't have any family who was the other one who committed.

Speaker Phillip, no, Dennis, no Dennis, right?

Speaker Yes, it was the last one left that Dennis Dennis committed suicide to.

Speaker Yeah, I don't I don't know if this is even appropriate, but I you know. It was Gary, I think, that said you don't mix alcohol and guns, you know, I think I think that. I don't know if it's bipolar or what, but there was you know, you have two out of four commit suicide. Something's very, very wrong with the picture and, you know.

Speaker It's not it's not a fix.

Speaker And the letters that we found showed them in one form or another trying to help them.

Speaker Decades dad cleaned up for decades. And, you know, one of the things is that.

Speaker He.

Speaker He was really welcoming the first time they got married, but then he was Catholic and then there was the second time and the third time and then it got problematic, you know, because things weren't getting better. They were just getting divorced and starting all over again.

Speaker I think you should explain that there was literally decades of fires and car wrecks and shotgun marriages and.

Speaker You know, there were there were decades of cleanup, there were decades of marriages and divorces and illegitimate children and car crashes and fires and, you know, drunk and disorderly in hotel rooms, trashed and, you know.

Speaker It's.

Speaker It's a tragedy and I don't I feel like on one level, dad had no clue how to fix it and didn't fix it, and and I think he felt always that he had failed them.

Speaker Should also point out that the boys were when Dixie died, were all financially set.

Speaker When Dixie died, the boys were financially set, they were very well off, Dixie was entitled to half of Dad's money and they were all doing fine and.

Speaker You know, that didn't last. Because they blew through it.

Speaker That didn't last because they blew through it, and I don't think that they had the skills to not blow through it at Philip did. All right. But really.

Speaker You what are you going to say something when we broke loose, when I asked you about him kicking into on stage was.

Speaker Dad.

Speaker There are performers that live for the limelight, and dad was not one of those, he he loved performing and he loved the music, but he didn't have to be the center of attention and. I think, you know, it didn't matter because he was so good, but when he got on stage, he wasn't micromanaging and saying, I need the light here and I need this there, he would just sort of work with incredible musicians and say one or two things and then they would go to work. It was all very low key and very efficient.

Speaker What do you know about his mother, father, early years, all that?

Speaker I don't know too much. I know that she she was the one that ran the show.

Speaker The dad was charming and lovely and I think did accounting for the brewery and probably drank most of the proceeds that he was great on a mandolin and the life of the party, but not so good in terms of taking care of business. And that that was Katherine Harrigan who had all these kids and ran the show. And, you know, she lived with Dad until she died.

Speaker And my mom came to the house to meet her mother in law. And, you know. They got along very, very well, but she lived with that until she died. Dad used to go to the races with her.

Speaker The you used a really great phrase in an interview I saw with you said, which you now have to give back to me, his language of love was not the conventional sort of dad's language of love was not the conventional sort.

Speaker He was.

Speaker Very quiet about it, so, for example, someone would come up to me and say, oh, my God, you know what your dad was saying about you? He's so proud of you and he thinks you're going to do such fabulous things. And he's he's just he thinks you're the best. And I would be thinking, really, because he could never say it directly. But so, for example, if we were walking on the street in New York and he took my hand, that meant a great deal because he wasn't demonstrative. It did not mean that I didn't know I was loved, but he was very quiet about it.

Speaker The the last Christmas show, you correct me if I'm wrong, you filmed some and then he passed away and it had to be finished or no dad had passed away.

Speaker And then we filmed. We we filmed after. Yeah, the the the Christmas show after he died was filmed after he died.

Speaker So what happened when you filmed new stuff for it.

Speaker After Dad died, we filmed one more Christmas show and it was the saddest show I was so sad years of.

Speaker The first few years after he died was so painful because around Christmas, I would go everywhere and I could hear him and it was it was very hard. But now, of course, I love it and I love it when my kids and I are someplace because he is still so very much Christmas. And it makes me really happy now because that's part of his legacy.

Speaker Were you were you part of the show in Pasadena when he fell?

Speaker Yes, I was. I was at the Pasadena show when he fell and. It was one of the most horrifying moments.

Speaker Of my life, you know, as a as a as a young girl, because I watched him and I knew when we had been rehearsing, they had taken the stage up and down. And, you know, the joke is that they were just trying to strike the set early. It wasn't supposed to have been down. And, you know, it it should have killed him. It didn't, but it should have. And it was an incredibly slow recovery. It was a recovery that was made. He did go on to golf. He did go on to sing the thing. I heard you talking earlier about his voice. He they took out a lung and he still sounded amazing. And that was just his gift.

Speaker So with one lung, you know, he still was incredible.

Speaker Robert, we OK on that fact, yeah, because. OK.

Speaker I mean, they took out a lobe of a lung. Like, I don't know what the. Yeah.

Speaker It's good enough for government work. Or do you want me to say they took out a chunk of his lung. Yeah. OK, you know, they took out a huge chunk of his lung and so falling 40 feet under concrete and minus much of your lung. And he still sounded incredible. And that was just who he was.

Speaker There's a incredible bond. He seems to have had the cut both ways with Louis Armstrong and.

Speaker You say that. You saw him really affected when Louis died.

Speaker I remember I was a little girl and we were in Mexico and he didn't go to hospitals when people were sick and he didn't go to funerals. But I remember him being so sad because he loved Louis deeply and and he wasn't in any way avoiding the fact that Louis was dying and then dead. He just couldn't be there. I will say dad had many, many operations, kidney stone operations. And so, of course, Rosie was one of his beloveds. And he Rosie tells the story when she had her first son, Miguel, by Joe Forer.

Speaker Dad was in the same hospital having had a kidney stone operation, and he made friends with all the nurses. And so when Rosie had Miguel, dad had the nurses come tell him first. And he went out to Joe forever and handed him a cigar and said, Congratulations, Joe, we have a boy. So he he he could certainly have fun at hospitals as long as it was a joyous occasion.

Speaker And we want you to say the thing about Louis Armstrong in the building, I really would like.

Speaker But Robert, you have to listen to make sure I get it right.

Speaker Really great pressure coming out of you. Yeah. Yes. Exactly what she was doing, which was pennies.

Speaker Pennies. OK, you know, I'm thirty six now. And, you know, one of the things about Dad is in being under the radar, a lot of people don't know some of the really good things that he did. And when he was doing Pennies from heaven was Louis Armstrong. And I think like thirty six they weren't going to give Louis equal billing or any billing at all, as far as I know. And Dad talk to the executives and they're like, no, no, no, we can't do that. And Dad said, well, I'm going to go golfing. And when you figure it out, you come get me. And he he basically got the first billing for a black person equal to a white in a white movie, you know, and I just I'm so proud of that. You know, he really fought for that. And he did it in his way, which was going to go golfing. You know, the Barbara Walters interview was a really tough one for him. He was very unhappy about it. I was doing dinner theater with mom and we were, I don't know, like in Dallas or Ohio or someplace like that. And I remember because every time we did a talk show, they would bring up, OK, how do you feel about this? And, you know, dad's. I think dad had a sea change when we were born and the Catholic got stronger than the Hollywood because he really was very old fashioned in his values when we were growing up. And I know that he got cornered by Barbara and in getting cornered, said things that it wasn't he didn't believe them. It's that he was very unhappy about the way he said them. So it would never have been OK for me to live with someone. And I never did when dad was alive. But he was very unhappy about the way it went down.

Speaker You watch that interview, which I saw clips of the other day, he's. He won't keep his eye, he's looking around nervously.

Speaker He wanted out, Barbara. I think the reason that she was a great interviewer is because she did corner people and there was no place to go. And she would ask the really hard questions and then people would say things and. That was it made for great interview and, you know, dad was not a happy camper about having been cornered.

Speaker Did your friends sort of go?

Speaker You know, I think everybody that knew us knew that that we were beloved and the dad got cornered. I mean, anybody that knew us knew that, you know, and.

Speaker What you said is, again, it's hard for people to understand he was born, I think you need to say he was born in nineteen 03. You cannot apply today's you know, he was dad was born in 1983.

Speaker You can't apply today's value system with the value system of my dad. I mean, even my mother's value system, because she was a generation after him. So it's it's as life goes on and I think things get more and more flexible, people forget that that was a very different world. The way you raised your kids, the value systems that you believed in, they were radically different than they are now. And you have to you have to have an awareness of that when you're dealing with what people say.

Speaker Because it's just a different world and it was a very different world then, so would you say he you know, people talk about Republicans the way they were back in the 40s or 50s, being nothing like the way they are now, or would you say he was a conservative the way it's completely different way of being conservative than it's thought of now?

Speaker I think dad was a conservative of his. I don't think he was a conservative of his generation, but he would certainly be considered a conservative of our generation in terms of the value system that he had and. I also think. That he believed that if these values were enforced and were taught, then the mistakes that were made with the first four wouldn't happen with us.

Speaker But I think it's important to point out also that he was completely at home and comfortable, who was telling me? Well, obviously with African-Americans, gay people, I mean, he was dad dad was in the entertainment business.

Speaker He didn't see color or sexuality or even, you know, like he had no issues with drugs or color or sexuality. He did have issues with the damage that drugs do in terms of alcohol. And he never performed in Vegas because he said that that he knew too many musicians who had lost their life to Vegas and they gambled it away. And then they spent the rest of their lives living in a hotel room, playing every day in Vegas because, you know, they gambled it away. So he felt strongly about those things. But in terms of sex or drugs or color, it was about who you were and it was about music.

Speaker He also says in that Barbara Walters interview, he has no problem with pot.

Speaker He didn't. He didn't.

Speaker And I'm I'm bad.

Speaker Well, my mother's here, I'm not sure I can say this, but I think there's a story that you should ask Harry about a musician that he ran into in New York. But Rosie used to tease and say that that wasn't always tobacco, that dad smoked in that pipe. It certainly was tobacco when we grew up. But I have no clue what it was in the 20s.

Speaker The Minute Maid commercials are it's weird when I was talking yesterday about Elizabeth Taylor's life being film, you have this great little family home movies. You're pitching product. Sure, but it's great. You have all the how many about how many were done, Robert?

Speaker How many were done? Like five, six and a half a dozen. Yeah. Minute Maid was so much fun because we just got to play together for a couple of days and, you know, have a camp out or throw pancakes at each other and drink orange juice. I mean, it was just it was just playtime. And, you know, Mom got us involved, of course.

Speaker Were you able because you were already doing summer stock with your mom and everything, were you and you probably had already started seeing his movies. Do you remember asking him anything about like, OK, so this is interesting.

Speaker We go back to Dad being under the radar. If you wanted to hang out with Dad, you would watch basketball or baseball or football. He never watched or he said he never watched a movie that he'd made more than once. So if we wanted to see his movies, we didn't get to watch them with him. You know, we'd see them sort of up in the attic with, like those antique projectors and and our friends. But Dad didn't watch his own movies, so that wasn't something that we got to to experience with him.

Speaker And as an actress, you didn't come up to and say.

Speaker The country girl, blah, blah, blah, you know, no, you didn't, Dad, led by example, he certainly didn't discuss anything that like, OK, there was the only advice that I remember from dad was I was pretty young. I was, you know, like, I don't know, maybe 11. And I had gone to a voice coach who had taught me to sing through my left nostril above high C. It was like that. And we went to do the Christmas show. And I'm trying to sing opera because that's what I had just learned from this woman. And Dad was just horrified. And he took me aside and he said. You know. You just have to sing, that's all. Don't do anything else, and that's who he was and that's what he believed in.

Speaker Do you have any particularly particular favorite movies? His.

Speaker You know, I loved all the old road movies because that kind of comedy, you just you just don't get people try to do, like, partner movies now and and maybe they succeed in a different direction. But Dad and Bob Hope and Dorothy were so good and so funny and so talented. So I love the red movies, you know, and I think Country Girl is extraordinary. And of course, the Christmas movies.

Speaker You know, the thing about the Road movies is that, again, he's in a lot of these movies. He's kind of rebellious.

Speaker So it's almost like there's a part one and a part two to him where because then in the later years, it's obviously quiets down and becomes more conservative. But he's such a I keep thinking of Bob and being almost like Colbert and Jon Stewart because they're breaking the fourth wall and they're really poking fun at everything from their employer to the government to they're just making fun of everybody.

Speaker They would do riffs on anything and no one was exempt. And I think it was just such a good time.

Speaker During the lunch hour, they would go golf at Lakeside and the ad had to go retrieve them, you know, so it was just a really big party and there was an awful lot of ad libbing. Dolores Hope told me that Bob used to rehearse and rehearse and rehearse the dance numbers and Dad was a natural huffer and very good. And so he used to drive him crazy because dad would come in and, you know, sort of be equally good.

Speaker So Dad didn't talk too much about the business or showbiz stories, but he used to tell us about where he came from, Washington to Hollywood, and he talked about how the tires on the car, they had this old jalopy that they had, like, pooled their resources together and that that the tires were more patch than tire. So they just kept breaking down and patching in. And then the other thing was when he was working with the Whiteman Band, it was against union rules to simply hire a singer. You had to be a musician. So of course, he didn't have an instrument. So they gave him a violin with rubber strings and he upstaged everybody there by sawing away at this violin.

Speaker To fly. Well, there you go. Thank you.

Speaker If they don't go feel free to yank this thing about being visiting L.A., visiting you in L.A., know what was the thing, Robert, about being visiting?

Speaker Was it the only visit when he was driving to L.A.? Oh, OK.

Speaker You were up in the live show. Oh, you know, one of the.

Speaker One of the gifts that I got as a child was when we all performed as a family, I would stand in the wings every night and watch him because I loved it. And I thought it was always incredible and always interesting. But one of the things he used to do is he would deliberately flub lyrics on a couple of songs every night, the same lyrics, the same songs, because the audience knew the songs and they love to fill in for him, and it made him that much more accessible to them. So there was a there was an interesting canniness to his performance that I think other people wanted to be perfect and dad wanted to not be perfect.

Speaker Tell me the story again and.

Speaker You know. Hold on one sec.

Speaker OK. All right.

Speaker After Gary's book came out. We were having lunch and he was telling me about it because I just couldn't wrap my brain around it and he felt a need to talk to me about it. I didn't bring it up.

Speaker And he said, you know, it didn't really go down that way. I just you know, they said it would be a good idea and it would sell a lot of books. And, yeah, I didn't feel that great about it.

Speaker But, you know, and I just remember looking at him and thinking, Ufuk, how could you how could you do that to your dad, to your family, to his legacy? You know, and and as a family, we didn't deal with it because it was such a tar baby. You can't try to address something like that and make it better.

Speaker So we all felt that if we just left it alone, that it would go away, but it never did. So there's this.

Speaker Incredible man who did these wonderful things, and when his name comes up, what people remember is his beautiful music and this. Atrocity that his son did because he wanted to star in a movie of the week like Mommy Dearest with Dad, and that they brought that up and he thought, wow, I could resurrect my career, you know? And so. Gary was the angriest man I ever met, and I know that in his later years, he did good things. He was in AA and he was a sponsor for many people. But I think that that damage that was done was permanent and unforgivable.

Speaker And just in doing the research, I mean, do you think this is unbelievable to me? You know, he's been portrayed on The Simpsons and on Family Guy in another great way, and it's like that's, you know, The Simpsons and Family Guy.

Speaker I mean, granted, they trash everybody was not on fire and the family go, OK, great family guy.

Speaker It's not OK. Right.

Speaker All right. You know, there's shows out there like, do we even want to give them the plug? OK, well, I'll say I'll say, and you can cut it, you know, there's shows out there like Family Guy and South Park that, you know, trash and that's Gary's legacy. You know, that stuff sticks. So we did wrong because we stayed under the radar and we didn't address it, although I'm not sure there was anything we could have done to fix it, but. It's sort of forever heartbreaking.

Speaker What would you like the legacy, what do you think the legacy should be?

Speaker I think dad was incredibly honest about who he was, and it showed in his music and it showed in his acting and, you know, white Christmas and the American values, Christmas isn't just about Christmas. It's about Hanukkah. It's about the spirit of Christmas. It's about giving back.

Speaker He was. An American.

Speaker Icon in the best sense of the word, his values were American values, they were old fashioned American values. Those are the ones he lived by. He didn't always express them with the most grace, but he gave back and he gave back quietly and didn't want to be remembered for the things he had done. But his legacy to me is the legacy of Christmas and the spirit of Christmas and truly old fashioned American values, because those were the things that mattered to him.

Speaker Where were you when, Pastor?

Speaker I was. One of the rabble on stage in Julius Caesar in San Francisco and the billboard, the director pulled me aside and took me to the green room and said, you know, your father passed away. And when we grew up, we knew the dad was older than many dads. He didn't feel like it because he he was fishing and hunting and golfing and doing all these things that younger dads maybe can do but don't have the time to do. But he did.

Speaker And I remember and I remember thinking that in death, as in life, dad's timing was impeccable.

Speaker He died while he was in control of his faculties, in control of his health. His family hadn't gone there different directions and their different ways. So he died while. He still had everything, he wasn't a sick old man, he was a vital.

Speaker Powerful man.

Speaker And he went out that way to things quickly, you should mention, because it's so in keeping with his character about flying under the radar. His service was at six a.m. and thirty five people or so. I mean, that he really wanted.

Speaker Well, I think. The the two choices we had as a family were to have like.

Speaker An incredible, extraordinary, over-the-top production because everybody in the world would want to be there or we could follow his wishes of under the radar and do it at 6:00 in the morning with just the very few dearly beloved. And that's what we chose to do. And I think we were all. Really traumatized and heartbroken, even though, you know, you know, when somebody is in their 70s, that possibly things are time limited, but it never felt that way with him. So, you know. That's the way we chose to do it, and that was probably true to who he was.

Speaker What are you aware of is a pretty good business acumen.

Speaker Dad's business acumen was interesting because he had the ability to think outside of the box. So he would really and he was really supportive of all these scientists and creative thinkers so that he supported bringing voice on tape and bringing that technology over from Germany. I mean, that was that's such a crazy, wild flight of fantasy that became reality and frozen foods. So in the creative aspect of business, he was wonderful in terms of the day to day managing. He wasn't so good. He had people that he trusted to do that for better or worse, you know.

Mary Crosby
Interview Date:
2014-04-06
Runtime:
0:59:41
Keywords:
None
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
N/A
MLA CITATIONS:
"Mary Crosby, Bing Crosby Rediscovered." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 06 Apr. 2014, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1146
APA CITATIONS:
(2014, April 06). Mary Crosby, Bing Crosby Rediscovered. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1146
CHICAGO CITATIONS:
"Mary Crosby, Bing Crosby Rediscovered." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). April 06, 2014. Accessed January 24, 2022 https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1146

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