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Timeline: Bing Crosby’s Life and Career

Bing-singing-in-vignette_final-300Follow entertainer Bing Crosby’s remarkable life, from growing up in Spokane, Washington, to his death after a good game of golf at a course in Madrid, Spain. He had four sons with his first wife Dixie Lee, who died at the age of 40 of cancer, and two sons and a daughter with his second wife, Kathryn.

1900 – 1919


Harry Lillis Crosby, Jr. is born to Harry Lowe Crosby, Sr. (a bookkeeper) and Catherine Helen Crosby. He’s the fourth of seven children.


The Crosby family moves from Tacoma to Spokane, Washington.


A friend nicknames Harry “Bingo,” later changed to Bing, for his love of an illustrated parody newspaper called “The Bingville Bugle.”


Bing enters Gonzaga High School.



Bing is introduced to Al Rinker and joins him in the local Spokane band, the Musicaladers.


Bing and Al Rinker are now a vocal duo. They begin touring with the orchestra of Paul Whiteman, then one of the most famous bandleaders in America.


Pianist Harry Barris joins the duo to make The Rhythm Boys. They tour with Paul Whiteman and get their first hit with “Mississippi Mud.”


Bing meets actress Dixie Lee, his future wife, and conducts screen tests for the Hollywood studio MGM.

Oct. 24 The stock market crashes on “Black Thursday.”

Nov. Bing starts work in his first film, King of Jazz, a musical revue starring Paul Whiteman. He is also arrested for drink driving and is later sentenced to 60 days in jail, but he is released under escort for filming. His sentence is eventually commuted to 40 days.



Apr. The film King of Jazz is released.

July The Rhythm Boys first appear at the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles; Bing is the standout favorite.

Sept. Bing and Dixie Lee marry.


Jan. Bing records “I Surrender, Dear,” his first solo hit.

Feb. Bing plays himself in “Reaching for the Moon,” a film starring Douglas Fairbanks.

Mar. Bing signs a deal with director Mack Sennett to appear in a series of short comedic films, and signs his first solo contract, with Brunswick Records.

Apr. “Out of Nowhere” becomes Bings first solo Number 1 hit.

Spring/Early Summer – The Rhythm Boys disband.

June “Just One more Chance” reaches Number 1.

Aug. Bings signs a massive deal for weekly 15-minute segments on CBS radio

Sept. After two postponements, Bing makes his solo radio debut. Bing opens with “Just One More Chance” and the show becomes a massive hit. I Surrender, Dear, Bing’s first appearance in a Mack Sennett short film, is released.

Nov. “The Cremo Singer” radio show premieres on WABC (CBS affiliate). Bing
records “Where the Blue of the Night” for first time, which becomes his theme song. “One More Chance” (short film) is released.

Dec. New York’s Bank of the United States collapses. It was the largest single bank failure in the country’s history.


Jan. “Dinah” with the Mills Brothers reaches Number 1.

Oct. Bing meets Bob Hope for the first time and gets his first starring role as a radio singer in the musical comedy “The Big Broadcast.” His song “Please” reaches #1.

Nov. “Brother Can You Spare a Dime” reaches Number 1.

Dec. Bing performs with Bob Hope at the Capitol Theatre in New York City.


Mar. President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers the first of his evening “fireside chats” to the public over radio.

May Bing signs a two-year deal with Paramount, which calls for two pictures a year.

June 27 Bing and Dixie welcome their first son, Gary Evan Crosby.


July 13 Twins Dennis Michael Crosby and Phillip Lang Crosby are born.

Producer Jack Kapp establishes the U.S. branch of Decca Records, Bing follows and, under Kapp’s advisement, becomes the all-purpose singer.


Jan. Bing takes over as host as host of Kraft Music Hall radio program.

Nov. The film “Pennies from Heaven” is released and the eponymous song from the film reaches Number 1.


Feb. First ever Crosby Pro-Am golf tournament is held, which later becomes the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Mar.  “Waikiki Wedding” is released, the film features the song “Sweet Leilani” which reaches Number 1 shortly after.

July The Del Mar Racetrack opens in California. Bing is part owner and co-director and greets fans at the gate on opening day.


Jan. 5 Bing’s fourth son, Lindsay Harry Chip Crosby, is born.

May “Dr. Rhythm” is released.

Oct. “I’ve Got a Pocketful of Dreams” reaches Number 1 on the charts and remains for four weeks.


Jan. The film Paris Honeymoon is released.

Apr. The film East Side of Heaven is released.

Aug. The film The Star Maker is released.


Bing Crosby and Bob Hope on the Road to Singapore (1940) film lot, between scenes.

Bing Crosby and Bob Hope on the Road to Singapore (1940) film lot, between scenes.


Mar. The film Road to Singapore is released, the first in a series of Road pictures with Bob Hope which became the highest grossing franchise until the James Bond films.

Sept. The film Rhythm on the River is released. The eponymous song from the film is featured in American Masters – Bing Crosby Rediscovered.

Oct. The song “Only Forever” reaches Number 1 and remains for there 10 weeks.

Nov. Bing returns to Kraft Music Hall. The song “Trade Winds” reaches #1

Dec. Bing signs new contract with Paramount for nine films in three years for around $175,000 per film. He also signs a contract with Decca Records for five years at $60,000 per annum plus a percentage.


Apr. The film Road to Zanzibar is released.

Dec. 7 The Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The U.S enters World War II the next day on December 8, 1941.

Dec. Bing sings “White Christmas” on the NBC program Kraft Music Hall, marking the first time the public has heard the soon-to-be Number 1 single of all time.


May Bing records “White Christmas” and joins Hollywood Victory Caravan, a traveling show to raise money for war bonds.

June Submissions to the SEC indicate that Bing has the second highest income in the US behind MGM studio chief, Louis B. Mayer.

Oct. “White Christmas,” written by Irving Berlin, reaches Number 1 for the first time and stays for 11 weeks. It will become the best-selling single of all time.

Nov. The film Holiday Inn is released, featuring “White Christmas.” The song will win the Oscar for Best Song at the Academy Awards in 1943. The film Road to Morocco is also released.

Dec.  “Moonlight Becomes You” reaches Number 1.


Aug.-Oct. Bing is in production for the film Going My Way.


Mar. “San Fernando Valley” reaches Number 1.

May Going My Way is released, in which Bing takes on his most famous role as Father O’Malley. The film features the song “Swinging on a Star,” by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke, which reaches Number 1 and wins an Academy Award for Best Song.

June 6 D-Day: The Allies invade Normandy, France.

Aug. Bing entertains the American troops abroad.

Nov. “Don’t Fence Me In” w/ The Andrews Sisters reaches Number 1.

Dec. Film Exhibitors name Bing the top box office star of the year, the first of five consecutive years.


Mar. Bing wins Best Actor for Going My Way at the Academy Awards.

Oct. “It’s Been a Long, Long Time” with Les Paul reaches Number 1.

Dec. Bells of St. Mary’s is released, a film in which Bing reprises his role as Father O’Malley alongside Ingrid Bergman and becomes top box office attraction for 1946.


Feb. Bing and Bob Hope appear on the cover of Life Magazine.

Mar. Road to Utopia is released.

May Bing leaves Kraft Music Hall.

Aug. Signs contract with Philco Radio Corporation.

Oct. The film Blue Skies is released, in which Bing stars alongside Fred Astaire.



Bing Crosby with first wife Dixie Lee and three of their four sons: Phillip, Dennis and Lindsay

Jan.  Films Road to Rio, a film is financed by Crosby, Hope and Paramount.

Mar. Records only two records with Al Jolson, including “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.”

Aug.  A group of investors buys The Pittsburgh Pirates, Bing now has 25% of the syndicate.

Dec. The film Road to Rio is released.


Jan. Bing Crosby Enterprises and ABC invest in Ampex machines, revolutionizing the radio industry.


Mar. Jack Kapp, Bing’s music producer, dies at 47 from a cerebral hemorrhage.

Sept. The Bing Crosby Show for Chesterfield premieres on CBS radio.



Sept. Film Here Comes the Groom is released, in which Bing is directed by Frank Capra and co-stars with Jane Wyman.


Mar. “In the Cool of the Evening,” Bing’s song with Jane Wyman from “Here Comes the Groom,” wins Best Original Song at the Academy Awards.

June Dixie has exploratory surgery, doctors discover terminal ovarian cancer.

Sept.  The film Just For You is released, starring Bing, Jane Wyman and the young Natalie Wood.

Nov. 1 Dixie Lee dies.


Jan. The film Road to Bali is released.


Bing Crosby and his second wife Kathryn.

Feb. Bing meets future wife, Kathryn Grant, for the first time.

June Bing’s autobiography, Call Me Lucky, is published.

Oct. The film Little Boy Lost, shot just before Dixie’s death, is released.


Oct. The film White Christmas is released.

Dec. The Country Girl is released, Bing stars alongside the lovely Grace Kelly.


Mar. Bing attends the Academy Awards where he is nominated for Best Actor for his role in The Country Girl, but loses to Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront.


July  The film High Society is released, starring Bing, Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly and Louis Armstrong.



The Crosby Brothers

Oct. Bing marries Kathryn Grant.


June Signs a 5-year contract with ABC to star in ten TV shows and produce another ten for $2 million.

Aug. Harry Lillis Crosby III, Bing’s first child with Kathryn, is born.


June Bing’s first four sons form the quartet “The Crosby Boys.”

Sept. Mary Frances Crosby, Bing’s first daughter and second child with Kathryn, is born.



Mar.  Bing receives the Cecil B. DeMille Golden Globe award from the Hollywood Foreign Press.


Oct. Nathaniel Patrick Crosby, Bing’s last son and third child with Kathryn, is born.


May The film Road to Hong Kong is released.



Nathaniel, Mary and Harry with their parents Kathryn and Bing Crosby

June The film Robin and the 7 Hoods is released, with Bing starring alongside Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.

Sept. “The Bing Crosby Show” sitcom premieres on CBS.

June The film Stagecoach is released, marking Bing’s last starring role in a film.

Mar. Bing is awarded the DeSmet Medal at Gonzaga University. Crosby presents the school with the nation’s first Microfilm Research Center.

Dec. Bing receives a Peabody Award for services to television.



Apr.  BBC commences transmissions of a major 14-part series chronicling Bing’s life. Excerpts can be seen in American Masters – Bing Crosby Rediscovered.


Apr. American troops withdraw from Vietnam. It’s rumored Bing’s “White Christmas” is played over the American Forces radios as a signal that evacuation should begin.


Dec. The Bing Crosby on Broadway stage show opens at the Uris Theatre in New York City.


Sept. Bing films his final Christmas show, which features Bing’s family and David Bowie. Also records his final album, Seasons.

Oct. 14 Bing Crosby dies of heart attack after a good game of golf at a course outside Madrid, Spain.

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