Bing Crosby was born Harry Lillis Crosby in Tacoma, Washington on May 3, 1903. After moving to Spokane he was inspired to concentrate on a singing career after meeting Al Jolson. While attending Gonzaga University to become a lawyer, he begin singing with a local band. Without doubt, he would become the most popular media star of the ﬁrst half of the 20th century with numerous hit recordings.
Bing lives on with his “White Christmas” continuing as an annual holiday hit besides being the all time best selling recording for most of the 20th century. Bing landed more records on the Hit Parade than anyone in history, 368. Elvis only had 149. Bing had more No. 1 hits than anyone, 38. The Beatles had 24. Bing ranked as the No. 1 movie box ofﬁce draw ﬁve consecutive years, 1944-1948. He was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar three times, and won it once for “Going My Way.” He was one of the nation’s biggest radio stars from 1931 to 1954, and produced 3,400 of his own programs.
Selling more than 300 million records, it should come as no surprise that some of the most recognizable songs of the 20th century were associated with Bing. Here are just a few: “Stardust,” “Red Sails in the Sunset,” “Pennies from Heaven,” “I’m an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande),” “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby,” “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” “Swingin’ On a Star,” “Whiffenpoof Song,” “Galway Bay,” “San Antonio Rose,” “McNamara’s Band,” “Blue Hawaii,” “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “Sail Along, Silv’ry Moon,” “Little Drummer Boy,” “True Love,” his top ﬁve hit with Grace Kelly in 1956, and “Around the World” in 1957.
Bing made 60 movies, not counting cameos and shorts. The best, by critical and popular consensus, was “Going My Way,” the 1944 story of a down-to-earth young priest. It won the Oscar for Best Picture and Bing won the Oscar for Best Actor. It was also, at the time, the highest-grossing ﬁlm in Paramount Pictures history. Bing received another Oscar nomination for the sequel, “The Bells of St. Mary’s.” However, some prefer his dark portrayal of an alcoholic singer in 1954’s “The Country Girl,” with Grace Kelly. He was again nominated for an Oscar. However, Bing is remembered mostly for his seven “Road” movies with Bob Hope between 1940 and 1962. The best,? Probably 1942’s “Road to Morocco” and 1947’s “Road to Rio.”
Bing’s last words: “That was a great game of golf, fellas,” spoken just before Bing crumpled to the ground with a heart attack, near the 18th green of a golf course in Madrid, Spain on Oct. 14, 1977. He was 74 years of age.
Bingo Crosby has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2007.