Skip to main content

tv   Bing Crosby and American Culture  CSPAN  September 3, 2017 2:01pm-2:17pm EDT

2:01 pm
this was immediately to hunt behind development of aviation, marshall he and militarily. there has been a constant threat of military in here from 1924 to the present day. usedem find out how to be the natural creek of river falls to host a world there. whatear in mind, this is spokane look like. the river is essentially forgotten. a flooded urban downtown. that was really what started people thinking about urban renewal. a lot of people say, my river -- people could come down and see it. >> begin with a visit to entertainment icon in crosby, boys at home. -- voice at home. ♪
2:02 pm
>> his memory is that he was well-balanced. he did not seek fame. it totally surprised him. he is one of the calming influences on american history, he was the voice people listen to a 1930 on the radio when things were so hard. that was bing crosby's role in american history, a next-door neighbor, commonsense approach to life. he modeled that. that goes back to his life in this neighborhood. bing crosby was born in tacoma, washington, on the west side of the state. at the age of three, his family moved to spokane. his dad took a new position at a brewery in spokane. they rented a house a
2:03 pm
couple blocks from where we are now. at the age of 11, bing crosby's father and a couple of uncles built this house. he lived here from the age of 11 to the age of 22. when he grew up, performing was a natural part of childhood because there were school plays. you see one in "bells of st. mary's." little kids are putting on a christmas play. that is every day life in his neighborhood. his education -- he excelled in oratory. he was in shakespeare plays and so forth. he was always performing. he was in the church choir. there was probably never a time
2:04 pm
when he was not performing. it reminds me, i saw an interview he had with somebody at some point. they were saying where did you learn music and he said, i grew up in a house full of music. my father saying, my mother sang , my sisters played the pno, we all gathered -- played the piano , we all caps around the piano and sang songs. performing was a natural step for him. he started his show business career when he joined a jazz band. they were a bunch of high school kids. they were not good musicians. they had one thing in common, they loved jazz. bing crosby was awake to the charm of jazz from the very opening, the original new orleans jazz band put out the
2:05 pm
first jazz record in 1917. by 1920, bing crosby was already in a jazz band. you can see that he was quick on the uptake. in 1925, the band breaks up because the other boys are going off to college. bing crosby was the only one in college when they had the band. he and a friend did not know what to do, so they decided they would go to california where bing crosby's older brother already was. he was already working in los angeles. al rinker's sister also came from spokane, and she was working in los angeles, so they thought we have connections in los angeles, so they decided to take off for hollywood. that was
2:06 pm
fall of 1925. this room was the crosby parlor. they used it as a music room, both of bing crosby's sisters played the piano. bing crosby took up the drums when he joined the band. he set up his mail-order drum kit right here. his brothers had written a book about this. he was in here banging away. these doors could be closed, but it drove his mother crazy, and she was thrilled when bing crosby finally gave up the drums. in here are a representation of his many awards. for a half a
2:07 pm
century, bing crosby was a major figure and he accumulated awards daily, all entertainment awards. he was in a time when just a handful of stars could dominate the whole celebrity world. radio -- these are his radio awards. every year he was the top radio performer from the mid-1930's. his radio show continued until the early 1960's. he holds the
2:08 pm
record for continuous radio weekly programs, it will probably never be beaten because it goes over a period of 30 years. the gold records, these are just a few of his gold records. each gold record means a million copies sold. by now all of his records have sold tens of millions. while he was dominating radio in the 1930's and 40's, he had the number one radio show. he had a weekly radio show. when bing crosby's radio show was on in new york on a new york street and it was a hot day and all the windows were open, you could walk blocks and tear the whole program. everyone in the united states tuned in to bing crosby once a week. he had a radio show for three decades. while he was doing that, he was also a dominant -- the dominant movie star of the time. in the 1940's, he was the number one walks office draw for five of
2:09 pm
those 10 years, which is a phenomenal thing when you think about the kind of competition he had. this was the peak of hollywood stardom. he was still at the top. he won an oscar for "going my way period -- fort "-- for "going my way." when world war ii breaks out, inc. crosby is the major -- bing crosby is the major celebrity in the country. he instantly jumped into the work of rallying american morale after pearl harbor. morale was shaken because no one had expected a sudden plunge. bing crosby put
2:10 pm
together a schedule of appearances at training bases all over the country. he did that throughout the war. he traveled to europe and france , giving a show. this is him on the stage in france. the whole idea was if a guy like bing crosby, i have listened to him on the radio, i see him in the views -- i see him in the movies, and he is here with us, it was a tremendous boost to morale. after the war, the army
2:11 pm
decorated him for his contribution to the war. there is a picture of general and with bing crosby in france and dinah shore. an army nurse, retired in west virginia a few years ago, they asked her when the boys came back from the front wounded and so forth, what did they talk about? she said never the war, they wanted to talk about bob hope and bing crosby. they wanted distance from the harsh reality of things. while bing crosby was going to europe, bob hope was all over the pacific.
2:12 pm
that comedy team did a lot of that morale work. it was a tremendous contribution. many stars did the same thing. the uso were set up for this morale thing. the military forces were not the only ones who needed to be involved, the whole nation needed to be involved in that war. bing crosby understood that as a patriotic duty and carried it out as only he could, because he was the major star of the time. what i found when i started volunteering at this museum, many people do not know how many children he had or what happened to his first wife. he divorced his first wife. she died of cancer very young. he remarried. they did not know hardly anything about bing
2:13 pm
crosby's personal life. bing crosby had seven children. only one said anything about him being mean. that was gary, his first son. gary wrote a book, but he did not write it. he was interviewed by a writer and that writer took the interview and put it into a book called "going my own way." it was published after another famous book, that is "mommy dearest." "mommy dearest" made millions of dollars. when gary crosby paid for his -- for his autobiography, that was the model. you had to have a cruel
2:14 pm
parent for a best-selling book. as soon as that book was published, gary crosby went around saying he never said my dad was mean, i meant he was very strict and i did not like a strict father. even gary did not believe it. it was later serialized in the national inquirer magazine. you do not need to know anything more than that. the magazine's only purpose is to distort for the sensational aspect of stories. gary crosby went on geraldo rivera and said there was no shouting or anything like that, if you got out of line and he
2:15 pm
said you are going to be paddled, you got paddled. this is an the 1940's. that was standard. there was nothing extraordinary about that. bing crosby himself said that when he became a father he learned berkeley -- he learned laquickly that you had to instill discipline. he did not have any objection on principle. those facts came out of this idea. it was not anything gary crosby said in his book. the kind of thing they remember in the book, most people have heard about it. what we have is a prime example of what happens to celebrities. you get these images and there's nothing you can do about it. the thing about bing crosby's life, he grew up in a place that was as much like the 18th century as
2:16 pm
the 21st century. the world he grew up in was a face-to-face world. he knew people personally. he did not have to read about them or be told about them. this was a kind of village. all of the people he dealt with he knew personally. he knew people of integrity, he knew the ones to watch out for. they were neighbors. bing crosby, for the rest of his life, treated people like neighbors. that is why the neighborhood is so important to understanding the rest of his life. >> all weekend, american history tv is featuring spokane, washington. c-span city to her -- to learn


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on