Bing Crosby

Bing Crosby

"White Christmas" became the bestselling single for more than 50 years until overtaken in 1997 by "Candle in the Wind", Elton John's tribute to the late Princess Diana.

Mary Carlisle, who worked with him in films, noticed he was self-conscious about his height, and he wore lifts. Crosby once told Alan Ladd how pleased he was that Ladd was shorter than him at 5'5". Bing maintained he was 5' 9", but an office secretary named Nancy Briggs recalled a visit to his home when he wore slippers and she realized he was her height - 5' 7".

Stagecoach (1966) was his last major film. Though it did not get good reviews, his performance as the drunken doctor was praised. Crosby felt the movies had changed a lot since his heyday, although he let it be known that he was still open to offers.

A longtime supporter of the Republican Party, Crosby campaigned for Wendell Willkie in the 1940 Presidential election, because he strongly believed President Franklin D. Roosevelt should only serve two terms of office. When Roosevelt was easily re-elected, Crosby vowed never to become publicly involved in partisan politics again.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, his "White Christmas" has sold over 100 million copies around the world, with at least 50 million sales as singles.

According to ticket sales Crosby is, at 1,077,900,000 tickets sold, the third most popular actor of all time after Clark Gable and John Wayne. He is also, according to Quigley Publishing Company's International Motion Picture Almanac, tied for second on the "All Time Number One Stars List" with three other actors - Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks and Burt Reynolds. Crosby was the #1 box office attraction for five years, beaten only by Tom Cruise who was #1 for seven years.

After Judy Garland was fired from MGM about 1950, he was one of the first to offer her work on his radio show to help her out of her financial woes. The two had marvelous chemistry as a comedy duo, and many of these audio recordings still survive today.

As a young adult he enjoyed carousing and drinking and actually received another nickname: "Binge" Crosby. He once spent two months in jail (weekends only) for DUI after a minor car accident, and surprised and shocked interviewers by advocating that pot be decriminalized.

At the time of his death he was considering buying an eighteen hole golf course in Kent, England.

At the time of his death in 1977, he was the biggest selling recording artist of all time.

Became seriously ill around Christmas 1973, with chest pains and respiratory problems. Both Bing and wife Kathryn Grant thought he had lung cancer. In January 1974 he felt so ill he consented to be hospitalized, and a large tumor was found in his left lung. The tumor and three-fifths of the lung were removed, and over the next months he slowly recovered. Since the tumor was benign, it was believed his illness was caused by a fungal infection from a recent safari in Africa.

Between 1915 and 1980 he was the only motion-picture star to rank as the #1 box-office attraction five times (1944-48). Between 1934 and 1954 he scored in the top ten 15 times.

Bing Crosby is caricaturized in a Merrie Melodies short cartoon called Hollywood Steps Out directed by Tex Avery (Warner Brothers 1941). The action takes place in the famed Ciro's nightclub where the Hollywood stars are having dinner. Bing Crosby announces the first act that evening. During his speech he is interrupted by a jockey on a race horse (a reference to his fondness for horse racing - he owned several race horses). Jokes about Crosby's horse racing passion would be referenced in other Warner Brothers cartoons as well, such as The Old Grey Hare.

Bing Crosby married his first wife (Dixie Lee) in September of 1930 at the Blessed Sacrament Church at 6657 W. Sunset Blvd. in North Hollywood, CA. Established back in 1904, Blessed Sacrament was the first Catholic church in the Hollywood area. Other celebrity members of the congregation were Irene Dunne and Loretta Young.

Bing Crosby was inducted into the Western Music Associaton Hall of Fame in 2008.

Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith, pg. 122-124. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387

Brother of bandleader Bob Crosby.

Delayed his marriage to Kathryn Grant until 1957 due to his long affair with Grace Kelly.

During the Vietnam War, a secret code was to have been broadcast informing all US personnel that an immediate evacuation had been ordered. The code was the playing of Crosby's "White Christmas" twice on the Armed Forces Vietnam Network (AFVN), followed by the announcement "The temperature in Hanoi is 105 and rising.".

Father, with actress Kathryn Grant, of sons Harry Crosby and Nathaniel Crosby, and of actress Mary Crosby.