Bing Crosby

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Crosby, Bing

Crosby, Bing (krôzˈbē), 1903–77, American singer and film actor, b. Tacoma, Wash., as Harry Lillis Crosby. He sang with dance bands from 1925 to 1930 and in 1931 began work in radio and films. Crosby gained enormous popularity for his “crooning” style and was an important influence on the development of American popular singing. In 1944 he won an Academy Award for his performance in Going My Way. Crosby's other notable films include numerous “Road” movies costarring Bob Hope, The Country Girl (1955), High Society (1956), and Stagecoach (1966).


See his autobiography, Call Me Lucky (1953); K. Crosby, Bing and Other Things (1967); G. Giddens, Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams, The Early Years, 1903–1940 (2001) and Bing Crosby: Swinging on a Star: The War Years, 1940–1946 (2018)

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Crosby, (Harry Lillis) Bing

(1904–77) popular singer, movie actor; born in Tacoma, Wash. Beginning as a vocalist-drummer with a combo while in college, he went on to sing with the Rhythm Boys for the Paul Whiteman Orchestra (1926–30). In 1931 he went solo and after appearing in nightclubs he signed a recording contract and appeared in eight Mack Sennett movie shorts. (By this time he had adopted the name "Bing," reportedly from a comic strip character.) This led to his fabulously successful career, with his own radio program (his theme song was "Where the Blue of the Night"), recordings, movies, and television appearances. As a singer, he borrowed from diverse styles including jazz and became one of the earliest crooners who established a clear split between classical and popular singing. His smooth, casual, almost "talking" approach to a melody and subtle use of embellishments highlighted the text of a song and inspired many singers who followed. He sang his signature song, "White Christmas," in the film Holiday Inn (1942). Before this he had appeared during the 1930s in several light musicals; in the 1940s he carved out a new career as the wisecracking companion of Bob Hope in the seven "Road" pictures; he also made several serious movies and won the Academy Award for his role in Going My Way (1944). He joined Louis Armstrong in the film High Society (1956) and on the album Bing Crosby-Louis Armstrong (1960). Returning to his roots in jazz, he was accompanied on later world tours by a quartet that included jazz players Joe Bushkin and Milt Hinton. He had become extremely wealthy from his career and investments but later revelations showed that he had been less successful as a father.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.