Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby (May 3, 1903 - October 14, 1977) was a very popular American singer and actor. His biggest hit was his recording of the Irving Berlin song "White Christmas", which became one of the biggest-selling recordings of all time. He had 21 other gold records; some of these include "I'll be home for Christmas", "Too-Ra-Lo-Ra-Loo-Ral" and "Swinging on a Star". He appeared in dozens of movies from the 1930s - 1960s.
Bing Crosby was born in Tacoma, Washington and grew up with Al Rinker, the younger brother of singer Mildred Bailey. Crosby and Rinker used Bailey's connections and joined Paul Whiteman's Rhythm Boys almost straight from school. He came to national attention while with the popular Whiteman Orchestra, with whom he made his film debut in King of Jazz (1930). From then on he was a top stage and radio performer and a top-selling record artist.
Crosby's films included (an incomplete listing):
- The Big Broadcast (1932)
- Mississippi (1935)
- Rhythm on the Range (1936)
- Rhythm on the River (1940)
- Birth of the Blues (1941)
- Holiday Inn (1942)
- Going My Way (Crosby won an Academy Award for Best Actor) (1944)
- The Bells of St. Mary's (1945)
- Blue Skies (1946)
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court(1949)
- White Christmas (1954)
- High Society (1954) (with Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong)
- The Country Girl (1956)
- the comedy "Road" pictures, with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour, including:
- Road to Singapore (1940)
- Road to Zanzibar (1941)
- Road to Morocco (1942)
- Road to Utopia (1946)
- Road to Rio (1948)
- Road to Bali (1952)
- Road to Hong Kong (1962) (minus Dorothy Lamour)
Crosby's desire to prerecord his radio shows was a significant factor in the development of, and radio industry's adoption of magnetic tape recording. History repeated itself when he was asked to do a television show, demanded that it be prerecorded, and spurred the development and adoption of video tape.
Crosby was a keen amateur golfer, who appeared in many charity events. It was after a round of golf in Spain in 1977 that he collapsed and died from a massive heart attack. Crosby had been married twice (his second wife, actress Kathryn Grant, being considerably younger), and effectively had two families, his children from the marriages being of different generations. After his death, his eldest son from his first marriage wrote a controversial memoir depicting him as an autocratic and abusive father. Two of his children, Lindsay and Dennis, committed suicide.
There is some uncertainty about the year in which Bing Crosby was born. Most reference works give his year of birth as 1903, but his gravestone—on the instructions of his family—gives his birth year as 1904.