Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby (May 3, 1903 - October 14, 1977) was a popular American singer and actor whose career spanned multiple generations. His biggest musical hit was his recording of the Irving Berlin classic "White Christmas", which he first sang in 1942, and which became one of the best-selling recordings of all time. He collected 21 other gold records, including "I'll Be Home for Christmas", "Too-Ra-Lo-Ra-Loo-Ral" and "Swinging on a Star". In 1962 he became the first recipient of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. His popularity as a singer was matched only by his success as an actor. He appeared in dozens of movies from the 1930s–1960s, and received the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1944.
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 after graduating from the University of Chicago. 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 recording artist. His style of singing soon won him the title of "Crooner of the Century".
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 videotape.
Crosby was a keen amateur golfer who appeared in many charity events. It was after playing a round of 18 holes at La Moraleja Golf Club outside of Madrid in 1977 that he collapsed and died from a massive heart attack at the age of 73 or 74. 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, Gary, wrote a controversial memoir (Going My Own Way) 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.
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 movies, with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour, including:
as a bit or walk on part)
- Download sample of "White Christmas"
- Most Popular Entertainer of the Twentieth Century - a statistical analysis arguing why this title should go to Bing Crosby