It’s a little-known fact, but Bing Crosby’s voice used to be bottled and sold and people would butter their bread with it.
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Kidding, of course, but the idea speaks to just how smooth the legendary American singer and performer was.
Born May 3, 1903, Harry Lillis Crosby Jr. (aka Bing) was an American singer and actor. Today, he is known as the first multimedia star and was one of the most important artists of the early 20th century.
To wit, Crosby was a top seller in record sales, radio ratings, and motion picture sales for more than 50 years, from 1926 to 1977. And he boasts a heck of a Christmas album. Crosby also made more than 70 movies and recorded more than 1,600 songs. Yeesh!
He’s a star’s star and one that predates big names like Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and more. In 1948, Crosby was voted the “most admired man alive” ahead of Jackie Robinson and Pope Pius XII.
Crosby, who died on October 14, 1977, remains one of the most indelible figures in American pop culture and it largely has to do with his sleepy eyes and bedsheet voice.
Here, we will dive into some of Crosby’s most important moments.
1. Going My Way
Crosby won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in this 1944 film. And he was nominated for its sequel, The Bells of St. Mary’s in 1945, opposite Ingrid Bergman. As a result, he was the first of six actors to be nominated twice for playing the same character.
2. The Grammy Global Achievement Award
In 1963, Crosby earned the first-ever Grammy Global Achievement Award for his career in songs that spanned more than 1,500 records and seemingly ubiquitous radio play. The moment was so big, he even got the award from Frank Sinatra.
3. The Hollywood Walk of Fame
Crosby is one of just 33 people to have three—yes, three—stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He earned them because of his work in motion pictures, radio, and song recording.
4. Work with Bob Hope
Crosby was well known in the mid-20th century for his collaborations with the famed entertainer Bob Hope, starring in the series of Road to… films from 1940 to 1962. For those of you with some extra time, here’s one of those movies free on YouTube.
5. The Post-World War II Recordings
After seeing a demonstration of a German broadcast reel-to-reel tape recorder brought to the United States, Crosby helped influence the development of post-WWII recording after he invested some $50,000 (no small amount at the time) in the California electronics company, Ampex, to build more. Later, he persuaded ABC to allow him to tape his shows. He then became the first artist to prerecord radio shows and master his commercial recordings onto magnetic tape.
6. The World Series
On top of all this, Crosby used to co-own Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates. And, of course, he was even successful at that, winning two coveted World Series with the club in 1960 and 1971. Check out this rare audio clip of Crosby announcing games!
7. King of Christmas
Word has it, Mariah Carey wants to trademark herself as the Queen of Christmas. Well, much before Mariah, there was the King of the holiday season and his name is Bing. Check out this famous holiday track, “White Christmas,” below from the crooner of all crooners.
Bing Crosby (Photo: Courtesy of via Decca/UMe)