Big on family life and community building, Harry Lillis Crosby (1903-1977) was born on this day in Tacoma, Washington and nicknamed Bing while in grade school after a comic strip he loved called "The Bingville Bugle."
With an easygoing crooning style, the popular entertainer began singing professionally in the early 1920s and by the 1930s had made a name for himself as a radio singing sensation.
"Show business has been my life for 50 years," he said. "It's been a long, long pull and I've had great results. I can't complain if it stops tomorrow."
With a spirit of laid back grace, Crosby was a true professional who recorded over 1,600 songs, and experimented successfully with different vocal styles, including Hawaiian, cowboy, Irish, patriotic, blues, ballads, and hymns.
In addition to his 20-year radio career, the talented performer starred in over 60 films. One film, Holiday Inn (1942) featured the Irving Berlin song White Christmas, in which Crosby's character sang lamenting having to spend the holidays in Southern California, away from his New England home. The song struck a chord with World War II soldiers stationed abroad and has remained a best-selling standard.
Crosby won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Father O'Malley in Going My Way (1944). He also embarked with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour on the popular "Road to" movies, complete with amiable laughs and ad-libbed quips. The trio filmed seven romps in all.
With a passion for his pipe, trout fishing, and playing golf, Crosby once said his epitaph should read: "He was an average guy who could carry a tune."
It all starts and ends with family.