By Wendy Smith | Washington Post
It’s been almost 18 years since the publication of “Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams,” Gary Giddins’ intelligent and formidably well-informed biography covering the entertainer’s life from his birth in 1903 through the film that launched his mega-grossing partnership with Bob Hope (“The Road to Singapore,” 1940). “Bing Crosby: Swinging on a Star” was worth the wait.
As in the first volume, Giddins makes Crosby’s career the framework for an astute account of broad shifts in the radio, record and movie industries. Crosby was a big star in 1940, but his fame was on another level by 1946. Giddins traces his trajectory across this eventful half-decade in a densely packed, sometimes excessively detailed narrative.
Bing Crosby: Swinging on a Star: The War Years, 1940-1946, by Gary Giddins. Little, Brown
He begins with a snapshot of the troubled Crosby marriage in 1940, describing an evening when Bing came home from work on “The Road to Zanzibar” to find his wife, Dixie, drunkenly berating their four young sons. The marriage fell into a grim pattern during the World War II years: Dixie was mostly drunk; Bing was mostly gone. It didn’t help that Crosby’s personality – “impatient with introspection … stoic, manly, rarely nostalgic, never sentimental, and often flippant”- was poorly suited to dealing with a fragile spouse. Crosby twice considered divorce during this period, but each time was dissuaded by a priest; he had been raised and remained a devout Catholic.
Crosby was determined to end his relationship with “Kraft Music Hall,” the popular weekly radio program he hosted. It took five years to extricate himself, but during that time, he used his clout to get the show reduced from an hour to 30 minutes and began a long battle that would eventually transform radio from a live medium to …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment