Music and variety entertainment (1931 - 62)
Crosby was, and still is, one of America's most popular
singers. His voice is still heard everyday around the world.
He recorded an estimated 17,000 songs, most for Decca records,
who luck it was to hold his recording contract from 1934
-55. Yet many of Bing's most enjoyable performances were
done on radio, and were relatively unavailable to the general
public until now. Radio allowed Bing to be intimate, and give a subtle delivery
of a song as if he were singing it "just for you."
It allowed for witty repartee with the cast and guests,
too, and Bing's sly wordplay and perfect timing with an
offhand line is usually overlooked as one of his stellar
traits. Of course, aided and abetted by Bob Hope, the two were
a duo unstoppable and unstoppable in movies. But from 1931
until 1962, Bing was the star of radio.
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Bing's most famous old time radio show was sponsored by Kraft Foods.
Bing first appeared as guest host of the Kraft Music
Hall on Dec. 5, 1935. Originally the Kraft
show was an hour-long variety show, but in January 1943
it was cut to a half-hour a week. The Kraft show was broadcast
live, as were all prime timenetwork
shows of that era. Bing Crosby has a streak of the entrepreneur
in him, as well as perfect taste in songs. Early on, Bing
had decided to keep the Kraft show more intimate by not
having a "noisy" audience, as did most shows of
the time. Crosby disliked the inconvenience of the late
broadcast hour and the necessity of repeating a show for
different time zones. In 1945 he appealed to Kraft and NBC
for more money to allow him to pre-record his shows on disc,
knowing how well the V-Discs worked. He was turned down,
as broadcast radio had its standards, so Bing refused to
return to the show in the fall of 1945, then returned in
February of 1946, and then left the show for good in May
of 1946. Bing was determined to use recording in radio, as
he had done with Decca for many years. Of course, all of
this went on behind the scenes, and the Kraft Show is considered
first-class Crosby, and near-perfect radio entertainment. Philco Radio Time, starring Bing Crosby, made its debut
on Oct. 16, 1946, with Bob Hope as Bing's first guest. The show was first recorded on standard
large wax transcription disks, but Crosby was already working
with engineers, studying German WWII confiscated tape recorder
technology. Bing used the tape recorder to tape, and then
delay broadcast his show on American radio in 1947, which
was a great success. The recorders were manufactured for
the public by Ampex and revolutionized the recording industry.
Bing's sponsorfrom 1949 through 1952 was Chesterfield cigarette.
Rosemary Clooney, one of many
musical guest stars on the Bing Collection
The Chesterfield Show features a veritable "who's
who" of American popular entertainment of the first
half of the 20th Century, while The Bing Crosby Show in the mid-50s was a modest 15 minute daily weekday
show, with announcer Ken Carpenter and the Buddy Cole Trio
with Rosemary Clooney. They offer dual portraits of the
icon with guest icons (such as Fred Astaire, Tallulah Bankhead, and Johnny Mercer), and the singer with trio and songstress.The pre-eminence of Bing and network radio coincided, as
by the mid 1950s, television took the action and money
away from network radio broadcasting. Bing went on to TV,
like so many others including his pal, Bob. But most will
agree he did his best work on radio.
Bing is a part of everyone's memories of days and evenings
past. He was a star of the first magnitude on radio, the
movies and television. Funny, witty, one of the best voices
of the century- what is left to say? Bing has to be in the
top ten of American popular entertainment. You can add your
own favorite nine to the list.
For other music, see also: Your Hit Parade and Glenn
Miller Collection, and The Music Collection . See also: The Rat Pack Collection, Philco Radio Time , and Chesterfield Show