American Masters: Bing Crosby – Rediscovered (PBS Television)

dvd bing-crosbyIntelligent and emotional, American Masters covers its subject with intimacy and deep understanding.

 

 

 

PBS Television presents another installment in its American Masters series. This time around, the station celebrates the life and extraordinary career of Bing Crosby. Born May 3, 1903, Crosby recorded more number one—over 400—hits than any other entertainer in history. The phenom seemed unstoppable in his time.

Known in the industry as the “Master of the Microphone,” Crosby created an intimacy in his vocal delivery untouched by other singers. With his soothing bass/baritone voice, Crosby ended up in more homes via radio and television than any other Hollywood star. With the American Masters series, PBS does an exquisite job of bringing his story to life. From his birth and upbringing, to his beginnings as a mega-star, the documentary covers all the bases.

The show features exclusive interviews with Crosby’s family, including his second wife, Kathryn Grant, and his sons from his first wife, actress Dixie Lee, who passed away. The interview footage with his sons answers many questions about the home life they endured with their father. Abuse allegations have run rampant since the publishing of son Gary Crosby’s tell-all book, Going My Own Way, which came soon before his father’s death in October 1977.

The film also covers Crosby’s war years, as well as his on- and offstage relationship with comedian and film sidekick Bob Hope. While they held a certain magic when together onscreen, the two stars did not have any type of social relationship off screen. In the 1980s, when Crosby worked with David Bowie on a remake of “Little Drummer Boy,” Bowie refused to sing the song. A second melody and verse was added to the song for Bowie to sing, while Crosby sang “Drummer Boy” around the added verse.

Then, of course, there is the number one Christmas song ever recorded: “White Christmas.” If nothing else, Crosby will always be remembered for this song. Having sold more copies than any other holiday tune, the song is a staple of the season, and always will be.

American Masters is a terrific series. Intelligent and emotional, it covers its subject with intimacy and deep understanding. PBS goes to the source of a subject, and shines light on every aspect of their life and career. American Masters: Bing Crosby definitely exposes us to the core of who Crosby was, and will always be: a star. | Marc Farr

About Marc Farr 244 Articles
Marc Farr is the Live Music & Assignments Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. He's so invaluable to us, we've nicknamed him Mr. Music. Reach out if you have coverage ideas! "I know it's only rock and roll...but I like it!"
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