Hollywood Remains to Be Seen

Bing Crosby
1904 - 1977

Holy Cross Cemetery

Though best known as a laid-back crooner, Bing Crosby was also an Academy Award-winning actor.

Crosby started his career as a singer and drummer in a small combo while studying law at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Crosby and his band, The Rhythm Boys, appeared in several films in the early 1930s. His first starring role was in "The Big Broadcast" (1932). Crosby also appeared in several two-reel musical comedies produced by Mack Sennett, and audiences loved his natural, easy-going style, as both an actor and a singer.

Crosby appeared in a series of musicals in the 1930s, including "Blue of the Night" (1933), "College Humor" (1933), "Going Hollywood" (1933), "She Loves Me Not" (1934), "Here is My Heart" (1934), "Rhythm on the Range" (1936), "Anything Goes" (1936), "Waikiki Wedding" (1937), "Sing, You Sinners" (1938) and "Dr. Rhythm" (1938). Crosby teamed with off-screen pal Bob Hope in "Road to Singapore" (1940), the first in a series of seven "Road" pictures -- lightly scripted mixes of adventure, slapstick, ad libs, inside jokes and cameos by top Hollywood stars, from Humphrey Bogart to Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The other films in the series were "Road to Zanzibar" (1941), "Road to Morocco" (1942), "Road to Utopia" (1946), "Road to Rio" (1947), "Road to Bali" (1952) and "Road to Hong Kong" (1962).

Crosby co-starred with Fred Astaire in "Holiday Inn" (1942), and Crosby's version of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" quickly became the biggest-selling recording of all time. For his dramatic performance as Father O'Malley in "Going My Way" (1944), Crosby won the Academy Award as Best Actor, and he was nominated for the same award in the sequel, "The Bells of St. Mary's" (1945). Crosby received his third nomination for his performance in "The Country Girl" (1954).

Crosby returned to musicals with "White Christmas" (1954), "High Society" (1956) and "Robin and the Seven Hoods" (1964). His final film role was a dramatic performance in a remake of "Stagecoach" (1966). Crosby appeared regularly on television in the 1960s and 1970s, performing on variety shows and hosting an annual Christmas program that usually featured members of his family.

Crosby died in 1977, just after finishing a round of golf in Madrid, Spain.

Despite his laid-back image, Crosby was a savvy businessman. When he died, Crosby was reportedly one of the wealthiest entertainers in Hollywood, with an estate estimated at up to $400 million. Although Crosby mentions his seven children in his will, he does not include any money or other items for any of them. Crosby did, however, set up a trust fund, which received all the rest of the money from his estate, and it can be assumed that Crosby provided for his children to receive money from the trust fund. But, unlike his will, the details of the administration of the trust fund are not a matter of public record, so we can't know for sure. There have been reports that the trust includes a provision that none of his children will receive any money from the trust until they reach the age of 65.

Crosby included the following statement in his will: "Except as otherwise provided in this will and the trust, I have intentionally and with full knowledge omitted to provide for my heirs, and I have specifically failed to provide for any child of mine whether mentioned in this will or in said trust or otherwise."

In his will, Crosby also provided detailed funeral instructions, with a request that "my funeral services be conducted in a Catholic church; that they be completely private with attendance limited to my wife and the above-mentioned children; that a low Mass be said and that no memorial service of any kind be held. I further direct that, insofar as possible, services be held without any publicity, other than that which my family permits after my burial, which shall be in a Catholic cemetery."

After his death, several of his sons painted a picture of Crosby as a cold and distant father, who severely punished his children. Son Gary Crosby wrote a controversial tell-all biography titled, "Going My Own Way" in 1983. Two other sons, Lindsay and Dennis, committed suicide.

Next to Crosby is the grave of his first wife, an actress and singer who performed under the name of Dixie Lee, but is buried under her real name, Wilma W. Crosby (1911 - 1952). They were married in 1930, and had four sons, Gary, Philip, Dennis and Lindsay. Crosby married his second wife, actress Kathryn Grant, in 1957, and they had three children, Harry, Nathaniel and Mary Frances.

Next to Wilma Crosby are Bing Crosby's parents, Harry Lowe Crosby (1870 - 1950) and Catherine H. Crosby (1872 - 1964).

Crosby purchased four plots at the cemetery when his father died in 1950. At the time, he planned that the spaces would be used by his father, his mother, himself and his wife, Dixie. By the time Crosby died in 1977, the other three spots were already filled, and he was married to Kathryn. And there were no other plots available nearby. So where will Kathryn be buried?

Crosby anticipated that problem when he wrote out his funeral instructions. Instead of being buried at the customary depth of six feet, Crosby was buried nine feet deep, so that, if Kathryn wishes, she can be buried in his plot, on top of him, and his grave marker can be replaced with one containing both of their names.

Crosby was born Harry Lillis Crosby on May 2, 1904 (some sources say 1901 or 1903), in Tacoma, WA. He died Oct. 14, 1977, in Madrid, Spain.

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