Busied with holiday revels, yours truly has taken a week off from prayerful consideration of newspaper obituaries. Instead, on this Black Friday, I leave you this to help kick off your holiday-song season.
Bing Crosby 1903 to 1,805 weeks ago Friday
This White-Christmas crooner was born across the street from my childhood parish, St. Patrick’s in the too-frequently-forgotten city of Tacoma, Washington (thrice named an All-American city!). At age three he moved 238 miles east to Spokane where he grew up kitty-cornered from Gonzaga University. His Jesuit connections are legion: He was a Gonzaga High School Bullpup and a GU Bulldog before he dropped out to go to Hollywood.
There he had quite the career. He was a movie star (1944 Best Actor Oscar for ‘Going My Way’). He was a patriot (named by WWII GI’s as the most important man for morale, beating out Eisenhower, Bob Hope and even FDR). And, of course, he was a singer. His life’s work would have culminated in 1948 when he was named most admired man in the world (ahead of Jackie Robinson and Pope Pius XII!) and his songs made up more than half of all the music played on the radio. Instead, he’ll be most remembered for White Christmas, the best-selling single of all time.
He leaves behind this 1977 duet with David Bowie. Released shortly after Bing’s death, it was so bizarre as to occasion the rumor that it was a fake: