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Dad Has His Hands Full—Bing Crosby

Although Bing Crosby would be the last to admit it, he is sacrificing his career for the guidance and welfare of his children. Since the boys have lost their mother, he believes this is the least he can do. When General Electric asked him to name his own figure for a weekly TV show, Bing said, “Thanks a lot, but I just don’t have the time.”

The jaunty crooner abdicated his radio program, too, although it has been practically a national institution for the last twenty years. But he did suggest-his son Gary as a summer radio replacement. Bing did this for three reasons: Gary was twenty-one in June and he wants to make show business his career. Bing wants his first-born to see what it’s like to be on his own. And he wants the boy to concentrate on work instead of girls this summer.

Bing has always given attention to long-range training and discipline. Lindsay, the youngest of the four Crosby boys, was ten when he said to Bing, “I’d like to play golf the way you do, Dad.”

Bing was pleasantly surprised. “Okay, Lin,” he agreed. “I’ll get you a set of clubs and we’ll see how good you are.”

That year Lindsay left most of his clubs strewn around the links. By December he could find only one. So Bing bought him a set of ladies’ clubs because they were light and Lindsay was small. Again they got lost.

Last year Lindsay asked for some more golf clubs. Again Bing complied, but this time he paid for the clubs with the money Lindsay had earned working all summer on the Crosby cattle ranch in Elko, Nevada. Nine bucks a day.

Lindsay has not only taken scrupulous care of the golf clubs “bought with my hard-earned dough” but last summer, using those same clubs up at Hayden Lake, Idaho, he shot a seventy-two to win The Mughunters’ tourney for kids.

This incident is typical of Bing Crosby’s policy as a father. He will give his boys plenty of rope—and then no more. The minute one goes too far, Bing bears down.

He has said many times, “Until they’re twenty-one the boys are my biggest responsibility. And I’m going to keep a watchful eye on all of them.”

Bing makes it a point every few months to drop in on the deans of the various schools attended by his sons.

Phil and Denny, the nineteen-year-old twins, go to Washington State College in Pullman, Washington, which is why you read so frequently that Bing is bound for Spokane. Actually he is on his way to Pullman to visit the boys, both of whom happen to be pretty good students. They like agriculture and animal husbandry and undoubtedly will take over the Elko ranch some day. Bing visits with them about six or seven times during a collegiate year.

Of the four boys, Gary has given Bing the most worry, undoubtedly because he’s the oldest, the most headstrong and, via his recordings, the most famous. He has shown a great aversion to ranch work and, at one point, to his school work.

After Gary graduated from Bellarmine Prep, a Jesuit school, his father gave him a Mercury coupe for a graduation gift. The next year when Gary was a freshman at Stanford, he spent more time in the coupe than he did in the library.

Bing pulled into Palo Alto one day and called on the dean.

“How’s my boy doing?” he asked.

“After Christmas,” said the dean, “I don’t think he’ll be with us.”

Bing arched a quizzical eyebrow. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

“His work,” the Dean answered. “Or to put it more exactly, his lack of work.”

That’s all Bing had to hear. It took him about five minutes to get over to the freshman dorm, about ten minutes to take Gary’s car away and lock it up in a garage, and about fifteen minutes to lay down the law of the land.

From that moment Gary began to study, and while he will never make Phi Beta Kappa, it looks as though he will be a graduate of Stanford next June.

Dixie always insisted that all her sons finish college. “After that,” she used to say, “they can follow whatever profession or business they. like. But first comes their education.”

Bing, of course, agrees with this requirement and is constantly impressing his sons with the importance of education. Moreover, he is sure they see it his way.

He wasn’t upset when the newspapers carried stories of Gary’s engagement to Barbara Stanislaus, a pretty, twenty-one-year-old senior at San José College.

Asked about the incident, Bing was noncommittal. “Gary gave her his Zeta Psi pin,” he said, “not an engagement ring.”

When Barbara was asked if she were betrothed to Gary, she said, “No. I’m just wearing his pin. That’s all.”

Barbara, who is studying business administration at San José with her twin sister Beverly, has been a Crosby house guest and has dated Gary since last fall.

That Gary is sweet on her goes without saying, but when it comes to talk of marriage, he says, “I’m not saying a word.”

On May 24, twenty-year-old Gary was returning from a date. Near San José he collided with a car carrying five Mexican nationals, one of whom was killed. Bing, knowing that his son would be subjected to criticism because he is his son, through an accident that was perhaps not his fault, drove at once from his Elko ranch to Gary’s bedside to assure him of his dad’s love and loyalty.

The one fault Bing will not abide is immodesty. Dixie used to accuse-her husband of spoiling the boys, of “punishing them one minute and taking them to the movies the next.” Bing never wants it to be said that any of his sons is spoiled or trading on the old man’s glory. That’s one reason it’s so difficult for reporters to get any of the four boys to talk.

They know that in their own right they’re not celebrities and that Bing does not like publicity. At The Mughunters’ Golf Tournament last year, the teen-age girls who competed were asked what they thought of Lindsay and Gary.

The unanimous impression was, “They remind you of their father. They take golf very seriously but they’ve got good senses of humor. There’s not one bit of snobbishness about them and only thing that makes them nervous is the flash bulbs.”

Because Bing is a strict disciplinarian (“I don’t know, maybe I’m too strict. But I guess it’s better to be too strict than too easy.”) he makes sure to toe the line himself. If he doesn’t, he automatically gets some pretty rough family kidding.

Six months ago, Bing was on his way home from a party, having just dropped Mona Freeman at her house. He was heading for Holmby Hills when crash! An automobile collision. Two men in the hospital and Bing’s $13,000 Mercedes folded like an accordion.

Bing still hasn’t heard the last of it. When he leaves for an evening out, he is asked if he still has his learner’s license, and admonished to “drive carefully and take it easy.” Fortunately, the crooner can take it as well as dish it out.

Bing knows that his boys idolize him. That’s why he’s doubly careful in his social life these days. Since Dixie’s death he has dated only four or five girls, Mona Freeman, Audrey Hepburn, Margot James and Grace Kelly, all young and discreet.

As a rule Bing stays away from nightclubs—he doesn’t like to be photographed without his hairpiece—but a few weeks ago he took a chance and dropped in at Mocambo with Grace Kelly. The photographers saw him and, although he voiced his objections in no uncertain terms, the flash bulbs popped.

He was planning to take all of the boys to Europe this year. He took Lindsay last year, and six months ago he announced that the son who received the highest grades could go with him in 1954. But Gary’s summer job changed all that.

In case Gary had too many problems, Bing wanted to be nearby to lend a helping hand. “I’ve promised, however,” he says, “to take the boys to Hawaii sometime during their vacation.”

Bing doesn’t make a move without first checking the possible effects upon his sons.

When he’s offered picture jobs overseas (and. he has been offered a dozen since Little Boy Lost) he refuses. When he was offered $50,000 a week by one Las Vegas gambling hotel, he was a bit more emphatic. He not only said no, but he added, “I’ll never be a shill for anyone to lose money.”

When he started going around with Mona Freeman he introduced her to all the boys so that they would bear her no unconscious grudge and wouldn’t unwittingly compare her with their mother. Bing is a good, considerate, level-headed father with definite ideas of right and wrong. Asked if he’d ever spanked any of his gang, he admitted that, “I used to let ’em have it once in a while.”

The one spanking all the boys remember came as a result of their stripping their mother’s canary of all its feathers. “We thought it was a cute idea,” Gary recalls. “You know, just for the hot weather so that the canary wouldn’t be so uncomfortable. Mother told my old man about it when he came home that night. And boy! We really caught it.

It has been years, of course, since Bing has punished any of his boys in that way; and whereas they once feared his strap, they now fear his tongue lashings. Of late, these have been remarkably few. The boys are well on their way to manhood.

As a youngster, Gary used to be something of a sorehead, particularly if he lost in a game or contest, but after three years at Stanford, he has developed a genuine graciousness and is extremely popular.

“We could understand it,” one of them said, “if he threw his weight around a little. But ever since we pledged him he’s been okay. He knows, I’m sure, that he can’t afford to louse up his old man’s great reputation. Jon Lindbergh is like that, too and so was Joan Benny, Jack’s daughter—unassuming and regular.”

In the Crosby household, Lindsay, a junior at Loyola High in Les Angeles, is by far the best student. Denny has the best temperament, nonchalant and easygoing, while Phil is the best athlete and Gary is heir to the Crosby voice.

Bing knows the strong and weak points of his kids and he treats them on a highly individual basis. He does have, however, a standard set of group punishments. For minor infractions, their tv set is taken away from one to three days. For major infractions they lose all privileges—no dates, no ball games, “no nothin’.”

Bing was fifty on May 2, and the question asked him most frequently then was, “When are you getting married?” Bing’s stock answer: “It’s in the hands of God.”

Bing’s closest associates are convinced that he will find a bride within the next two or three years. Mona Freeman, it was said, had the inside track on der Bingle’s heart until she started dating Frank Sinatra. But Mona didn’t start dating Frank until Bing started dating Grace Kelly with whom he starred in Country Girl.

Bing has always been a man who lived by his own high standards, a set of standards, incidentally, which he has passed on to his four sons and which makes him a fine father.





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