Mathontes Club hears program on the life of Bing Crosby


In keeping with the year’s study of “Rock Your Decade,” members of the Mathontes Club heard a program on the 1940s and Bing Crosby, presented by Susan Railsback and Marjo Dill during the recent meeting held at the Pine Bluff Country Club.

Railsback said that the crooner was born Harry Lillis Crosby in 1903 in Tacoma, Wash. He moved to California in the mid-1920s and in 1929, a friend introduced him to Dixie Lee, who sang and danced and was more of a star than he when they married in 1930. Their first son, Gary, was born in 1933, followed by twins, Dennis and Phillip, and their youngest son, Lindsay.

His first wife, who died of ovarian cancer in 1952, was behind his success. Crosby married Kathryn Grant in 1957 and they had three children – Harry, an investment banker; Mary, an actress best known for her role in the TV hit, “Dallas,” as the woman who shot J.R. Ewing; and Nathaniel, a professional golfer. Crosby created a blind trust so that none of his children could touch his money until they turned 65. All of the children from his first marriage are deceased.

An avid golfer, Crosby died in 1977 of a massive heart attack he suffered after completing 18 holes of golf on a course near Madrid.

It is easy to visualize the easygoing Crosby with his laid-back demeanor and a pipe in his mouth, Mrs. Dill said. During his career, he had 361 chart singles and 40 No. 1 releases. He appeared in a number of movies, including “Anything Goes,” “Pennies From Heaven,” “The Bells of St. Mary’s,” “Holiday Inn” and “White Christmas,” along with the “Road to” series with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour.

In 1944, for his performance in “Going My Way,” he received the first of three Academy Award nominations. For this role, he was awarded his only Academy Award. In 1945, he recorded “Where the Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day,” which was the theme song for his radio show.

Of all the songs he recorded, “White Christmas,” the holiday perennial and the best-selling single of all times, is his best known. It makes a resurgence each year during the Christmas season. This year, through the magic of computers, Crosby is appearing with Michael Buble’ on his Christmas special – “Michael Buble’ – Home for the Holidays.” This month, Crosby’s single of “White Christmas” will be released on i-Tunes.

After his death, Crosby’s reputation as the cool paternal type was shattered by allegations made by his eldest son, Gary. He claimed in his book, published in the early 1980s that Cosby was a cruel father who physically abused his sons. The brothers were divided on the claims with one down playing the claim and another agreeing.

At the conclusion of their program, Railsback led the group in singing “White Christmas,” accompanied by Dill on the piano.

During the business session, plans were made for Kitty Rubenstein and Pauline Cherry to purchase books to be placed in the the Pine Bluff-Jefferson County Library in memory of deceased members, Nola Anderson and Mary Lou Cox.

Guests were seated at tables centered with tablescapes with fall themes. A dessert course was served by the hostesses, Helen Campbell, Rubenstein, Jane Starling, Becky Jeter and Anna Bess Westerfield.