Stars of Vaudeville #151: Bing Crosby

Bing Crosby and Al Rinker

Der Bingle wasn’t a star of vaudeville per se – his rise was far too meteoric, and too late in the game, for that. But he did spend a few years there. He started out in Spokane as a drummer for a band formed by his pal Al Rinker in1920. Gradually, Bing’s vocal skills came to the fore, and in 1925 he and Rinker moved to Los Angeles to properly break into show business. While touring the west coast vaudeville wheel, they were discovered by Paul Whiteman in 1926, who teamed them up with Harry Barris, calling them the Rhythm Boys. In short order Crosby became the obvious star of both the Rhythm Boys and of Whiteman’s band. By the early 30s, he was divested of both them, and a solo star of radio, record albums and films. While his early style was patterned on such old school singers as Al Jolson, and Joe Schenck of Van and Schenck, he was to become the principle pioneer of the intimate new, microphone-based style of singing known as crooning, ushering in the modern age. His 50 year career bridged the eras of Rudy Vallee and David Bowie. Today is Bing Crosby’s birthday.

To find out more about these variety artists and the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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6 Responses to “Stars of Vaudeville #151: Bing Crosby”

  1. [...] by Whiteman of the Rhythm Boys, a male singing trio consisting of Harris Barris, Al Rinker and Bing Crosby. They had been working the Fanchon and Marco circuit out of Los Angeles when Whiteman discovered [...]

  2. [...] parents act. As she got older, she toured with comedian and dancer Ben Blue, who later fired her. Bing Crosby and Norman Taurog caught her act in a nightclub in 1936 and cast her in the film Rhythm on the [...]

  3. [...] one of the first heart throbs, and he sort of set the mold for the style and scale of stardom that Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra would later enjoy. He, too, had his own catchphrase: “Heigh ho, everybody!” [...]

  4. [...] to know him.” This was the image of most of them: Al Jolson, Harry Richman, Harry Fox, and later Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, etc. etc, and on into the rock era, when parents would [...]

  5. [...] The Big Broadcast is where to go to listen to the likes of Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, and Bunny Berrigan. It’s the sound I like to think of as Little Rascals [...]

  6. [...] best films were in the 40s, especially the so-called “Road” pictures with Bing Crosby, in which they formed a sort of loose comedy team. Hope was also at the top of his form during [...]

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