Bing Crosby performs ‘White Christmas’ live in 1968
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Bing Crosby was born on May 3, 1903, in Tacoma Washington. The star built an extraordinary career in Hollywood as an actor, singer and dancer – all of which contributed to his Academy Award in 1944 for Going My Way. Long before he became a household name, however, little Bing was the fourth child out of seven children from his parents (Harry Lowe Crosby and Catherine Helen Crosby). Despite being the fourth child in the family, the Hollywood legend was named Harry Crosby II, after his father. But, of course, that is not the name he would become known as.
In 1937 Bing was quizzed by American actress Joan Blondell over how he got his famous name. He revealed how, as a child, he would often be found roaming the streets acting out his fantasies with two toy pistols.
He recalled: “Well, I’ll tell you, back in the knee-britches day, when I was a wee little tyke, a mere broth of a lad, as we say in Spokane, I used to totter around the streets, with a gun on each hip, my favourite after school pastime was a game known as Cops and Robbers.”
Bing continued: “I didn’t care which side I was on when a cop or robber came into view, I would haul out my trusty six-shooters, made of wood, and loudly exclaim bing! bing! As my luckless victim fell clutching his side, I would shout bing! bing!, and I would let him have it again, and then as his friends came to his rescue, shooting as they came, I would shout bing! bing! bing! bing! bing! bing! bing! bing!”
Joan was not so convinced by this story, however. She replied: “I’m surprised they didn’t call you ‘Killer’ Crosby! Now tell me another story, Grandpa!”
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Bing replied: “No, so help me, it’s the truth, ask Mister De Mille!”
There is another story that suggests the star got his name from somewhere else, however. While Bing was just a boy he reportedly received a regular comic feature titled The Bingville Bugle.
The young Bing loved it, and his neighbour noticed how much the kid would laugh at the strip. Soon enough, the youngster was nicknamed “Bingo from Bingville”.
Eventually, the “o” was dropped from Bingo, leaving him with just Bing.
Whichever story is legitimate, they’re certainly a unique look at the star’s origins and upbringing. And he even continued his legendary name with his own family.
Harry “Bing” Crosby had seven children across two marriages, but the fifth child was given a special honour. Bing named his fifth son after himself and his father, Harry Crosby III. It is not known if Harry Crosby III goes by Bing just like his father.
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