LIFE OVERSEAS, Volume 18, Number 25, June 18, 1945
by LINCOLN BARNETT
When Bing Crosby walks into the NBC studios in Hollywood to rehearse his weekly radio program, he usually looks as if he had just holed out on the 18th green and had by-passed the locker room on his way to work. No necktie is ever in evidence. His sport shirt airily overhangs his slacks. His brown felt hat relaxes on the back of his head. He is likely to be chewing gum and smoking a charred and potent pipe, caked black with primordial ash.
Downstage, opposite the orchestra, he perches himself on a high bookkeeper's stool beside a microphone. While waiting for his cue he hums or whistles contemplatively. From time to time he removes a pencil from behind his ear , takes an interlocking grip on it and swings it like a mashie. He wisecracks a good deal with musicians and sound engineers. If somebody asks the piano for an A, Crosby may wait until several instruments start tuning and then loudly volunteer an A flat, a B flat or a Bronx cheer. When the time comes for him to sing, he shifts his gum into one cheek, clamps his pipe between his rear molars and effortlessly exudes the velvety, faultlessly enunciated baritone phrases that have made him the best-liked and best-paid entertainer in the world.
The air of imperturbable composure which Crosby wears at all times, in public and in private, stems from the inner relaxation of a completely successful man. No performer in history has ever achieved such ascendancy in so many media of expression. His films brought more money into motion-picture offices last year than those of any other star. He topped all polls of radio listeners as the most popular singer on the air. His recordings have outsold all others by overwhelming margins for the last ten years. His songs are heard daily in canned concerts and short-wave broadcasts, in juke joints and private homes around the earth. Sailors in the Pacific and soldiers in Europe have come to regard his voice as the voice of home. Today Crosby transcends his profession. He has become, like Will Rogers a decade ago, a kind of national institution.
In awarding its 1944 Oscar to Crosby for his portrayal of the young priest in Going My Way the Motion Picture Academy bestowed artistic recognition upon talents which had long been impressively acclaimed in dollars and cents. Computed financially, Crosby's artistry is stupendous. He is not only the No. 1 money-maker in Hollywood, he is one of the great money-makers of all time. His contract with Paramount calls for a maximum of three pictures a year at $150,000 apiece. His weekly radio broadcasts net him $7,500 for each half hour's work. The Decca Record Co. pays him royalties of about 2 1/2 cents a disk (the amount varies with the price of the record), and this last year totaled $250,000. From three sources alone Crosby thus derives an annual gross income of more than $1,000,000.
Over and above his wages and royalties Crosby receives income from assorted financial interests which approximate in diversity those of Henry J. Kaiser. He owns real estate - including the Crosby Building on Sunset Boulevard - throughout Los Angeles. He has a 10,000-acre cattle ranch in Nevada and is part owner of another in the Argentine. He breeds and sells race horses. He is president and chief stockholder of the Del Mar Turf Club, whose $500,000 plant is now serving as an aircraft factory turning out wing-rib assemblies ("Bing's Wings") for Flying Fortresses. A few months ago he organized Bing Crosby Productions, Inc., and in his initial effort as a producer begot The Great John L. which is currently doing very nicely in theaters around the country. Crosby also has an interest in several music-publishing firms. At various times he has owned a baseball team and hunks of several prize fighters. His stocks, bonds and other securities are held by the Crosby Investment Corp., income from which goes mostly to his four sons. Discussing Crosby's earnings, his friend Bob Hope declared recently, "Bing doesn't even pay an income tax any more. He just asks the government what they need."
Where some individuals clamber for success and wind up with ulcers, Crosby tends to belittle his lucrative abilities as mere genetic accidents that have been considerably overrated by the public. He does not, for example, consider himself either a very good actor or a very notable singer. In pictures he strives for little more than a natural projection of his own amiable personality. Convinced that he is no glamour kid, he long ago ceased to worry about his thinning hair and nonretractable ears. He never wears a scalp doily off the screen. Recognizing that at 41 he is inclined to be chubby, he does not complain when Bob Hope refers to him as the "little round man that sings" or calls attention to a new Crosby shirt by sneering, "That's the first time I ever saw a ball turret with a slip cover." Crosby is equally casual about his singing. He signs letters "The Groaner" and in discussing a scheduled appearance he will apologetically agree to "get up and sing at 'em" or "toss 'em a few songs." When a friend warned him recently that his voice might ultimately be injured by his incessant pipe smoking, Crosby grunted indifferently, "Oh, the kinda singing I do, you can't hurt your voice."
Crosby's lack of vanity is not, as some Hollywood cynics suppose, a kind of inverted affectation. He has always been surprised by the good things that came his way. His mother had to drag him, one time when he was a boy, to a swimming meet from which he emerged with 11 medals. His brother Everett had to bludgeon him into trying for his first radio contract. His friend Jack Kapp, president of the Decca Record Co., has to badger him every time he wants him to attempt any new type of song. When Kapp asked him to make Silent Night, Crosby retorted, "Who do you think I am, Lily Pons?" Kapp got his recording in the end by cagily suggesting that Bing turn over his royalties to charity, and to date some three dozen charitable agencies have benefited through the sale of more than 1,500,000 impressions. Although it is now manifest that almost everybody likes almost everything he does, Crosby remains unconvinced. Inherently easy-going, he has an acute horror of pretension. He shies away from publicity, grows taciturn in the presence of strangers and offers the world a mask of languid insouciance. He submerges his very considerable intellectual endowments beneath a welter of athletic enthusiasms. Although he reads a great deal, no one ever sees him with a book. And though he likes to deny all knowledge of classical music, he is often caught whistling phrases from operas and symphonies he insists he never heard.
On occasion Crosby's supreme nonchalance exasperates his friends. One afternoon two years ago his 20-room colonial house in North Hollywood caught fire and burned down. After much telephoning, his lyricist and good friend, Johnny Burke, located Bing at the Brown Derby as he was sitting down to dinner after a golf match. "Listen Bing," Burke sputtered into the phone, "before I say anything I want you to know that Dixie and the kids are okay." Bing said, "Isn't that nice, Johnny? And how's your family?" "Listen to me, Bing," Burke said, speaking very distinctly. "Your house burned down." Crosby yawned the contented yawn of a man who had shot a 74. "Oh that old thing," he drawled. "Did they save my tuxedo?" Despairingly, Burke shouted, "On the level, Bing, honest, your house burned down this afternoon. You'd better hurry out here right away." Bing hesitated. "But I just ordered my dinner," he complained. Burke thought Crosby was kidding again. But he wasn't. Having accepted the fact that his house was destroyed and his family safe, he saw no reason to forego dinner in order to view a pile of embers. After eating he drove out and surveyed the smoking remains. He poked around amid the ashes until he spied one of his shoes, charred but not consumed. Inside it, untouched by the flames, he found what he was looking for - $1,500 in small bills which he had hidden there for use at the race track next day. Nothing else was saved.
Although Crosby has received critical accolades as a comedian and, since Going My Way, as a dramatic actor, his prime professional asset is his extraordinary agreeable, caressing, friendly, lyrical voice. The universality of its appeal lies in the fact that it is a completely natural voice. Dinah Shore once perceptively observed, "Bing sings like all people think they sing in the shower." Crosby cannot properly be termed a crooner. For although he has in the past been guilty of an occasional tearful "buh-buh-buh-boo" - an improvisation inspired one night by his sudden inability to recall the lyrics of a song - his style has matured and mellowed with the years. His singing today is the limpid, effortless minstrelsy of a troubadour. He likes to sing. He sings while shaving, while driving a car and in every unoccupied moment of his waking hours. He never thinks about breathing, intonation or diaphragmatic control. As a boy he took two or three voice lessons but gave them up when the baseball season began. He can read a score only insofar as he can see that the notes go up or down. But his sense of rhythm never falters and his ear is so faithful that many an opera singer has publicly praised his ability to stay unerringly on pitch. The quickness of his ear astonishes musical associates. Several months ago Decca asked him to record Don't Fence Me In. Crosby had never heard the song before he walked into the studio and was handed a complicated score which tossed parts back and forth between him and the Andrews Sisters. Crosby ran over the arrangement a few times. Precisely one half hour after his arrival, the master record was cut.
HE IS THE NO. 1 SONG PLUG ON THE AIR
Although he began his musical career as a scat singer, Crosby has established himself in the last decade as the most versatile of popular vocalists. His recordings include cowboy songs, Hawaiian songs, Irish songs, patriotic numbers, Victor Herbert arias, modern blues, old-fashioned sentimental ballads and hymns. To all of them he imparts a simple dignity and depth of feeling which once moved a friend of his to remark that Crosby sings every song as though it were the best song ever written. Many of his nonjazz recordings sell with the year-to-year regularity of classics. In all, 60,000,000 Crosby disks have been marketed since he made his first record in 1931. His biggest best seller is White Christmas, 2,000,000 impressions of which have been sold in the U.S. and 250,000 in Great Britain.
It is through his weekly radio broadcast that Crosby exerts his greatest influence on U.S. musical taste. He is, in the idiom of sheet-music publishers, "the No. 1 song plug on the air." When he enters the NBC building each Thursday morning for rehearsal, a half hundred "music contact men" or "song pluggers" descend on him and thrust copies of new songs into his hand with exhortations to include them in his next program. Nine out of ten singers and bandleaders listen to Crosby's broadcasts each Thursday night and follow his lead. The day after he sings a song over the air - any song - some 50,000 copies of it are sold throughout the U.S. Time and again Crosby has taken some new or unknown ballad, has given it what is known in trade circles as the "big goose" and made it a hit single-handed and overnight.
It is often difficult for Crosby's oldest friends to relate his current eminence with his irresponsible and hedonistic past. The voice which has been heard by more people than any other voice in history sounded its first note 41 years ago in Tacoma, Wash. Bing was the fourth of seven children born to Harry L. and Kate Harrigan Crosby II. His mother's family came from County Mayo, Ireland. His paternal ancestors were New England seamen. Captain Nathaniel Crosby II, his great-grandfather, for whom a Liberty ship has been named, helped found the city of Portland, Ore. When Harry Lillis Crosby Jr. (i.e., Bing) was 5 years old, his parents moved to Spokane, where his father obtained a job as bookkeeper for a brewery. There the seven Crosby children grew up, the five boys going in turn to Gonzaga University, a Jesuit school, and the two girls to a local convent. Bing, who acquired his nickname from his addiction to a now extinct comic strip called The Bingville Bugle, was an apt but less than assiduous student. Most of the Crosby children had some musical talent. But Bing was the inveterate songster and siffleur. He could be heard coming blocks away.
HE'D RATHER SING THAN STUDY LAW OR EAT
Though his mother had hoped he would enter the priesthood, Bing made up his mind to study for the bar. Mornings he attended law classes at Gonzaga. Afternoons he worked in a law office. Evenings he played the drums and sang with a six-piece band organized by his friend and classmate, Al Rinker. Crosby's handling of the drumsticks was, like his singing, purely instinctive. He never did learn to execute a roll. One evening he discovered for the first time how some men feel about other men who sing. Rinker's band was playing at a dance hall. Bing was singing Peggy O'Neill when a slick-haired young fellow danced past and called "Hi, Pansy." Enraged, Crosby jumped from the platform when the song ended and seized his reviler by the elbow. "Right this way, Elmer," he muttered and led him out the side door. "If you've got any funny remarks to make," he said, "now's the time." The slick-haired youth said, "Okay, sister, run along home to mother." Bing swung a left, a right and another right, and the fight was over. Leaving his opponent where he lay, Crosby stalked back to his drums.
At the outset of his second year at law school Crosby realized he would never be a happy barrister. Melodies rang in his ear constantly and often during class he found himself whistling under his breath and drumming with pencils on his desk. And he would sneak away from his law office to a music shop and spend hours listening to records by Paul Whiteman and Waring's Pennsylvanians. One day he told his mother he was determined to discontinue his law studies. "Oh, I can get fair marks and maybe make the bar," he said, "but I just think music all day. I'd rather sing than eat." A few days later he and Al Rinker bought an ancient Ford for $40 and hit the road. Together they evolved a routine of hot fast numbers with Rinker at the piano supplying tenor to Bing's melody. In Tacoma they made $30 in a week's run at a motion-picture house. In Portland and San Francisco they worked the speakeasies. Bouncing along in their Ford one morning, Crosby began singing I Never Knew I Could Love Anybody. Unconsciously he modulated his tempo to the stutter of the jalopy's exhaust. Then suddenly he was no longer singing words; he was imitating the sound of the exhaust and syncopating the melody with "Wah-tah-do-dee-do-dee-do." As Rinker came in with him, Crosby took a cymbal and emphasized the breaks with light crashes. "Say, that's a good lick," Rinker exclaimed at the end of the song. In that moment the idiom of Paul Whiteman's Rhythm Boys was conceived.
Crosby and Rinker toured West Coast circuits for a year before Whiteman chanced to cross their trail. He was impressed the first time he heard them perform and asked them to join his retinue. Under Whiteman's aegis Crosby and Rinker saw most of the U.S. Although Midwestern cities greeted their act with enthusiasm, New York City audiences proved unexpectedly frigid, and it was not until Whiteman added a third man to the team - Harry Barris, who later composed I Surrender Dear and other Crosby specialties - that the Rhythm Boys came into their own. Barris and Rinker played white baby pianos. Crosby stood between them riffling his cymbal with a drumstick. At the end of an especially hot lick Barris would leap from his piano stool and slam the lid on his piano in ecstasy. Today recordings of their best-known numbers - Mississippi Mud, My Suppressed Desire, From Monday On, Bluebirds and Blackbirds and Rhythm King - are regarded as collectors' items among antiquarians of jazz.
When Whiteman took his orchestra to England in the fall of 1929 he decided the Rhythm Boys were too esoteric for British ears and farmed them out to the Keith-Albee circuit for a vaudeville tour. Out from under his avuncular eye they enjoyed a strenuous social life. When an interviewer in one city asked Crosby if it were true he had left a "trail of broken hearts" across the country, he replied, "No, a trail of broken bottles." One night they took a train in the wrong direction and completely missed a three-day booking - a heinous offense for which they nearly got fired from the circuit. Another time Crosby lost all their expense money in a crap game; as a result the Rhythm Boys were unable to pay express charges on their baggage and had to perform next day without their pianos, properties, scenery or costumes. Their most humiliating moment came in Toledo when an angry theater manager cut them off in the middle of their act. Fancying themselves comics, they had begun to interpolate a good many wisecracks at the expense of their musical numbers. The Toledo manager, forewarned that the Rhythm Boys' ad-libbing was strictly Joe Miller, asked them to confine themselves to singing in his theater. They agreed, but that night before a packed house temptation became too great. "Say, Harry," Crosby called to Barris between songs, "do you know how to cure a horse from frothing at the mouth?" "Why no, Bing," Barris responded, "how do you cure a horse from frothing at the mouth?" "Well, Harry, you teaches 'em to spit." Wham! The outraged manager rang the curtain down right in their faces.
HE GETS 30 DAYS IN JAIL
Whiteman forgave the Rhythm Boys their misdeeds and on his return took them along to Hollywood to help make The King of Jazz. Crosby was elated to learn that in addition to his numbers with Barris and Rinker he had been selected to sing a solo. Unfortunately for his movie career he got involved in an automobile accident while driving home from a studio party celebrating completion of the first week's work on the picture. Advised to plead guilty and pay his fine, he showed up in traffic court with $50 in his pocket. He was fresh from the golf links and had on green knickers, an orange sweater and checked socks. The judge surveyed him coldly. "The arresting officer reports you had been drinking. Is that true?" he asked. "Quite," Bing replied blandly. "Are you familiar with the 18th Amendment?" asked the judge. "Only remotely," said Bing. The judge said, "Well, you'll have 30 days to familiarize yourself with it." Although the studio exerted all its influence to spring Crosby, the judge refused to mitigate his sentence by so much as an hour. Bing served his full 30 days. Meanwhile production on the picture moved relentlessly forward and the solo scheduled for him went to another baritone.
The Rhythm Boys parted company with Whiteman when he headed back east after completion of The King of Jazz, and signed up with Gus Arnheim's orchestra at the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles. By this time Crosby had begun to sing solos "with a cry in them" and his individuality was emerging from the collective identity of the trio. But whenever his brother Everett urged him to go to New York and promote himself as a single performer on the radio, Bing would reply, "Baloney, I'm just another baritone with a gravel throat." One day Everett mailed Bing's recording of I Surrender Dear to two national networks. Back came letters inviting Crosby to come east and talk business. In the end he signed up with CBS for $600 a week. Before his program went on the air, however, a characteristic Crosby mishap supervened. He played golf in the rain and as a result lost his voice on the very day of his radio debut. The network apologized for the nonappearance of its new baritone three nights in a row, while Bing fretted in enforced silence. On the fourth day Everett found a note in his room saying, "Cancel all contracts. It's no go. Bing." After a frantic search Everett located his despondent brother, exhorted, cajoled and insulted him, called him "yellow" and asked him what his mother would think. Reluctantly Bing agreed to try again. He taxied to the studio and after a brief rehearsal went on the air. Knees wobbling, sweat beading his forehead, he delivered his numbers without a dissonant note.
National popularity came to Crosby almost overnight. Fan letters and telegrams poured into the studio. Theaters and nightclubs bid for him. He played 20 consecutive weeks at the Paramount Theater in Times Square. Hollywood summoned him back west to appear in The Big Broadcast. Then came other pictures, College Humor, Too Much Harmony and Going Hollywood. His fan mail soared to 5,000 to 7,000 a month. In 1933, after but one year in motion pictures, a national poll of theater operators placed Crosby among the top ten box-office draws on the screen.
HE ATTAINS INTELLECTUAL MATURITY
Sudden success is not an uncommon phenomenon in the realm of entertainment. The notable aspect of Crosby's success is that it has persisted and enlarged with the passage of time. It has been paralleled, moreover, by his marked intellectual growth. The Crosby of 1945 is spiritually an altogether different individual from the volatile Rhythm Boy of 1931. Still ostensibly indolent and unaspiring, he has become a conscientious practitioner of his several callings and an exacting critic of the material with which he deals. He has possibly done more to elevate the standards of lyric writing than any other singer of popular songs. Sensitive to cliches and endowed with an exceptional command of language, he disdains to sing words which offend his intelligence or taste. His radio scripts, which he heavily edits and revises, are faithful reflections of his own conversational and epistolary style. The Crosby lingo is highly alliterative and characterized by wild mixtures of pedantic polysyllables and current slang. For example he apostrophizes Bob Hope, whose most obvious facial ornament is his retrousse nose, as "hook-horn," "shoe-face," "bent-beak," "scow-prow," "ski-snoot" and "funnel-flue." To Crosby skis are "society slats" and a group of college girls is a "covey of culture-vultures." Instead of employing a trite phrase like "wow the audience," he will say "crumple the folks." In announcing a duet with some fellow performer, he may proclaim, "We will now cross cadenzas." In discussing sports he is likely to employ musical expressions and vice versa. Thus he once introduced Rose Bampton as the "Seabiscuit of the Sopranos" and described his morning round of golf as "slightly largo con moto."
Of several factors responsible for Crosby's evolution from a slightly alcoholic cymbal tickler into America's No. 1 showman, the first was his marriage to Dixie Lee (nee Wilma Wyatt of Harriman, Tenn.) At the time of their courtship she appeared headed for an auspicious career as a screen actress and Bing appeared headed for trouble. A studio executive advised Dixie to repudiate Crosby, warning her she would probably have to support him the rest of her life. But she married him anyway at a time when he was nearly penniless and his job at the Cocoanut Grove his only security. Within a year of their wedding his luck changed and with it his temperament. He became Bing Crosby Inc., Ltd., and in due time the father of four sons.
The war put the finishing touches on Crosby's process of growth as an individual. Ever since Pearl Harbor he has trouped tirelessly around the country, entertaining at camps, hospitals and bases, never refusing an Army or Navy request. He has made innumerable shortwave broadcasts and transcriptions for troops overseas. For OWI he has broadcast in German to the Germans, who know him as "Der Bingle." Last summer he went abroad and sang to soldiers in the front lines. No audience was too small or too informal for him. One day he inadvertently jeeped into enemy territory while hunting for a forward outpost where he had promised to sing for ten members of an antiaircraft battery. In London crowds mobbed a restaurant in which he was dining and refused to disperse until he appeared at a window and gave an a cappella rendering of Pennies from Heaven. An English newspaper which described the episode, remarked, "That evening did more for transatlantic relationship than a hundred speeches. Thanks, Bing." Such occurrences, the warmth with which GI s unanimously welcomed him, the cordiality of General Eisenhower and other distinguished personages gave Crosby a new perspective on himself. He returned to this country imbued with a kind of sober self-assurance he had never known before.
HE HAS A MOAT AROUND HIM
Like most Americans, Crosby dislikes divulging any streak of sentimentality. He is indeed rather more withdrawn than the average and by Hollywood standards looms as a paragon of introversion. Friends who have known him longest confess to knowing him least. "Bing has a moat around him," one of them observed recently. He reveals one facet of his complex personality to one group of associates, another side to others. Thus his horse-racing friends swear that the only thing Crosby really cares about is racing. He convinces others that golf or music is his cardinal interest in life. Anomalously, he is often more outgiving with casual acquaintances than with really close friends. If an old pal turns up after a long absence, Crosby is likely to greet him with a cool "Oh hello, when are you leaving town?" He has been known to spend hours searching through bookstores for a particular volume in which some friend has expressed interest, but when he makes the presentation he will mutter, "Say, some publisher sent me this book. I don't want it. Can you use it?"
Crosby's fellowship with Bob Hope is no script writer's invention. The casual insults that pepper their radio and screen appearances also fly between them on golf links. They call each other "Fatso," "Tallow" and "Dad." But they like to play golf together and regularly appear on each other's programs free of charge. The night Crosby landed in New York from his overseas tour, he and Hope promptly began tossing disparaging banter on a coast-to-coast hook-up. Hope asked Crosby if he had gone abroad under the "lend-louse" arrangement and said other bright things that made listeners laugh. But when it was over he was upset. "I've been berating myself," he told Dinah Shore later that evening. "I knew how much Bing meant to those kids overseas. And he sounded tired. I should have said something serious. But no, I've got to be a comedian all the time and make jokes. I don't think I'm going to sleep very well tonight."
Crosby is incontestably the No. 1 Big Family Man of Hollywood. He is engulfed in family. Of the nine Crosbys who lived in Spokane all but two have moved to Hollywood. Brother Everett, brother Larry and Pop Crosby now work for Bing. Mother Crosby holds no office in the family corporation, but she meets her sons on equal footing in one phase of their activities. She is the most sedulous horse-race addict of them all. Each morning she reads all the dope sheets and figures her bets for the day. When she arrives at the track she almost always falls heir to hot tips. She promptly discards her planned betting program, plays the tips and invariably loses. A fervent Catholic, Mrs. Crosby is also an implacable teetotaler. But whenever she reproaches her sons for drinking, they retort. "We drink. You bet on horses. It's all the same in the eyes of the Lord."
Bing has always been a conscientious churchgoer. He quietly donated a new organ to his parish church not long ago. Last Christmas he sang midnight Mass at an Army hospital. Recently he told a friend that his work in Going My Way was a "labor of love" and that "only the pressing necessity of income-tax payments permitted the acceptance of money for this task." In his next picture, The Bells of St. Mary's, he is once again invested with the role of a priest. Although he still enjoys an occasional highball, Crosby nowadays prefers sports to barroom life. He goes to bed early and arises between 6 and 7 a.m. in order to play golf before going to work. Since few of his friends share his liking for exercise at dawn he plays with caddies. He has won many golf tournaments and might easily be in the top flight of U.S. amateurs if his energies were less dispersed. Crosby is adept at all athletics. During the New York World's Fair he astonished a friend and won a $100 bet by executing a perfect swan dive from the 50-foot board at the Aquacade. His only notable indulgence is in food. Curiously he seldom eats an evening meal, and when he attends a dinner party he sits politely looking on. If hosts importune him to eat something he may accept a bowl of corn flakes. Breakfast and lunch, however, are gastronomic pinnacles of Crosby's day. His idea of breakfast encompasses orange juice, a stack of pancakes with cream and sugar, a steak smothered in lamb chops and a bowl of oatmeal for dessert.
Crosby generally contrives to spend some time every day with his four sons, whom he calls "The Irishers." They are tough kids but obey implicitly when he raises his voice a half tone. Afternoons he plays baseball with them behind the house. Evenings he likes to tell them odd bedtime stories of his own devising. He will, for example, relate the adventures of Little Red Riding Hood; only in the Crosby version Little Red Riding Hood is a jockey, the wolf is a crooked starter and Grandmother is the racing commissioner. Similarly Goldilocks' Three Bears turn out to be the Notre Dame backfield. Last week the National Father's Day Committee named Crosby No. 1 Screen Father for 1945.
Precisely what the future holds for Crosby neither his family nor his friends can conjecture. He has achieved greater popularity, made more money, attracted vaster audiences than any other entertainer in history. And his star is still in the ascendant. His contract with Decca runs until 1955. His contract with Paramount runs until 1954. Records which he made ten years ago are selling better than ever before. The nation's appetite for Crosby's voice and personality appears insatiable. To soldiers overseas and to foreigners he has become a kind of symbol of America, of the amiable, humorous citizen of a free land. Crosby, however, seldom bothers to contemplate his future. For one thing, he enjoys hearing himself sing, and if ever a day should dawn when the public wearies of him, he will complacently go right on singing - to himself.