Bing's father and mother both loved music and loved to sing. His mother sent Bing to formal singing lessons, but Bing was turned off by the rigors of the training and soon dropped out. Bing's tastes tended toward popular song, and his idol was Al Jolson. Bing met his idol when he worked as a prop boy when Jolson came to Spokane to sing in productions of the Broadway shows Robinson Crusoe, Bombo and Sinbad. Twenty-five years later, after Jolson's high-volume style of singing had been eclipsed by Crosby's, Bing helped resurrect Jolson's career by signing him to guest on his network radio show. The combo was so successful that talk of signing Jolson as a regular on Bing's show ensued. Instead, Jolson was offered Bing's old job as host of the Kraft Music Hall, which lasted 2 years. All together, Bing and Jolie appeared on each other's radio shows a dozen times from 1947-50. Jolson died of a heart attack Oct. 23, 1950, in San Francisco, where he was preparing to tape another Crosby broadcast the next day.
How did Bing get into the music business?
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