Globe 1-11-2000

Posted by Steven Lewis on January 09, 2000 at 16:52:32:

While I was waiting in line at the supermarket I picked up the 11 January issue of the GLOBE to find out who murdered Sonny Bono. To my surprise on page two was a color photo of Bing holding a golf club. The accompanying half-page article was titled FBI FILE LINKS BING CROSBY TO THE MOB.

I thought, "Here we go again." But as I read through the article it proved to be the least misleading of all the tabloid treatments that I have read. Essentially all the article said was that Bing occasionally golfed or hunted with reputed mobsters. The GLOBE then says that Hollywood was rife with 'mobsters' during Bing's heyday, so that associating with them on occasion would almost be inevitable, if not prudent.

If the Globe, or the many other tabloids who reported the story, would have bothered to check Bing's authorized biographies they would have found even juicier accounts of some of these encounters from the Old Groaner himself.

For example, in his authorized biography written by Charles Thompson Bing recounts his first experience in a speakeasy (illegal bar) while a vocalist with the Paul Whiteman orchestra in Chicago. He became drunk and passed out and awakened in the hotel room of Al Capone's body guard, "Machine Gun" Jack McGurn (page 24-25).

A few years later, according to Bing, he was back in Chicago where he was sent a case of champaign from this same Jack McGurn, along with a note in which Bing was invited to play golf with McGurn. Thompson quotes Bing as saying: "I thought about it for a long time because I didn't want to get involved. But in those days you couldn't get into a country club as an actor unless you knew somebody and as he [McGurn] was big in Chicago I thought he'd probably have access to a pretty good golf course."

Bing phoned McGurn and arranged for a golf date. McGurn picked up Bing in a big limo and they rode to a distant golf course. Bing recalls that McGurn "looked like a university football player and was good-looking man... We played golf and he got me back in time for the first matinee show." Bing remembered McGurn as a very good golfer who once played under an assumed name inthe United States Open Championship.

Bing reported that McGurn continued to call him for golf or dinner. Bing told Thompson: "He wanted me to go to dinner with him and I went once." But Bing grew increasingly uneasy about his association with McGurn. "I got worried about it. I thought I'd get caught in the crossfire and didn't call McGurn any more." (p59-60)

The GLOBE article also says that Bing was busted with Bob Hope for illegal gambling at a racetrack in 1947. It quotes Hope as saying: "Bing told me that one of his racehorses was a sure winner."

The fact that Bing gambled at the racetrack is discussed at length in his autobiography. Bing writes: "I bet, of course, but I've backed my own horses and wagered just enough on them to make it interesting. But I never let myself get into the habit of 'doubling up to get even.' That's the route to insolvency. To me, a race track is for people who can afford to go there once in a while for an enjoyable afternoon ... and who are reconciled to losing the kind of money they won't miss. But anybody who goes to the races thinking he'll make money is kidding himself.... You can beat a race, but you can't beat the races." (page 159)

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