Bing's accent?

Candace Scott posted 11/11/04 11:44 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I had an interesting experience yesterday. I was waiting for an appointment and the fellow next to me was from Liverpool (I live outside L.A.) We started chatting about the Beatles and how I loved their accents. He said, "Well, as a Brit, I've always loved Bing Crosby's accent."

I told him I was a huge Bing fan and asked him to elaborate. He said that he and his family had always thought that Bing's American accent, along with Gregory Peck's, was the most beautiful of any American star. He said he disliked the accents of both Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn, saying their accents were inferior and not interesting.

I tend to think that this is because both Bing and Peck had such beautiful speaking voice. It's sort of like Americans loving James Mason's voice; not because of his British accent necessarily, but because his voice was so wonderful.

I was wondering if the British posters here could discuss Bing's voice and his accent. Does his speaking voice sound different than others, or better?
Kevin Doherty posted 11/12/04 08:46 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
It has been said that Bing had already developed a great oratory style when he was in college and law school at Gonzaga. His speaking style really came into its own by the mid 30s when his hoarseness disappeared and he began speaking more on radio--KMH.

But don't forget there were two Bing speaking styles--there was the "straight" style Candace refers to, and his "casual" style, with southern/jazz influence, which he used to great effect in developing the Bing Crosby persona. Dean Martin affected this style in a more exaggerated manner, both in singing and speaking. No doubt, he picked this up from his idol.
Tom Degan posted 11/12/04 09:33 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Could this hoarseness have been the result of heavy drinking? Any answers?
Tom Degan
howard crosby posted 11/12/04 10:24 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I think it is pretty well known that Bing's hoarse voice problem in the early 30's was due to overuse. He was doing two or three live shows a night, every night, plus live radio. Once he rested for awhile, it got better. He never pushed it that hard after that, and the problem never recurred.

Not to say we all haven't secured some scars from the excesses of our youth....
Candace Scott posted 11/12/04 07:25 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I was watching "Going Hollywood" for the first time in many years and was struck how hoarse Bing sounded throughout the whole movie. I rather like that quality, even in his singing, but I prefer him non-hoarse.

I imagine if I were British, I would also dislike voices with thick New York accents, like Tony Curtis or Barbara Streisand. (Apologies to any NY-ers here!) Sinatra's speaking voice also grates a little on the nerves.

It's funny, but "low class" British accents are usually very appealing to Americans: a Cockney like Michael Caine is much more fun to listen to than Olivier or Gielgud.

Crissi posted 11/14/04 03:48 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Well, shut my mouth! I happen to have a fabulous southern accent and am very proud of my culture and heritage. Sho' Nuff! I have also earned a bachelor's degree and wear honest to goodness shoes...almost...everyday, if you can believe that.

Seriously, though, Bing was prone to slip into a southern drawl on occasion, so the man most have had some respect for it. To me, Bing has no accent...he adapted to whatever place of the world he was in. Although, I sent a tape of Bing singing in Frence to my pen-pal from France. She said he had a very strange accent. Go Figure.

Bye Y'all!
Jon O. posted 11/14/04 05:47 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
According to Rosemary Clooney, for one, Bing was something of a Dixiephile.

Of course, as we all know deep down inside, those of sturdy Midwestern stock, the custodians of our vast, rich Heartland, the soul and conscience of this great nation . . . speak prototypical American English--it's everyone else who has accents.
Brian R. Johnson posted 11/15/04 11:12 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
It's interesting that someone could enjoy a British accent and detest an American Southern one, as the "twang" is an amalgamation of accents of the non-English languages of the British Isles such as Gaelic, Scots and Welsh. If you listen to the old Southern jigs and reels you can hear the influence of that region.
Sue Horn posted 11/15/04 01:31 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I always think people's stereotypes about accents are funny. I love all varieties of this strange language we call English, it shows how vibrant and alive it really is. The same can be said of Spanish, because of the geographic extension of the many countries where it is spoken. You really can't keep language from changing. Every language with different dialects has its "hoity-toity" accents as well as its "down-to-earth" ones.

Last night I saw a bunch of American actors trying to do British accents, of many varieties, in the Broadway in Atlanta version of "Oliver". What can I say except that imitation is supposed to be the highest form of flattery. Kind of like when I saw a bunch of Colombian's trying 'real hard' to speak in Castillian Spanish at "Noches de Espaņa"--a Spanish dinner theater in Bogota. Doesn't quite convince you of the authenticity, though they get an "A" for effort.

And if anyone cares, Bing's accent in Spanish wasn't the best. But hey, just trying to speak another language is admirable in my book. This linguist will stop babbling now.

Carmela posted 11/15/04 04:37 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
Brian, I guess your message is for me. I already know what your telling me. Why should it bother people If I favor British accents. To each his own. I even said I don't like my own accent. I love that there are so many different accents but I'm sure everyone has a favorite. Just like there are many Crooners but we favor Bing.
John W posted 11/16/04 05:01 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Bing's speaking voice has always sounded great to me because of its variety of pitch and its resonance. I am drawn to all accents, wherever they're from, if they combine these qualities. But, as an Englishman, I find all American accents (including the NY accent) as interesting as Carmela finds the British ones. However, to my ear, Bing's voice, unlike Frank Sinatra's, seemed not to have any strong regional influence. Like his singing, he kind of 'pioneered'it in his own distinctive way. I thought his speaking voice in the documentary 'Bing's Britain' was excellent.
Ronald Sarbo posted 11/16/04 06:17 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Bing in school was on the debating team and took elocution lessons. Since he also studied law at Gonzaga he also would had to practice public speaking if he expected to be a "trial" lawyer. He loved words all his life.
howard crosby posted 11/17/04 08:41 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
When Uncle Bing and Dad were at Gonzaga, the ratio of students to professors was almost one to one. They were drilled by the Jesuits not only in debate and elocution, but philosophy, Greek and Latin. Dad and Bing would have had a minimum of eight years of classical Latin between Gonzaga High and the University.

My Dad, Bing's older brother Ted, graduated in 1922 with a bachelor's in Philosophy and a Master's in English. He knew the dictionary definition and the usage of every single word in the English language, as far as I could tell. I used to look up obscure words in the Oxford Unabridged Dictionary to try and stump him....never succeeded.

Uncle Bing, having nearly finished the pre-Law course before dropping out, would not have been far behind. You could tell,because he always liked to pepper his interviews on TV with a couple of unusual words, just for the amusement of the interviewer....but he always used them correctly and in context.
Candace Scott posted 11/21/04 02:28 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I didn't mean any offense when I slammed Southern accents or NY accents. Apologies if I offended anyone.

Would the Americans here agree that Bing had no regional accent whatsoever? To me, he spoke pure English, such as people reading the news on the national evening broadcasts. I realize people from Washington state have no particular regional accent, but Bing, to me, had absolutely no accent whatsoever. He spoke excellent, un-accented English, except when putting on his Southern drawl, or imitating African-American slang, like when he sang "Abraham." (!)

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