Hats Off to Bing

Wendy Mahoney posted 05/07/05 06:16 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Hi all. In yesterdays West Australian colour TV magazine there is an article headed "Style ... Sinatra would be proud. At last the pinstripe pork-pie is back, along with this classic 50s short brim cap..." and so it goes on. There's also a colour photo of 2 hats.

Am I being overly sensitive here or should I be justifiably outraged that it was our boy who wore hats all the time, not Frankie. It makes me so angry that Bing never gets any press here in Perth at all and I think this would have been the ideal opportunity.

Before I email the journalist to complain, I would be grateful if those more learned than I, could give me some ammunition to use. My husband and daughter looked at me in disbelief (they should have known better) at my outrage but I know the true Bingers here will share my disappointment!
Judy Schmid posted 05/07/05 06:33 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Frank, as his musical 'father' Bing before him, was balding - hence the hat...that's all - it may have looked 'cool', but it was...well....practical! ;-)
Sue Horn posted 05/07/05 08:27 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I also recall many many photos of Frank with a hat tilted jauntily on record covers and publicity stills. I think it was a very popular style that had the added bonus of covering receding or long-receded hairlines.
Ronald Sarbo posted 05/07/05 09:54 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Sinatra and Dean Martin as young men wore hats in emulation of Bing.

Sinatra and Dick Haymes also were photographed in the 40's many times smoking a pipe also in emulation of Bing.

I know someone today who walks around NYC wearing a hat and smoking a pipe like Bing.

He is very strange to say the least.
Carmela posted 05/07/05 10:51 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
In the 30's and 40's most men wore hats. I wish that style would come back. Bing and Frank looked kinda cute under one. Don't you think so ladies? Say Ron, I remember seeing you with a hat on your head at Sardi's. And your right about Howard's Cd. I have a Cd of him singing holy songs. It is also Excellent!
Steve Carras posted 05/08/05 12:14 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Bing and Sinatra assside, here are ZOTHER guys who wore hats

Jimmy DUrante
Ted Lewis
Kay Kyser (the "Ol Puh-fessor's" mortarboard)
Spike Jones
Cab Calloway
Maurice Chevalier

Then there were ladies who did, noitably
Kyser songbird Ginny Simms.

Seemingly EVERY beatnik and cool jazz and bopper, except Dave Brubeck, apparently.
Jon O. posted 05/08/05 12:23 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Men in the Western hemisphere wouldn't have left the house without head cover of some sort for most of the 20th Century and before. Look at old photographs of ballgames, or street scenes, small-town or urban, from the early 1900s well into the 1960s--virtually all men wore hats. (If you want to go back further, think Abe Lincoln. Or Napoleon). It seems to have begun to die out with the teen-aged generation of males of the 1950s, who didn't want to mess up their ducktails. And after the Beatles' mop tops hit the streets and schoolyards in the mid-60s no guy under thirty would be seen wearing a hat for years. At least until the short-lived Gatsby craze of the early '70s.

That said, Bing was probably the first celebrity to make hats, a functional and traditional part of life, seem "cool", simply because he wore them everywhere (in movies, in publicity photos, indoors...); even though it was at least in part because he hated wearing the toupee. No doubt haberdashers around the world--not to mention the Stetson company--thanked their lucky stars for Bing Crosby every day throughout the 1930s, '40s, and into the '50s.
Ronald Sarbo posted 05/08/05 08:07 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Nat King Cole also wore a hat on many of his record covers.

Bobby Darin also wore a hat many times in lieu of a toupee.

On his LP "Love Swings" Darin sports a "Captain's" hat and pipe in emulation of Bing.

Perhaps as singers they were all afraid of catching a head cold.

Al Jolson also wore a hat and anyone who even sneezed in his presence was given some money by Jolie and told to see a doctor before they put him "out of business".

"Frank Sinatra Has A Cold" is a famous piece on the singer.

As to "competition" all artists compete in the marketplace for the attention of record companies and as well as consumers.

Whatever Sinatra's "image" young people do not view him as a phoney.

What has hurt Bing the most is the perception, since his passing, that at worst his career was one built on deceit and that his public image was a fraud.

Young people do not understand that Bing was well aware of the dangers of mass adulation and the inherent traps therein.

He advised Sinatra and others who followed him.

Of course as Bing said in an interview Sinatra was of a "different temperment" and then added that "Sinatra suffered every possible career reversal and then came back to be the biggest thing in the business".
Steven Lewis posted 05/08/05 12:51 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
"Bios that do not focus on their contributions to our culture serve no useful purpose."

I don't think Ron will be working for any major publishing house soon. What's worse, he seems to want to limit what the rest of us can read. Perhaps he wished to say that he has no interest in such biographies, but obviously many people do. Biographies that are more than publicity releases serve to provide perspective about a person that the public may not be aware of. They can be a reality check for a fawning public who treats their entertainers as some kind of demigods. I trust that the few youngsters who read Gary Giddins' bio of Bing or who visit this site will come to appreciate the role Bing played in the culture of the mid-20th century. Bing did not seem reticent about exposing some of his dirty laundry in his own biography (he describes whipping his boys) or in his authorized biography (where Bing is described as cold and aloof). Bing also was not reticient about deceiving the public, hence the toupee and hat and the 1904 birthdate. The fact is that people who make their living off their fame will be food for biographers who make their living off the famous. Any biographer who is content merely reiterating a list of hit movies or records for the upteenth time is not likely to live well. All we can hope is that they understand their subject and evaluate in context instead of using exaggerations and anachronisms to market their book.
Ronald Sarbo posted 05/08/05 02:45 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I do not advocate censorship. We are all free to read what we will.

It is up to each "fan" to decide what books are valuable to them: Books that document Bing's career or books that focus on his private life.

I also hope that Mr. Giddins will place Bing's parenting skills in historical context and not judge them by the prevailing attitudes of our own time.

I also hope Mr. Giddins will be given access to Bing's own archives and records as such info is absolutely necessary.

I do not place as much faith in declassified FBI files as others as they can be read in a variety of ways and were used to smear Errol Flynn as a Nazi spy which has since been proven false.

Likewise any bio of Sinatra that was written without access to his archives must also rely on hearsay and rumor for the most part.

I would not call Bing's use of a toupee and making himself a year younger attempts to "deceive" his public but it must be noted that early on he refused to have his ears glued back.
howard crosby posted 05/09/05 08:44 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
When Gonzaga hosted the 100th anniversary celebration in May of 03, they asked me to put together a show of Bing's music for the dinner audience of some 700 people. I got some of the best Jazz musicians in the Northwest, and they did all the work, recreating the charts for these songs (like It Must Be True), and since we had done all that work, we decided to put fifteen of them on an album. It was great fun, a labor of love. We tried to be faithful to the original arrangements as much as possible. I did not try to "imitate" Bing, as that is impossible.

It has inspired some people to seek out the original Bing versions of these songs. In my opinion, Bing's 1931 version of "I Apologize" is one of the most beautiful pop songs ever made.
Kevin Roberts posted 05/16/05 07:06 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Why did men (and women!) gradually stop wearing hats after 1950 or so? Maybe the hat served some function. Perhaps as America moved to the convention of a daily shower (and hair wash) in these years, the need for hats disappeared. I have a huge collection of pictures of people from around the world circa 1890-1910. The hat was almost universal, except in southern Italy (though it was common there too).

The hat is still very common, just not as cool. One-size- fits-all baseball caps turned backwards so the plastic strap digs into your forehead? That's ridiculous!!
bob sampson posted 05/16/05 07:25 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
One explanation I've heard, though I doubt it was as all-inclusive as ome might believe, was that John F. Kennedy "killed" hats by rarely wearing one in public as opposed to Ike's familiar homburg. Hats do seem to decline beginning in the early 60s. Of course, as an earllier poster noted there is the generational thing. As a historian, I'm constantly amazed at the number of pictures from the 19th Century through the mid-20th Century in which nearly every man is wearing a hat. This includes workmen on job sites, some of whom are sporting fedora-style hats.
Steve C. posted 05/19/05 12:09 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Wendy, you should be VERY justifiably outraged..Bing was weariung hats back in the thirties back before Sinatra had even stepped into Columbia Records in New York to record with Harry james, before the Hoboken Four on Major Bowes.(The American idol of the time, so many Frank should eb the AI since he was the only one to com e out famous from MB)

(Also, I agree with Candace Scott on Bing being literally and humiliatingly buried regards the "when Bing Crosby died.." topic..I was sad..and Bing has been unfairly buried by the media--much more so than Sinatra, who was THE anti-Media guy..makes one wonder who has REAL cause to attack the media among these two dead titans?)

Bing was good at sporting hats in the thirties, as well as his pipe and coat.

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