Kitty Carlisle remembers Bing

Fred Sevekow posted 01/18/06 10:43 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Kitty Carlisle is currently doing a "one woman"show, recalling and commenting upon many of the show business greats she knew or worked with over the past 70 years, including Bing.

Well, she apparently just decided to include Palm Springs, California on her tour, appearing here this weekend. She was interviewed for an article appearing today in our local "Desert Sun" newpaper, and had this to say about Bing:

Q: You starred with Bing Crosby in "She Loves me Not"
A: Yes. I did two shows with Bing. And he never talked to me.
Q: Why Not?
A(Laughing) I think he just just didn't want to talk to me. The only time he did talk to me was when he showed me a nice, rather modest, diamond necklace, and asked me: "Do you think my wife would like this?" I said: "I'm sure she will love it.!" And that was the end of it. But he must have liked me because he had to have OK'd me for his films. He had control (over) who starred with him.


Coming from a performer who appeared with the likes of Allan Jones, and knew most of the greats during the 30s and 40s, this praise for Bing's voice (often overlooked) warms the heart of this unabashed Crosby fan!
Candace Scott posted 01/18/06 02:26 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Kitty has frequently said similar things in the past. There was a brief article in American Heritage magazine last year which said essentially the same thing.

As for praising Bing's voice, to me this is a no brainer. Obviously he had the best voice of that era, or any other era, for that matter. :) Kitty is merely stating the obvious. She used to say this when she was a panelist on "To Tell the Truth" in the 60's.
Dieter Beier posted 01/18/06 03:47 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Kitty is not the only person,who told these stories that Bing have talked less or nothing to them privately while working with him.This way was certainly irritating or even frustrating to a lot of artists.Many actors are feeling well,when they can communicate with their colleagues while working many weeks or monthes together with them and go perhaps after shooting end to a restaurant eating and vine drinking.So they can tell how well the climate was on set.There are also reports from Robin And His Seven Hood,that Frank forbidden the children "to talk directly to Mr Crosby,because Mr. Crosby donīt like this".One of the frustrated boys told this later on a Talk Show. Even David Bowie reported that his dummies are more communicative than Bing was.Ingrid Bergman too wrote,that she could nearly find no contact to Bing and that he was ever together with his clique if he was shooting free. Reasons are certainly Bingīs very privateness and his unlike to make too much small talk.That makes it to many hard to work with in a world where it seems normal how more you talk to someone so more you find someone sympathic. Fortunatly Kitty Carlisle donīt believe in that way and thinks he liked her anyhow,because he worked twice with her.
Ronald Sarbo posted 01/18/06 06:33 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I would say that Bing was a VERY BUSY GUY who had to ration his time and attention so that he did not spread himself too thin.

Coupled with Bing's natural "reserve" this may have led some to assume he did not like them when that may not have been the case.
Dave Foe posted 01/18/06 09:24 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Kitty Carlisle is a great lady. She recently said that, although she is 95, she feels 45. I thought that was funny, because I'm 45, sometimes lately I feel 95!
Don Lamb posted 01/19/06 01:17 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I agree entirely with Ronald Sarbo's opinion that much of what was interpreted as "unfriendliness" or "coldness" on Crosby's part was nothing more than just being exceptionally busy and mentally preoccupied.

Most of the people with whom Bing worked had only the immediate project at hand to worry about and therefore had lots of time on their hands during lulls in production to socialize on the set. Crosby always had many more fish to fry than just the movie he was engaged in making. During his active career he maintained a steady and active recording schedule, which necessitated not only time spent at the recording studio, but also hours spent in preparation listening to demo records of the songs he was to sing in these sessions and on his radio shows. He had a weekly radio show to prepare for, which meant taking the time to go over proposed scripts and making suggestions for changes and modifications. He had to confer with gag writers about jokes and musicians about arrangements. He had to rehearse these shows with his guests and then actually perform them. In addition to his own shows, he was always appearing as a guest performer on other shows. He gave copious amounts of time appearing in benefit performances of all kinds. In addition to these duties, he also had business and corporate interests to attend to. He had to attend board meetings and to field questions and make business decisions on a daily basis. During the War, he was also kept busy entertaing at bond rallies and military bases. On top of all this, he had to set aside some time for recreation to preserve his sanity, and to spend time with his family. In short, Bing Crosby maintained a schedule which would have felled a bull elephant. It's hardly any wonder that he made use of any spare time taking care of business, instead of spending it schmoozing around with other people as they might have wished.
Dave Duncan posted 01/19/06 01:44 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Don - what an excellent summary on the routine of Bing's working and private life. He was indeed a busy man and makes my normal job and life seem a breeze. You could also add that he made a point to reply to all his fan mail personally - even if dictated to a secretary to type up - this alone would have been a full time job at the peak of his popularity.
Judy Schmid posted 01/19/06 07:33 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
When I first read Malcolm Macfarlane's "Crosby Day by Day" I was floored - I knew he was a busy guy, but when you see it spelled out, it was amazing - it's a wonder the guy had time to sleep with his tremendous schedule. (You'll find much of the book here on Steven's website) - I made sure I purchased a copy of this book for our Central Library system in the county so it can circulate - it's an important work, helping describe Bing's varied interests and his time commitments..
Ken Barnes posted 01/19/06 01:24 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
Before I met him and worked with him, I'd heard stories about Bing's "aloofness" and "coldness," and some people warned me that he wouldn't be like his easy-going image. Throughout the time I worked with him - six albums, two TV shows and two radio shows - he was as personable as he was professional. Not just a great performer but very much a team player. All the musicians and the backing singers enjoyed his company - as we all did.

So where did this so called "coldness" come from. Well, itt could be that he wasn't so busy in the 1970s as he had been in the '30s and '40s or maybe he had mellowed with age. Be that as it may, I can only tell you that the Bing Crosby I knew was a most engaging fellow with a fund of jokes ( some of them on the "blue" side ) with which he frequently entertained us. He was a joy to work with and a pleasure to know, which is why I put together some snippets of his studio chatter in "The Complete United Artists Sessions."
This, more than any words I can say or write, shows what the REAL Bing Crosby was like.
Judy Schmid posted 01/19/06 02:10 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Ken - thanks for your insight, welcome as ALWAYS to educate folks here who might be visiting for the first time! ;-)
Dieter Beier posted 01/19/06 03:39 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Malcolm Macfarlaneīs book Day By Day is even a fragment, that Malcolm is increasing on his databank continously.Itīs certainly astounding to read how many activities-for business and private-Bing could handle.As I have had some questions to Malcolm about some details,he helped me immediate sending me some pages of facts,that arenīt mentioned in his voluminous book.But there will certainly other unsolved questions,that can be dated (until yet!) exactly.Ken Barnes book and his various liner notes to LPīs and CDīs and postings on this board I have read ever with great interest and enthusiasm.Kenīs reports are very heart-warming and very informative too.They give some of the finest parts to that puzzle of Bingīs personality,on which are so many different were told and written-even from Bingīs "friends".Many was discussed also about Bing and friends and friendship-not only by infamious Shephard/Slatzer.Some believed BIngīs last real friendship was with Eddie Lang.Ronald spokes from Bingīs natural "reserve".Reserved people are often been misunderstood and misunderpreted.
Joe Hawks posted 01/19/06 09:53 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
While some of his co-stars wanted to befriend Bing with a lot of "chitter chatter", he was visualising his performance in the next scene. How did he become a great actor? Taking care of business! He just didn't have time to shmooz.
David Robbins posted 01/20/06 11:48 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Howard, you haven't weighed in on this yet. Was your Uncle taciturn and aloof on the golf course or did he like all the rest of us, have moods? It must have been draining to be on stage for fifty years. If I recall, Kitty Carlisle always played the aloof one in her early films. Maybe Bing thought she didn't want to talk to him. He hit it off with Carole Lombard around the same time but most people did. A lot of people thought my dad was aloof but he was really just kind of shy. He didn't really trust people who wanted to be pals right off the bat and dad didn't have a single hit record. Ken, your perceptive remarks remind me of why I've read and re-read your book so many times. My copy is badly worn and dog eared.
Ronald Sarbo posted 01/20/06 12:16 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Ken: Due to your efforts Bing was very active again in the 1970's.

If only Bing had lived longer and was able to continue his fruitful and successful collaboration with you.

While your book "The Crosby Years" is, of course, excellent I also wish there had been time for Bing to collaborate with you on a book about his ART and ARTISTRY. I'm sure you would have been able to get Bing to "open up" despite his legendary modesty.
Dieter Beier posted 01/20/06 01:34 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Ronald, there were rumours that Bing was writing his second autobiography in his year of death after Call Me Lucky (with Pete Martin together).Do you know something about and how much he have written?Do the unpublished and unfinished manuscript exist by his wife Kathryn?Also Kathryn quotes sometimes from Bingīs diaries in her books. Should they ever been published? Have Bing made any orders about or against that?There are many diaries published from authors and other prominent persons-sometimes also against their last will. But this is a thing of respect to a person and his will.But sometimes were saved valuables because of nonrespect (but not ever).
Ken Barnes posted 01/20/06 04:23 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given

Thanks, Ron, for your thoughts. I think it would have been difficult to get Bing to talk about his "art," but not to talk about other people's talents. He did tell me that he was thinking about writing a book, not so much about himself but about all the people and interesting characters he had met and worked with throughout his life. I said "You mean rather like David Niven's 'The Moon's a Baloon'?" He nodded and said "Yes, something along those lines. I think that's more fun than writing an autobiography and certainly less of a burden on the reader."

It's too bad he didn't have the time to do it. I think it would have been a best seller.
howard crosby posted 01/23/06 06:19 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
OK, I'll weigh in. First, Bing would never have stood still for a discussion of his "art and artistry." He would have thought the whole subject completely laughable.

As for the legendary "coldness", I saw it occasionally, but only around people he thought were "phonies." He was great fun on the golf course, I'm sure he was great fun with Ken in the studios, after all, he loved musicians. But if confronted by some artificial hollywood type or Ivy League snob, he could turn to ICE. He just had no time for people like that.

If you wanted to make sure he would have nothing to do with you, all you had to do was tell him how GREAT or FANTASTIC you thought he was. He HATED people fawning over him, and in fact he pretty much hated all compliments, unless they were sort of backhanded. Something like, if he chipped in from off the green, you might say something like: "not bad, but if it hadn't hit the stick dead center, it woulda been six feet by!"

Hence the conflicting reports about his demeanor.

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