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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

An Intimate Portrait of Bing Crosby

Aired December 25, 2003 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BING CROSBY, ENTERTAINER (singing): I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...

LARRY KING, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, Bing Crosby, a singer so great, even Sinatra called him "the father of my career and the idol of my youth."

Now, intimate memories of the man behind the legend with his family and friends: Bing's widow, Kathryn Crosby, his wife for over 20 years; Andy Williams, who sang with Bing many times after they first met in 1944; Bing's daughter, actress Mary Crosby; his son, Nathaniel Crosby and actress Celeste Holm, Bing's co-star in "High Society."

All next on LARRY KING LIVE.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Good evening and welcome to a very special edition of LARRY KING LIVE, in which we look at the life and times of one of the great entertainers in the history of this country or the world.

Bing Crosby, no one was bigger than Bing Crosby. One of the 20th Century first multimedia entertainers: radio, movies, television, Academy Award.

He landed more records on the charts than anyone in history. He had 38 number one hits. More than Elvis, more than the Beatles.

His first recording in October of 1928. And he died as he lived on the golf course in Spain on October 14, 1977.

With us to discuss the life and times of dear Bingo, is Kathryn Crosby, his widow and author of a terrific new book, "My Last Years with Bing." Not only well-written but a beautiful array of pictures.

Also in Los Angeles is Bing's daughter, the actress Mary Crosby. In Houston, Texas, is Bing's son, Nathaniel Crosby. In Branson, Missouri, is Andy Williams, one of my favorite folk, the acclaimed entertainer who sang with Bing often and hosted Bing on his own TV show.

And in New York is Celeste Holm, another Academy Award winning actress. She costarred with Bing and Frank Sinatra and Grace Kelly in a 1956 Cole Porter musical, "High Society."

Kathryn, where were you when Bing died?

KATHRYN CROSBY, BING CROSBY'S WIDOW: I was in San Francisco.

KING: You had a home there, right?

K. CROSBY: Yes. We still have the home in Hillsborough, right by the airport. And I was there. I'd gone on just a couple of days ahead of him.

KING: You'd both been in Europe, right?

K. CROSBY: We'd both in London doing the Christmas show. Doing our show at the Palladium and touring throughout England. And then I went...

KING: Doing the show. You would sing? Bing would sing, right?

K. CROSBY: Yes.

KING: Bing and Friends, I think it was called.

K. CROSBY: Bing Crosby and friends. Rosemary Clooney was on the show with us. Harry was there.

KING: Was he in good health?

K. CROSBY: He was in perfect health. We had checked him for high blood pressure once during the last couple of weeks, and the doctor said he didn't know how to put the cuff. And so we got several very fine recordings, readings.

KING: You went home?

K. CROSBY: I went home. Waiting for him. And he went to go to Spain to go shooting. For some birds on the upland game shooting.

KING: And to golf?

K. CROSBY: And to golf.

KING: And he died at the end of a great round of golf?

K. CROSBY: Played 18 holes. He and his partner won $10. And they started for the clubhouse. And the partner said, "Are you tired?"

And he said, "No. It's not -- let's have a Coke." And he died.

KING: Just like that?

K. CROSBY: Just like that.

KING: Probably the best way to go?

K. CROSBY: Oh, yes. I think so.

KING: Who called you?

K. CROSBY: I think the ambassador did. I'm a little hazy on all of those things.

KING: That was some day. Of course, the press flocking to the house and...

K. CROSBY: They were so nice. The police came and said, "You either have to get a lot more police here to keep them out or you have to do something."

And I said, "Well, like in West Columbia (ph), Texas, let's have them in for coffee." So we all met on the terrace and talked and Nathaniel was with me at that time.

KING: Mary, where were you?

MARY CROSBY, BING CROSBY'S DAUGHTER: I was in rehearsal at ACT (in San Francisco.

KING: For a play?

M. CROSBY: Yes. It was "Julius Caesar," and I was one of the rabble. And Bill Ball came out and told me that Dad had died.

KING: Shocked? Not shocked?

M. CROSBY: You know, he was so vital and so young, even though we knew that he was older, yes, it was a surprise.

KING: Because he always looked young.

M. CROSBY: He was...

KING: Bing was forever.

M. CROSBY: He was forever and he is forever.

KING: Where were you, Nathaniel?

NATHANIEL CROSBY, BING CROSBY'S SON: I was in a high school classroom, which is a little bit of a fluke for me. But...

KING: It was Novelty Day.

N. CROSBY: ... I was pulled out of my class, and I kind of had a feeling when I was pulled out of class what it was all about.

KING: Really?

N. CROSBY: Yes. And I basically asked the principal, a man named Manjini (ph). I can't even remember his first name. But he basically said, "Do you know why you're here?"

And I said, "Is he hurt or has he died?" And he, you know, he told me that he died. So I think I was aware that my Dad's age was 73 and that it might happen, and I'd always kind of prepared myself that I might have that day. And, I knew -- I knew it before I was told.

KING: In 1977, 73 might have been older. Now it's young.

K. CROSBY: That's right.

KING: If somebody dies at 73, it's a young man now.

Andy Williams, do you remember where you were? Do you remember how you heard?

ANDY WILLIAMS, SINGER: I was on the golf course. And my brother Don told me about it. I was with him.

KING: Shocked?

WILLIAMS: Yes. Yes. Of course. You know, I idolized him. I met him early in his -- in my career. I was about 14, 15 years old, and we had just moved from Cincinnati to Los Angeles. And the first job we got is making a record with Bing Crosby called "Swinging on a Star."

KING: Would you like to swing on a star, carry moon beams home in a jar?

WILLIAMS: Home in a jar. It was a great song and, you know, he had done it in a movie, I think, "Going My Way."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

B. CROSBY (singing): Would you like to swing on a star, carry moon beams home in a jar?...

WILLIAMS: And he had done with a boy's choir. And I don't know where they were from. Maybe Notre Dame or some place.

Anyway, I don't know who it was that called us. May have been John Scott Trotter. And it was decided that we, the Williams brothers, would sing this record with him and replace this boy's choir. So we did.

And I think we made $25 a piece and it was -- it was just...

KING: Yes, but what a thrill?

WILLIAMS: The best time of my life. I mean, to meet and to sing with Bing Crosby, on the same day and to go into a studio at Decca and make a record the way they used to make records, which is, you know, everybody did it at the same time.

KING: At once.

WILLIAMS: Orchestra was there. If there was a choir, my brothers and me and Bing all singing on one mike. Doing it. And if we had to do another take, I don't remember whether Bing did several or he was like Sinatra trying to do just as few as he could. But it was the greatest thing, you know.

KING: Celeste Holm, do you know where you were?

CELESTE HOLM, ACTRESS: I don't remember. Isn't that funny?

KING: Yes. That's understandable. I don't remember.

K. CROSBY: But I bet you remember doing "High Society" with him?

HOLM: Yes.

K. CROSBY: That was the most fun.

KING: What was it like to work with him?

HOLM: Delicious. Very cozy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

B. CROSBY: Liz, you're in love with Connor, aren't you?

HOLM: People ask the darnedest questions.

B. CROSBY: Why don't you marry him?

HOLM: I didn't hear you. I'm going to bed. Thank you, Mr. C.K. Dexter-Haven.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLM: I thought I knew him, you know. I mean, it's work. And so it was sort of a continuation of a friendship that I had already started.

KING: Was he as relaxed, Celeste, to work with as he was for the audience in looking at him?

HOLM: Oh, boy. Just lovely.

KING: He let it roll off, right?

HOLM: Just let it roll off and of course it meant that when you worked with him, you felt the same way. I mean, because he was so comfortable, you were comfortable, too.

KING: He put everyone at ease?

HOLM: Absolutely.

KING: "My Last Years with Bing" is the book by Kathryn Crosby. It's a terrific read and great pictures.

And as Bob Hope said, he never took a singing lesson, never took an acting lesson. Did OK.

K. CROSBY: Did all right.

KING: We'll be back with more about the life and times of one of the great entertainers, Bing Crosby. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

B. CROSBY (singing): I'm dreaming of a white Christmas just like the ones I used to know, where the trees tops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

B. CROSBY: Ready? Here's your note now.

(singing) Silent night, holy night, all is well, all is bright.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: His name at birth was Harry Lillis Crosby. How did he get to Bing.

K. CROSBY: Bing came from two things, they say. One was a comic strip, "The Bingville Bugle." And the other, of course, is Bing-Bing- Bing. When you shoot things with your pens and -- but it shortened to Bing.

KING: Was he the first crooner?

K. CROSBY: They say he was.

KING (singing): Ba-ba-la-boo.

K. CROSBY: Any one of his millions of fans would tell you that better than I could.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

B. CROSBY (singing): The sweet used to be that was once you and me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: How did you meet him?

K. CROSBY: I met him at Paramount. I was just your -- the newest starlet on the lot.

KING: And he had raised a family that was all grown up, right?

K. CROSBY: Yes. And Dixie was gone. KING: She died?

K. CROSBY: She had died. And I was new on the lot, and he had come back from Paris, doing "Little Boy Lost." And he was just your ordinary, run of the mill superstar.

KING: How many children did you have together?

K. CROSBY: We had three.

KING: Mary, Nathaniel and...

K. CROSBY: Mary, Nathaniel and Harry. He was the first child. He works in New York.

KING: And so Bing had two lives?

K. CROSBY: Two lives, two sets of children.

KING: What kind of father was he, Mary?

M. CROSBY: Well, I was the only girl out of six boys, so he had no idea what to do with a girl. So he taught me how to hunt and fish and play baseball and football, and it was great. I loved it. And he was a good Dad.

KING: He used to make jokes that he would never have a girl, right? Cause he was...

M. CROSBY: I'm not sure he did. He just raised me like a boy.

KING: You were a tomboy, then?

M. CROSBY: I still am.

KING: Really?

Nathaniel, what was he like from your standpoint as a dad?

N. CROSBY: He was a terrific dad. He's the kind of dad that I'm trying to be for my children. He gave each of us a lot of one attention.

With me, it was the golf and the sports. We'd go to the 49er games just the two of us every home game in Candlestick Park, and he'd get me -- he made my childhood so special.

He got me in full uniform on the Pittsburgh Pirate bench when they played the Giants at Candlestick. And we must have gone to about 10 to 15 games a year. And he'd arrange it so that I'd be sitting next to Danny Murtaugh in full uniform on the Pirate bench.

Took me back to the World Series and just a lot of incredible one-on-one time. And played golf with me and my brother pretty much every weekend and almost every day in the summers. KING: What did you make of the stories, Kathryn, before we get back to Andy and Celeste, written by Gary and others from the first upbringing that he was a bad guy?

K. CROSBY: Oh, that was written only by Gary.

KING: Yes.

K. CROSBY: And the other three refuted it.

Well, Gary called and asked if he had ever been rude to his father, if he had ever done things. He said, "There are years I don't remember." And I could only tell him the truth which was, no, he was never rude to his father.

He was very respectful toward his father, and Bing had always been very nice to him. He gave him so many opportunities on his television shows and all of his specials.

KING: That book was a shocker?

K. CROSBY: To somebody, I guess.

KING: Grabbed all of us, because Bing was a beloved guy.

K. CROSBY: Absolutely.

KING: And this was like a change of the, you know, of the vision we had of him.

K. CROSBY: Well, anyone who knew him did not change their vision.

KING: How did you react, Mary?

M. CROSBY: I can't speak for Gary or what his reality was. I only know what mine was. And it was very different from what that book was all about. So, I can only speak from my experience.

KING: But the father he described in that book was someone foreign to you?

M. CROSBY: Yes, very.

KING: And you, too, Nathaniel?

N. CROSBY: I think the detail of that is the content of the book was a little bit different than the publicity of the book. I think the content of the book was more of a knock on Gary and the -- but the way it was publicized and obviously to sell books was a knock on Dad.

Also, my Dad was brought up in the parochial schools, and what was OK then is not OK now.

KING: Strict Catholic.

Andy, what kind of guy was he like to be around?

WILLIAMS: Well, he was terrific to work with. Not only that first time that I met him, you know, when I was a boy, really.

But later on, when I had a chance to sing with him, work with him, on my television show, he was just terrific. And I couldn't stop but looking at him, you know, in great awe and great respect because he was -- he was the first real crooner.

You had asked earlier about that and Kathy, I think, said you'd have to ask any one of his fans. Well, I'm one of his fan, and he was the -- he was the first crooner. He was, he was the one that got everybody to relax, and I think that he influenced greatly Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra and Perry Como and just about everybody.

All the singers of the day were just, you know, they were given this freedom all of a sudden to add their own personalities to the song rather than just sing it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROSBY (singing): Wherever we go, whatever we do, we're going to go through it together. We may not go far but sure as the star, wherever we are it's together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Tony Bennett said that he was very influenced by Bing. "He made us all a living. He showed us how to communicate as popular singers by relaxing and was blessed by the fact that he loved to sing."

Sinatra said, "He was the father of my career, the idol of my youth and a dear friend of my maturity."

Now Celeste, how good an actor was he? He was a natural, right?

HOLM: Absolutely instinctive. It was absolutely marvelous. I mean, working with him was so easy, because it was absolutely automatic.

KING: He won the Academy Award for "Going My Way," a movie he hesitated about doing because he was not sure he wanted to play a priest, right?

K. CROSBY: Yes. That's what I read. I wasn't around at the time. But never mind.

KING: What was your age difference?

K. CROSBY: Thirty years. And everybody was so worried. They thought, "That's terrible." It wasn't terrible at all. It had nothing to do with anything.

KING: That's true. K. CROSBY: Had nothing to do with anything except I knew that we had to get going with our family. And the children had to be good from the very beginning. They got a lot more spankings than they probably deserved,but I didn't have a time.

KING: But you were a 43-year-old widow?

K. CROSBY: Yes. I was a 43-year-old widow.

KING: We'll be back with more on the life and times of Bing Crosby. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

B. CROSBY (singing): Would you like to swing on a star, carry moon tome beams home in a jar? And be better off than you are or would you rather be a mule? A mule is an animal with long funny ears, kicks up at anything he hears.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His back is brawny and his brain is weak. He's just plain stupid with a stubborn streak.

B. CROSBY (singing): And by the way, if you hate to go to school, you may grow up to be a mule.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

B. CROSBY (singing): Benite adoramus, benite admoramus (ph) (AUDIO GAP) adoramus, dominus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with Kathryn Crosby, Mary Crosby, Nathaniel Crosby, Andy Williams and Celeste Holm.

Your father could -- Nathaniel, could he not sort of disappear in a crowd? I mean, he could go unnoticed?

N. CROSBY: I love to tell the story, because whenever we'd go to ball games, the only people that knew who he was were the four people sitting around us. He'd waltz in and out of the ball games with a Sherlock Holmes hat on and a pair of sunglasses and walk in completely unnoticed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's Harry Lillis Crosby, a fair to middling prospect from Spokane, Washington. But this initial workout is for the camera men only. After this warm up, Bing will go back to being vice president of the club.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Why WWhyWhWhy hasn't his legend carried like Presley's and Sinatra's, do you think?

M. CROSBY: I think a lot had to do with us as a family. In many ways, he was the core of our family. And when he died, we all disintegrated. In a certain -- in a certain respect.

And part of that had to do with not maintaining his image. Not knowing quite how or what, how to protect ourselves, how to keep his name out there. His fans have been unbelievable. The Ernest Zakowskis (ph) and the Georgia O'Reillys (ph) and all of them, but...

KING: Presley, the records stayed in tact, Graceland...

M. CROSBY: But I think...

KING: Sinatra, the daughters are putting on a show at Radio City.

M. CROSBY: But there was a lot of organization...

KING: Yes.

M. CROSBY: ... and work and knowledge behind all of that. And I think we're just now starting to learn about that. So I would say that much of it had to do with us as a family not knowing how to implement how he was properly.

And also, in life, he was a very private man. And I think in death, he remained that way. So it was who he was, as well.

KING: Well said. Andy, what do you think?

WILLIAMS: Well, I think probably because he was such a private guy. And, all of his loved ones around him knew that. I think probably this is the way he would like it.

He is certainly not forgotten. I mean, everybody loves him, and everybody knows him and everybody admired him so much. But I think, you know, they're letting him rest in peace, as they say.

KING: Well put.

WILLIAMS: That's the way I would like it for me, I know.

KING: Celeste, what do you think? Why he doesn't -- you know, when they say, "Let's talk about the legends," you think Presley, you think Sinatra and you don't think of him immediately.

HOLM: I do.

M. CROSBY: Thank you.

K. CROSBY: Bravo, bravo, bravo.

KING: Well said. But generally, as Mary said, they didn't cultivate working on it.

HOLM: No. For me, it didn't need any cultivation.

KING: Kathryn, why do you think?

K. CROSBY: I think things are happening that are so exciting now. This is his centennial. And people like Northern Trust have invited me back for the whole month of March.

KING: Centennial of his birth?

K. CROSBY: Of -- Yes.

M. CROSBY: He would have been alive 100 years.

K. CROSBY: And so I'm doing a whole month of shows, reading from the book, "My Last Years with Bing," singing his songs with them, meeting people that have loved Bing all his life.

KING: But they're all a little up in age right now, right?

K. CROSBY: Well, they don't feel they are.

KING: No, but I mean...

K. CROSBY: I don't feel they are.

KING: The 30-year-old generation doesn't associate.

K. CROSBY: That's what's interesting.

At the places like Hosta (ph) and Gonzaga, where they've had centennial celebrations, there have been a lot of young people that have always loved his music.

They grew up; probably their parents gave them -- well, Trip Hornick's (ph) parents gave him "Holiday Inn" in his nursery. He has it on his computer. He plays it all the time.

KING: Where he sang "White Christmas."

K. CROSBY: Where he sang "White Christmas" for the first time.

There are people that have their favorite movie, their favorite songs. They are sending me prints of movies that I never saw.

KING: Gonzaga was his school?

K. CROSBY: That was his school, yes.

KING: He would have been proud of that basketball team.

K. CROSBY: Yes, indeed.

KING: Get better every year.

Nat -- Nathaniel, let's get your thoughts? Why isn't he...

N. CROSBY: You got about an hour?

KING: Up there.

N. CROSBY: No. I would say clearly, that when my Dad died, cable TV was not around, the 1-800 number, buy your CD direct off the TV. The distribution opportunities were not around. Actually, Dad's products are being seen more today than they were back in '77, when there was just the three network stations.

And I think that we as a family will get organized and start to regenerate it. I don't think you can rely on the music industry to repopularize my father. I think it happens automatically every year at Christmas.

We're just -- We've been so enthralled in our own careers to this point that we haven't really had a dedicated effort but we're about to launch one.

KING: Speaking of Christmas, Andy I know you're associated with Christmas. Used to do your Christmas tours and you have the famous Andy Williams Christmas.

But Bing Crosby's voice was the voice of Christmas, wasn't it?

WILLIAMS: Well, he introduced "White Christmas," which is really the Christmas song of all time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

B. CROSBY (singing): I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: I believe that he started the first Christmas family show. I may be wrong there.

KING: I think you're right.

WILLIAMS: But he was synonymous with Christmas. I think Bing was the -- is the real Mr. Christmas.

KING: And his Christmas album, a jolly -- the Bing Crosby Christmas album, with his -- wearing the Santa hat.

K. CROSBY: Yes.

KING: "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," a great recordings and of course, why, Celeste, "White Christmas" is embellished (sic) in us.

HOLM: Absolutely. Yes. Forever.

KING: We'll take a break and be right back. I'll reintroduce the panel and more on the life and time of the Bingle, as they called him in Germany. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

B. CROSBY (singing): I'm dreaming of a white Christmas just like the ones I used to know. Where the tree tops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

KING: A voice that was America. Great actor, great singer, never took a lesson in either one of those crafts. Bing Crosby started with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, won an Academy Award for "Going my Way." A lot of great radio shows, too. Had a piano player play for him named Nat King Cole.

Our panel is Kathryn Crosby, the widow of Bing, the author of the new book, "My Last Years with Bing." His daughter is the talented actress who shot J.R. I'll never forget that, Mary Crosby. His son is Nathaniel Crosby. He's in Houston, Texas. In Branson, Missouri is the acclaimed Andy Williams. Sang with Bing and hosted Bing on TV's "The Andy Williams Show." And in New York, Celeste Holm, an Academy winning actress herself, and the co-star with Bing and Frank and Grace Kelly in the wonderful movie, "High Society."

Okay. Let's discuss myths and facts. Bing was cold. Catherine?

KATHRYN CROSBY, BING'S WIDOW: Well, the first words I heard from a voice coming behind me were, "Howdy, Tex. What's your hurry?" And I was riveted to the spot.

There was nothing cold about that voice. Not ever. And I never heard him being cold to anybody unless there was danger to his family. A woman stepped on my feet and hit me in very pregnant belly and said, Bing, I've got to have you for my benefit. He said, please, you're hurting my wife. He took my arm and walked me away. That was the only time I saw him being cold.

KING: But for people generally, was he hard to know?

K. CROSBY: No.

KING: Was he - he wasn't like a little removed?

K. CROSBY: No. What he was, was singular. He went hunting with Harry, his son. He went golfing with Nathaniel. He took Mary on a trip to Africa to go on a safari. He loved to listen to those stories.

KING: And he was private and personal?

K. CROSBY: Yes, unless he was on the set. And when he was on the set working, it was such a joy because he treated all kids at age four and five, and six, and seven like they were professionals. And he was very, very caring.

KING: Okay, Mary, how about the perception that he had difficulty expressing emotions or affection?

MARY CROSBY, BING'S DAUGHTER: I think his - I would term his language of love was different. He wasn't the kind of guy that would sit you on his lap and read a story to you. However, he would spend hours with you teaching you how to cast a fly or he'd sing to you. So his language of love was clear. But it wasn't conventional.

KING: I see.

M. CROSBY: And so in that respect, it would be interpreted as perhaps less than comfortable with physicality or something like that.

KING: He was not a hugger?

M. CROSBY: No. But you see, mother is a hugger. Obviously.

KING: I gather that, yes.

M. CROSBY: So she taught us...

KING: Mother hugs the drapes.

M. CROSBY: Mother's a hugger. So she taught us to crawl all over him, which I think was very good for both dad and the rest of us.

KING: Nathaniel, was he tough with emotions?

NATHANIEL CROSBY, BING'S SON: He was, he was actually -- he might not have been a hugger, but he used to grab me by the back of my shoulders and give me a massage that you couldn't get at any -- he used to squeeze my shoulders really hard. And you know, he let you know. He let you know how he cared.

And when he was with you, the dramatic amount of time he spent with you one on one as a kid at five, seven, nine, 10, 13, whatever it was, was -- he was never a chore for him to do it. He wanted to be there. You knew that he wanted to be there. And that's why I feel so good about who he was to me as a father.

KING: Andy, was there to you any distance about him?

ANDY WILLIAMS, SINGER: Well, I didn't know him, you know, really well. The only time that I really spent with him was working time. And he was -- he was very generous with his time. He was great with me.

KING: Was he patient? If you had to do scenes over, was he -- did he ever act like a star?

WILLIAMS: Well, no. Never. Never acted like a star. In fact, sometimes he would be at NBC and he would just drop by to say hello. And he'd have an old cashmere sweater that had a hole in it. He didn't care. He was just...

K. CROSBY: I remember that sweater.

WILLIAMS: You know, he was just as easy going around me as he would be around, I guess, his family or around anybody. But I was just saying that as far as really getting to know him well, I didn't have that opportunity. So I can only tell you how he was with me. He was absolutely terrific. We never had an opportunity of rehearsing things very much anyway, because we didn't do it that way. Ours was a live show. And with Bing, we'd come in and rehearse one day or one afternoon. And then we'd go and do it. That was it.

KING: Celeste, what was -- how did you find him, when you worked with him, to be with?

CELESTE HOLM, BING CROSBY'S CO-STAR IN 'HIGH SOCIETY': Easy, easy. Very comfortable. He'd say, you want to do it again? I'd say, not particularly. Do you? And he'd say, no, okay. Or if I felt I, you know, really, you know, I mean, we would do it again. But he was wonderful.

KING: How did he get along with Grace Kelly?

HOLM: I think very well.

(SINGING)

KING: Frank and Bing get along well making "High Society"?

HOLM: Yes, yes. That was very good.

KING: That was a top cast.

HOLM: I'll say. Of course, Frank, you know, wanted to do it now. Let's go, let's go, let's go. And Bing would say, you want to do it again once or twice? You know?

KING: Frank liked one take, right?

HOLM: Absolutely. And let's go. So it was kind of like (unintelligible.)

KING: We'll take a break and be back with Kathryn Crosby.

K. CROSBY: What a great remark.

KING: What a line. Kathryn and Mary and Nathaniel, Andy, and Celeste. Don't go away.

(SINGING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOB HOPE, COMEDIAN: He had a lot of intelligence as far as feeding a person. And you know, comedians know better than anybody how to feed, because they know how they'd like a line thrown for them. So Bing and I, that was the great thing. We had chemistry going together. And it worked.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "ROAD TO UTOPIA")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shh. One little sound starts a whole avalanche.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should have worn my derby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want them to hear us? Hiccup the other way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the only way I know how.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold it. Suppress it somehow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Frighten me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't. I haven't got the nerve.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, sing something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Huh?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, it's cracking up. One little sound starts an avalanche.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, well don't worry. I'm okay now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Concentrate. Count, count up to 20.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't. I've got my mittens on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back. What about the friendship, Kathryn, with Bob Hope?

K. CROSBY: It was incredible. It was always there.

KING: You were on our shows when Hope died.

K. CROSBY: Yes.

KING: And Hope wrote the...

K. CROSBY: He wrote the...

KING: ...comments on the back of the book.

And strangely said, I'm looking forward to seeing you again.

KING: I'm looking forward to seeing him again soon.

K. CROSBY: Very soon.

KING: Said I still miss Bing daily. K. CROSBY: Yes.

KING: He could do anything better than almost anyone.

K. CROSBY: Wasn't that nice to say?

They worked so well together but do you know, they talked on the phone every day. They sent wires back and forth when that was still fashionable. And they got back and forth to each other one way or the other all the time. Bob was traveling forever. And he would, you know, get in touch with Bing and say, you should be here. This is what's happening.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you feeling this afternoon?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I feel very fine, Dumbo. I was up at the crack of my back this morning. How are you horses? Were they running?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're not running this year. His either, yes. I passed your house last night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You passed my house? Thanks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Bing liked to work?

K. CROSBY: Not really.

KING: He didn't, right?

K. CROSBY: In fact, he loved -- he sang because that's who he was. He sang. And he loved the things that we did. But he had special requirements. He liked things to be really cool around the set and he wanted the children to be good.

KING: He also had two Academy Award nominations in addition to winning for "Country Girl."

K. CROSBY: Yes, he did. For "Country Girl," you got it. For "Going My Way."

KING: Right. And the other one?

K. CROSBY: Was "Country Girl." Where Grace got an Academy Award.

KING: With Grace and William Holden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

B. CROSBY: You don't know what it's like to stand up there on that stage all alone with the whole show on your shoulders? If I'm no good, the show's no good.

KING: Why do you think he and Bob Hope worked so well together, Mary?

M. CROSBY: I think there were incredible talents...

KING: Very different.

M. CROSBY: ...who adored each other, played golf every lunch, and had to be retrieved off the golf course for the rest of the afternoon. And I think they just had such a love for each other. And that mixed with their talent just made magic.

You just -- you don't see too many duos that even come close. I haven't found it yet.

(SINGING)

Your thanks for the memories makes us all run and hide when you sang white Christmas our parakeet died he was drunk

KING: We know, Nathaniel, that he owned baseball teams. He owned the Pirates. Had a division owning the Pirates. He helped open Dellmar Racetrack. He was a big horse racing fan. That's where I met him was at Hialeah (ph), a little story I'll tell before we leave.

K. CROSBY: Oh, yes.

KING: Great Bing Crosby story, but he loved sports, right, Nathaniel?

N. CROSBY: He was a great innovator. And as a matter of fact, the racetrack at Dellmar, which he and Pat Riley and Jimmy Durante started in the early '30s...

KING: Pat O'Brien.

N. CROSBY: Pat O'Brien. I'm sorry, you're right. And you know, that was - you know, still goes today and is the big society deal for six weeks...

KING: Yes.

N. CROSBY: ...in August and September in Dellmar. And that was...

KING: He still played his song at the opening of the track at noon?

N. CROSBY: That's right. That's right. And you know, he loved the baseball, but the races were his deal. And that was the genesis for the golf tournament. And the whole idea of bringing the pro-am golf tournament to Rancho Santa Fe was to promote the racetrack. And there was no such thing as a golf pro-am before the...

KING: Yes, he introduced the idea of pros and amateurs playing together. And celebrities playing with professionals.

N. CROSBY: Celebrity. Brought his celebrity pals with his golf pals.

KING: Andy, did Bing play in your tournament?

WILLIAMS: He -- no. He never did. I played in his tournament many times. His was the first, as Nathaniel was saying, of the pro- celebrity kind of tournaments. And it was a great, great tournament. That was the one that everybody wanted to play in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next, our cameras focus on another giant in the field, Mr. Bing Crosby, who is no stranger to the golfing fraternity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Well, he was a terrific golfer. I mean, I think he was, you know, a two or I don't know...

KING: Really?

WILLIAMS: ...when he - was he 7 then?

N. CROSBY: : He was four handicap at age 70. Lost in the finals of the Burlingame club championship at 70 and he won -- he won five club championships at Lakeside, and had a scratch or two handicap for most of his life and played in the U.S. amateur in 1942.

M. CROSBY: But Nathaniel doesn't know his facts about sports.

KING: He loved sports. Bing, right?

K. CROSBY: Oh, yes, yes. Devotedly.

M. CROSBY: In fact, if one of dad's movies was on, and he never watched a movie more than once. So if one of his movies was on, we knew we were watching basketball. That's it. That was it. That was what we were going to watch.

KING: He didn't watch him?

M. CROSBY: Basketball, baseball, football, but no. He'd already seen it. Wasn't interested in watching it again.

KING: How about his faith, Kathryn?

K. CROSBY: It was strong.

KING: Catholic, right?

K. CROSBY: Yes. He was very quiet...

KING: Are you, Catholic? K. CROSBY: Yes. We would go to mass every Sunday. And then go to the pancake house and have breakfast together. And Christmas...

KING: Really? Bing Crosby just went to the pancake house?

K. CROSBY: Of course.

KING: I have visions of Bing Crosby going to some private club and...

K.CROSBY: But the pancake house. We still go to the same pancake house and still have the same waitress Betty, who waited on us when Mary was five.

M. CROSBY: Some things never change.

KING: If you want to build a legend, you got to extend it a little out from a pancake house.

K. CROSBY: Oh, come on.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with the Crosbies and with Andy Williams and Celeste Holm. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm your friend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, you can tell me, Charlie. You're wasting your life away.

Some day you'll be old and all alone. Think it over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're not fooling me, Charlie. It's your childhood sweetheart. Ah, but you're a great, great man with...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's make it the way you have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you're doing the right thing, left - play the fool.

(SINGING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(SINGING)

KING: I never get personal on this show, but one little quick Bing Crosby story. The only time I met him, he was in Miami to tape the "Jackie Gleason" show.

K. CROSBY: Yes.

KING: And he went to Hialeah racetrack. And that's where I met him, because I loved the races. And during the course of the afternoon, he said he had a theory that when people were at the racetrack, they were different than any other time, and that he could bet he could walk into the grand stand and no one would recognize him, because they're all involved in horses.

M. CROSBY: Yes.

KING: So he went walking around the grand stand. He came back about 20 minutes later. He says no one came up to him. No one said - He had no sunglasses. Will none the years. Will white out?

K. CROSBY: Yes, yes.

KING: He got on line to make a bet. He took a little time because he hadn't doped out the race. So he turned around to the guy behind him and said, I'm sorry. No. And the guy said, move creep. And he said, I could have hugged him.

M. CROSBY: That's great.

KING: I taught him a theory that horse racing people are different.

M. CROSBY: Yes.

KING: All right, how -- Celeste, how are we going to we remember Bing Crosby as years go on? We're in the centennial of his birth. What are we going to say about him in 50 years?

HOLM: Oh, I don't think anything who knew that voice will ever forget it. I think we will always cherish.

(SINGING)

WILLIAMS: He'll be remembered for the movies that he has made. He'll be remembered for all the wonderful records he's made. I think people will even remember "Swinging on a Star," you know, years and years from now. He will -- he will never be forgotten, ever.

KING: And another thing we forget, Nathaniel. He had a lot to do with break down of color in this country. He performed with people. Louis Armstrong was a friend.

N. CROSBY: Yes.

KING: Right? He put Ella Fitzgerald he put on TV with his shows. People weren't doing that, right?

M. CROSBY: Pearl Bailey.

KING: Pearl Bailey. Loved Pearl Bailey.

K. CROSBY: We made chili back stage. So great.

KING: Nathaniel, how do you think we're going to remember dad?

N. CROSBY: Well, I think , from a personal standpoint, I try to -- I sing my girls to sleep every night to know about who he was and try to recognize him when the Christmas songs come around every year. I think his music will always be tied to Christmas. And I think there's going to be some movies like "Going My Way" and "Bells of St. Mary" and "White Christmas" that are going to be seen and appreciated each and every year.

KING: "White Christmas" is forever with Rosy Clooney and Danny Kay.

K. CROSBY: Absolutely.

KING: Nathaniel, what do you do, by the way?

N. CROSBY: I'm involved in a new project in Cabo San Lucas. My dad used to take all of us down every year for two months. We used to home school. My mom used to substitute teach for us up in California and then she'd home school us for a couple of months.

KING: What kind of project?

N. CROSBY: It's a golf course project, a Nicholas golf course. So that nine holes on the ocean and a Fazio golf course up in the hills. Very private.

KING: I had a feeling it would be golf.

K. CROSBY: It has to be. U.S. amateur champion.

KING: Mary, what are you doing now?

M. CROSBY: I'm raising our sons. I have a four-year-old and a one-year-old. And it's the sweetest and the hardest job I've ever had. And I just love it.

KING: Sweet and hard? Simultaneously.

M. CROSBY: Sweet and hard. Harder at the end of the day, but always sweet.

KING: Are you acting?

M. CROSBY: Not right now. My plate is full.

KING: You got a lot of work, though?

M. CROSBY: I am - yes, I did.

KING: I mean, when you worked, you, worked.

M. CROSBY: I did. And I love it. I will -- acting is a huge part of who I am. The best part of, I think, what I'm known for, which is "Dallas" is that Larry and my are family. Larry Hagman. Oh, yes.

KING: Love Larry Hagman.

M. CROSBY: Yes, he walked me down the aisle, spoke at my wedding.

KING: Why not a Bing Crosby museum?

K. CROSBY: Why not? Why not?

KING: Why not something? A statue.

K. CROSBY: A statue. They have one of those at Gonzaga.

KING: I figured.

K. CROSBY: But we have his music.

KING: That we always have.

K. CROSBY: We have his films. And as I said on your show the last time, Bob gave us laughter. Well, Bing gave us music.

KING: And you've given us a wonderful hour. Kathryn Crosby, the book is "My Last Years with Bing." Mary Crosby, his daughter, who is now just mom. Nathaniel Crosby, who I knew would build something with golf in Cabo San Lucas. And Andy Williams, who keeps on keeping on. Andy in Branson, Missouri and the wonderful Celeste Holm, who appeared with Bing and Frank and Grace in "High Society."

Thanks very much for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. I'll be back in a couple of minutes. Don't go away.

(SINGING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Thanks for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE, a look at the life and times of the great Bing Crosby. Stay tuned for news around the clock on your most trusted name in news, CNN.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com




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