Summary

Birth:
25 Aug 1913 1
Spokane, Washington, U.S.A. 1
Death:
10 Mar 1993 1
La Jolla, San Diego, California, U.S.A. 1
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Personal Details

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Full Name:
George Robert CROSBY 1
Also known as:
Bob CROSBY 1
Person:
George Robert Crosby 2
Age in 1930: 16 2
Birth:
25 Aug 1913 1
Spokane, Washington, U.S.A. 1
Male 1
Birth:
Estimated Birth Year: 1914 2
Death:
10 Mar 1993 1
La Jolla, San Diego, California, U.S.A. 1
Cause: Cancer 1
Residence:
Place: SPOKANE County, Washington 2
From: 1930 2
Enumeration District: SPOKANE CITY 2
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Birth:
Mother: Catherine Helen CROSBY (née HARRIGAN) 1
Father: Harry Lowe CROSBY 1
Marriage:
June Audrey KUHN 1
03 Oct 1938 1
Spokane, Washington, U.S.A. 1
To: 10 Nov 1959 1
Marriage:
Marie GROUNITZ 1
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Occupation:
Bandleader, Actor 1
Religion:
Roman Catholic 1

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Sources

  1. Contributed by jonjo60
  2. Census - US Federal 1930 [See image]
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Stories

Bob CROSBY was born on August 25, 1913 in Spokane, Washington, one of seven children born to Harry Lowe CROSBY, a book keeper at a Tacoma brewery, and his wife Kate HARRIGAN CROSBY. Bob was 10 years younger than his brother Harry, who as "Bing CROSBY," achieved fame as the most popular singer of the first half of the 20th century. After matriculating at Gonzaga University, Bob followed his older brother into the music business, and while he never achieved Bing's level of fame (few did), he made a good career for himself as the front man for one of the premier white jazz bands of the 1930s. The band-leader Anson Weeks offered Bob a singing job in 1931. Possessed of only a good but not spectacular voice, Bob had a way with audiences, which helped make him a success. In 1934, he was hired by the DORSEY Brothers, whom he continued to sing with until 1935, when he was given the chance to front a new band that had been resurrected from the ashes of Ben POLLACK's old orchestra. The members of Ben POLLACK's band had been left stranded in New York City when POLLACK quit. After breaking up, the band regrouped without POLLACK in New York in 1934 with the saxophonist Gil RODIN, POLLACK's former right hand man, as leader. They played for Red NICHOL's on the 'Kellogg College Prom' radio show, and subsequently recorded under the name of their singer Clark RANDALL. A year later, the band ditched RANDALL to try to make it on their own. When RODIN decided he didn't want to be the front man for the band, he offered Jack TEAGARDEN the job as leader. Contracted to Paul WHITEMAN, TEAGARDEN declined the offer, and agent Corky O'KEEFE suggested three alternatives: singer Johnnie DAVIS of Fred WARING and his Pennsylvanians, WHITEMAN trumpeter Harry "Goldie" GOLDFIELD, and Bob CROSBY. RODIN had met and liked CROSBY, and he was offered the position. The Bob CROSBY Orchestra was incorporated with RODIN, CROSBY and the ROCKWELL-O'KEEFE Booking Agency as owners. RODIN remained the guiding force behind the band. Ironically, Bob CROSBY was one of the least important members of his own orchestra, but he was aware of this and had no qualms about ceding most of the solo time to the band's talented sidemen. The Bob CROSBY Orchestra, and its combo side group, the Bob Cats, became one of the greatest jazz bands of all time. CROSBY turned out to be the perfect front man as proved popular with the audience. A friendly man, CROSBY respected and admired his musicians and never interfered with RODIN's running of the band. Although in the mid- to late-1930s, when swing was king, Dixieland was considered old-fashioned by many young hipsters who lionized Benny GOODMAN, CROSBYs band fuelled a revival of the New Orleans sound. The rhythm section was led by bassist Bob HAGGART and drummer Ray BAUDAC, the duo who wrote "South Rampart Street Parade" and "Big Noise from Winnetka," the latter which proved a huge hit. Other musicians in the band were Charlie SPIVAK and Billy BUTTERFIELD, and its singers included Kay WEBER and Doris DAY. The band's arranger was Dean KINCAIDE. Tommy DORSEY raided the CROSBY band in 1938, purloining KINCAIDE, SPIVAK, and pianist Yank LAWSON. As a consequence, the band began to de-emphasize Dixieland in favour of more commercial arrangements. With lead vocalist Dorothy CLAIRE, who was backed by Helen WARD and Johnny MERCER, the Bob CROSBY Orchestra became the featured band on the 'Camel Caravan' radio program in 1939. Within a year, the band had left the Dixieland sound behind, using Paul WESTON, Ray CONNIFF Henry MANCINI and Nelson RIDDLE as arrangers. The Bob-O-Links, which included future Glenn MILLER vocalist Johnny DESMOND, handled the vocals. CROSBY made his film debut in "Rhythm on the Roof" (1934) playing himself, and debuted as an actor in the Jack OAKIE musical-comedy "Collegiate" (1936). He had his first starring role in the musical "Rookies On Parade" (1941). By 1941, the band had returned to its Dixieland roots, and featured Liz TILTON as vocalist. With the coming of World War II, the draft carried off many of the band's key members, including RODIN and BAUDAC, and Crosby followed his older brother Bing into the movies in 1942. He signed a contract with Bing's studio Paramount, though he mostly was loaned out to Columbia and Universal, where he played the leads in "Kansas City Kitty" (1944), "The Singing Sheriff" (1944), "My Gal Loves Music" (1944), and "Meet Miss Bobby Socks" (1944). Eddie MILLER was left in charge of the band, but it did not survive the year. CROSBY himself was drafted, accepted a Marine Corps commission in 1944, and toured the Pacific Theater with bands. After being discharged from the Corps, CROSBY continued his movie career in the 1940s and `50s, though now, he just played himself, eschewing lead and character roles until his final picture. He formed a new orchestra, called The Bobcats, which emphasized ballads. CROSBY would occasionally sing, but mostly he was content with letting his sidemen play. CROSBY and The Bobcats were successful on radio and television. He was the orchestra leader for "The Jack BENNY Show" on radio, taking over from Phil HARRIS, and then on television. He had his own daytime TV show, "The Bob CROSBY Show," on CBS from 1953 to 1957. CROSBY wanted an evening slot, and in 1958, NBC put the show on in the evenings as a summer replacement for Perry COMO, but it did poorly in the ratings and was canceled. He made his last film in 1959, costarring in the Red NICHOLS musical-biography "The Five Pennies," in support of Danny KAYE. After his TV show was canceled and his movie career came to an end, Bob CROSBY focused on a solo career, although he occasionally reformed the Bobcats for concerts and recordings. In the early 1970s, he toured with a package orchestra and later played with local pick-up bands into the 1980s. Bob CROSBY died in La Jolla, California on March 9, 1993 from cancer. Though Bob pretended to find being the brother of superstar Bing CROSBY amusing, in 1958 it admitted it was a sore point. "It got so bad that whenever someone asked me what my occupation was, I used to answer automatically 'Bing CROSBY's brother." To jazz aficionados, he will always be more than "Bing CROSBY's brother," recognized as he is as the front man for one of the best jazz bands ever. He was awarded 2 Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Television at 6252 Hollywood Boulevard and for Radio at 6313 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.

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