Bing Crosby | personal life
Crosby was married twice. His first wife was actress/nightclub singer
Crosby reportedly had an alcohol problem in his youth and may have been dismissed from Paul Whiteman's orchestra because of it, but he later got a handle on his drinking. According to Giddins, Crosby told his son Gary to stay away from alcohol, adding, "It killed your mother."
After Crosby's death, his eldest son, Gary, wrote a highly critical memoir, Going My Own Way, depicting his father as cruel, cold, remote, and both physically and psychologically abusive. Gary Crosby wrote:
We had to keep a close watch on our actions ... When one of us left a sneaker or pair of underpants lying around, he had to tie the offending object on a string and wear it around his neck until he went off to bed that night. Dad called it "the Crosby
lavalier". At the time the humor of the name escaped me ...
"Satchel Ass" or "Bucket Butt" or "My Fat-assed Kid". That's how he introduced me to his cronies when he dragged me along to the studio or racetrack ... By the time I was ten or eleven he had stepped up his campaign by adding lickings to the regimen. Each Tuesday afternoon he weighed me in, and if the scale read more than it should have, he ordered me into his office and had me drop my trousers ... I dropped my pants, pulled down my undershorts and bent over. Then he went at it with the belt dotted with metal studs he kept reserved for the occasion. Quite dispassionately, without the least display of emotion or loss of self-control, he whacked away until he drew the first drop of blood, and then he stopped. It normally took between twelve and fifteen strokes. As they came down I counted them off one by one and hoped I would bleed early ...
When I saw Going My Way I was as moved as they were by the character he played. Father O'Malley handled that gang of young hooligans in his parish with such kindness and wisdom that I thought he was wonderful too. Instead of coming down hard on the kids and withdrawing his affection, he forgave them their misdeeds, took them to the ball game and picture show, taught them how to sing. By the last reel, the sheer persistence of his goodness had transformed even the worst of them into solid citizens. Then the lights came on and the movie was over. All the way back to the house I thought about the difference between the person up there on the screen and the one I knew at home.
Younger son Phillip vociferously disputed his brother Gary's claims about their father. Around the time Gary made his claim, Phillip stated to the press that "Gary is a whining, bitching crybaby, walking around with a two-by-four on his shoulder and just daring people to nudge it off." But Phillip did not deny that Crosby believed in corporal punishment. In an interview with
My dad was not the monster my lying brother said he was; he was strict, but my father never beat us black and blue, and my brother Gary was a vicious, no-good liar for saying so. I have nothing but fond memories of Dad, going to studios with him, family vacations at our cabin in Idaho, boating and fishing with him. To my dying day, I'll hate Gary for dragging Dad's name through the mud. He wrote Going My Own Way out of greed. He wanted to make money and knew that humiliating our father and blackening his name was the only way he could do it. He knew it would generate a lot of publicity. That was the only way he could get his ugly, no-talent face on television and in the newspapers. My dad was my hero. I loved him very much. He loved all of us too, including Gary. He was a great father.
However, Dennis and Lindsay Crosby confirmed that their father was physically abusive. Lindsay added, "I'm glad [Gary] did it. I hope it clears up a lot of the old lies and rumors." Unlike Gary, however, Lindsay said that he preferred to remember "all the good things I did with my dad and forget the times that were rough." Dennis asserted that the book was "Gary's business" and a result of his "anger" but would not deny the book's claims. Bing's younger brother, singer and jazz bandleader
Lindsay Crosby died in 1989 and Dennis Crosby died in 1991, both by suicide from self-inflicted gunshot wounds at ages 51 and 56, respectively. Gary Crosby died in 1995 at the age of 62 of lung cancer and 69-year-old Phillip Crosby died in 2004 of a heart attack.
There have been disputes between Crosby's two families beginning in the late 1990s. When