Classic Video Showplace

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Bing Crosby’s Innovations

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The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

Last week we took a look at the early career of one of the most popular names and voices heard this time of year in radio, television and movies.

Today we look at the second half of Bing Crosby’s career and how he literally changed the way shows were presented.

During World War II, Crosby came across a reel-to-reel magnetic tape device used by the Germans to record messages. He invested $50,000 in a California electronics company and convinced ABC Radio, after much protest, to allow him to tape his shows. He became the first performer to pre-record his radio shows and master his commercial recordings.

The decision was instrumental in changing the way that record companies, radio and then television shows were broadcast. No longer were networks mandated to do strictly live performances and having to repeat a brand new show for the west coast audiences. This allowed show producers to edit out “bad” portions and only keep certain parts of a show, change the order of the performances and provide various other benefits still used in broadcasting to this day.

Furthermore, this allowed for shows to be recorded and preserved, which paved the way for programs to be rebroadcast. Ultimately, this would revolutionize the industry as shows could be now re-released in syndication and find new life with whole new audiences.

Among Bing’s highlights during the second half of his career include starring in the holiday film classic, “White Christmas.” This was actually the second time that the yuletide traditional song was featured in a movie – the first being “Holiday Inn” over a decade earlier with Fred Astaire.

Crosby would continue to make movies, produce and star in semi-annual television specials, perform live in front of sell out crowds and record songs right up until his death.

A common misconception is that the popular holiday duet “Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy” with David Bowie recorded before, but airing after, his death was his last recording. However, three days before Bing’s passing, he recorded several songs for an album that was released posthumously. Ironically, the last song he recorded was an old standard called “Once In A While,” a tune asking and answering how he would like to be remembered.

Crosby was a leader in record sales, radio ratings, and motion picture grosses from 1930 to 1954. He made over seventy feature films appearances (his last film was that as a featured presenter in the 1974 star-studded blockbuster “That’s Entertainment”) and recorded more than 1,600 different songs.

Be on the lookout for Crosby’s appearances on various television shows and films on RCN TV and for his music to be featured prominently on the “Sounds of the Season” on RCN’s Music Choice channel 1944.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.