Wednesday, December 24, 2014

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas: Day 24 - Bing Crosby's Christmas Shows

Working on sending out one blog entry each day in December to showcase great Old Time Radio for the Christmas season.  Here is a link to all the entries.  Here is day 24 - Bing Crosby's Christmas Shows.  I recently was able to see a great documentary on American Masters called Bing Crosby: Rediscovered. This wonderful film showcased the life and legend that is Bing Crosby.  It was remarkable to see his life beyond what we know from the movies, radio and recording.  I was unaware of the personal troubles that he had, especially with the sons from his first marriage.  And with all this trouble in his own life, he was a performer that made people forget about their own problems.  That is the magic that he had.

If you have Sirius/XM, you can listen to Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#82). He has a number of great programs available throughout the month of December on his great show.  You can also get a large number of these programs at a variety or resources on the web. One place to find these shows is the 500 OTR Christmas Shows from the Internet Archive. This is a great resources for many of these wonderful radio shows!

Scenes from John Wayne Airport (Orange County, California) - Sunday July 15, 2012
Radio on Display at John Wayne Airport (Orange County California) in 2012 - Looks Christmasy!

Bing Crosby was an amazing performer and according to the RadioGOLDINdex, appeared on air over 1000 times.  He was a regular on both his own shows and those of others.  He was at the height of his popularity in the truly golden age of radio.

One of the shows he was a regular on was Command Performance, from the Armed Forces Radio Service.  This show ran from 1942 through 1949 and was designed to entertain the troops.  For the most part, it was not aired over commercial airwaves in the United States. These wonderful shows featured many songs, comedy skits, and stand-up bits by the leading singers and actors of the day.  Bing Crosby was on the show 39 times in its history, including the Christmas show from 1942.

Here are three samples of the amazing array of shows that he performed on for Christmas.  He is such a great natural talent, and performs wonderful on all these shows, and the 1000 others that you can listen to later.  Tomorrow on Christmas, please come back when I showcase the Elgin Christmas Specials on our 25th day of Old Time Radio Christmas.

Command Performance (December 24, 1942)
Summary:  The One hour Christmas Program of the AFRS (Armed Forces Radio Service) program Command Performance.  This all-star cast featured Bob Hope as the Master of Ceremonies with a good selection of jokes on being a soldier and living in the homefront.  Included in this program are great songs from The Andrews Sisters singing the Pennsylvania Polka, Jingle Bells from Spike Jones and the City Slickers, and many skids done by comedians such as Red Skelton, Jack Benny, Fred Allen and others.  Bing Crosby comes onto the broadcast around the 24 minute mark.  He and Bob Hope had a nice routine about their plans around the holidays as well as a number of jabs about how many kids Bing Crosby and his wife have.  They also talk about post-war planning and the world of television that is on the horizon!  He gets a song in as well.  Also on the show were Harriet Hilliard, Ginny Simms, Ethel Waters, Charles Laughton, Edgar Bergen, Kay Kyser, Dinah Shore, The Charioteers, and The Twentieth Century Fox Studio Orchestra.

Radio Hall of Fame (December 24, 1944)

Summary:  This hour long show sponsored by Philco, a major war manufacturer and maker of radios for home use.  Bing Crosby is the Master of Ceremonies and sings many favorites including Jingle Bells, White Christmas, Adeste Fideles, among others.  It also has numerous skits in between the songs.  The show is built around performances of 'nominees' to the Hall of Fame.  These include Orson Welles who read the nativity from St. Luke after he and Bing Crosby joked about the holidays, mostly about Bob Hope.  Orson Welles and Bing Crosby also told the Oscar Wilde story The Happy Prince. The show also features Jimmy Wallington (announcer), Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra, The King's Men, Sally Stewart, Darlene Garner, Jeannie Durelle, and Joe DeRita.

Bing Crosby Show (December 20, 1953)

Summary:  In this mostly music show, Bing and guests since numerous Christmas favorites including Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer, Oh Come All Ye Faithful, Silent Night, Jingle Bells, Sleigh Ride, and others.  Bing also does a great job (as you would expect) with White Christmas (one year before the movie of the same name would come out).

Hope you enjoy these shows!

Here are some links to programs relating to Bing Crosby:
25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas:

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