Happy Birthday Bing Crosby: Celebrating the Legendary Entertainer’s Unforgettable Moments

by Jennifer Shea
Gene Lester/Getty Images

For many people, Bing Crosby was the voice of Christmas. But the legendary entertainer’s influence extended beyond the recording studio. Over the course of his career, Crosby also appeared in 106 productions as an actor, per IMDb. And he won an Oscar for his performance in 1944’s “Going My Way.”

Crosby was born on May 3, 1903 in Tacoma, Washington. His birth name was Harry Lillis Crosby. He earned the nickname “Bing” during his childhood, reportedly from his fondness for the comic strip “The Bingville Bugle,” according to Britannica.

The future singer and actor studied law at Gonzaga University in Spokane but dropped out in 1925 to head to Los Angeles with his band. Then, in the early 1930s, Crosby’s brother Everett sent the president of CBS a record of Crosby singing “I Surrender, Dear.” By 1932, Crosby’s live performances from New York were being broadcast over CBS. His show on that radio station made him a star.

Crosby would go on to become one of the most popular vocalists of all time, per Gold Derby. His recordings of the Christmas classics “White Christmas” and “Silent Night” were among the most popular songs of the 20th Century.

Here, in no particular order, are some of Crosby’s most unforgettable moments.

Bing Crosby Joins Fred Astaire for ‘Holiday Inn’

Crosby sang the Christmas classic “White Christmas” for the first time in this film, whose soundtrack was composed by Irving Berlin. The movie is about a love triangle between Crosby’s Jim, Astaire’s Ted and Virginia Dare’s Lila. The three perform as a trio in New York, but Lila ultimately runs away with Ted and the group dissolves. Later, Jim plots to turn his farm into a music club open only on holidays, whereupon he meets another singer, Linda, played by Marjorie Reynolds.

Bing Crosby Stars in ‘White Christmas’

This holiday classic stars Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen, and it’s set in the immediate aftermath of World War II. The four actors play entertainers who are stranded at a remote Vermont inn that’s desperate for a white Christmas. They decide to put on a show that will draw people from all over the country to help out the kind old innkeeper, a retired general, and his family.

Crosby Earns an Oscar for ‘Going My Way’

In “Going My Way,” Crosby plays Father Chuck O’Malley, a young priest sent to run St. Dominick’s Church in New York. He soon clashes with the pastor there, Father Fitzgibbon, who criticizes O’Malley’s easygoing approach. Crosby took home an Oscar for his portrayal of O’Malley in this film, which became a classic.

Crosby Reprises His Role as Rev. O’Malley for ‘The Bells of St. Mary’s’

Crosby stars opposite Ingrid Bergman in this film about Father O’Malley’s new assignment at St. Mary’s School. The pragmatic priest soon finds himself at odds with the more spiritual nun Sister Mary Benedict, played by Bergman. Crosby secured himself another Oscar nomination with his performance in “The Bells of St. Mary’s.”