(SPOKANE, Wash.) – Gonzaga University is collaborating with Advocates for the Bing Crosby Theater (ABCT), a nonprofit organization made up of various Spokane residents, to rename the Met Theater at 909 W. Sprague Ave. in downtown Spokane the Bing Crosby Theater.
ABCT had proposed to Mitch Silver, the theater’s new owner, to raise the money to buy a new theater sign bearing Crosby’s name. Silver agreed, and Crosby’s widow Kathryn Crosby has granted permission to use the famous late singer’s name for the theatre. The newly named theater will not only honor Spokane’s most famous son but add luster to the fine old facility – originally the Clemmer Theatre – where Crosby had performed prior to becoming a celebrity.
The arrangement will be solidified on Friday, Dec. 8, with a celebration at the theater beginning at noon with a free Bing Crosby Film Festival. “Going My Way,” “The Road to Morocco,” and “White Christmas” all will be shown. Gonzaga’s Foley Center library will sponsor “White Christmas” to help defer ABCT’s costs. At 7 p.m., the theater will be dedicated and the new sign unveiled; civic dignitaries will be invited to take part in the historical event. At 8 p.m., Kathryn Crosby will perform a cabaret show, “My Life with Bing,” as a fund-raiser to help pay for the new sign.
Gonzaga is doing its part for the event by loaning materials from its extensive Bing Crosby Collection, including his Oscar, platinum record for “White Christmas,” Crosby photographs, correspondence, news clippings, record jackets, and movie posters. This is the first time in recent memory that GU will loan the “White Christmas” platinum record and the Oscar, which is actually a duplicate that Bing Crosby requested the Academy of Motion Pictures make and give to Gonzaga to display. The platinum record states that Crosby had sold 200 million recordings of “White Christmas” by 1960. Stephanie Plowman, special collections librarian at the GU Foley Center and curator of the Bing Crosby Collection, is a member of ABCT.
After the changes to the theater have been made and paid for, ABCT hopes to start a fund to support worthy cultural events such as film festivals, music festivals and “family friendly” theater for the Inland Northwest. The organization also plans to collect and create a permanent display of photos, movie posters, and other memorabilia connected with Crosby’s career. The ABCT expects the effort will be an economic boost to the city as a tourist attraction.
For more information contact ABCT Board President William Stimson via e-mail or at (509) 623-4357; Plowman at (509) 323-3847, visit the Foley Center Web site or the Met's Web site. To buy tickets for Kathryn Crosby’s performance, call the Met Theater at (509) 227-7638 or Tickets West at 1-800-325-7328.