Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby was born in Tacoma, Washington on May 3, 1903 in a house that his father built (1112 North J Street, Tacoma, Washington). His family later moved to Spokane, Washington in 1906 to find work. He was the fourth of seven children - five boys Larry (1895-1975), Everett (born 1896), Ted (born 1900) and Bob (1913-1993) and two girls Catherine (born 1905) and Mary Rose (born 1907) - born to English-American Harry Lowe Crosby (1871-1950), a bookkeeper, and Irish-American Catherine Harrigan (1873-1964), the daughter of a builder from County Mayo in Ireland. For many years his date of birth was shrouded in mystery until his childhood Roman Catholic church in Tacoma, Washington, released his baptismal records.
In 1910 Crosby was forever renamed. The six-year-old Harry Lillis Crosby discovered a full page feature in the Sunday edition of
Spokesman-Review, The Bingville Bugle. The Bugle, written by humorist Newton Newkirk, was a parody of a hillbilly newsletter complete with gossipy tidbits, minstrel quips, creative spelling and mock ads. A neighbor, 15-year-old Valentine Hobart, shared Crosby's enthusiasm for The Bugle. Noting Crosby's laugh, she took a liking to him and called him Bingo from Bingville. The last vowel was dropped and the name shortened to Bing, which stuck.
In 1917 Crosby took a summer job as property boy at Spokane's "Auditorium" where he witnessed some of the finest acts of the day, including a blackface performer named Al Jolson who spellbound Crosby with his ad-libbing and spoofs of Hawaiian songs that brought down the house. Crosby would later say that, "To me, he was the greatest entertainer who ever lived."
Bing enrolled in Gonzaga College in the fall of 1920 with the intent to become a lawyer. While in Gonzaga he sent away for a set of mail order drums. After much practice he soon became good enough and was invited to join a local band called the "Musicaladers"which was mostly made up of local high school kids. He made so much money doing this he decided to drop out of school during his final year, to pursue a career in show business.
Article and picture thanks to Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. To learn more about Bing Crosby check out the Crosbyana here at the Student Crosby Center or go to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bing_crosby
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