by Terrance Howard
Poor Bing! The ladies love him but they also make his life miserable. You see, Mrs. Crosby’s little boy is bashful
HE’S the object of their affections all right. But like the gentleman in the popular song, they frequently change his complexion from its normal tan to a very “rosy red.”
For several years now, most of the ladies of the civilized world have been quite definitely aware of Mr. Bing Crosby. They first discovered, via the radio and phonograph, that the throaty tones produced by his vocal chords did something to their heart strings. Later, motion pictures proved beyond dispute that Bing had a personality as beguiling as his voice.
So the ladies of the world, as the voice unfolded into a personality, did more than give Mr. Crosby their attention—they concentrated on him. Now, every man knows that when even one lady concentrates something always happens. Multiply it several millionfold and—well, Mr. Crosby has become a very rich and famous young man, but oh, the blushes it has cost him!
You see, to begin with, Bing is not instinctively a matinee idol. He’s one of those early to bed, early to rise fellows with a penchant for flannel shirts, horses, children, guns and fresh air. Perfumed cigarettes, Chinese silk dressing gowns and anything else with a tinge of the elegant leave him colder than the proverbial polar bear’s nose.
Unfortunately, ladies, large numbers of them at any rate, don’t fit into any man’s picture of athletics and outdoor life. But Bing, a passionate devotee of sport, has managed to be a feminine idol and at the same time has retained his sanity. I wondered how he did it and determined to find out.
After clearing the hurdles Columbia executives have thoughtfully erected to protect high priced stars from just such nuisances as myself, I finally reached the Pennies From Heaven set upon which Bing was working, on loan from Paramount.
“Well, Mr. Crosby,” I said genially, “how do you like being the object of so many ladies’ affections?” (there’s nothing like being direct at moments like these.)
But. 1 wasn’t exactly prepared for what happened to Bing then. In the first place he blushed so you could see it underneath all his grease paint. And then he exploded.
“Aw, lay off me, can’t you? What’d I ever do to you?”
Funny . . . I kind of felt sorry for him. Don’t know why either. He was making as much money each month as the average person does in two years. He was handsome, famous and in good health. Yet he looked like one of those little boys you’ve seen, with his playmates dancing around him and singing:
“Jimmy’s got a guurrrl. Jimmy’s got a guurrrl.”
He was all ashamed, embarrassed, angry and hurt at the same time.
It was so darned ironic. Here was the A No. 1, heavyweight, lightweight and paperweight champion heartbreaker of the world becoming skittish at the mention of women. It was like finding Admiral Byrd cold and stiff, frozen to death, in one of our California forests.
Out here in Hollywood, everyone knows the general characteristics of the motion picture stars. Everyone knows that Bing goes in for golf, shooting in the seventies consistently. They know that he has a hankering to breed race horses, that he blows off box after box of shells in skeet shooting, is an excellent swimmer and all around athlete.
It is even well known that he makes no play for the ladies at all” He never does anything to please them, will wear old clothes in public if he feels like it and will appear where and when he wants to without regard to his business and publicity managers’ wishes. But Lord, you’d never suspect that just the mention of the feminine theatre audience would set him off like that.
He had the pained expression that a mouse must have when, after settling himself down to a succulent bit of cheese, the trap springs. He appeared to feel that I wasn’t playing the game. It seemed cruel to probe him.
However, I scmelched my sympathies and persisted—more gently though.
“But you are the favorite of so many ladies…now aren’t you?An dall I want to know is how you like it.”
But if the Crosby face had been rosy before, it was scarlet now.
“In the first place, I’m not. In the second place, if I am it’s only an idea those girls build up in their own minds and in the third place. . . .”
He stopped and drew a long breath, then broke off disgustedly.
“In the third place, nuts. What do you want to ask me all that stuff for anyway?”
But after I had explained how insistent my grocer had become about just a little old bill 1 owed, and how my landlady no longer smiled at me, he relented to bit. He looked mollified and then sympathetic, but he didn’t appear any more loquacious. So I took the lead again.
“Now about these letters you get from the girls—about all these lovely love letters you get. Do they mean anything to you?”
Bing looked nonchalant.
“Just fan mail,” he remarked. “Everybody in Hollywood gets it.”
I produced a certain packet ol papers 1 had gotten hold of—no matter how—and opened one while he looked on apprehensively.
“My Own Dear Bing,” 1 began reading aloud. “I have been loving you for years and years. Even if I never see you in pictures again I will go on loving you. Those beautiful blue eyes of yours I shall remember always (I never really have seen you in person but I saw your picture in a movie magazine) and your thrilling voice—”
WELL 1 didn’t get to finish reading that letter. Bing grabbed it. But 1stopped him with a question anyway.
“Do you call THAT simply fan mail?”I asked.
He was pretty upset by this time.
“Aw, what th—,” he muttered. “That’s just one of a million letters. Most of. them are sensible as anything.”
I pulled out another letter.
“My gorgeous Bing,” I began reading, “you are the idol of my dreams—”
But Bing grabbed that one too and 1 retreated a few steps.
“Remember my grocer,” I begged.
Bing relaxed. He is a good guy.