Crosby, Bing

Posted in WB Cartoon Companion on March 5, 2004

(né Harry Lillis Crosby, 1901-1977)

    One of the leading radio crooners of the 1930s and 1940s, Bing was very often used in cartoons of the 1930s when singers were required. Crosby, Columbo and Vallee (Harman/Ising, 1932) is one of the earliest references to Bing.

    Crosby is caricatured rather unflatteringly in both Let it Be Me (Freleng, 1936) and Bingo Crosbyana (Freleng, 1936) as a womanizer and, in the latter cartoon, something of a coward as well. Beck and Friedwald note that Crosby pursued legal action over the latter caricature, demanding that the film be removed from public distribution.

    A milder caricature can be heard over the radio in I Only Have Eyes for You (Avery, 1937) in which Katie Canary is saving her heart for a radio crooner. Daffy impersonates Bing, complete with pipe, in Hollywood Daffy (Freleng, 1946). And, of course, there is the Bing rooster in Swooner Crooner (Tashlin, 1944) battling the Sinatra rooster for the affections of a flock of hens. Crosby, signing “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby”, is one of the four down-on-their-luck stars snubbed by Elmer Fudd in What’s Up, Doc? (McKimson, 1950).

    Other references focused on his love of horse racing and his alleged tendency to back losers, which is seen in the slow moving horses in Porky’s Preview (Avery, 1941), as well as in Hollywood Steps Out (Avery, 1941) with a sleepy jockey and an overfriendly nag. A headline in the newspaper read by Elmer Fudd in the year 2000 in The Old Grey Hare (Clampett, 1944) indicates that even at that late date, his horse has not yet come in.

    Still other caricatures were based on the rivalry with fellow crooner Frank Sinatra, seen in Swooner Crooner (Tashlin, 1944), Hollywood Canine Canteen (McKimson, 1946) along with a Dorothy Lamour caricature, and Catch as Cats Can (Davis, 1947).

    Yet another caricature -- as “Bing Crowsby” -- is to be seen in The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos (Tashlin, 1937), another as a “Crooner Crooner” cigar in Wholly Smoke (Tashlin, 1938) with Rudy Vallee and still another as Bon Crispy in The Penguin Parade (Avery, 1938).

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