At this point, after an exposÉ-style biography or two, it's no surprise to hear of Bing Crosby's failings as a father--or...

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GOING MY OWN WAY

At this point, after an exposÉ-style biography or two, it's no surprise to hear of Bing Crosby's failings as a father--or of son Gary's rocky times while growing up as a show-biz son of a show-biz king. So only the most enduring (or unaware) Crosby fans are likely to stay tuned as Gary, now approaching 50, tells his sad, candid, but not-very-interesting story. The Crosby parents ""constantly preached that we were nobody, yet once we set foot outside the house everyone else insisted we were somebody""--which led to fights and insecurity. Bing (a charmer at work) was cold at home, a rabid disciplinarian (whippings), impossible-to-please, and referred to Gary--the eldest of four--as ""my fat-assed kid."" Meanwhile, mother Dixie Lee was an alcoholic. So young Gary grew up ""hot and sullen,"" resenting the hard-labor summers at a ranch; his one source of pride--football--faded at college; he got angrier when he learned of his father's infidelity, when his mother died of cancer (though Bing's absence during her illness is given a gentler interpretation here than in Shepherd & Slatzer's Bing Crosby). And, while taking advantage of some Crosby connections to launch his own singing career (a summer radio-show), Gary, filled with anger and self-hatred, started his longterm involvement with uppers, downers, and boozing--which continued through Louis Arm-strong tours, an Army stint, and a brawling, fizzling career. (""If I was mayhem on the movie set, I was mass murder in nightclubs."") Even marriage didn't help: ""I was still the same asshole."" But eventually Gary dried out, accepted his alcoholism, reconciled with Bing (tacit recognition of fault on both sides), happily married wife #2, and has ""learned there's a power greater than I am that can manage it just fine if I'll only get out of the way."" Honest self-analysis, with an occasionally affecting anecdote--but flat, slow-ish reading overall.

Pub Date: April 1, 1983

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1983