BING CROSBY: The Hollow Man by Donald & Robert F. Slatzer Shepherd

BING CROSBY: The Hollow Man

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An old-fashioned, much-padded hatchet job--as you might guess from that subtitle. . . or from the fact that this will be serialized in the National Enquirer. In fact, Shepherd & Slatzer are so intent on their theme--Bing Was a Cold Bastard--that they leave out lots of stuff that fans will want (don't expect to hear much about Bing's singing or movies); and they hardly bother with chronology. Part One gets right to the worst: while wife Dixie Lee was dying of cancer in 1952, ""monstrously callous"" Bing was touring Europe. Then the authors flash back to Bing's parasitic rise--from Spokane goof-off to singing duo with arranger Al Rinker; from Paul Whiteman's Band (the duo became the Rhythm Boys trio) to solos in Hollywood--after which Bing ""disappeared"" Al Pinker and everyone else who helped him. (""If Bing had been left to his own devices early on, he would have ended his career in the nearest speakeasy. . . ."") He ""double-crossed his way to the top""; his memoirs are ""a pack of lies."" And once Bing is a mid-Thirties star, the authors drop the narrative and simply start accumulating dirt (much of it from unnamed sources). Greedy business dealings. Rotten behavior to Dorothy Lamour and Bob Hope (who ""has never referred to Bing's cool side in public, but one doubts that he'd deny it if cornered""). Secret amassings of huge wealth (""more than $150 million""). Responsibility for Dixie Lee's alcoholism: ""He neglected her. Constantly""--and, according to ""a most reliable person,"" he tried to get Pope Plus XII to annul their 19-year marriage. ""Women: many, many, many of them""--according to ""a former Crosby associate."" Primitive, cold attitudes toward wives and children--especially his unhappy older sons. And so on. ""The man, in fact, was the antithesis not only of his screen image but also of his public image."" Convincing? Not very--because the authors are too eager, too monotonic, too ready to put some very ambiguous (often piddling) evidence in the worst possible light. But as hatchet jobs go--a nasty one.

Pub Date: May 29th, 1981
Publisher: St. Martin's