US singer and actor. Affectionately known as ‘Der Bingle’ and ‘The Old Groaner’, he was the most popular singer of his generation and the first and best-known crooner.
Born in Tacona, Washington, Crosby began his career as a singer in a vocal group with Paul Whiteman (1890–1967) and his orchestra (1926–30). However, with the advent of radio he became known to much wider audiences, which led ultimately to his spectacular success in records, film, and television. He was the first popular singer to understand the use of a microphone, into which he crooned intimately in a conversational style, giving more weight to the lyrics than to the notes. He also used slurs, sang the consonants, and borrowed other devices from jazz. His style influenced every other singer that came after him. He had about eighty hit records after 1940; his recording of the Irving Berlin song ‘White Christmas’ (from the 1942 film Holiday Inn) became one of the best-selling records in history.
Apart from his voice, Crosby cultivated a pleasing public persona and had a perfect comedian's timing. He appeared in more than sixty films between 1930 and 1966, including the ‘ Road to…’ series of comedies (1940–62) with Bob Hope, his friend and golfing companion, and Going My Way (1944), for which he won an Academy Award. His television series (1964) was extremely popular.