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Bing Crosby: The Hollow Man Mass Market Paperback – March, 1982
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"Bing Crosby, The Hollow Man" dispels the image of Bing and reveals a side of Bing that the public, at that time, knew nothing about. There is no doubt that Bing was his own man, as attested to not only in this book, but even that of his second wife, Kathryn, and that of Rosemary Clooney in an interview that she had given concerning working with Bing on White Christmas. Bing did what he wanted to do and he seldom, if ever, let anything get in the way of his golf outings, hunting and fishing expeditions, and other amusements. He was, after all, a man after his own heart and if we're honest, many of us know men like that. They're human and being human, they have flaws. Bing, like Elvis after him, was no different.
"Bing, The Hollow Man" was written several years after Bing passed away. It was also published (and possibly written) before Gary (Bing's first-born son) had written his own memoirs. The book is well researched and well written and I perceived that while it showed a less pristine, less flattering side of Bing, it also didn't hesitate to give praise and credit where it was due Bing. I didn't find it in the least bit unfair, or that it was written merely to align Bing. Rather, I had gotten the impression that the author was unpleasantly surprised and disappointed about the things he discovered about Bing through his research, and that surprise and disappoint is evident in the author's prose.
Bing expected his children to be perfect even though he had been no better than they had been during his formative and young adulthood years. When things got tough, the tough escaped to another golf tourney or vacation spot and returned only when he felt like it. Bing wanted a wife like Dixie but he needed a wife like Kathryn. And I found it ironic that the absentee man would even find it necessary to "disappear" those who he no longer needed.
I felt sorry for Bing's first family with Dixie; they of all people seemed to have gotten the biggest bum rap from Bing. Two of Bing's sons committed suicide in the ensuing years and the other two had their own problems stemming from the hands-off approach of their famous father. The differences in Bing's relationships between his two families is starkly evident but I find that it had a lot to do with the stark differences between the two women he married. I got the impression that Dixie was, more or less, the victim of the spurious Bing while Kathryn took the bull by the horns and gave as good as she got. I have to admit, though, that I got that impression from Kathryn after having read her book, "My Life With Bing." The differences between his two wives made all the difference with Bing; it didn't change him, of course, but it sure resulted in a vast contrast between his two families.
This book may not be for the die-hard Bing Crosby fans but for those who are curious and want to learn more about the man behind the legend, I would suggest reading this book.
I had read that he did not treat family members very well, but that is an understatement. The book really highlights how show business success can be manipulated by sabotaging others' careers in furtherance of your own. Bing's public image is quite different from the actual reality.
Again, I'm not saying he was a sociopath, but, rather, that much I have read about him fits that description, and I do remember reading many years ago Gary's description of how he was treated by his father; I believe it.