Bob Crosby

Active - 1936 - 1959  |   Born - Aug 23, 1913   |   Died - Mar 9, 1993   |   Genres - Musical, Comedy

Share on

Biography by Hal Erickson

Though he pretended to find it amusing, singer/bandleader Bob Crosby was rather sensitive about being constantly bracketed with his older brother Bing. At one point, Crosby observed in 1958, "it got so bad that whenever someone asked me what my occupation was, I used to answer automatically 'Bing Crosby's brother.'" To many jazz aficionados, however, Bob was the only Crosby, by virtue of his famous musical aggregation "The Bobcats," which he formed in 1935. Crosby and his able musicians Yank Lawson, Bob Haggart, Ray Bauduc, Eddie Miller, Bob Zurke, Jesse Stacey and Joe Sullivan delivered some of the hottest jazz ever to emanate from a primarily white orchestra. Because of Bing's movie popularity, Bob's handlers decided that records, radio and nightclubs weren't enough: the "other Crosby" would have to have a movie career as well, thus Bob made his film debut in 1935's Rhythm on the Roof. Crosby made a few tentative stabs at playing characters other than himself in films like Let's Make Music (1940) and The Singing Sheriff (1944), but he seemed more comfortable playing "himself' in guest spots. One of his more enjoyable screen appearances was in Two Tickets to Broadway (1951), wherein Crosby genially poked fun at brother Bing in the delightful production number "Let's Make Comparisons." He also popped up unbilled from time to time in Bing's pictures: in Road to Bali, Bob walks on, says hello to his brother, fires a gun into the air and walks off, whereupon Bing explains "I promised him a shot in this picture." Entering television as orchestra leader for The Jack Benny Show (a job he'd taken over from Phil Harris on radio), Crosby successfully starred on his own daytime program for CBS, which ran from 1953 through 1957; he then moved to NBC, where he headlined a prime-time summer replacement series for Perry Como in 1958. Bob Crosby made his final film appearance along with several other jazz greats in the Red Nichols biopic The Five Pennies (1959).

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography