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Swinging on a Star

By Charles Apple The Spokesman-Review

Going My Way poster

Seventy-five years ago today, the movie “Going My Way” was released in theaters. The musical featured Spokane’s own Bing Crosby in a role that would win him an Academy Award and that featured him singing a song that would win an Oscar.

This would be Crosby's first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and the only time he’d win an Oscar. He’d be nominated again the next year for “The Bells of St. Mary’s” and then one more time in 1954.

But Crosby, in fact, was well- acquainted with the Oscars. Even by 1944, Crosby had sung songs in movies that had been nominated five times for Academy Awards.

Crosby did a lot more than just star in movies and sing in musicals. He recorded 50 to 70 records a year during the 1940s. He pioneered the use of prerecorded radio shows on reel-to-reel magnetic tape — reportedly, so he could spend more time playing golf. In 1963, Crosby would receive the first Grammy Global Achievement Award.

Crosby gave benefit concerts to help sell war bonds and did special programs for the Armed Forces Radio Network. He traveled to France to entertain troops just months after the D-Day invasion.

And he took his golf seriously. He worked his way to a 2 handicap and played in both the British and U.S. Amateur Championships. He started a tournament in 1937 that has evolved into the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Crosby was born in Tacoma but his family moved to Spokane when he was 3 years old. He attended Gonzaga University and would perform between films in Spokane’s Clemmer Theater — which is now named after Crosby.

Crosby died in 1977 after playing a round of golf at La Moraleja Golf Course near Madrid, Spain. He was 74.

the poster for the film 'Going My Way'
Bing Crosby

Timeline of Bing Crosby's film career

Sources: Internet Movie Database, Mental Floss, NPR, The New York Times, Biography.com, Bing magazine, Quigley Publishing, “Bing Crosby: Swinging on a Star, The War Years 1940-1946” by Gary Giddins