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American Masters (2014 Season) – Bing Crosby Rediscovered
Air date: 12/02/2014

THIRTEEN’s American Masters Series Produces New Documentary Bing Crosby RediscoveredFeaturing Unprecedented Access to Crosby’s Archives

 

Premieres nationwide Tuesday, December 2 on PBS and DVD

 

Connect with more than 200 cultural icons at pbs.org/americanmasters

 

Bing Crosby (May 3, 1903-October 14, 1977) was, without doubt, the most popular and influential multi-media star of the first half of the 20th century. For more than three decades, through radio, film, television and records, he reigned supreme.

The new documentary American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered, premiering nationwide Tuesday, December 2 at 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) as the series’ Season 28 finale, explores the life and legend of this iconic performer, revealing a man far more complex than his public persona. The film is available December 2 on DVD from PBS Distribution. A holiday encore presentation airs Friday, December 26 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

Crosby’s estate, HLC Properties, Ltd., granted American Masters unprecedented access to the entertainer’s personal and professional archives, including never-before-seen home movies, Dictabelt recordings, photos and more. Narrated by Stanley Tucci, the film features new interviews with all surviving members of Crosby’s immediate family — wife Kathryn, daughter Mary and sons Harry and Nathaniel. The film reveals Crosby’s struggles with his first wife, Dixie Lee, and their sons Gary, Dennis, Phillip and Lindsay. Mary addresses accusations of abuse first published in Gary’s 1983 memoir, which tarnished their father’s legacy. Gary speaks candidly about both his and his mother’s alcoholism as well as his difficulties with his father in a never-before-seen 1987 interview. Other new interviews include singers Tony Bennett and Michael Feinstein, record producer Ken Barnes, biographer Gary Giddins, and writers Buz Kohan and Larry Grossman, who both share the story behind Crosby’s Christmas special duet with David Bowie.

American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered – The Soundtrack features songs heard in the documentary, including 16 previously unreleased recordings, and is available November 25, 2014, via Bing Crosby Archive and Universal Music Enterprises.

“I’ve never seen an entertainer more comfortable in his own skin, more certain of who he was,” says Emmy-winning director Robert Trachtenberg, whose past films for American Masters include Mel Brooks: Make a Noise, On Cukor, Gene Kelly: Anatomy of a Dancer and Cary Grant: A Class Apart. “With the new material I’ve found, I think the breadth, depth and candor of his story will hopefully allow people to see him in a new light.”

Thirty-seven years after his death, Crosby remains the most recorded performer in history with nearly 400 hit singles, an achievement no one — not Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley or the Beatles — has come close to matching. A brilliant entrepreneur, Crosby played an important role in the development of the postwar recording industry. As one of Hollywood’s most popular actors, he won the Oscar for 1944’s Going My Way and starred in the iconic “Road” films with Bob Hope.

“We naturally think of Bing at Christmastime, but with more No. 1 recordings than anyone, it is easy to overlook all of his other achievements. Thankfully, this film delves deeply into all of his remarkable work, and will surprise many viewers with a unique perspective on his private life,” says Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters.

Launched in 1986 by series creator Susan Lacy, American Masters has earned 28 Emmy Awards — including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series since 1999 and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — 12 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards and many other honors. Now in its 28th season on PBS, the series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET. WNET is the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21, New York’s public television stations, and operator of NJTV. For more than 50 years, THIRTEEN has been a partner with the tri-state community, using its rich resources to inform and inspire the passionate people of New York and the world to better understand and address the issues that challenge our diverse communities.

To take American Masters beyond the television broadcast and further explore the themes, stories and personalities of masters past and present, the companion website (http://pbs.org/americanmasters) offers streaming video of select films, interviews, photos, outtakes, essays and other resources. American Masters is also seen on the WORLD channel, a 24/7, full-service multicast channel featuring public television’s signature nonfiction documentary, science and news programming, broadcast in nearly two-thirds of the United States.

American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC’s American Masters for WNET. Robert Trachtenberg is writer, director and producer. Gillian McCarthy is editor. Junko Tsunashima is supervising producer. Julie Sacks is series producer. Susan Lacy and Michael Kantor are executive producers.

American Masters is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rosalind P. Walter, Anne Ray Charitable Trust, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Rolf and Elizabeth Rosenthal, Jack Rudin, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation and public television viewers.

 

About WNET

As New York’s flagship public media provider and the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, the multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. WNET is also a leader in connecting with viewers on emerging platforms, including the THIRTEEN Explore iPad App where users can stream PBS content for free.

 

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Photos
For editorial use in North America only in conjunction with the direct publicity or promotion of AMERICAN MASTERS. No other rights are granted. All rights reserved. Downloading this image constitutes agreement to these terms.
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Bing Crosby. Photo Credit: Universal

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(l to r) Bing Crosby and Bob Hope frolic around the lot between scenes on a "Road" picture. Photo credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

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(l to r) Judy Garland and Bing Crosby in the studio during one of their many collaborations. Photo credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

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Bing Crosby (center) loved to collaborate with talented musicians; two of his favorites were Frank Sinatra (left) and Judy Garland (right). Photo credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

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(clockwise from top) Bing Crosby with his children Mary, Harry and Nathaniel, and second wife Kathryn. Photo credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

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(l to r) Nathaniel, Mary and Harry with their parents Kathryn and Bing Crosby as seen in "American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered." Photo credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

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Bing Crosby with his first wife, Dixie Lee, and three of their four sons: Phillip, Dennis and Lindsay. Photo credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

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(l to r) Bing Crosby and his sons with first wife Dixie Lee: Dennis, Phillip, Gary and Lindsay. Photo credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

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Bing Crosby takes a break between scenes of Going My Way (1944), for which he won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Photo credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

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Bing Crosby. Photo credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

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With his receding hair line, Bing Crosby broke the boundaries of what a leading man could look like. Photo credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

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Bing Crosby with his signature hat and pipe in London, circa 1973. Photo credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

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Bing Crosby loved to entertain the troops and they loved him back. At the end of the war, he was voted No. 1 in boosting GI morale. Photo credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

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Bing Crosby. Photo credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

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Bing Crosby during one of his final performances. Photo credit: Allan Warren

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Bing Crosby. Photo credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

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Bing Crosby in his home, circa early 1930s. Photo credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

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Bing Crosby preferred comfort over style, especially in the recording studio. Photo credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

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Known for his casual style, Bing Crosby sports a very rare beard. Photo credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

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Bing Crosby’s family at Christmas (l to r): daughter Mary, second wife Kathryn and sons Nathaniel and Harry (bottom). Photo Credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

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Bing Crosby and his second wife Kathryn. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

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Bing Crosby and his second wife Kathryn. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

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Bing Crosby’s second wife Kathryn Crosby as seen in the new documentary “American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered.” Photo Credit: American Masters / ©2014 THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC. All rights reserved.

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Bing Crosby’s son Harry Crosby. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

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Bing Crosby’s daughter Mary Crosby. Credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

Michael Kantor

Michael Kantor is executive producer of “American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered” and executive producer of the “American Masters” series. Photo Credit: Joseph Sinnott / ©2014 WNET. All rights reserved

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Bing Crosby’s son Nathaniel Crosby. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises

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Emmy-winning director Robert Trachtenberg is writer, director and producer of “American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered.” Photo Credit: Drew Schwartz