American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered
Premieres nationally Tuesday, December 2, 8-9:30 p.m. on PBS. Holiday Encore Presentation Friday, December 26, 9-10:30 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)
Bing Crosby’s Wife
Bing Crosby’s wife Kathryn was a rising star in Hollywood when she met Bing at Paramount Studios. For their first date, Bing took Kathryn to the 1955 Academy Awards ceremony (Bing was nominated as Best Actor for The Country Girl). Kathryn was under contract to Columbia Pictures, where she had roles in a number of films, including The Phenix City Story and Operation Mad Ball. She also maintained a busy schedule of live television performances on shows like Lux Video Theater and Ford Television Theater.
Bing and Kathryn were married on October 24, 1957. She continued working on television and in film; her credits include Anatomy of a Murder, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Living It Up (with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis), Casanova’s Big Night (with Bob Hope) and a small role in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Kathryn put her career on hold when she and Bing started a family, but she appeared on several television broadcasts with Bing and later with their children Harry, Mary and Nathaniel. In the mid-1970s, she hosted The Kathryn Crosby Show on KPIX in San Francisco and appeared in several touring musical theater productions. She also hosted the Crosby National Golf Tournament for many years, and starred in the Broadway production of State Fair in 1996. She occasionally performs cabaret shows to benefit various charities. Kathryn lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Bing Crosby’s Son
Harry Crosby makes his living in the world of business and finance, but a show business career would not have been a surprise had he chosen that path. Surrounded by music as a child, Harry became an accomplished guitarist and began accompanying his world-famous father Bing Crosby at a very young age. Harry appeared on several television shows with his family – including the iconic annual Crosby Christmas specials. He also performed with Bing and the family at the London Palladium in 1976 and 1977. Harry briefly pursued an acting career that included a memorable appearance in the first installment of the Friday the 13th horror film series. But he abandoned this promising career for investment banking and private equity and now plays his guitar mostly for recreation. Harry lives in New York City with his wife and children.
Bing Crosby’s Daughter
Bing Crosby’s only daughter, Mary, began her acting career at the age of eight, when she appeared alongside her father in an episode of The Danny Thomas Theater. After appearing with her family on several Crosby television specials, Mary became a household name – and the answer to the often heard question, “Who shot J.R.?” when she starred in the hit series Dallas from 1979 to 1981. Mary has also been featured on numerous other TV shows, including Murder, She Wrote, Beverly Hills 90210, Dream On, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Knots Landing, The Love Boat, Starsky and Hutch, CHIPS and In the Heat of the Night. Mary’s recent film work includes three Henry Jaglom features: Queen of the Lot, Just 45 Minutes from Broadway and The M Word. Mary lives in Los Angeles with her husband and children.
Bing Crosby’s Son
Nathaniel Crosby, the youngest child of Bing Crosby, pursued one of his father’s greatest passions. Becoming a scratch golfer at the age of 15, Nathaniel went on to a distinguished golf career, which includes winning the U.S. Amateur championship in 1981. Golf Digest ranked him the third best amateur golfer in the country in 1981 and 1982. Upon his father’s death in 1977, Nathaniel hosted and ran the Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournament. His mother, Kathryn Crosby, co-hosted the event with him from 1982 to 1984. Nathaniel’s career in the golf business has included associations with the Tony Penna Golf Company, Orlimar, and Nicklaus Golf, where he served as president of the company. Nathaniel is currently pursuing a project that will cater to affluent golf connoisseurs. He lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with his wife and children.
Writer, Director and Producer
Robert Trachtenberg has written, produced and directed several documentaries. He earned the Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming for 2013’s American Masters — Mel Brooks: Make a Noise, a career-spanning documentary featuring exclusive interviews and complete access to Brooks’ film and photo archives. American Masters: On Cukor was the first feature-length film about legendary Hollywood director George Cukor. American Masters —Gene Kelly: Anatomy of a Dancer profiled the life and work of the innovative performer. Trachtenberg also wrote, produced and directed the Emmy-nominated American Masters — Cary Grant: A Class Apart, as well as a film about Hollywood pioneer Irving Thalberg. Specials directed by Trachtenberg have starred Mel Brooks, Alec Baldwin and Gene Wilder, as well as the eight-part series Elvis Mitchell: Under the Influence, and AFI’s Master Class – The Art of Collaboration with guests including Steven Spielberg, composer John Williams, actor Mark Wahlberg and director David O. Russell.
Trachtenberg is a Los Angeles-based photographer specializing in portrait, entertainment and fashion photography. Editorial clients include Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Tatler and Glamour. Entertainment and fashion clients include Neiman-Marcus, NBC, HBO, ABC, TBS, TNT, TCM, Disney and MGM. Trachtenberg’s photos have been selected for numerous awards, including the American Photography Annual, Communication Arts and American Photo Magazine’s Images of the Year.
Trachtenberg is also the author of the bestselling book When I Knew, published by Harper Collins, and has contributed to T: The New York Times Style Magazine.
American Masters Series Executive Producer
For more than two decades, award-winning filmmaker Michael Kantor has created outstanding arts programs for television. He joined American Masters as the series’ executive producer April 30, 2014.
His most recent PBS documentary series, Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle, hosted by Liev Schreiber, premiered in fall 2013 and was just nominated for an Emmy Award. Random House published the companion book. In January 2013, Kantor’s Peabody Award-winning, 90-minute film, Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy, aired as part of the Great Performances series on PBS. Narrated by Joel Grey, it included performances by Matthew Broderick, Kelli O’Hara, David Hyde Pierce, Marc Shaiman and many other Broadway talents. In 2012, Kantor produced The Thomashefskys: Music and Memories of a Life in the Yiddish Theater with Michael Tilson Thomas, which aired on PBS and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy. Kantor served as executive producer of the 90-minute special Give Me the Banjo, hosted by Steve Martin, and created Make ‘Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America, the critically acclaimed six-part documentary series, hosted by Billy Crystal, that debuted in January 2009. His script for episode four, When I’m Bad, I’m Better: The Groundbreakers, co-authored with Laurence Maslon, was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award. His landmark six-part series Broadway: The American Musical was hosted by Julie Andrews and honored with the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Nonfiction Series in 2005. That same year, he created three hours of DVD extras for 20th Century Fox’s 40th anniversary release of The Sound of Music.
Kantor wrote, directed and produced the award-winning profile American Masters: Quincy Jones: In the Pocket. With Stephen Ives, he co-directed Cornerstone: An Interstate Adventure for HBO, and produced The West (Executive Producer Ken Burns). His 20 years of work in documentaries include projects as varied as EGG: the arts show, Coney Island, The Donner Party, Margaret Sanger and Ric Burns’ New York series. As a writer, Kantor created Lullaby of Broadway: Opening Night on 42nd Street, co-authored the companion books to Broadway (Bulfinch) and Make ‘Em Laugh (Grand Central Publishing) and has published numerous essays and articles. He is president of Almo Inc., a company that distributes The American Film Theatre series, which includes Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance (starring Katharine Hepburn), Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh (Lee Marvin) and Chekhov’s Three Sisters (Laurence Olivier) among its titles. Kantor has served as a Tony nominator and teaches documentary filmmaking at the School for Visual Arts in New York City.