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TV REVIEW : 'Remembering Bing' a Look at Der Bingle Before He Hit the Road

November 27, 1987|TERRY ATKINSON

In terms of wide appeal, popular longevity, great voice and unique personality, three male pop-music stars shine above the multitude of others--Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. While Sinatra and Presley have been so celebrated in recent years that they're in danger of being overrated--if that's possible--10 years after his death too many people seem to be losing sight of Crosby's talent and stature.

Thank goodness, then, for "Remembering Bing," a 90-minute profile Saturday at approximately 8 p.m. on Channel 28 (where pledge breaks will add some time) and at 7:30 p.m. on Channel 24.

This WTTW/Chicago-produced program isn't the great, complex Crosby documentary that might have been--one that could have contrasted the legendary relaxed crooner with the more troubled husband and father. Not even the barest details of Crosby's private life are mentioned; the focus is entirely on Bing the performer.

However, this is a very good compilation of clips and other material, capably hosted by Dorothy Lamour and sprinkled with remembrances from Bob Hope, Phil Harris and others.

Since even most older viewers know only the post-"Road"-picture Crosby, the program is most valuable in its first 20 minutes, featuring glimpses of Der Bingle's early years as a singer and actor.

The jazz phrasing and vibrancy of this pre-1935 period--seen in excellently selected (though often unidentified) excerpts from "The King of Jazz" (where Crosby was one of Paul Whiteman's fantastic Rhythm Boys), his Mack Sennett shorts, "The Big Broadcast," "Going Hollywood" and other films--may surprise many fans of his later, softer style.

And then it's on to "White Christmas," a hilarious "Road to Morocco" with Bob Hope, a raucous "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," "True Love," a TV "September Song" with Sinatra, and on and on. Such joys.

Whether it's rememberance or revelation, many viewers may find themselves getting a tingle of the swooning-for-the-crooning feeling that felled many a female fan back in the bright morning of an amazing career.

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