With his boyish charm and everyman good looks, Bing was definitely a ladies man. But only two lucky women bore the name Mrs. Crosby.
Dixie Lee Crosby (10/04/1911 - 11/01/1952)
Dixie Lee Crosby, formerly Wilma Wyatt, was born in Harriman, Tennessee, to Evan and Nora Wyatt on October 4th, 1911. Wilma was undeniably gorgeous and talented. She won a singing contest in Chicago which included a part in a Broadway play. She was soon on her way to Hollywood and at the age of eighteen, she was signed to a contract with Fox. When Bing and Dixie met, she, indeed, was the bigger star.
The two first met in November 1928 and Bing was immediately smitten. Dixie was a bit more hesitant. They met again at a party in Hollywood in early 1929 and the Crosby charm was too much to resist. The two married September 29, 1930, at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Hollywood.
Wedded bless followed and so did a yard full of children. Gary Crosby arrived first in October 1933, the twins, Phillip and Dennis came along in 1934, and Lindsay rounded out the bunch in 1938. Today, only Phillip is left from Bing's first group of children. Dennis and Lindsay both reportedly committed suicide and Gary died of lung cancer in the '90s.
Like all couples, Bing and Dixie had their problems. She presumably had regrets about giving up her career for married life and she had to deal with Bing's rowdy, alcohol-driven youthful days. In an effort to get Bing clean and sober, she reportedly picked up a drinking habit of her own. Bing was also at the height of his popularity during their marriage, leaving him off entertaining most of the time and Dixie at home with the four rambunctious boys. Dixie was not left out of entertaining completely. The two recorded the duets, "The Way You Look Tonight" and "A Fine Romance" in 1936.
Dixie had not been in good health for awhile but it was during the filming of "Little Boy Lost" in France that Bing learned that Dixie was suffering from terminal ovarian cancer. She died of the disease November 1, 1952
Bing was truly devastated by Dixie Lee's death and the task of raising four boys was placed squarely in his lap. Two years after Dixie's death and many dates with beautiful women later, Bing found the woman who would become the second Mrs. Crosby.
Kathryn Crosby (11/25/1933 - present)
Kathryn Crosby, formerly Olive Kathryn Grandstaff, was born in Houston, Texas, November, 25, 1933. Kathryn, it turns out, is the same age as Bing's oldest child from his first marriage. Regardless of the age difference. It was romance from the start.
In her home state of Texas, Ms. Grandstaff won a number of beauty pageants and her good looks eventually opened doors for her in Hollywood. She was signed at Paramount in 1954 and writing a column for her hometown's newspaper. Bing just happened to be shooting "White Christmas" that same year. She was doing some work for the costume department on the lot of Paramount when she wandered past one of the bungalows. A voice from inside called out, "what's your hurry!" And after playfully mocking her southern accent, Bing asked her inside for tea.
Many invitations were extended after that day, some kept and some refused. The two had a rather tumultuous on again-off again relationship, which included periods in which they did not communicate at all. Wedding dates were set and dashed. Finally, all the kinks were worked out and the two were wed in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 24, 1954 at St. Anne's Church. The two made their home in Hillsborough, California, and traveled around the world. Three children came out of their union. Harry was born in 1958, Mary Francis (Bing's only daughter) in 1959, and Nathaniel in 1961. The children were included from an early age in Crosby projects such as the Christmas specials and Minute Maid orange juice commercials. They also toured with Bing and crew in the 1970's. Harry is now reportedly an investment banker in New York and has just married. Daughter Mary Crosby Brodka, who is most notorious for shooting J.R. Ewing on the popular television show "Dallas," is married with two children. Nathaniel is married for the second time and has four children. He is involved in the business world and reportedly lives in Florida.
The Crosby's lived quite happily until that fateful day in October. Bing died in Spain while playing golf. This left Kathryn a 44 year old widow, which is not much younger than Bing was when Dixie Lee died. To this day, Kathryn has never wed again. She is the author of several books on Bing Crosby and lends her talents to numerous plays and productions. She is currently promoting her new book, "My Last Years With Bing," and helping fans to celebrate Bing Crosby's Centennial year.
*Much of this information was taken from Richard Gruden's "Crooner of the Century" and Malcolm MacFarlane's "A Diary of a Lifetime"
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