I’ve been to the Friars Club in Beverly Hills for many stag star roasts. At one such salty event the always starch-clean Art Linkletter was a late arrival and asked the awesome dais, “Has the word —- been used yet?” To which Buddy Hackett bellowed, “It was in the benediction!”
It was a different Friars Club April 7 as Bing Crosby was remembered by Kathryn Crosby in “My Life with Bing.” The ever-pretty blonde, shimmered in a fuchsia-colored two-piece gown by Oleg Cassini as she talked-sang through their courtship, 20-year marriage and three children. One of then, Mary, directed her mother in this show.
Her claim to fame, she laughed, was playing the role of Kristen, the one who shot “J.R.” in “Dallas. Larry Hagman was at the Friars with wife Maj. Also on hand as part of Kathryn and Bing’s history was A.C. Lyles and wife Martha. He’d known Kathryn since her arrival at Paramount in 1953, the year I also met her, and the year I started writing my column for Daily Variety. Bing and Kathryn gave me countless opportunities for “items.”
Kathryn solo’s all of the songs except “What’ll I Do?” when Todd Murray joined her. Music director Edward Sayegh was on piano thruout. On screen, above the stage, clips followed the biography of Kathy and Bing. Their Las Vegas wedding film accompanied singing “True Love.” “Dream” and “Accentuate the Positive” followed. There was also footage of Bing and Bob Hope on golf courses. A touching scene showed a happy father, Bing welcoming his first daughter Mary, after five sons. He croons — as only Bing could — “Moonlight Becomes You” to the baby. A classic and classy scene from Bing’s 50th anni in showbiz demonstrates how (artistically) compatible the couple was despite the 30-year age difference. “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” is the untop-able finale.
Kathryn returns for two more Fridays at the Friars.