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Gary Crosby; Singer, Actor, Son of Star

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Gary Crosby, eldest son of Bing Crosby and himself a singer, recording artist and actor, died Thursday at age 62.

Crosby died from the complications of lung cancer at St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank.

He had recorded two duets with his internationally known father, which became the first double-sided gold record in the history of the recording industry. Their songs were “Sam’s Song” and “Play a Simple Melody,” recorded in 1950.

The popularity of entertainer Gary Crosby, who performed on television and the stage and in films, never approached that of his legendary father. In his youth, he acquired a reputation as a bad-boy son who was frequently in trouble for drinking, and in 1967 he acknowledged that he was an alcoholic.

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Gary Crosby achieved perhaps his widest fame in 1983 when he published his autobiography, “Going My Own Way,” which said Bing Crosby had been abusive to him and his three brothers, twins Phillip and Dennis, and Lindsay, who committed suicide in 1989. Dennis committed suicide four years ago. The four were all born during Bing Crosby’s first marriage to Dixie Lee Crosby.

Always plagued by a weight problem, Gary Crosby said in his book that his father weighed him once a week and that if he had gained weight he was ordered to his father’s office for a whipping.

“I had a big, broad ass on me as a kid that used to annoy the hell out of my father,” Gary said, noting his father called him “Bucket Butt.”

“I’d get bent over and my pants taken down and beat till I bled,” he said in his book. He said he endured the pain by dreaming up ways to kill his father.

Youngest brother Lindsay supported the charges in the book, saying at the time: “I hope it clears up a lot of the old lies.”

But the twins disputed the accounts.

The four young Crosbys, who all were known for getting into trouble with drinking and other problems in their youth, had their own singing group in the 1950s.

The widowed Bing Crosby, who later married actress Kathryn Grant and had a second family, died in 1977, leaving money for his oldest four sons in a blind trust which none could touch until reaching the age of 65.

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Born June 25, 1933, Gary Crosby made his film debut at age 9 playing himself in his father’s “Star Spangled Rhythm.” The boy told The Times in 1942 that he liked everything about his first day on the Paramount set except getting kissed by Betty Hutton, exclaiming: “I hate that stuff!”

He had child acting parts in a few more movies such as “Duffy’s Tavern” and “Out of This World” and moved into adult roles in the late 1950s with “Mardi Gras,” “Holiday for Lovers” and “A Private’s Affair.”

His most recent film was “The Night Stalker” in 1987.

Gary Crosby, who was educated at Stanford University, had his own half-hour radio show during college summers, “The Gary Crosby Show” on KNX, noting at the time that he did not consider himself an actor.

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Asked if his father had guided him into show business, the college senior told The Times in 1954: “Pop said, ‘Do what you wanta do,’ and left it at that.”

Gary Crosby was perhaps best known to television audiences. He made his debut on “The Jack Benny Show” in 1955; played the role of Eddie on “The Bill Dana Show” from 1963 to 1964, and was Officer Ed Wells on “Adam 12" from 1968 to 1975.

He also had regular roles on the short-lived series “Mobile One” and “Sam” in the 1970s and “Hunter” in the mid-1980s.

Crosby had guest roles on “The Twilight Zone,” “Murder, She Wrote” and “Matlock.”

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He is survived by one son.


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