A Treasury of Christmas Carols


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On Television (1948-1977)

The first of Bing's television appearances was on 19 December 1948 when he sang "Silent Night" with The Mitchell Boys' Choir. This first telecast can still be seen today on the video "The Magic Of Bing Crosby" Part 1. Bing did not undertake much TV work over the next few years although notable exceptions were his participation in a 14 hour telethon in 1952 and two half-hour shows he recorded for General Electric in 1954. In 1956 he appeared in the first film especially made for television - "High Tor" - which also featured a young Julie Andrews and Nancy Olsen.

However his real breakthrough into TV came in 1957 when he hosted the award winning program "The Edsel Show" with guests Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Rosemary Clooney. The huge success of that show led to a major contract for Bing with ABC TV and he then began a pattern of making two 'specials' each year which were invariably very well received.

In 1964, Bing starred in a weekly situation comedy program, which only ran for one season. More suited to Bing's talents was his frequent role as host of the Hollywood Palace variety shows. His 32 appearances made him the most employed presenter of the series which ran from 1964 to 1970. He also starred in the TV movie "Doctor Cook's Garden" in 1971 and won much critical acclaim for his performance. Bing also could often be seen in television adverts with his Minute Maid and Shell performances being the best known.

However, Bing will probably be most remembered for his Christmas TV specials which started in the 1960s and became the highlight of the festive season each year, being watched by very large audiences. His last television appearance was in "Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas" which was taped in England and shown in America on 30th November 1977 and in the UK on 24th December 1977. This final show has also been available on commercial video in the UK.

Bing Crosby’s Christmas Shows

Bing's annual Christmas show tradition began on radio in 1936, where it continued through 1963. Along the way he appeared in his first Christmas TV special with Frank Sinatra in 1957. Bing's annual holiday Christmas TV tradition began in 1961 and continued through the year of his death, 1977.

After his death CBS produced a compilation of Bing's TV Christmas specials called "A Bing Crosby Christmas -- Like the Ones We Used to Know" that included excerpts from Bing's Xmas specials from 1962-77. The 1-hour program is still available on videotape. Here is a list of Bing's guests on his television Christmas specials:

Dec. 20, 1957 The Timex Show with Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby (ABC)
Bing drops by Frank's place bringing pizza and gifts, and the two join voices for a half hour of Christmas carols.

Dec. 11, 1961 The Bing Crosby Christmas Show (ABC)
Guests: Bob Hope, Marion Ryan, Dave King, Terry-Thomas, Shirley Bassey. `

Dec. 14, 1962 The Bing Crosby Christmas Show (ABC) COLOR
Guests: Mary Martin, Andre Previn, The UN Children's Choir. (This was ABC's first special to be broadcast in COLOR.)

Dec. 24, 1963 The Promise
Bing narrates the story of Christmas.

Dec. 21, 1964 The Bing Crosby Christmas Show (ABC)
Guests: Beverly Garland, Carol Faylen, Diane Sherry, Frank McHugh. (This was an episode of Bing's 1964-65 situation comedy.)

Dec. 25, 1965 The Hollywood Palace (ABC) COLOR
Guests: Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians, Dorothy Collins, cast of Hogan's Heroes, Harry Crosby. Bing sings White World of Winter, Whiffenpoof Song (w Waring), Glow Worm (w Collins), Go Tell It on the Mountain (w Waring), We Wish You the Merriest (w group) and White Christmas. A black-and-white version of this telecast is available from Festival Films.

Dec. 24, 1966 The Hollywood Palace (ABC) COLOR
Guests: Kate Smith, Cyd Charise, Bob Newhart, the Crosby family.

Dec. 19, 1967 The Hollywood Palace (ABC) COLOR
Guests: King family, Louis Nye, Adam West, the Crosby family.

Dec. 21, 1968 The Hollywood Palace (ABC) COLOR
Guests: the Lennon sisters, Glen Campbell, John Byner, the Crosby family.

Dec. 18, 1969 Bing and Carol Together Again for the First Time (NBC) COLOR
Guests: Carol Burnett, Roy Clark and Juliet Prowse.

Dec. 16, 1970 Bing Crosby's Christmas Show (NBC) COLOR
Guests: Jack Wild, the Doodletown Pipers, Melba Moore, the Crosby family.

Dec. 14, 1971 Bing Crosby and the Sounds of Christmas (NBC) COLOR
Guests: Mary Costa, Robert Goulet, Mitchell Singing Boys, the Crosby family.

Dec. 10, 1972 A Christmas with the Bing Crosbys (NBC) COLOR
Guests: Sally Struthers, David Hartman, the Crosby family.

Dec. 9, 1973 Bing Crosby's Sun Valley Christmas Show (NBC) COLOR
Guests: Michael Landon, Connie Stevens, John Byner, the Crosby family.

Dec. 15, 1974 Christmas with the Bing Crosbys (NBC) COLOR
Guests: Mac Davis, Karen Valentine, the Crosby family.

Dec. 3, 1975 Merry Christmas, Fred, from the Crosbys (CBS) COLOR
Guests: Fred Astaire, the Young Americans, the Crosby family.

Dec. 1, 1976 The Bing Crosby White Christmas Special (CBS) COLOR
Guests: Jackie Gleason, Bernadette Peters, the Crosby family.

Nov. 30, 1977 Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas (CBS) COLOR
Guests: David Bowie (see photo, left), Twiggy, Ron Moody, Stanley Baxter, Trinity Boys Choir, the Crosby family.

This show featured the Crosby-David Bowie duet "Peace on Earth / The Little Drummer Boy." The song can be found on the following Compact Discs:

  • Christmas with Bing Crosby (Telstar TCD 2468 MCPS)

  • Bing Crosby's Christmas Classics (Capitol 72435-21433-2-0)

Bing Crosby and David Bowie

One of the more surreal moments in pop music history took place Sept. 11, 1977, when the leading American pop star of the first half of the Twentieth Century met and performed with one of the more innovative rock 'n' rollers of the last half of the Century. Bing was in London on a concert tour and to tape his yearly TV Christmas special. It was Bing's idea that he should have as a guest on his TV show a young star. Someone suggested David Bowie. Bing had never heard of Bowie, but his kids had, and so an invitation was sent to the rock star. Bowie, as it turned out, was a secret fan of Der Bingle and jumped at the chance to perform with him.

Bing's idea was that he and Bowie would perform "The Little Drummer Boy" as a duet. Bowie felt the song did not showcase his voice very well, so the writers added "Peace on Earth," which suited Bowie's voice quite well. The two musical spokesmen of different generations met for the first time on the morning of the taping, rehearsed for an hour and finished their duet in only three takes. Bing was impressed with Bowie, and gave him his phone number at the end of the taping. Bing told an interviewer four days later that he considered Bowie "a clean cut kid and a real fine asset to the show. He sings well, has a great voice and reads lines well. He could be a good actor if he wanted."

Bing died a month later, and the public did not see their performance until after his death. The duet generated much interest, and was excerpted to become a perennial TV music video, a best-selling 45-rpm single and, eventually, a computer CD-ROM. Some viewed the joint performance of Bing and Bowie as a symbol of the end of the intergenerational wars of the 1960s and '70s. In 1999 TV Guide chose the duet as one of the 25 best musical television moments of the century (June 5 issue).

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Collections of Christmas Carols & Poetry
Compiled and Edited by
Douglas D. Anderson

Victorian Visions
A Christmas Poetry Collection

Divinely Inspired
A Christmas Poetry Collection

The Bridegroom Cometh
Poetry For The Advent

Other books by Doug Anderson

Once A Lovely Shining Star

A Christmas Poetry Collection

So Gracious Is The Time

A Christmas Poetry Collection

How Still The Night

The Christmas Poems of Father Andrew, S.D.C.

 Father and Daughter

Christmas Poems by Frances and William Havergal

Now, Now The Mirth Comes

Christmas Poetry by Robert Herrick

What Sudden Blaze Of Song

The Christmas Poems of Rev. John Keble

 A Holy Heavenly Chime

The Christmastide Poems of Christina Georgina Rossetti

All My Heart This Night Rejoices

The Christmas Poems of Catherine Winkworth

A Victorian Carol Book

Favorites from the 19th Century —
Still favorites today!

Other Books by Doug Anderson

A Psalter – A Book of the Psalms Arranged by Luther's Categories

Betbüchlein: A Personal Prayer Book, a recreation of Luther's 1529 prayer book

Daily Prayer

Luther's Passional

Luther's Writings on Prayer: A Selection

Devotions for the Advent – 2009
A new edition for 2010 is being prepared.

The Lenten Sermons of Martin Luther, Second Edition

Descriptions of all these volumes can be seen at
Books by Doug Anderson

Christmas is a wonderful, cheerful holiday.  Whether we spend it by a real tree or some Balsam Hill artificial Christmas trees, at the end of the day what matters is that we enjoy our time together with our loved ones. 

The Hymns and Carols of Christmas
Douglas D. Anderson

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