September 7, 2022

That Bing Crosby special: the rest of the story

You might recall a video I shared a couple of weeks ago of a non-holiday Bing Crosby special. (Then again, you might not. I do, though, and that's the important thing.) In discussing that show, which aired on February 15, 1964, I mentioned that guests Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin had originally been scheduled to appear on an earlier Crosby special, but that they'd been "canceled" from the program by the network. I also mentioned that The New York Times probably had some of the details, but that I wasn't in a position to pay to find out. 

Well, the mighty Jodie Peeler, from Garroway at Large, has come to the rescue! She's provided me, and by extension the rest of you, with a couple of articles that give us the lowdown on what actually happened behind the scenes, and it just adds another layer of interest to this program.

The first article, dated October 1, 1963 and written by Val Adams, speculates that the cancelation may have had something to do with music rights, but there was no definite answer. Adams's follow-up article from October 30, however, gives us a far more salacious reason: General Motors, parent company of Pontiac, one of the show's sponsors, objected to Sinatra's appearance because of his possible connections to "underworld leader" Salvatore "Sam" Giancana. Martin then withdrew from the show in sympathy with Sinatra. Since Pontiac is not sponsoring Crosby's February special, Sinatra and Martin will make their appearance then. I've cut and pasted the two stories so they'd fit the space better, but the content remains the same.

You may recognize Sam Giancana's name; besides being a renowned gangster, his mistress, Judith Exner (who was previously married to actor William Campbell, whom you might recognize from a couple of appearances on the original Star Trek), was also reportedly used as a go-between with President John Kennedy, with whom she was also having an affair. Giancana is also a favorite among conspiracy buffs as one of the mobsters involved in the assassination of Kennedy, which occurs less than one month after the appearance of Adams's second article. I tell you, this is another of those gifts that just keeps on giving!

My thanks again to Jodie, for reading my initial piece and responding to my covert cry for help. As Jackie Gleason might have said, It's About TV readers are the greatest readers in the world. TV  

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Thanks for writing! Drive safely!