Gary Crosby – A Tale of Modest Success

Music | December 19, 2017

Gary Crosby And Nancy Dusina In, 'Operation Bikini', 1963. (Photo by American International Pictures/Getty Images)

Gary Crosby was the eldest of four sons born to the famous Bing Crosby and his then-wife, singer, Dixie Lee. Many of us would love to have had the opportunity to be born with and grow up with the privileged lifestyle that Gary Crosby had. Being privileged, however, does not, in and of itself, guarantee success and happiness.

As you can imagine, being the first of Bing Crosby’s children, Gary was met with high expectations. Even more prominent at the time, though, was his mother, Dixie Lee, an alluring, well-known singer. All eyes were on the young Gary Crosby to live up to the standard his parents had unintentionally set.

His first role in acting was in 1942 in a film along side his father in “Star-Spangled Banner".

From there, he acted in a couple of other films including Operation Bikini but initially made education his priority. Gary hosted his own radio show during the summers while in college, eventually graduating from Stanford University. After graduation, he returned to Hollywood and was cast in some supporting roles. He also recorded a couple of duets with his father in 1950.

Gary reportedly never really considered himself an actor/entertainer. Although he and his brothers formed a singing group early on called, The Crosby Boys. It was almost as if it was expected because of the family name. Much like the children of other famous celebrities, Gary was constantly in the spotlight and was forever in the shadow of his parents.

Probably because his heart was never in it, Gary never reached the level of success that his parents did. Let’s face it, Bing Crosby and Dixie Lee were legends! Bing, however, did not push his son to follow in the “family business”; instead telling him to, “Do what you wanna do”. Gary never had the support and guidance that one would expect from parents of their standing.

Acting, although not his passion, was what he knew. Gary went on to play the role of Eddie on, The Bill Dana Show from 1963 to 1964 and Officer Ed Wells on Adam 12 from 1968 to 1975.  He also had regular roles on Mobile One and Sam in the 1970s.

As a young man, Gary Crosby had the reputation for being a bad-boy who was constantly in trouble due to his drinking. Trying and failing to live up to his father’s image was just too much to handle, so he self-medicated with alcohol. Eventually, in 1967, he acknowledged that he was an alcoholic.

After Bing Crosby’s death, Gary wrote a memoir/autobiography called, Going My Own Way. It was the story of his troubled childhood, including his mother’s alcoholism and his father’s emotional and physical abuse. One of his brothers claimed that the story was embellished for the book, but the fact remains that perception is reality. It is also noteworthy to mention that two of his three brothers took their own lives.

The purpose of this article is not to smear the names of Bing Crosby and Dixie Lee. The purpose is to remind us that all that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. I’m sure Gary Crosby would have given up his notoriety in a heartbeat for the chance of life outside of the public eye. Many times, celebrity status comes with a price that is not worth paying.

Tags: Career-Defining Moments | Gary Crosby | The 1960s

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Rebeka Knott


Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.