Binge Bing, Black Friday

(Above: Bing Crosby and David Bowie. Source: GetTV)

Today marks the “official” start of Christmas season, so GetTV is celebrating with a marathon of seven Bing Crosby holiday specials from the 1970s.

Officially titled the “Black Friday White Christmas 24-Hour Marathon,” the shows have two things in common besides Bing himself: they all include Crosby’s family, and they all conclude with the crooner’s iconic song, “White Christmas.”

The marathon kicks off at 6 am today. Here’s the schedule:

Bing Crosby and the Sounds of Christmas (NBC, 1971)

With Robert Goulet (“Do You See What I See?”), Mary Costa (“Carol of the Bells”) and the Mitchell Singing Boys. Highlights include Bing singing “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” accompanied by his son Harry on guitar. (Airs 6 am, 1 pm and 8 pm Friday, and 3 am Saturday.)

A Christmas with the Bing Crosby’s (NBC, 1972)

Guests include Sally Struthers (All in the Family), David Hartman (singing a medley from the musical “Scrooge”) and dancer Edward Villella.  (Airs 7 am, 2 pm and 9 pm Friday, and 4 am Saturday.)

(Clockwise from left: Struthers, Bing’s wife Kathryn, David Hartman, and Bing. Source: GetTV)

Bing Crosby’s Sun Valley Christmas Show (NBC, 1973)

Michael Landon sings John Denver’s “Season Suite: Winter,” Connie Stevens sings Harry Nilsson’s “Remember (Christmas),” and John Byner impersonates Crosby and others. (Airs 8 am, 3 pm and 10 pm Friday, and 5 am Saturday.)

Christmas with the Bing Crosby’s (NBC, 1974)

Guests include Mac Davis and Karen Valentine (Room 222). Little info is available anywhere about this special, so tune in!  (Airs Friday at 9 am, 4 pm and 11pm.} 

Merry Christmas, Fred, From The Crosbys (CBS, 1975)

Bing and guest Fred Astaire, co-stars of the 1942 movie Holiday Inn, which introduced the Oscar-winning song “White Christmas,” get together again. Guests include The Young Americans singing group and a surprise appearance by Bing’s most frequent movie co-star, initials BH. (Airs Friday at 10 am, 5 pm and midnight.)

Bing Crosby’s White Christmas (CBS, 1976)

Guests include Bernadette Peters (then starring in the CBS sitcom All’s Fair). Bing’s teenage kids sing a disco version of  “Jingle Bells.” And Jackie Gleason (The Honeymooners) sings, dances and tells jokes. (Airs Friday at 11 am and 6 pm, and Saturday at 1 am.)

(Gleason and Crosby. Source; GetTV)

Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas (CBS, 1977)

This is the one with the now-classic duet of Bing and David Bowie singing “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy.” It’s also the one that aired after Bing had died of a heart attack a couple of months prior to broadcast. Other guests include Twiggy, Ron Moody and impressionist Stanley Baxter. (Airs Friday at noon and 7 pm, and Saturday at 2 am.)

Steven Lewis, whose Bing Crosby site was invaluable to us in writing this story, notes that Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas was not only Bing’s last Christmas special but “probably his best.”

Binge on Bing this Friday and tell us if you agree!

GetTV is available free over-the-air with an antenna hooked up to your TV set, as well as on many cable systems. For your local channel number, visit “Get the Channel.”  

Incidentally, there’s one Bing Crosby Christmas special from the ‘70s not on GetTV’s schedule today: Bing Crosby’s Christmas Show (NBC, 1970), with guests including the Doodletown Pipers, Melba Moore, and comic actors Joe E Ross and Joe Besser. You can watch it at The Paley Center for Media in New York or Los Angeles.

About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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