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[Deathwatch] Philip Crosby, entertainer and celebrity son, 69

Last surviving son of Bing Crosby dies
By Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES -- Philip Crosby, one of Bing Crosby's twin sons -- and the
last of the four sons from the legendary crooner's first marriage --
has died. He was 69.

Crosby was found dead in his Woodland Hills home on Tuesday, according
to Crosby family attorney Ed O'Sullivan. The Los Angeles County
coroner's office said Crosby died of natural causes.

Crosby's four sons from his marriage to former jazz singer-actress
Dixie Lee, who died of cancer in 1952, were Gary, Lindsay and twins
Philip and Dennis. All four entered show business as young men and had
varying degrees of success.

In the late 50s, the four brothers formed a nightclub act called the
Crosby Boys and performed in Las Vegas and elsewhere, including
appearances on their father's TV specials.

But the young Crosbys were known for getting into trouble with drinking
and other problems, and Gary dropped out of the Crosby Boys in 1959
after a dressing-room brawl with his brothers in Montreal. He then
launched a solo act and his brothers continued performing as a trio.

Philip Crosby, who made some recordings and had small roles in films
such as "Robin and the Seven Hoods" and "None but the Brave," both
starring Frank Sinatra, had a relatively short-lived show-business

In 1983, he told People magazine that he hadn't performed in a year and
that his last gig was at a Los Angeles-area Elks Club party.

By then he had been married four times, the first three to Las Vegas

He had also been arrested several times for drunken driving in 1980
and, despite 18 months of Alcoholics Anonymous, he told the magazine,
"I don't drink anymore -- but I don't drink any less."

Each of the Crosby brothers, according to the magazine article,
received four-figure monthly checks from a trust fund established by
their mother.

Born in Los Angeles in 1934, Philip Crosby and his brothers grew up in
a 20-room mansion where they became fodder for their father's publicity
machine and posed for pictures in matching outfits.

Life magazine once called Bing Crosby "incontestably the No. 1 Big
Family Man of Hollywood" and the National Father's Day Committee
honored him as "Hollywood's Most Typical Father."

But Bing Crosby's image as the easygoing, all-American father of four
strapping boys was shattered decades later with the publication of Gary
Crosby's 1983 memoir, "Going My Own Way."

In the book, the eldest Crosby son portrayed Bing as a cold, aloof and
abusive father who frequently beat his sons.

Both parents were strict disciplinarians. When Philip hid his bacon and
eggs under a rug instead of finishing his breakfast, Gary Crosby wrote,
their mother found the food and forced him to eat it, "dirt, hairs and

Gary Crosby's book provoked what the magazine characterized as "a
high-powered fraternal feud."

"Gary is a whining ... crybaby, walking around with a 2-by-4 on his
shoulder and just daring people to nudge it off," Philip Crosby said at
the time.

Dennis Crosby called the book "Gary's business," while brother Lindsay
sided with Gary. "I'm glad he did it," he said. "I hope it clears up a
lot of the old lies and rumors."

Philip Crosby disputed many of the revelations in his brother's book
but did not deny his father believed in corporal punishment.

"We never got an extra whack or a cuff we didn't deserve," he told

After attending a strict, Jesuit-run boarding school south of San
Francisco, Crosby served a stint in the Army in the mid-1950s and
attended what is now Washington State University in Pullman, where he
was a guard on the football team.

Bing Crosby died in 1977 at age 73. Lindsay Crosby committed suicide in
1989, as did Dennis Crosby two years later. Gary Crosby died of
complications of lung cancer in 1995.

Philip Crosby is survived by four children: Mary Elizabeth Crosby,
Dixie Lee Crosby, Flip Crosby and Philip Crosby Jr.