Few names more evoke the wistful yearning of the Christmas carol than Bing Crosby. Immortal standards like “White Christmas,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” or the ill-conceived duet with David Bowie, “The Little Drummer Boy” are forever associated with the crooner. His kids likely wished he did not make it home for the holidays.
Worried his wealth would spoil his sons, Bing imposed a strict regimen of acceptable behavior. The corporal punishment was borderline torturous. Each week, Bing placed his sons on a scale. If their weight was above their father’s arbitrary standard, Bing beat them with sticks until they bled. To stay in line with the dietary rules, son Philip occasionally forwent breakfast. One time, Phillip hid his eggs and bacon under a rug. Bing fished the meal off the floor and forced Phillip to eat it, “dirt, hairs, and all.” The boys were sometimes compelled to wear their dirty underwear around their faces until they went to bed in a practice so common it was nicknamed, “the Crosby lavalier.”
The humiliation wore down the family. Their days were not merry and bright. Unable to prevent the scolding, wife Dixie turned to alcoholism. All four sons eventually did as well. One son regularly checked himself into mental institutions for treatments. Another two faced their depression by killing themselves.