Much is known about classic crooner Bing Crosby; but less is said about the tragic death of Dixie Lee Crosby the beloved entertainer’s first wife. Bing’s first wife was a Hollywood actress by the name of Dixie Lee. And she was more famous than him when the two first met. Despite some initial hesitancy on her part, her and Bing ended up getting married and having four children together. Bing and Dixie Lee married for over two decades before their union ended in tragedy; leaving a dark cloud over the remainder of Bing’s own years. Join Facts Verse as we take a look of Dixie Lee Crosby Death, the forgotten wife of Bing Crosby.
The life story of Hollywood actress Dixie Lee Crosby is not nearly as well-known as that of her more famous husband. Dixie Lee was the first wife of legendary crooner Bing Cosby. Dixie Lee was born in Tennessee on October 4, 1911. The young girl began exuding talent from an early age. And it only during her teenage years that she won her first Broadway role as a result of a singing contest that held in the city of Chicago. Dixie Lee won the singing contest with flying colors; and was subsequently on her way to New York City to make her debut on the Broadway stage.
As a result of her early exposure on the Broadway stage; Dixie Lee secured a Hollywood contract at the age of just 18. The young woman’s contract came via 20th Century Fox; And the studio quickly went to work casting her in pictures. It was in 1928 that Dixie Lee first crossed paths with burgeoning star Bing Crosby; at which point she was the much more famous of the two. Bing Crosby apparently found himself instantly stricken by Dixie Lee’s charms; while the actress wasn’t so sure about the up-and-coming crooner.
Although Dixie Lee was initially hesitant to fall for the charms of Bing Crosby; the two kept crossing paths and each time she found her defenses a little more worn down by the rising star. Dixie Lee Crosby officially fell for Bing’s continued advances sometime in early 1929. And the two married only a little over a year later, in September of 1930. The two tied the knot at Hollywood’s Church of the Blessed Sacrament.
Throughout the early years of her and Bing’s marriage, Dixie Lee continued on with her film career. Although Dixie Lee was a fairly prolific actress during the time that she was working and found a good deal of commercial success at points; she never made the lasting impression that her husband would go on to. Most of Dixie Lee’s features have largely forgotten. The actress’s last role on the screen came via 1935’s Redheads on Parade. This after which point she stepped back from her career to focus on her home life.
Despite Dixie Lee abandoning her acting career in 1935, she released a few duets with her husband the following year. Over the remainder of the 1930s, Bing Crosby’s star would rise in a fairly big way. And it quickly got to the point where his income was more than enough to provide for Dixie Lee, as well as there kids. Dixie Lee and Bing had four children over the course of the 1930s; with those children being Gary, Phillip, Dennis, and Lindsay. Bing Crosby purchased a four-acre plot of land in the Toluca Lake area of Los Angeles and this became the family’s home for many years.
As Bing Crosby became more and more of a big star into the 1940s; he found that he had less and less time to spend with his family. Perhaps as a result of this lack of attention from her husband, Dixie Lee found herself turning to the bottle. Despite this, it seems that Dixie Lee and Bing got along very well when he was home. And the two loved taking care of the horses that they maintained on their Toluca Lake property.
Bing Crosby’s breakout success came in 1942, when the singer starred in the Christmas classic Holiday Inn. The release of the film was also accompanied by the release of the classic song “White Christmas”, which remains one of the star’s most iconic tracks to this day. Sadly, Christmas for the Crosby’s wasn’t going to be white that holiday season, but red. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support. Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way.
In January of 1943, Dixie Lee, Bing Crosby; and their four children were taking down their Christmas decorations from the previous year when a freak accident caused the wiring from their Christmas lights to short circuit and engulf their house in flames. In a panic, Bing managed to get his wife and children out of the house. But failed to save a single one of their belongings. All of Dixie Lee and Bing’s possessions lost in the fire. And the family subsequently had to build their lives back up from the ground up.
It estimated that Dixie Lee and Bing lost around $250,000 worth of property in the fire that claimed their home in January of 1943. When adjusted for inflation, that figure would be closer to $4 million. Amongst the things lost in the fire included Bing’s personal collection of musical recordings. After losing their Toluca Lake home, Dixie Lee and Bing took their kids and moved to Beverly Hills. Sadly, this wouldn’t be the last brush with tragedy that the couple would face.
As Bing Crosby’s fame increased and he began spending more and more time away from his family; Dixie Lee began to suffer from depression. In 1947, a movie released by the name of Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman. The director of the film had worked with Bing just a year previously. And it didn’t take Dixie Lee and her husband long to realize that the film a thinly veiled attack on the former actress. The film depicted a fallen starlet who had given up her career to make room in her life for her crooner husband. And had subsequently fallen victim to alcoholism. The film angered Bing Crosby, but there was little that the star could do.
Whether it was the release of Smash-Up; the Story of a Woman the year prior or a culmination of many things that had been snowballing for years. Dixie Lee and Bing Crosby separated in 1948. However, the separation didn’t completely take. The two ended up reconciling a short period of time afterwards. But would sadly be torn apart again in 1952 as a result of something that neither could’ve predicted.
In November of 1952, mere days before Dixie Lee would’ve celebrated her 41st birthday; the actress passed away from cancer. The formerly venerated actress buried two days later at the designated Crosby plot of Holy Cross cemetery. Which is located in Culver City, California. Following the burial, a funeral procession for Dixie Lee held at Beverly Hill’s Church of the Good Shepherd. Dixie Lee arguably never used to having a husband as famous as Bing, and Bing never got over the death of his first love. By the time that Dixie Lee passed away, her and Bing had married for over two decades. Although the two had experienced some troubles towards the end of their marriage. It seems that Bing was just as in love with Dixie Lee at the time of her death as he was when he first began pursuing her.
Bing Crosby’s friends and family had all recounted how devastated the crooner was upon the Dixie Lee Crosby death; his first wife in 1952. However, the beloved crooner eventually managed to get over the tragic death of Dixie Lee. Bing went on to remarry in 1957; to a woman by the name of Kathryn Crosby, who was also an actress. Bing and Kathryn remained marred until the crooner’s death in 1977.
The story of Dixie Lee Crosby and Bing Crosby is a tragedy for the ages and it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where it went wrong for the couple. If Bing had been there more for Dixie Lee and his family, perhaps Dixie Lee’s health wouldn’t have taken such a sour turn so early on in her lifetime. However, the tension in their marriage was also exacerbated by outside sources, such as the decidedly antagonist and mean-spirited release of Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman.
At the time that Dixie Lee and Bing’s romance first started, the starlet was taking a risk on the burgeoning crooner, as she was the much more successful of the two. The tables soon flipped, and Dixie Lee spent the majority of her marriage unexpectedly having to take a backseat in life to a man who was now one of the most popular entertainers in the entire world.
Nowadays, few people even remember that Dixie Lee ever existed! The actress is mostly remember for her marriage to Bing Crosby, with most her film works having been lost to time thanks to their decidedly dated and limited appeal. Bing himself refused to talk much about his late first wife after her tragic and untimely death, though it wasn’t hard to discern from the look on the man’s face when she was brought up that he had been deeply affected by the loss of her. When pressed, Bing would say that Dixie Lee was sorely missed.
Dixie Lee was a former Hollywood actress who gave up her career so that she could stay home and take care of the kids while her more famous husband travelled the world. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Bing Crosby’s first wife was more famous than him when the two first met, and that she suffered from alcoholism as a result of Bing’s increased fame after their union? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!