BetteBack March 5, 1977: Bette Tapes The Bing Crosby Special; Accident Occurs

Wisconsin State Journal
‘Lucky’ Crosby survives fall
March 5, 1977


PASADENA, Calif. (UPI) – Bing Crosby was described Friday by his old friend, Bob Hope, as “the luckiest man alive” for surviving a 20-foot fall from a stage Thursday night at the climax of a gala celebration of his 50th year in show

The crooner, 72, was reported “still quite sore” from bruises and a head cut but in good condition. He decided to stay at least another day in the hospital to recuperate.

Crosby was acknowledging a standing ovation from a celebrity studded audience at the Ambassador Auditorium when he apparently turned the wrong way to leave the stage and toppled over its front to the floor of a pit used to raise scenery.

Hope, other performers in the show and the crowd of 1,200 were stunned.

“He grabbed a big piece of proscenium arch made of wood with lights on it,” Hope said. “It broke his fall and saved his life. If he hadn’t grabbed the he wouldn’t be around today.

“I couldn’t look at first or go near the pit. I was so shocked out ran down to Bing. I was thrilled that he could talk.”

Hope telephoned Crosby Friday morning and reported Bing was in good spirits.

“He told me, ‘I gotta change the act – get a new finish,’ ” Hope said.

“I told him, ‘I know you pray a lot, Bing, and now it’s really paid off.’ ”

Crosby’s wife, Kathryn, and singer Pearl Bailey were also among the first to reach his side: A doctor from the audience examined him and then reassured the stunned audience that Crosby was not badly hurt. He was removed on a stretcher and a paramedic said he “hummed a few songs” in the ambulance.

A spokesman at Huntington Memorial Hospital said Crosby spent “a very comfortable night.” Mrs. Crosby stayed with him in the room overnight. The spokesman said he had no broken bones and required no stitches.

The crooner had clowned and sung for three hours leading to the finale of his “50th anniversary in show business”
benefit whose proceeds went to WAIF, the child care charity, and a scholarship fund. The show was taped by CBS for
showing Nov. 20.

“I hope it won’t be another 50 years before we can celebrate like this again.” Crosby said just before he took the fall.

“We’ll give it another try tomorrow night,” he joked as he lay waiting for the ambulance.

Guests on the show and those in the formally attired audience included Rosemary Clooney, Paul Anka, Debbie Reynolds, the Mills Brothers and Bette Midler.

Nick Condos, a close personal friend, dashed from the wings to try to assist Crosby but he was hit by the falling
scenery and suffered a two-inch head cut.

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