How Did Bing Crosby Die? The Legend’s Final Round of Golf

how did bing crosby die
Bing Crosby publicity photo, c. 1930s. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Bing Crosby was known for his equal emphasis on lyrics and music in his classic songs and was just as well-known as a talented actor and entertainer. And we certainly wouldn’t have the most classic rendition of a Christmas song ever, “White Christmas.”

When the world lost Bing Crosby, it lost one of the most treasured performers of the 20th century, but we’re comforted in knowing that he was able to spend his last moments doing something he loved most.

How did Bing Crosby die? Find out all the details below.  

How Did Bing Crosby Die?

What did Bing Crosby die of, and when?

Bing Crosby died of a heart attack on October 14, 1977. He died right after he finished 18 holes of golf at the La Moraleja Golf Course near Madrid, Spain, one of the country’s most famous golf clubs and champion golf courses.

bing crosby military
Bing Crosby in the Netherlands in 1975. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

How Old Was Bing Crosby When He Died?

The famous American singer and actor was declared dead at 74.

Why Did Bing Crosby Have a Heart Attack?

Following Bing Crosby’s death, a biopsy determined that his heart attack was caused by coronary artery disease or blocked arteries. 

This condition would have made him more at risk for clots to form in the arteries of the heart.

Was Bing Crosby a Cigarette Smoker?

Bing Crosby’s heart issues, which ultimately led to his sudden death, could be attributed to his smoking habits. 

He was a chain cigarette smoker for years until he switched to a pipe because his mother couldn’t stand cigarettes.

Who was Bing Crosby Playing Golf with When He Died?

Bing Crosby knew his stuff, playing rounds of golf with many professional golfers over the years.

The day he died, Bing Crosby was partnered with World Cup champion Manuel Piñero

The two were playing against Spanish golf pros, César de Zulueta, the golf club president, and Valentín Barrios

Crosby and his partner won the golf game by one stroke, carding a score of 85 by the end of the game. 

A search of “Bing Crosby last photo” brings up several photos of the “Swingin’ on a Star” with his fellow players. Reportedly, in the last photo taken, Bing tees off.  

What were Bing Crosby’s Last Words?

Reportedly, after finishing their golf game around 6:30 p.m., Bing Crosby turned to his golfing companions and said, “That was a great game of golf, fellas. Let’s go have a Coco-Cola.”

Those would be his last words as just a few steps later, the “Strangers in the Night” singer collapsed about 20 yards from the entrance to the clubhouse. 

Doing nothing to try and break his fall, Bing landed head-first on the red-brick pavement, which left a large bruise on the left side of his forehead. 

One of his golfing companions later admitted, “We thought he had just slipped. Bing had shown no sign of fatigue. He was happy and singing as he went around the course.”

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the case, and the beloved singer passed away almost instantly from a massive heart attack.

After his golfing companions carried him into the clubhouse, a physician administered oxygen to try and revive him, but it was too late.  

What Hole Did Bing Crosby Die On?

When Bing Crosby collapsed from a heart attack, he was only a few yards from the clubhouse entrance. 

He was by the 17th hole of the La Moraleja golf course on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain.

How Much Was Bing Crosby Worth When He Died?

When Bing Crosby died in 1977, the “White Christmas” singer was worth about $50 million. 

Adjusting for inflation, that translates into more than $220,000 by 2023 standards.

Who Did Bing Crosby Leave His Money To?

The legendary crooner’s will stipulated that all his money, belongings, and estate would be given to his second wife, Kathryn Grant, to whom he was married for 20 years.

bing crosby facts
Bing Crosby in 1951. Image by CBS Radio on Wikimedia Commons.

Were JFK and Bing Crosby Friends?

Bing Crosby and President John F. Kennedy became very close friends over the years because of their shared love of playing golf. 

After the former president was assassinated, Crosby dedicated an entire wing of his Southern California estate to his dear friend.

What Did Frank Sinatra Think of Bing Crosby?

Frank Sinatra reportedly idolized the “Sweet Leilani” singer, even purchasing a similar hat to emulate him.

In 1965, Sinatra was quoted in an article as saying, “When I started singing in the mid-1930s, everybody was trying to copy the Crosby style – the casual kind of raspy sound in the throat. Bing was on top, and a bunch of us … were trying to break in. 

“It occurred to me that maybe the world didn’t need another Crosby. I decided to experiment a little and come up with something different.”

Later, after finding that different sound that would soar him into superstardom, Sinatra would star in films with his idol, including High Society in 1956 and the Christmas classic, Happy Holidays with Bing and Frank. 

Related: 10 Crazy Frank Sinatra Facts: His Mob Involvement, Casino Sex Parties, and More

Who Sold More Records, Sinatra or Crosby?

The veteran performer reigns supreme on this one. 

Bing Crosby had unmatched popularity as a singer, releasing close to 400 songs between 1927 and 1965, all of which made the national sales charts.

That’s twice as many as Frank Sinatra and the King of Rock ‘n Roll Elvis Presley combined throughout their careers.

Related: How Did Frank Sinatra Die? His Final Words, Legacy, and More

Did Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby Like Each Other?

Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby had a very close sibling-type bond.

A quick search of the Rosemary Clooney Palladium also answers the question, were Bob Hope and Bing Crosby close friends?

As the site says, “these three legends (Hope, Rosemary, Clooney) had a tremendous warmth of feeling for each other, and above all, they simply had a ball anytime the three of them – or any combination of two – were in the same room together.”

Clooney’s widower, Dante DiPaolo, said of the trio, “They wouldn’t see each other as much as they would have liked, but their friendship was understood. Bob and Rosemary had a brother-sister relationship. It was the same with Bing.”

So, was Rosemary Clooney in love with Bing Crosby? The answer is no. 

Who Was Bing Crosby’s Best Friend?

Bing Crosby had many high-profile friendships, as we already established with Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, and President Kennedy. 

Still, the title of his best friend belonged to another.

Crosby’s best friend was the great American actor, comedian, and singer/songwriter Phil Harris. The two were lifelong friends. 

After Crosby’s death, Harris stood in for his friend, providing commentary for the annual Bing Crosby Pro-Am Golf Tournament telecast.

During that commentary, he said of the later singer’s death, “I have grown up to learn that God doesn’t make mistakes. Today, I’m beginning to doubt that.”  

Bing Crosby wife
Photo of Bing and Kathryn Crosby from his 1976 television Christmas special. Image by CBS Television on Wikimedia Commons.

Bing Crosby Wife

Bing Crosby was married twice.

He married Dixie Lee, his first wife, in 1930, and they stayed married until her death from ovarian cancer in 1952.

Following his first wife’s death, Crosby had several romantic ties to model Pat Sheehan, actress Inger Stevens, and actress Grace Kelly. Those relationships didn’t last, and he eventually married actress Kathryn Grant in 1957.  

How Many Children Did Bing Crosby Have?

Bing Crosby had seven children.

He and his first wife had four sons: Gary, twins Dennis and Phillip, and Lindsay. Their youngest son made headlines on December 13, 1989, when the story “Son of Crooner Apparently Kills Self” was released. The apparent suicide came following a battle with alcoholism and depression.

Crosby and Grant had three children – Harry Lillis III, Mary Frances, and Nathaniel.

Why Did Denise Crosby Never Meet Bing Crosby?

It is unclear exactly how many grandchildren came from Bing Crosby’s seven children, but one we know about for sure is Denise Crosby, daughter of his second oldest son, Dennis.

With Denise being born out of wedlock, a three-year-long paternity suit was started by Dennis so that he wouldn’t have to pay the required $80 a week for child support. 

However, Crosby’s mother, Marilyn Scott, won the lawsuit resulting in Dennis Crosby not only paying the child support but also the legal fees.

Reportedly, the ordeal was an embarrassment to Bing Crosby, and he never had the chance to meet his granddaughter because of it, even though there was 19 years’ worth of chances before the legendary singer’s death.

bing crosby sons
Photo of the Crosby Brothers. These are the sons of Bing Crosby from his first marriage; they performed as an act at one time. From left: Dennis, Gary, Lindsay, and Phillip. Photo from 1959. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Bing Crosby Funeral

Bing Crosby’s funeral began with a private Mass of Christian Burial at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Westwood, California, held on October 18, 1977.

The funeral began at 5 a.m. Although the late singer’s will asked that his wife and children be the only ones in attendance, Kathryn invited Bing’s siblings, Bob Hope, Rosemary Clooney, and Phil Harris.

In notes made by ABC reporter Geraldo Rivera, it’s said that the “early morning hour was when the blue of the night met the gold of the day.”

Where is Bing Crosby Buried?

Following the funeral Mass, Bing Crosby was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery – Culver City, California.

Is Bing Crosby buried next to his wife? Yes. He is buried next to his first wife, Wilma Crosby, who died of ovarian cancer in 1952. 

Wilma Crosby, professionally known as “Dixie Lee,” was a singer and showgirl.

Bing Crosby Legacy

Bing Crosby didn’t leave the world empty-handed when he died. He left behind many beloved songs and movies that fans still enjoy today. Additionally, fellow musicians continued to honor him before and after his death.

Crosby’s friend, Bob Hope, honored Bing in his 1990 autobiography, Don’t Shoot, It’s Only Me! 

In it, he almost still seems in mourning over his friend, saying, “Dear old Bing, as we called him, the Economy-sized Sinatra. And what a voice. God, I miss that voice. I can’t even turn on the radio around Christmas time without crying anymore,” referring to the late singer’s number-one award-winning classic, “White Christmas.”

Bing Crosby hasn’t just been memorialized in song and print. Because of his generous heart, the Bing Crosby Stadium, home of the Front Royal Cardinals in Front Royal, Virginia, was named so because of his many personal donations and fundraising efforts for its construction from 1948 to 1950.

That isn’t the only building named after the famous singer either. After his death, the Metropolitan Theater of Performing Arts, famously known as The Met, in Spokane, Washington, was renamed The Bing Crosby Theater in 2006.

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Written by Erik Ritland

Erik Ritland is a songwriter, musician, journalist, and podcaster based in Nashville, Tennessee. He’s released over a dozen albums since 2002, most recently Old Dog Almost Gone (2021), the first-ever multimedia album, and his latest collection of all original material, A Scientific Search (2020). During his 15+ years as a music journalist, Erik has written hundreds of articles for Music in Minnesota, Something Else Reviews, his own blog Rambling On, and more. In addition to continuing his music career, Erik currently runs The Cosmic American, a music journalism website, and is the editor of Music in Minnesota.


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