Some Notes On The Sponsor
At the Friars Club's testimonial dinner last winter in honor of Perry Como, Jack E. Leonard, one of the long line of comedians who was called on to direct a few unmerciful if loving barbs Como's way, suddenly began to speak in a tone that seemed to betoken a change from the rib to reverence. "Perry," he said with a thread of emotion, "in closing, may I add that whenever I think of you, two words come to mind, two words which sum up all that is fine in American entertainment, two words which epitomize so much that which is admirable in our country's heritage and which stand for certain traits and qualities admired the world over—and, Perry, my boy, those two words are Bing Crosby."
When you come right down to it, this amounts to a pretty fair summing up of the especial place in the hearts of his contemporaries which Bing Crosby has earned over his quarter of a century as an American institution. The unique thing about Crosby, though, is that he has always been something more than an institution. Despite his colossal fame, people always think of him as being just another life-size individual, a fellow they feel they know and understand as well as they do the guy next door. Liking him from the first and recognizing in him (even when he had no idea these things were observable) a certain sense of humor and a certain kind of intelligence and a certain honesty they really admired, they have gotten a real kick out of his occasional artistic shortcomings (like his first stiff attempts at the unfamiliar job of acting) and they take something akin to real personal pride in his development as an individual.
A large part of this great appeal of Crosby's lies in the fact that he has always had a mind of his own. If he says something, you know he has done the thinking himself. If he does something, you know he has mulled it over and that it really means something to him. Golf, of course, has long been one of his chief enthusiasms, and this, quite simply, explains why his annual January tournament has stood out for two decades as the most flavorful and enjoyable event on the winter tour.