This is an online encyclopedia of personalities of Old Time Radio. It is designed for educational and entertainment purposes.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dixie Lee (1911-52)

Wilma Winifred Hyatt was born November 4, 1911, in Harriman, Tennessee. She was very talented as a teenager and won a talent contest which offered her a trip to Chicago and a part in a Broadway play in New York. Taking the name, Dixie Lee (but legally keeping her own name), she was well known as a singer, dancer, and actress.

In 1928, Dixie met Bing Crosby. He had a group called the Rhythm Boys and sang with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. Bing was a star. But Dixie was an even bigger star. That was to change. When they met in that November, Bing said it was love at first sight. They would meet again in early 1929. They married at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Hollywood on September 29, 1930. (Note by Bill: One thing that should be noticed here is Dixie's youth... When Bing first met her she was all of 16 years old. Today this would be grounds for statutory rape! Bing was reportedly either 24 or 25, depending on whose biography you're reading.)

Dixie continued in show business until her pregnancy with first child Gary began to show in November 1932. She continued in radio until 1935 (mostly on the Shell Chateau), except when the whole family would gather together for their annual Christmas show on whatever radio program Bing was doing at the time.

Here is a list of Dixie's four sons:
  • Gary Evan Crosby (1933-1995) [Died of lung cancer.]
  • Phillip Lang Crosby (1934-2004) [Died of a heart attack.]
  • Dennis Michael Crosby (1934-1991) [Died of suicide by gunshot.]
  • Lindsay Harry Crosby (1938-1991) [Died of suicide by gunshot.]
Bing had a reputation of being a happy go lucky man in entertainment circles, but in his business and private life he was an absolute tyrant. More is said about that in Bing's biography. However, his attitude at home was overly strict to the point of being insensitive. Dixie often complained that it was Bing that took her away from show business, which she loved so much. After the first three sons started school, Dixie, who was already an alcoholic, began binge drinking during the day. She had actually began drinking because of Bing's own drinking problem. With a record of drunk driving and other embarrassing problems with the police, she worked hard to get her husband sobered up. Unfortunately, the drinking problem was traded to Dixie. When she became diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer in 1948, her liver was also damaged. It was said, even in the 1940s, that if she had not been such a hard drinker, she could have survived (after a radical hysterectomy) and lived to a ripe, old age. Since she did have a bad liver, she probably would have died soon after this from cirrhosis.

Dixie Lee died on November 1, 1952, at home in the Holmby Holmes section of Los Angeles. It was two days before her 41st birthday.

A couple of Bing's best known recordings include Dixie singing a duet with him. Sadly, she is not usually credited on these songs. They include "The Way You Look Tonight" and "A Fine Romance" from 1936.

Dixie is buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California, along with Bing, his parents, and two of their four sons. Interestingly, the whole family has almost identical tombstones, all set in a row.

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