Abuse by a famous American 'father figure'

"That his four sons became notorious for drinking and squabbling scarcely tainted [his] image." – People Magazine, March 21, 1983.

Name of son Born Died Cause of death
Gary 1933 1995 lung cancer
Phillip 1934 (twin) 2004 heart attack
Dennis 1934 (twin) 1991 self-inflicted gunshot wound
Lindsay 1938 1989 self-inflicted gunshot wound
Name of son Number of
Gary 3
Phillip 4
Dennis 2
Lindsay 3
What happened to these four boys that impaired their ability to form stable and lasting marriages and which drove two of them to suicide? Son Gary told his version of events in a memoir which was published in 1983. It describes how, in a 20-room Los Angeles mansion, the boys were raised in an unrelenting regime of strict rules, harsh discipline and humiliating punishments.
At the time Gary's book was published, brother Lindsay confirmed his account of how things were. Dennis was non-committal at first, but later he came out publicly to side with Gary. Phillip was the only one of the boys who denied that their childhood was grim.
So who was the famous father? None other than Bing Crosby, whose 1940's recording of "White Christmas" has remained the best-selling single of all time in any music category. Bing Crosby's career in music and films from the 1930's until his death in 1977 made him one of Hollywood's wealthiest residents.

In 1983, People Magazine published a feature about the revelations in Gary's book, Going My Own Way. An archived copy is available on the magazine's website: The Sad Ballad of Bing and His Boys.

Here are the sons' obituaries on the New York Times website:
Lindsay Crosby (suicide), Dennis Crosby (suicide), Gary Crosby
and Phillip Crosby. Lindsay Crosby shot himself less than 24 hours after watching "White Christmas" on TV in the run-up to Christmas.
He had separated from his third wife in the late 1970's. Not long before Christmas 1989 he suffered serious financial setbacks and broke up with his girlfriend, Pam Desnon. They managed a reconciliation, but the relationship remained very rocky. The December 26, 1989, edition of National Enquirer published an article titled "Why Bing Crosby's Son Killed Himself," which reported:

"On the night of December 10, Bing's movie White Christmas aired on TV. “ Lindsay told his girlfriend Pam he was going to watch it — even though he said he hated it,” said a close friend. And less than 24 hours after watching the movie, Lindsay ended his life by putting a bullet through his brain. The pain had finally ended."

Of course, there will always be those who refuse to believe that a popular public figure could mistreat his children behind closed doors. But the suicides and the divorces are facts, not allegations. Not one of the sons reached the age of 70. Two of them were members of Alcoholics Anonymous (Phillip & Gary). These are verifiable facts.

Family members from Bing's second marriage tried to deny the abuse but they never lived under the same roof as Gary and his brothers.

Sadly, there are far too many people who attempt to discredit the victims themselves when child maltreatment is under the spotlight.