The Irving Berlin melodies linger on for Kathryn Crosby, especially those sung by her husband.
The Hollywood veteran and widow of Bing Crosby will perform some of those classic tunes when she reprises her role in “The Melody Lingers On: The Songs of Irving Berlin” at the Plainview Jewish Center over the next two weekends.
“I feel wonderful. I do ballet every day, and I do voice every day, because someday I’m gonna learn to sing,” she jokes.
Crosby, 82, did the show last year at Molloy College in Rockville Centre when Lee Meriwether had to drop out. “I came in and did it, and loved it,” she said.
Joining her will be her son Harry’s children Thea, 7, and Nicholas, 9, who live in Mill Neck. The kids will sing “White Christmas” with other cast members, while their grandmother performs “Blue Skies” and narrates the revue about Berlin’s courtship with his second wife, Ellin Mackay of Roslyn.
In a telephone interview from her home in Hillsborough, California, Crosby spoke about her life with Bing and her film career (as Kathryn Grant).
How did you meet Bing Crosby?
It was fate. I was just signed to a contract by Paramount Pictures. I was one of the “golden circle,” and he was just your regular run-of-the-mill superstar. He asked me out for a cup of tea, and we went across the street to a place called Lucy’s and had tea, which I always thought was very romantic. At the end of our conversation, he said how about dinner Friday night? At four years, it was the longest courtship in history, but he didn’t want to do anything precipitate. Nothing too rushed.
Why do you think Bing is still a big star almost 40 years after his passing?
He had the voice, God gave it to him, and he could do two basic things that are rather unusual these days — he could sing in time and on pitch. Louis Armstrong said it was like pouring gold in a cup. I heard it first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
What memories do you have of Irving Berlin?
Bing knew him, and they talked by phone quite a lot. We were at the revival of “Annie Get Your Gun” in the 1960s, and it was a wonderful evening. People kept calling for Irving, and he said this was her [Ethel Merman’s] night.
Have you given any acting advice to your grandchildren?
I’m giving them no advice because they know their lines; they know their moves. This play is wonderful for me because we always hope our grandchildren do what they love, and I love it because Thea wants to be an actress and be in theater. She’s only 7 and she’s been to a four-hour rehearsal every Sunday.
Did you enjoy playing the leading lady in “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad,” which is now a cult classic?
It was wonderful. Jean Louis, Columbia’s big designer, made me gorgeous clothes. And then we shot in Spain, in Granada and Majorca and Barcelona and Madrid. We didn’t know what was going on much of the time. During the swordfight with skeletons, Kerwin [Matthews] was looking at a stick, and then [visual effects master] Ray Harryhausen did all of the drawings afterwards. Columbia Pictures was wonderful.
What was it like to work with director Otto Preminger on “Anatomy of a Murder”?
I liked him a lot. We shared a kind of an in-joke. I went into his office to meet him, and I handed him a letter from my gynecologist saying that I was pregnant, and he read it and said there will be a couple of advantages. He was referring to the enlarged bosoms, but he was very dear. He was very kind.
WHAT “The Melody Lingers On: The Songs of Irving Berlin”
WHEN | WHERE 8:15 p.m. March 12 and 19; 2:15 p.m. March 13 and 20, Plainview Jewish Center, 95 Floral Drive W.
INFO $20 advance, $25 at door; 516-698-2220, plainviewjewishcenter.org