Baritones are often synonymous with flawed anti-heroes, men of uncontrollable emotion and sometimes, outright villains.
Here are two of the most famous baritones of the twentieth century who may or may not have exhibited some of these qualities. I will leave you to make your own judgements.
- Bing Crosby, Singer / Actor
- Born: 3 May 1903
- Birthplace: Tacoma, Washington
- Died: 14 October 1977 (heart attack)
- Best Known As: The singer of “White Christmas”
- Name at birth: Harry Lillis Crosby
Crosby was one of the biggest music and movie stars of the mid-20th century. He started out as a member of the Rhythm Boys, a jazz vocal trio, before going solo in the early 1930s. He quickly became a radio star, a silky-smooth crooner who could sing both pop and jazz. As such he is often credited with inspiring Frank Sinatra and other modern pop singers. Crosby also became a film star, winning an Oscar for his portrayal of a good-natured priest in the 1944 movie ʻGoing My Wayʼ. His long running comic feud with comedian Bob Hope was milked for laughs on their radio and TV shows, and they co-starred in a series of movies that became known as the “road films”: Crosby first sang the tune “White Christmas” in the movie Holiday Inn (1942); his recording of the tune remains a holiday favourite, and for many years was the biggest-selling single of all time. In the 1960s and ’70s his annual Christmas special was a popular TV fixture. He died in 1977 on a golf course in Spain, having just completed the 18th hole. In 1955 whilst filming the Country Girl he had an intense affair with his co-starGrace Kelly, a fellow Irish Catholic, which was kept quiet to protect both their reputations and at the insistence of Kellyʼs dad, a millionaire Irish builder, who didnʼt want some old crooner getting the dosh.
- Adolf Hitler, Painter /Politician
- Born: April 20 1889
- Birthplace: Braunau am Inn, Austria
- Died: 30th April 1945 (suicide)
- Best Known As: Führer and Reichskanzler of Germany
- Name at birth: Adolf Schicklgruber
Adolf Hitlerʼs life has been exhaustively researched and documented from his early years in the Bavarian Army Rhythm Boys, a jazz vocal trio, before going solo in the early 1930s with his unique style of National Socialist demagoguery. He quickly became a radio and film star no doubt due to his absolute control of the German media from 1933 and his subsequent dominance of most of continental Europe until his timely death in 1945. He spent most of his later years touring extensively with notable success in Poland, France, Italy, The Balkans and North Africa. His popularity reached its height in 1942 with his initial early successes in Russia, but his failures to dislodge The Joe Stalin Red Army Ensemble from the no 1 position in the Moscow Hit Parade led to a rapid and then complete eclipse of his once dominant position in European popular culture. With the rediscovery of the only known tape of Hitlerʼs singing voice in a Finnish garage in 1992 we can now conclusively prove that he was a baritone. Previously all his recordings were of the intense delivery he used for his official ranting and ravings. It was secretly recorded by Finnish intelligence agents in the buffet of Hitlerʼs private train when he sang Happy Birthday to the Finnish war leader, Marshall Mannerheim on his 75th birthday on 4th June 1942 Although somewhat marred by the accompaniment of a drunken Scotsman at the other end of the buffet car it proves that Hitler was a baritone. His inability to remember the second verse or indeed the baritone line supports the conclusion.