Assembling a Laine Collection (Summer Series: Part Five [Final of Series])

(Continued from the August 2017 blog)

A Collection Finished?

I am always finding new ways to build my collection on a personal level. I have audio interviews I have done with Frankie Laine, as well as videos of us together. The first video I was in with Frankie came about rather in a serendipitous manner. In fact, to me it was like a miracle.

My daughter, Latisha, went along with me to Frankie Laine’s 80th birthday bash in San Diego in 1993. At that time, Tish was 12. We made a vacation out of it and visited a few of the San Diego sites while we were in town. It was great spending this time with my daughter. And it was very special to me to be able to introduce her to Frankie.

The night of the birthday celebration was wonderful! The party was held in the Marina Ballroom at Humphrey’s Half Moon Inn in San Diego. The early spring California sun was shining, and a sense of exhilaration was in the air. I could feel the excitement. To top it off, my beautiful daughter was at my side.

After everyone finished eating, Latisha walked to the front of Frankie’s table and began videotaping, hoping to capture for my Frankie Laine library my anticipated chat with Frankie and Nan. I’d borrowed a video camera for the event from a friend. I waited in a small line to greet Frankie at his table. When my turn came to say hello, I asked Frankie whether he remembered me.

“Sure, Craig. How are ya? Good to see you,” he answered.

I told him that I had come to San Diego for his party with my daughter and pointed to Tish, who was busy taping. He waved at her as he smiled his big, warm Frankie Laine smile. I wished him a great birthday.

“Thanks, Craig,” Frankie replied.

Unfortunately, the video we shot at Frankie’s party was too dark. The party room wasn’t lit brightly enough for the little camera to tape adequately. It was a pity the video camera wasn’t able to capture the event because Tish and I had taped some neat footage.

Several years after the 80th birthday bash for Frankie, my dear Scottish friend, Norman Foster, who had also attended that party, wrote me a letter. He delighted me by asking whether I’d like a copy of the video he’d taped during Frankie’s 80th birthday bash. “You and your daughter are on the tape quite a bit,” he wrote. “The tape also shows you visiting with Frankie and Nan.”

I was stunned. Over the years, I’d mourned the fact that my borrowed video camera had failed to capture the events during Frankie’s 80th birthday party. Now, from seemingly out of nowhere, all the footage I’d missed would be mine.

Norman sent me the promised taped footage, and I have that in my collection as my first video with Frankie. Tish and I are on the tape throughout as well as Frankie and his wife, Nan. Also included are Norman, Helen Snow (president of the Frankie Laine Society of America), and Frankie’s secretary, Muriel Moore. There’s even a shot of me with Phil LoVecchio, Frankie’s youngest brother!


I have also produced my own one-time radio program The Laine Project, which aired on two different radio stations, been featured on Iowa Public Television in a piece about my Laine collection, written a book about my friendship with Frankie—Reaching for a Star, and have written newspaper articles about my involvement with Frankie. I have been featured on radio programs, on television, and in newspapers and magazines because of my Laine association over the years. I have been offering a presentation to seniors and baby boomers who love Frankie Laine in a class-like setting that I call Remembering Frankie Laine.

I am always searching for items I haven’t yet scored for my collection. For example, I am still searching for three of the four yellow Sav-Way Mercury “Standing Eddie” pictures discs. All of us in the Laine collector circle have been searching for the entire set of Frankie’s 1955-56 CBS television series Frankie Laine Time and Frankie’s guest appearance on Edward R. Murrow’s Person to Person television show. And there are a few unissued song recordings we would like to get our hands on yet.

I really treasure my involvement with Frankie Laine over the years. And I am thrilled to add these more personal items to my collection. I continue to have several friends and fellow collectors within the Laine circle, and I greatly cherish them. All of this adds tremendously to my Frankie Laine Library of works. I think this is because, in perhaps a small way, I have become part of the collection.



About the Author:

Craig Cronbaugh, Director of the Legislative Information Office with the Legislative Services Agency at the Iowa State Capitol. As famed singer Frankie Laine’s special friend and a collector of Laine’s recordings and career memorabilia, Craig has written articles; has written, produced, directed, and hosted a distinctive radio program; and has appeared on Iowa statewide television regarding his Frankie Laine avocation. Craig has been highlighted briefly and has been given a research screen credit in the 2003 internationally distributed documentary Frankie Laine: An American Dreamer. Craig’s book, a memoir, Reaching for a Star, featuring his friendship with Laine, was published in 2005.