‘Grand Old Gentleman’

Four Years

This writing represents an anniversary. I have been writing about Frankie Laine each month, publishing on this site for four years.

I have enjoyed detailing my various treasured Laine memories. I have covered lots of different areas—from Frankie’s music, his entire career, special moments and conversations I’ve had with him, people I have met through my Laine associations, several of my own thoughts, and writing about my Laine library collection.

The goal of these writings has always been to provide fans and music lovers the opportunity to read about Frankie Laine—one of America’s most popular singing stars—from the perspective of a fellow admirer.

Knowing Frankie as a person, aside from his stardom, has been one of the most treasured and rewarding chapters in my life. Discovering that he was a warm, friendly, and caring individual has added even a greater dimension to my admiration of this singing superstar.

Collecting

I continue to enjoy building up my Laine library of works. I enjoy listening to his recordings and sharing them with friends. A great singer brings joy. I like to share this kind of joy with others.

It brings me happiness continuing to find elusive Laine material to add to my collection. I always said that the hunt is what makes collecting Frankie Laine career items so fun and rewarding. One can most likely purchase Sinatra or Elvis movies on DVD at any local Walmart. But even though Frankie Laine was just as famous as the likes of Sinatra and Elvis during his heyday of the 1940s and 1950s, the Laine songs, movies, and mementoes continue to remain rather obscure.

As I had written in my book, Reaching for a Star, it was like Christmas morning whenever I finally located a Laine recording or video I had been searching for over months or years. Collecting Laine stuff always has and always will bring me joy!

People

Over the years, I have had a great time meeting people from all over the world because of my Frankie Laine association. By “meeting” I mean through letters, telephone conversations, or emails. Very seldom do I actually get to meet all of these wonderful people in person. Lately, I have met a couple of new “Frankie Laine” friends on Facebook. It makes me happy that my writings—in these cases, my book—have opened the door to allow these new friends to reconnect with Frankie Laine and appreciate his wonderful singing.

I maintain my circle of friends that I have known since I first met Frankie Laine in 1985—and in the few years that followed. They are like my extended family and are very dear to me.

I have thrilled at having contact with many celebrities during my Frankie Laine collecting and writing journeys. Again, some of these were through letters, email, or by telephone. The stars that come to mind: Gene Pitney (letter), Jo Stafford (telephone), Terry Moore (telephone), Lucy Marlow (telephone), Connie Haines (telephone), Teresa Brewer (email), and Dodie Stevens (telephone).

I’ve met these celebrities directly through my Laine association: Jerome Courtland, Patti Page, Herb Jeffries, Roger Williams, and Simon Estes.

One of the more memorable quotes came from the late famed pianist Roger Williams. Williams had lived in Des Moines, as a young man. In the early 2000s, he came to the Iowa State Capitol (where I have worked for 22 years). Williams had gone to school with one of the legislative members of the Iowa House of Representatives.

I recall Williams visiting a couple of times during my time working at the Capitol. But during one visit, I remember a grand piano was actually moved into the House Chamber. House members, their clerks and secretaries, senators from the Senate Chamber, lobbyists, the media, and staff from around the Capitol packed in to hear this great musician perform. Of course, I was there to hear Roger Williams play his trademark “Autumn Leaves.”

Later, during the course of his visit, I was introduced to Williams by Representative John Connors (the member who had gone to school with Williams). Representative Connors introduced me to the famed pianist by saying “This is Craig Cronbaugh from the Legislative Information Office here at the Capitol. Craig and Frankie Laine are friends.” As I shook hands with Roger Williams, he said, “I just spoke on the telephone with Frankie a short time ago.” This surprised me, as I couldn’t not fathom why these two would be having a phone conversation. Then he added a sentiment that I will never forget: “What a grand old gentleman he is.”

 

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About the Author:

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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.