Show Business: Old Master

Reclining in his rocking chair, he looked like a middle-aged man at the end of a long day, but when he opened his mouth, he was the master entertainer. Bing Crosby's topnotch ABC special last week swayed along with rocking-chair ease; its spare (but expensive) sets and casual tone made the usual frenetic TV variety shows look sick by comparison. With Crooner Dean Martin, Gospel Shouter Mahalia

Jackson and Songstress Patti Page, Crosby ambled from Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries to Irish and Italian folk songs. He even threw in a few songs in response to "requests," a device he...