In Search of an Iowa Laine Admirer: Sharing the Collected Legacy of Frankie Laine

By Craig Cronbaugh

Frankie Laine, the late legendary singer, left an indelible mark on the music industry, reaching far beyond his iconic Rawhide theme song on the CBS television network. As an avid admirer of Frankie’s work, I have spent years building a comprehensive Frankie Laine career library. Through this article, my hope is to connect with fellow enthusiasts/connoisseurs of pop culture of the ’40s and ’50s who appreciate Frankie Laine’s remarkable talent.

While collecting is often a personal endeavor, the joy of sharing my Laine collection with like-minded individuals is immeasurable. Unfortunately, my previous attempts to find fellow Frankie Laine fans in Iowa have been unsuccessful.

Over the years, my passion for Frankie Laine’s music has allowed me to cultivate friendships with Laine admirers from around the world. However, the geographical distance has prevented us from home visits.

Frankie Laine

Throughout his illustrious career, Frankie Laine amassed an impressive collection of achievements. With 21 gold records and a repertoire of approximately 1,000 songs spanning jazz, upbeat renditions, ballads, cowboy tunes, country music and early rock and roll, Laine’s talent was truly versatile. His worldwide record sales range from 100-250 million copies, depending on the source. Laine graced numerous television shows as a guest, acted in films and even starred in his own variety shows. He lent his captivating voice to the title themes of seven motion pictures, including Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and Blazing Saddles, as well as four television shows, most notably Rawhide. To honor his contributions, Laine received two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for recording and the other for television.

One of two stars on Hollywood Walk of Fame

My friendship with Frankie Laine dates back to our first meeting in San Diego in 1985. Over the years, I had the privilege of visiting Frankie at his home in Point Loma, San Diego, on three occasions.

Craig and Frankie’s first meeting in 1985

As part of my passion for collecting Frankie Laine memorabilia, I had the opportunity to host a radio special and make television appearances to discuss his incredible career. In 2003, I had the honor of receiving a research screen credit and appearing on-camera in Frankie’s documentary, Frankie Laine: An American Dreamer. In 2005, I wrote Reaching for a Star, a book that chronicles my friendship and experiences with Frankie Laine.

Craig’s 2005 book, Reaching for a Star

From 2013 to 2015, I organized a series of presentations called Remembering Frankie Laine to entertain senior citizens and baby boomers in the Des Moines area. These sessions provided a setting where we could enjoy Frankie’s music, watch videos, listen to radio shows and share highlights from his remarkable career.

Starting in 2015, I contributed monthly blogs to the Team Frankie Laine website, which is affiliated with the American Jazz Institute. These blogs allowed me to share my various encounters and experiences with Frankie Laine.

As you might suspect, I may just be the world’s #1 Frankie Lane fan; and I’d love to find at least one fellow “Frankie Laine” friend in Iowa who shares my passion.

If you have an interest in exploring my Frankie Laine Library, listening to selected recordings or watching clips on the big screen, please do not hesitate to reach out. I would be thrilled to connect with you.

“Meeting and talking to the artist adds a special element to collecting
contemporary art that makes the work an irreplaceable treasure
rather than just another possession.” —Ernest West Basden

Craig retired in 2021, after a 24-year career in the Legislative Information Office at the Iowa State Capitol. He had been director of that office since 2005. Craig is currently secretary and a director of the Midwest All Music Association (MAMA). Craig and his wife, Marlene, live in Des Moines.


Craig’s in-depth interview published in the Memory Brothers newsletter in 2022: