- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 17, 2005

Joaquin Phoenix’s triple-tasking performance in the Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line” — he sings and plays guitar, in addition to, you know, acting — might give the impression that any L.A. thespian could be a rock star. But actors are supposed to make their job look easy. And this quintet shows that medium-swapping is a two-way street — even if that street is filled with Madonna-sized potholes.

Frank Sinatra — He did it his way, that is, both ways: first as the Jersey tough guy whose voice made bobbysoxers melt, and later as the big-screen icon of movies such as “From Here to Eternity” and “The Manchurian Candidate.”

Bing Crosby — The “White Christmas” crooner was no slouch in front of a camera — indeed, it’s the lack of a Bing Crosby today that helps explain why musicals are now almost the exclusive preserve of animation. His “Road” comedies with Bob Hope were among the top grossers of the 1940s, and his performance as a priest in 1944’s “Going My Way” earned him an Oscar.

Bette Midler — Before she was the wind beneath our wings, she was the Divine Miss M, as she was dubbed on her debut solo album. She made an easy transition into movies by playing a loosely fictionalized version of Janis Joplin in 1979’s “The Rose” and eventually became the wisecracking diva of comedies like “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” and “Ruthless People.”

Dwight Yoakam — When the country rocker appeared in Billy Bob Thornton’s acclaimed “Sling Blade” in 1996, it didn’t surprise his friends in Ohio, who had watched him act in several high school plays. He turned up most recently in a hilarious cameo opposite Rebecca De Mornay in “Wedding Crashers.”

Ice Cube — Proof that gangsta rap was all an act: Years ago, a good day for this rapper-turned-actor supposedly meant not having to fire an AK-47. Now it means clever turns in movies like “Three Kings” and “Barbershop.”

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