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White Christmas – The Holiday Inn Original.

While most people associate the song “White Christmas” with the 1954 movie of the same name starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Vera-Ellen, Rosemary Clooney (who played the role of Vera-Ellen’s older sister but in real life was 6 years younger) and Dean Jagger, the first time the song appeared in a movie was the 1942 film “Holiday Inn.”

Holiday Inn starred Crosby, Fred Astaire and Marjorie Reynolds.

A couple of interesting trivia facts include Reynolds’ singing voice being dubbed using the voice of Martha Mears. In addition, the set for Holiday Inn was used again in the making of the film White Christmas. Finally, the song won an Academy Award for “Best Song.” In a twist of fate, the Oscar for the category was presented by Irving Berlin who had actually written the song White Christmas. Berlin became the first presenter to present an Academy Award to himself.

The first public performance of the song was by Bing Crosby, on his NBC radio show The Kraft Music Hall on Christmas Day, 1941; a copy of the recording from the radio program is owned by the estate of Bing Crosby and was loaned to CBS Sunday Morning for their December 25, 2011, program. He subsequently recorded the song with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra and the Ken Darby Singers for Decca Records in just 18 minutes on May 29, 1942, and it was released on July 30 as part of an album of six 78-rpm songs from the film Holiday Inn. At first, Crosby did not see anything special about the song. He just said “I don’t think we have any problems with that one, Irving.”

The song initially performed poorly and was overshadowed by Holiday Inn’s first hit song: “Be Careful, It’s My Heart”. By the end of October 1942, “White Christmas” topped the “Your Hit Parade” chart. It remained in that position until well into the new year. It has often been noted that the mix of melancholy — “just like the ones I used to know” — with comforting images of home — “where the treetops glisten” — resonated especially strongly with listeners during World War II. The Armed Forces Network was flooded with requests for the song. The recording is noted for Crosby’s whistling during the second Chorus


Crosby dismissed his role in the song’s success, saying later that “a jackdaw with a cleft palate could have sung it successfully.”

Luckily for us, a “jackdaw with a cleft palate” didn’t sing the song – Bing did. To this day “White Christmas” remains one of the most endearing songs about the Christmas season, and things that remind us of home and family.



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