The story behind Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”
Its the most popular Christmas record of all time. And, it has quite a history.
There are several versions of this classic. But this now-classic song was seen and heard for the first time, in the movie "Holiday Inn" in 1941.
On a warm day in 1940, Irving Berlin (who was Jewish) penned this song that defines the term classic in "Christmas Classic."
The first public performance of the song was by Bing Crosby on his NBC radio show "The Kraft Music Hall," on Christmas Day, 1941.
Bing recorded a studio version of "White Christmas" in just 18 minutes, on May 19,1942. As you can see on my 78-rpm record, pictured at the top of the article, Crosby was supported by the Ken Darby Singers, and John Scott Trotter's Orchestra. It was released on the Decca label, July 30, 1942, as part of an album of six 78-rpm records from "Holiday Inn."
At first, the song didn't do much. It was eclipsed by the first hit song from the movie, "Be Careful, Its My Heart," the soundtrack song that Berlin thought would be the BIG hit.
By Halloween 1942, "White Christmas" had topped the "Your Hit Parade Charts." It would stay at #1 for 11 weeks (of a 17 week run). It is said that the melancholy, along with images of home, resonated in World War II hearts and minds. "White Christmas" was a big request song on Armed Forces Radio.
"White Christmas" won the Academy Award for "Best Original Song" in 1942.
ABOVE: Bing Crosby's "Holiday Inn Medley" from his "Kraft Music Hall" radio show in 1944.
White Christmas...Jingle Bell ROCKS at 6:09 in this recording. Enjoy it...and "Buy War Bonds," New Jersey.
But, I digress...
Decca Re-released "White Christmas" for the 1945...
...and 1946 holiday season, and the song returned to #1.
Back to the movie version: as you see in the video at the top of the article, Bing sings a duet with actress Marjorie Reynolds. But, Reynold's singing voice was dubbed by Martha Mears. And, in the original movie script, Reynolds character, not Crosby, was to sing the song.
But wait...there's more.
The version that you hear most often on the radio today, was recorded on March 18, 1947. Once again, Bing was accompanied by The Trotter Orchestra and the Darby singers.
"White Christmas" returned to the pop charts for 20 Christmases afterwards. Over 30-million copies of the song had been sold by the late 1980's. It is estimated that the number has now ballooned to over 50-million copies sold. And, I wonder, how is this sales figure now impacted by digital downloads?
And, remember, just about every "Christmas Artist" has recorded their own version of "White Christmas."
BELOW: Bing sings "White Christmas" on TV in December 1968.
While Bing Crosby had said over the years that ANY singer could have recorded "White Christmas" and been successful with it...
...Christmas just ain't Christmas, without this song.
It...Jingle Bell Rocks.