This week I present another of my favorite Christmas music/dance/movie
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, October 1954
Having left the Army following W.W.II, Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) team up to become a top song-and-dance act. Davis plays matchmaker and introduces Wallace to a pair of beautiful sisters (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy Haynes (Vera-Ellen) who also have a song-and-dance act. When Betty and Judy travel to a Vermont lodge to perform a Christmas show, Wallace and Davis follow, only to find their former commander, General Waverly, as the lodge owner, who, they learn, is having financial difficulties; his quaint country inn is failing. So, what’s the foursome to do but plan a yuletide miracle: a fun-filled musical extravaganza that’s sure to put Waverly and his business in the black!
The Story Behind “White Christmas”
The White Christmas first aired during the Kraft Music Hall radio show December 25, 1941. Then-host, Bing Crosby, crooned the carol which is special at the time. Pearl Harbor had been attacked just a few weeks before.
It turns out, the song has a sad back story too. It was written by Irving Berlin, a Russian-born immigrant who did not celebrate Christmas, as he was Jewish.
Berlin’s three-week-old son had died on Christmas day in 1928, so every year on December 25, he and his wife visited their baby’s grave.
He wrote “White Christmas” for a musical that eventually morphed into the movie Holiday Inn and ended up winning an Academy Award for the song. In 1954, it became the title track of another Bing Crosby Christmas musical, White Christmas.
Crosby’s rendition quickly became an American favorite. It was constantly requested by troops during Bing’s USO appearances overseas, which gave the singer some mixed feelings. He didn’t want to come that far to make them sad. For this reason, several times he tried to cut it out of the show, but these guys just hollered for it. Clearly, they identified with the wistful lyrics about holidays at home. Since then, “White Christmas” has been an all-time favorite.
Bing Crosby sings “White Christmas” in Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn, 1942
Bing Crosby & Danny Kaye sing “White Christmas” in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, 1954
The King’s Academy, WPB, FL performed “White Christmas” in February 2018