Origins of Famous Songs: White Christmas

About the origin of the famous song White Chritmas by Irving Berlin made famous by Bing Crosby.

WHITE CHRISTMAS Irving Berlin 1942

This is one of the 3 or 4 most widely known and best loved of the 900 melodic and lyrical creations by that dean of American popular song, Irving Berlin. "White Christmas" began as part of the movie score written in Hollywood in 1942 for Holiday Inn. The film, produced by Paramount, starred Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.

After being sung by Bing, the song stepped right out of the movie and became an immediate hit. It earned an Academy Award as Best Song of 1942 for its composer; it also earned him the gratitude of thousands of W.W. II Yanks fighting in the jungles and swamps of the Pacific, since it brought them a nostalgic recollection of home--with its white Christmases and Yuletide cheer and peace.

Sales figures show that since then the song has had a sheet-music sale of about 4 million. Its record sales are some 100 million copies. David Ewen says this total for a single song is without parallel in musical history.

"White Christmas" is 2nd only to "Silent Night" now as the favorite Christmas song of Americans, according to a Gallup poll. In addition to the Oscar given by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, its widespread popularity--a continuing popularity--was proved by its appearance on "The Hit Parade" radio (and later TV) program a record-breaking 32 times during the program's quarter-of-a-century airing.

The song also lent flavor and its music to, as well as providing the title for, the movie White Christmas, made some years later.

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