9 Chill(y) Facts About “White Christmas”

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Families have all kinds of traditions re: holiday movies. At my place, we stick with a classic (It’s a Wonderful Life) on Christmas Eve and a new classic (Christmas Vacation) on Christmas Day, but there are so many more options: Home Alone, Holiday Inn, Meet Me In St. Louis, A Christmas Story, Die Hard, and, yes, White Christmas.

After all, what better way to ring in the holiday than with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and some snow, snow, snow?

To go along with the sweet and melodious activities, here are 9 facts you won’t want to miss!

9. Crosby improvised a lot of the dialogue.


By 1954, Bing Crosby was one of the biggest movie stars in the world, and many of the film’s catchphrases, like “slam-bang finish” were phrases that Crosby used in real life. He made up a ton of dialogue, keeping his co-stars for the film on their toes.

8. The song came before the film.

Irving Berlin’s song White Christmas was released in 1942 (he wrote it in 1940), and it first appeared in Holiday Inn that same year, earning an Oscar for Best Song in 1943 and reaching #1 on the charts more than once.

It was the bestselling single of all time until 1997, when Elton John’s Candle in the Wind stole the title.

7. The movie was the biggest hit of 1954.


White Christmas was the highest-grossing movie of 1954, taking in $12 million at the box office. That also makes it the biggest commercial hit of director Michael Curtiz’s career – even considering he directed Casablanca and Yankee Doodle Dandy, as well.

6. Danny Kaye’s role was originally supposed to be played by Fred Astaire.

White Christmas was supposed to be the third in a sort-of trilogy of buddy musicals featuring Crosby and Astaire – the first two being Holiday Inn and Blue Skies – but Astaire turned it down due to lack of interest and concern that he was too old.

5. Irving Berlin was worried about his baby.


Berlin was reportedly worried that a bad film would ruin his song’s legacy. Crosby eventually grew tired of his hand-wringing and told him “there’s nothing we can do to hurt this song, Irving. It’s already a hit!”

4. Bing Crosby was a hard sell.

After his friend Fred Astaire backed out, Bing Crosby wavered on whether or not to tackle the role of Bob Wallace. His wife had recently died, and he wanted to spend more time with his son – but he obviously decided in the end to stick with it.

3. And he never got totally on board with his Sisters performance.


The scene where Kaye and Crosby dress up and perform the Sister Act in drag is one of the more memorable (and funniest) in the film, but it made Bing Crosby uncomfortable. Danny Kaye improvised the part where he’s whacking his partner with the feather in an attempt to lighten the mood – it worked, and the take where the two of them are trying desperately to hold it together made it into the final film.

2. Rosemary Clooney struggled with the dance numbers.

Rosemary Clooney was one of the most acclaimed singers of her generation, but she fully admits she’s not much of a dancer. Her character, Betty Haynes, only has to do two dance numbers – “Sisters” and “Minstrel Show” – and if you watch critically, you’ll see there wasn’t much choreography required.

1. And Vera-Ellen couldn’t sing.


Funnily enough, Vera-Ellen, who played Judy Haynes, was a fantastic dancer – but she couldn’t sing. Her singing parts were dubbed by Trudy Stevens and Clooney herself, who once joked, “if they could have dubbed my dancing, now we would have had a perfect picture.”

I’m not going to mess with tradition, but I am going to re-watch this one (if only for the drag scene, which is priceless (sorry Bing!).

What movie is a must-watch for you around the holidays? We’d love to hear about your traditions!