Very few Americans will see snow on Dec. 25, but credit Irving Berlin and Bing Crosby for implanting dreams of a white Christmas into our sub-conscience.
Written by Berlin, the song first appeared in the film Holiday Inn, which was released in the summer of 1942 starring Crosby and Fred Astaire. The song was performed in the film as a duet with Crosby and Marjorie Reynolds (her voice was dubbed with that of Martha Mears).
By October 1942 it was a hit tune. The wishful lyrics hit home with American troops during World War II. Berlin also took home the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
The song was revived again in the 1946 film Blue Skies, which featured numerous Irving Berlin songs from earlier works.
But it is probably best known for becoming the title of the Holiday Inn spinoff, White Christmas, starring Crosby and Danny Kaye. This time, Crosby sang it solo at the beginning of the film. Released in 1954, it became the top grossing film of that year and is Crosby’s most popular film.
Today, the song White Christmas has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling single of all time. Exact figures are hard to come by because the song’s popularity predates modern record charts. It’s also Crosby’s best-selling single and Berlin’s most famous song.
In 2004, the film was adapted to the stage in San Francisco as Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. It has played in theaters throughout the U.S., including limited engagements on Broadway.
Both the song and the film White Christmas have earned their places as must-hear and must-see during the holiday season.