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“White Christmas” is a bonafide holiday classic. It is routinely included in roundups of the best Christmas movies of all time — including our own list — and for good reason. It’s frothy, it’s sentimental and it’s chock-full of wonderful holiday tunes and incredible dance sequences. The movie stars Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as a pair of entertainers who get romantically involved with a sister act that’s played by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen.
But there are many behind-the-scenes facts you may not already know about this beloved classic which hit theaters in 1954. Check out these interesting tidbits about the immortal “White Christmas”:
Vera-Ellen Didn’t Sing A Note
Vera-Ellen was an incredibly gifted dancer (with some of the most gorgeous gams we have ever seen), but she couldn’t sing at all. Trudy Stevens and co-star Rosemary Clooney sang all of Vera-Ellen’s lines while she mouthed along. So, sadly, when the sister act sings the song “Sister,” Vera-Ellen’s voice isn’t heard at all!
The Titular Song Has A Sad Background
Composer Irving Berlin tragically lost his infant son on Christmas in 1928. Each year on the holiday, he and his wife would visit his dear son’s grave. Many people speculate that he wrote “White Christmas” as a way of coping with these emotions and dreaming of happier days. No wonder the song feels so melancholy and powerful.
‘White Christmas’ Is The Most Recorded Christmas Song Ever
Written by composer extraordinaire Irving Berlin, “White Christmas” has been recorded more times than any other Christmas song. Singers such as Elvis Presley, The Supremes, Lady Gaga, Frank Sinatra, Martina McBride and Michael Bolton (among hundreds of others) each have their own version of “White Christmas.” But Bing Crosby was the first to cut the song.
The Song Had Already Been Featured In Other Movies
Bing Crosby had already performed the song “White Christmas” in two other films before this one: 1942’s “Holiday Inn” and 1946’s “Blue Skies.” However, most people associate the song with the movie “White Christmas,” assuming Irving Berlin wrote it for the film.
Danny Kaye Was Almost Not In The Film
It is hard to imagine anyone other than Danny Kaye playing the part of Phil Davis, but he was not originally intended for the part. He was actually the producers’ third choice after Fred Astaire turned down the role and “Singin’ in the Rain” star Donald O’Connor had to turn it down due to illness.
The Lip-Synching Version Of ‘Sisters’ Wasn’t In The Original Script
Crosby and Kaye’s famous take on the duet “Sisters” was actually not in the original script. Instead, they were just goofing around, but the director found it so funny that he started rolling. And good thing he did, too, because it’s one of the most hilarious part of the movie!
There Was A Big Age Gap Between Clooney & Crosby
Rosemary Clooney was only 26 years old when she played 51-year-old Bing Crosby’s love interest in the film. And, in case you were wondering, Clooney was George Clooney’s aunt. He credits his famous aunt with teaching him some valuable lessons about fame.
Vera-Ellen Had A Famous Blooper
In the dance routine for “The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing,” acclaimed dancer (as well as one of the youngest Rockettes ever) Vera-Ellen trips over Danny Kaye’s leg when he’s kneeling at the end of the song. But she somehow turned this trip into a graceful twirl! It’s a glimpse into the artistry, athleticism and true professionalism behind these on-screen dance numbers.