Little Bits of History

I’m Dreaming

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 29, 2012

May 29, 1942: Bing Crosby and the Ken Darby Singers record a song for Decca Records. Crosby had first sung the song on Christmas Day the year before on his radio show, The Kraft Music Hall, but that recording is lost. It took only eighteen minutes to record the song which was released on June 30 as part of an album. Six songs played on 78-rpm records were sold for the movie, Holiday Inn. The song wasn’t an immediate hit and was overshadowed by “Be Careful, It’s my Heart” also from the album. By October the second song topped “Your Hit Parade” and stayed at number one until the next year. The blockbuster? “White Christmas.”

The song was written by Irving Berlin. He had stayed up all night, sitting poolside while composing. In the morning, he told his secretary he may have written the best song ever – for his own career and possibly in the world of music. Depending on figures, the song has sold at least 50 million copies, with Guinness Book of World Records listing 100 million copies, for all versions of the song, including albums. Crosby’s Merry Christmas collection was first released in 1949 and has never been out of print since that time. “ItsRanked” gave the number one spot to Crosby’s version of “White Christmas” when listing the top Christmas songs of all time.

Berlin was a prolific and influential composer and lyricist. His first hit was “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” in 1911 when Berlin was 23. He continued to write music for 60 years and wrote an estimated 1,500 songs, including the scores for nineteen Broadway shows and 18 Hollywood movies. He had songs nominated for Academy Awards eight times. Another of his famous works is “God Bless America” sometimes referred to America’s second national anthem. At one time there was a push to actually replace “The Star Spangled Banner” with Berlin’s work. The Jewish boy from the Lower East Side married Ellin Mackay, a Catholic heiress in 1925 after Berlin had been widowed following a short first marriage. They had four children together and remained married until her death in June 1988 at age 85. Berlin died in September 1989 at age 101.

Harry Lillis Crosby was both a singer and actor. He was discovered by Paul Whiteman singing at Los Angeles Metropolitan Theater in 1926 with his singing partner, Al Rinker, one of the most famous bandleaders of the time. Whiteman offered the duo $150 per week to sing for him. Crosby’s star was rising and he was offered a spot on the radio. He moved to movies and sold 1,077,900,000 tickets over his career He is the third most popular actor of all time, behind Clark Gable and John Wayne. He recorded 1,700 songs with 41 hitting #1. He made over 80 feature films and more than 35 short films. He was also in nine television series or specials. He died in 1977 at the age of 74.

There is nothing in the world I wouldn’t do for [Bob] Hope, and there is nothing he wouldn’t do for me… We spend our lives doing nothing for each other. – Bing Crosby

That’s Jack Benny. He’s always out there on bad days like that looking for golf balls. – Bing Crosby

Listen kid, take my advice, never hate a song that has sold half a million copies. – Irving Berlin

Talent is only the starting point. – Irving Berlin

Also on this day:

The Top of the World – In 1953 Mount Everest in conquered.
Running the World – In 1954, the Bilderberg Group held their first conference.
Empress of Ireland – In 1914, nearly a thousand people died when the ship sank.

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