This year, we decided to have our annual holiday greeting tied to the “Hollywood Holidays” theme we’ve been working on the last couple of weeks. The reason? This is the 70th anniversary of the release of Bing Crosby’s hit White Christmas. The song topped the charts in the weeks leading up to Christmas in 1942, and would go on (according to the Guinness Book of World Records) to be the biggest selling song of all time.
The song was first performed in a radio show in 1941, and was a part of the movie Holiday Inn, which was released in July of 1942.
WAVE Helen Gilbert remembered being in training camp as the holidays approached in 1942:
The first Christmas in Wisconsin, it was very sad. We were all homesick. We were just a bunch of young girls who wanted to go home. I remember Bing Crosby’s White Christmas. Every time it went on we were just sobbing. It was crazy, but we lived through it and finally graduated.
May your days be merry and bright and all your Christmases be white.
We’ve been humming Bing Crosby’s White Christmas a lot lately – likely because there’s no risk of not having Christmas snow this year in Colorado. The song first premiered on an NBC radio show in 1941 and was initially released on an album for the film Holiday Inn, about a pair of song and dance men who create a country inn that featured holiday-themed performances.
By October of 1942, White Christmas was released as a single and it quickly shot to the top of the “Your Hit Parade” radio charts. The song perfectly captured the mood of the time. In it, the singer pines for the perfect Christmas:
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know
Where tree tops glisten, and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow…
Those first classes of WAVES were in training during the Christmas of 1942. Helen Gilbert was training to be a radio coder at the University of Wisconsin in Madison:
I remember Bing Crosby’s White Christmas. Every time it went on we were just sobbing. It was crazy…The first Christmas in Wisconsin, it was very sad. We were all homesick. We were just a bunch of young girls who wanted to go home.
White Christmas would later be the inspiration for the film of the same name – featuring former Army buddies (and Broadway stars) who head up to Vermont in the years after the war to help their beloved General’s struggling Vermont inn.
White Christmas is the biggest selling single of all time.