Tidbits: White Christmas

Bing, Rosemary, Danny & Vera-Ellen

Time to ready myself for the last TCM Big Screen Classics of 2018, White Christmas (1954), with some song and dance tidbits.

  1. Third of three films to feature Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas”. The other two are Holiday Inn (1942) and Blue Skies (1946). The Bing Crosby rendition of “White Christmas” is noted to be the world’s best-selling single with estimated sales in excess of 100 million copies worldwide. It always has been and always will be an essential tune in the holiday soundtrack of my life.
  2. According to Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye’s “Sisters” performance was not originally in the script.They were clowning around on the set, and director Michael Curtiz thought it was so funny that he decided to film it. In the scene, Crosby’s laughs are genuine and unscripted, as he was unable to hold a straight face due to Kaye’s comedic dancing. Clooney said the filmmakers had a better take where Crosby didn’t laugh, but when they ran them both, people liked the laughing version better. Definitely the right call as this creates a genuine lighthearted moment in the film.
  3. Vera-Ellen’s singing voice was dubbed. Numerous sources mistakenly assume Rosemary Clooney sang Vera-Ellen’s part in “Sisters” thus duet-ing with herself, but Trudy Stevens (who was Trudy Stabile at the time) was Vera-Ellen’s voice double in all of her songs, namely “Sisters”, “Snow” and the “White Christmas” finale. Although she was the initial choice for the job, Rosemary Clooney intervened to have her friend, Trudy Stevens, sing the role instead. Vera’s own singing voice is heard ever very briefly singing in the “arrival in Pine Tree” scene at the railroad station where the quartet reprises, live, the opening lines of “Snow.” Interestingly, a search on Trudy Stevens’ filmography shows that she was mostly an uncredited singer in films. Speaking of uncredited, Bob Fosse was the uncredited choreographer for the movie. Such talent behind the scenes of this iconic holiday movie.

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