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15 Things You Didn’t Know About "White Christmas"

Some trivia about the 1954 Christmas classic (now streaming on Netflix!) starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen.

1. Though many tie the song “White Christmas” to the movie, the song was first performed by Bing Crosby 13 years earlier, on the radio show The Kraft Music Hall.

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2. Danny Kaye’s role was originally intended for Fred Astaire, who declined.

20th Century Fox / Via callmecrazyreviews.com

Kaye was actually the third choice; after Astaire turned down the role, it was subsequently offered to Donald O’Connor, who had to pull out due to illness.

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3. Clooney and Crosby, one of the film’s two romantic pairings, had a 25-year gap between them.

20th Century Fox / Via 7thhouseontheleft.com

Crosby was 51 at the film’s release, and Clooney, 26.

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4. Rosemary Clooney plays Vera-Ellen’s older sister in the movie, but the former was actually 7 years younger than the latter.

20th Century Fox / Via vintagemusemodernviews.com

At the time of the film’s release, Clooney was 26 and Vera-Ellen, 33.

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5. The Vermont Inn set in the movie is a refurbished version of the inn from Holiday Inn, in which Bing Crosby also starred.

20th Century Fox / Via hookedonhouses.net

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6. During this scene—in which Wallace & Davis perform the Haynes’ act “Sisters”—actors Crosby and Kaye can both be seen laughing through their act. This was the best take they could get.

20th Century Fox / Via lifewithlyn.com

Kaye, who was also a comedian, reportedly cracked up the cast on many occasions during filming. Additionally, this scene was not originally written into the script; it was put in after the director saw Crosby and Kaye joking around on set.

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7. Vera-Ellen (as Judy Haynes) did not actually sing any of the songs in White Christmas; her parts were sung by costar Rosemary Clooney or Trudy Stevens.

20th Century Fox / Via blog.buzzjeans.com

She DEFINITELY did her own dancing, however.

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8. The song “Snow” (sung in the scene shown here) was written by Irving Berlin, but was originally called “Free” and had nothing to do with snow.

20th Century Fox / Via slackerwood.com

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9. In the movie, Judy Haynes shows Wallace & Davis a picture of her brother, Bennie. The man pictured is Carl ‘Alfalfa’ Switzer.

Alfalfa, of course, is the most memorable character from the short film series Our Gang, also known as The Little Rascals.

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10. One of the more prominent dancers to accompany the Haynes sisters in the movie is George Chakiris, who went on to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in West Side Story.

20th Century Fox / Via hollywoodchicago.com

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11. The incredible number “The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing” features an almost-imperceptible trip at the end.

While twirling behind the kneeling Kaye, Vera-Ellen just barely trips over his left foot, but recovers like the pro she was. (Indeed her dancing was so much the stronger that producers hoped that her skills would compensate for Kaye’s own dancing ability.)

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12. At 18 years old, Vera-Ellen became one of the youngest ever Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall.

Unusual, too, among Rockettes, was Vera-Ellen’s small stature: she stood only 5’4” tall. In this scene from White Christmas, her highly skilled dancing is evident.

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13. The costumer designer responsible for White Christmas’ many excellent outfits is the famous Edith Head.

20th Century Fox / Via the-dandy-life.com

Edith Head, in her lifetime, won 8 Academy Awards for costume design—more than any other individual in that category.

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14. The film’s co-lead Rosemary Clooney is George Clooney’s aunt.

 

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15. The movie was 1954’s largest earner by a wide margin, bringing in $12 million.

20th Century Fox / Via laura.moncur.org

And it remains a popular Christmas classic to this day.

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