Watching a movie with me is like an episode of “Pop Up Video”.
You’re guaranteed to hear trivia throughout the next 2 plus hours.
Add my 2 brothers into the mix and it’s 3 times the trivia. Very few people can handle it.
Here are some fun facts about White Christmas, that we would spew out while you’re trying to watch the movie.
White Christmas was released in 1954 and premiered at Radio City Music Hall.
It was the highest grossing film of that year, earning more than 30 million in the U.S. Alone, over 300 million in modern dollars.
This was the first film released in VistaVision, a process developed by Paramount studios that enhanced the picture more than standard 35mm prints.
The film was intended to reunite Crosby with Fred Astaire, who had started together in Holiday Inn, but Astaire declined after reading the script. Donald O’Connor replaced him, but left due to an illness. Danny Kaye was the third and final
Vera Allen was 33 at the time, Rosemary Clooney was 26, Danny Kaye was 43, and Bing was 52.
The photo Vera-Ellen shows of her brother Benny is actually a photo of Carl Switzer, who played Alfalfa in The Little Rascals.
Costume legend Edith Head died Danny Kaye’s shoes to match his socks.
Dancer Barrie Chase appears un-billed, as the character Doris Lenz (“Mutual, I’m sure!”).
The “Sisters” comedy act that Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye perform was not originally in the script. They were clowning around on the set and the director, Michael Kurtiz, thought it was so funny that it was written in. Crosby’s laughs are genuine (and unscripted). Many takes were attempted, but Crosby was unable to hold a straight face due to Kaye’s comedic dancing. The scene shown in the film was the best take they could get (which includes some laughter from Kaye as well).
The Vermont Inn is the remodeled Connecticut Inn set from the movie Holiday Inn.
A myth persists that all of Vera-Ellen’s costumes, down to her robe and sleepwear, were designed to cover her neck, which had been damaged by anorexia. But she made sure to show every square inch of her legs.
All the songs were written by Irving Berlin.
The centerpiece of the film is the title song, first used in Holiday Inn, which won that film an Oscar for Best Original Song in 1942. The song Count Your Blessings earned this picture its own Oscar nomination in the same category.
This is the third film to feature Bing Crosby singing White Christmas. The other two are Holiday Inn and Blue Skies.
Trudy Stevens provided the singing voice for Vera-Ellen, except for “Sisters”, where Rosemary Clooney sang both parts.
Speaking of Rosemary Clooney singing, her contract at Columbia Records forbade her from being included on the soundtrack…..Peggy Lee recorded her part for her.
After the final shot, the cast was informed that they would be redoing the finale because the King and Queen of Greece would be visiting the set and the producer wanted to “give them something to remember”. They “reshot” the sequence with no film in the camera and without Bing Crosby……
….. who had skipped out to play golf.
This one’s inspired by my dear friend Bronson.
We’ve been emailing and texting each other for over 10 years. But in all that time we’ve never met in person; until about 2 months ago.
We’re the same age and both have pretty fond memories of the 1980’s. Bronson was showing me pictures of his office, and the walls are covered in framed 80’s electronica albums.
In my bachelor pad, just a few short years ago, I had a wall of framed records too. And I still have all those records in a box. Not sure if they play anymore……but all my favorites are here; Abby Road, Glass Houses, Rumors, and Thriller…..
…..and wouldn’t you know it……there are about 20 Christmas records in the mix.
How about if I do a wall of records for the holidays?
This is the wall next to the front door in our house. A scrapbook of our lives.
Perfect place to put my records for the next month.
I still have frames….but if y’all wanna copy this look, record frames are pretty easy to find.
These frames are 7 bucks at Ikea, and we found 3 packs at Michael’s for 10.
In about 20 minutes I’d framed 15 classic, and slightly juvenile, Christmas records.
I love a cowboy, and who’s a better Cowboy than Gene Autry?
How great is the graphic on this Reggae Christmas album?
Nothing says festive like Kenny and Dolly with a severed Reindeer head? And check out those red talons on Dolly…..
I think I wore this album out when I was a kid….can you believe that I still have it?
It just wouldn’t be Christmas without Bing and his holly bow tie.
Kinda diggin’ on the graphic, clean (yet still slightly junky) look of this…….
Gift suggestion: I could use a turntable….
Lots of things…like pages from old magazines. Usually the whole magazine, but occasionally just a few pages.
Like this spread from the December 1996 issue of Country Living. (ignore the tears, sometimes I’m in a rush)
Pretty cool, am I right?
That’s why I’ve kept these magazine pages in a box for a few decades.
Not really diggin’ on the Victorian furniture, tulips, or quilts……but the red-painted floor, 48 star American flag, light-houses, collection of National Geographics, tramp art frames, that cowboy lamp with the red shade on the side of the bed, tin lunch-pails, school maps as window treatments, cowboy bed, and oodles of vintage Americana just make me dizzy. In a good way.
What a collection.
The cabin used to belong to designer Anthony Baratta. Google tells me that he’s still busy designing, but I couldn’t find any evidence that he still owns this Long Island cottage.
In fact, I couldn’t find any pictures of it online at all.
But luckily for all of us….I hoard.
The best Christmas gift I ever received?
That’s a tough call.
When I was 9, Santa brought me the full-sized Death Star Playstation. I remember breaking into a dance when I saw it. (I still have it too. You know that I do. I even have the little orange plastic rope piece that every other child lost immediately.)
About 6 years ago, Jamie gave me a Tiffany Atlas ring that he got at the flagship store in Manhattan. I imagine him strolling down 5th Avenue on a brisk, lightly snowy December day ……just enjoying the holiday window displays ……then, on a whim, he darts into Tiffany & Co. to buy me something shiny. I rarely take it off.
One year my Mother gave me the “How Babies are Made” book that she used to answer those questions when I was in the 4th grade. She’d saved it for about 35 years in a box in the closet. I loved that book as a child, even took it to school every day……until it was confiscated by my appalled teacher. It wasn’t the subject matter that captivated me, far from it, it was the illustrations. They were all made with decoupage construction paper. If ever there was a Sex-Ed book that catered to my creative imagination…….this was the one.
Those were all great gifts.
But one gift tops them all.
About 15 years ago, my dear friend Kylie gave me a gift certificate for a hands-on holiday cooking class at the Mansion on Turtle Creek. There’s always going to be a part of me that wants to be a chef, and she tapped right into that.
I’ve had the good fortune of dining at the Mansion’s 5-star restaurant a few times. Thanks, of course, to the use of Kylie’s generous employee discount.
(Side note here) I’ve never been intimidated by fancy restaurants; and I know that I should credit my Mother with giving me that trait. Good manners instill confidence. She always told my brothers and me that our manners were a direct reflection on her. Napkin in lap immediately, ladies order first, no one touches their food until everyone has been served. I would never, ever, dare talk on the phone at a table in a restaurant ……(Or while buying groceries, or ordering coffee, or in a crowded elevator……Y’all get the idea. Put your phone down occasionally) I’ve eaten with many poor souls who weren’t raised by my mother.
Me, and about 2 dozen blond Dallas socialites, who all seemed to know each other, met in a small ballroom at the Mansion for a 2 hour class with James Wagner, the Executive Pastry Chef for the restaurant.
The class was just heaven. We made cranberry syrup first (which we drank mixed with champagne for the rest of the 2 hours), peanut butter fudge, Buche de Noel (That’s a Christmas yule log cake for you non-French speakers), and these little gems (that I’m going to share with y’all right now)……..sugar and spice pecans.
In a large pot combine the following:
- 4 Cups Water
- 4 cups Sugar
- 2 TBS Cinnamon
- 1 TBS Ginger
- 1 TSP Nutmeg
- 1 TSP Cayenne
- Zest of a Lemon
- Zest of an Orange
Bring it all to a boil and add 2 pounds of pecan halves.
Continue to stir the pecans in the boiling sugar/water for about 10 minutes.
After the 10 minutes, use a slotted spoon to transfer the pecans to a Silpat-covered cookie sheet and pop them in a preheated 300 degree oven.
But not like the picture below. This is wrong….oh so wrong.
I couldn’t quite figure out why the sugar wasn’t crystallizing. The pecans are way to crowded on the baking sheet.
….so I divided them onto 2 baking sheets……and then it happened.
After about 30 minutes, the sugar hardens on the nuts…and makes the most delicious – “Sweet and Spicy”, go figure – coating.
I haven’t made them since that class. But I’m going to every Christmas from now on.
They really are easy to make….and are just sinfully delicious too.
They’re best in a bowl, on the bar of course, during a holiday party.
Your guests won’t be able to resist.
They make a pretty nice gift as well.
Quite possibly the best gift anyone’s ever received.
Either way, enjoy.
Here’s a little Christmas cheer for y’all.
Ever heard of Krampus?
On the evening of December 5th, the eve of Saint Nicholas Day, young men in Eastern European countries dress up as Krampus and wander the streets scaring children with clanging chains and rusty bells.
He’s had a big surge in popularity the past few years…….but not really sure why exactly.
Krampus is a large hairy, goat-horned creature from Germanic folklore said to punish bad children during the Christmas season. He is usually cloven-hooved with a long pointed tongue that hangs out of his mouth. Yeah, he looks a lot like Satan. In stark contrast to the benevolent Saint Nicholas who leaves good children presents, Krampus beats naughty kids with birch branches or even a whip. He is sometimes depicted with a basket or sack on his back so he can carry children off for eating, drowning, or just to take to Hell.
Well, on that note……..sweet dreams,
and Merry Krampus.
I’m not really that old. But do I remember our local five and dime store.
Shopping for Christmas presents was my second favorite part of the holidays. (After decorating the Christmas tree, of course)
At some point every mid-December, my Mother would drop me off at M.E Moses with 10$ in my pocket and an hour to shop all by myself.
My little brothers were always the easiest to shop for. Josh liked cars and trucks. Ben was still a baby; he liked anything he could put in his mouth.
A waxed box of chocolate covered cherries for my Dad. Not because they were his favorite……..but maybe because they seemed so exotic to me. Like something adult business men gave to each other as gifts.
For my Mother, I would find the prettiest, most glamorous things I could find………in the 2-3 dollars range. I remember one year selecting a pressed-glass punch bowl set with a dozen minuscule cups, and little plastic S-hooks to hold them on the edge of the bowl. I’m pretty sure that it was 5 dollars. She gushed about how much she liked it when she opened it, but I don’t remember her ever using it.
Usually though, something shiny would catch my eye. Something that fancy ladies wore. It seemed like my mother always rushing out the door in heels and pearls leaving a cloud of Yves Saint Lauren fragrance behind in her wake.
Sometimes I would find her a Christmas pin. You know the ones, shaped like a Christmas tree, or a snowflake, or even a wreath.
A few years ago, my Mother gave me back one of those 5 and dime broaches that I had given her. She knew that because I’m such a
hoarder sentimantalist, that I would truly appreciate it.
I re-discovered it the other day in my dresser drawer – where it’s been living – and pinned it on a tweed sportcoat. I know, I know…….that’s something that fancy boys would do; like Noel Coward or Oscar Wilde.
It wasn’t nearly as jewel-encrusted as I remember it being when I was a kid…..just one lonely “ruby?”.
But it’s worth the world to me.