5 Famous Christmas Songs Written by Jewish Songwriters

May 11, 2013  

1. “White Christmas” – While there are more than five  Christmas carols written by Jewish songwriters, I thought I’d just cover my  favorites, starting with not only the most famous Christmas song written in  modern times, but according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the  best-selling single of all-time.

Written by: Irving Berlin in 1940

Actually written by: Israel Isidore Baline (Irving’s real  name)

Written while: seated poolside at the Arizona Biltmore  Resort and Spa in Phoenix, Arizona (talk about your White Christmas)

Made famous by: Bing Crosby in the movie Holiday Inn

Cool Irving Berlin fact: Refusing to make money off his  deep-seated patriotism, Berlin donated all the royalties from “God Bless  America” (just another little ditty he penned) to the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts  and Campfire Girls

jmarks.gif 2. “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

Written by: Johnny Marks in 1949

Based on: a poem/story penned by Marks’ brother-in-law, who  invented Rudolph

Made famous by: Gene Autry, whose recording sold over 2  million copies in the first year alone

Famous Rudolph mondegreen: “Olive, the other reindeer”

Cool Johnny Marks fact: He is the great-uncle of economist  Steven Levitt, co-author of one of my favorite books of all time,  Freakonomics

styne_j_pic2.jpg 3. “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It  Snow!”

Written by: composer Jule Styne in 1945 with lyrics by Sammy  Cahn

Actually written by: Julius Kerwin Stein and Samuel Cohen  (real names)

Made Famous by: Vaughn Monroe, hitting #1 on Billboard in  ’46

Interesting “Let it Snow” fact: the lyric never once  mentions Christmas

Cool Jule Styne fact: he also wrote the music for the  musicals Gypsy and Funny Girl

livingston_evans2.jpg 4. “Silver Bells”

Written by: Jay Livingston and Ray Evans in 1951

Actually written by: Jacob Harold Levison and Raymond  Bernard Evans (real names)

Introduced by: Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell in the movie The Lemon Drop Kid

Made Famous by: Bing Crosby and Carol Richards

Cool “Silver Bells” fact: the song was inspired by the  silver bells of the Salvation Army bell ringers, thus making it one of the few  Christmas carols about the city, as opposed to the usual rural countryside  setting

ahague1.gif 5. “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”

Written by: Albert Hague in 1966 (with words/lyrics by Dr.  Seuss, of course)

Actually written by: Albert Marcuse, who was born in Berlin,  but his family raised him Lutheran with the last name Hague in order to avoid  the raging anti-Semitism in the 1920/30s (He got out of Europe just in time,  landing in America in 1939)

Made Famous by: Thurl Arthur Ravenscroft, who made a name  for himself singing and doing voice-overs for Disney (and Frosted Flakes!)


Curious Albert Hague fact:
He was also an actor! You can  see him in both the movie and TV series, Fame, playing the role of  Shorofsky

By: David K. Israel


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