In supplemental information on the DVD Rosemary Clooney revealed that 1. She took the role mostly so that she could perform with Bing Crosby. 2. Danny Kaye caused many retakes when his antics made everyone laugh when they weren't supposed to. 3. She considered "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me" as "her" song since it was her only solo. 4. After the final shot they were 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. In later years she and Bing recorded several record albums together.
Rosemary Clooney was not allowed to record her voice for the soundtrack album because it was being released by a record company (Decca) other than hers (Columbia). She was replaced on the soundtrack album by Peggy Lee.
According to Rosemary Clooney, in Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye's "Sisters" performance, 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).
Vera-Ellen did not actually sing any of the songs for the movie. Rosemary Clooney sang both parts for "Sisters," (later recording it with her real life sister Betty Clooney) while Trudy Stevens sang the rest. Vera's own voice is heard singing only in the "arrival in Pine Tree" scene at the railroad station where the quartet reprises the opening lines of "Snow".
The original concept was to reunite Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby, as they had been successful in Holiday Inn (1942). Astaire refused, as he had "retired" at the time, so the part was reworked for Donald O'Connor. O'Connor pulled out due to a protracted bout with Q-Fever (contracted from Francis the Mule), and the part was reworked at the last minute for Danny Kaye.
While preparing to go on stage for the Sisters routine, Betty and Judy mention their brother being out of the country working in Alaska. This movie was released in 1954 and Alaska wasn't admitted as a state until 1959, so he was in fact out of the country.
For the song "Gee, I Wish I Was Back In The Army", there is the lyric, "Jolson, Hope And Benny all for free". This is a reference to three wartime entertainers: Al Jolson, Bob Hope and Jack Benny. The original words were "Crosby, Hope and Jolson all for free", but the lyric was changed because with Bing Crosby in the cast the original lyric would break the fourth wall.
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. This is untrue. Seeing her in the premiere footage for A Star Is Born (1954), she is wearing a low cut gown and her neck is clearly visible.
The TV camera in the Ed Harrison Show scene is a real one (a classic RCA monochrome) the call sign atop it was real as well - it was that of Channel 4, NBC's (and thus RCA's) flagship station in New York, which changed its call sign to WRCA-TV the year of the film's release. (They adopted their current WNBC-TV calls in 1960.)
Although this movie musical has been a beloved favorite for decades - especially at Christmastime - there has never been an official "original soundtrack" album released in any form. Decca controlled the soundtrack rights, but Rosemary Clooney was under exclusive contract to Columbia, who would not allow her to appear on a competing label. As a result, Decca and Columbia each released their own White Christmas albums in 1954, although neither is an official soundtrack. Decca's album featured the movie cast minus Rosemary Clooney, with Peggy Lee taking over Clooney's part. Columbia's album had Rosemary Clooney singing 8 songs from the film. Both albums have been issued on CD in recent years.
Although he had no speaking parts, the actor who only appeared in a photo the Haines sisters had of their brother, Bennie Haines "the Dog-Faced Boy" who was in the service with Wallace and Davis was none other than Irving Berlin, composer for White Christmas.
The song "Snow" was written by Irving Berlin a while before the film was made but with a different lyric and title and indeed subject (it had nothing to do whatsoever with snow): it was called "Free" and it was recorded by the composer.
The "Ed Harrison TV Show" that Bing Crosby appears on is a reference to The Ed Sullivan Show (1948) better known as The Ed Sullivan Show, that featured known stars, new talent and vaudeville acts. Ed Harrison was played by Johnny Grant who did not have a long acting career in the movies, but was the honorary Mayor of Hollywood, California who officiated over the unveilings of Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame from the early 1960s until his death in 2008.
When Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) appears on the Ed Harrison TV show, he is briefly shown - as if the audience is watching him at home - on a 1950s television set. The brand of the television is DuMont, one of the first manufacturers of TVs in America and the name of TV network from the 1950s. Jackie Gleason, Morey Amsterdam and Bishop Fulton J. Sheen were some of the notables that began on the DuMont Network, which ceased operations in 1956.
Though Rosemary Clooney couldn't be on the original album due to contractual conflicts, she recorded the song "Sisters" with her real-life sister, Betty Clooney. On the official album, Peggy Lee recorded the song and sang both parts via overdubbing, a new technology in 1954.
When Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby are at the bar for the "sandwich" scene, getting a midnight snack, Crosby says the menu is not the same as "Toots Schorr's". Toots Schorr's was a real place. It was a restaurant at 51 W. 51st Street in New York. It was somewhat of a hangout for show business personalities.
Tne musical stage adaptation premiered in San Francisco in 2004 followed by productions in Boston, Buffalo, Los Angeles, Detroit, Louisville and the United Kingdom. The Broadway production opened on November 23, 2008 at the Marquis Theater and ran for 53 performances earning two Tony Award nominations. The musical was revived at the Marquis Theater for the 2009 Christmas season.
The photo of Benny "the dog faced boy" is not Irving Berlin as is widely reported. It's actual Carl Switzer, aka "Alfalfa" from "Little Rascal's" fame. Rosemary Clooney says so in her commentary on the White Christmas dvd.