Thursday, December 8, 2011

I'll Be Home For Christmas... as promised

As many of you know, either because you are very smart (& that's why I love you), or because you read my blog (also why I love you), J. Kimball "Kim" Gannon, the lyricist who wrote "I'll Be Home For Christmas," lived in Greenwich for over 25 years. The Brooklyn native graduated from St. Laurence University, where he dabbled in writing, and even penned the alma mater. Then it was off to Albany Law School and five years of practicing law in Ballston Spa while playing piano for WGY on the side. During this time he married his sweetheart Norma, whom he met in college.*

Sheet music cover
His Hollywood success occurred from about 1941-47. During this time he garnered three Academy Award nominations! Who knew?

Academy Award nominations for Best Song- all lyrics by Kim Gannon#
1942- "Always In My Heart" from Always In My Heart, music by Ernesto Lecuona
1944- "Too Much In Love" from Song of the Open Road starring Jane Powell, music: Walter Kent
1945- "Endlessly" from Earl Carroll Vanities, music: Walter Kent

Yeah, I know! What the h... kind of film title is Earl Carroll Vanities? Oh, I guess it's a Ziegfeld Follies type musical, but low-budget. I couldn't find a trailer or still, but Eve Arden was in it, so it can't be all bad.``

During this time in Hollywood, he wrote his Christmas standard that Bing Crosby decided to record after Kim pitched it to him during a game of golf in 1943!* Here is Mr. Crosby's 1943 recording...

Kim Gannon died in 1974. His wife Norma died in 2000. With Norma's death, 30% of the royalties of "I'll Be Home for Christmas" now go to St. Laurence University. A spokesperson for the university estimates that they receive between $20,000 to $30,000 each year! Last year the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) stated that from October 1, 2010 to December 1, 2010, the song was played over 20,000 times!^ I wonder how many times I will here it this year? One more time with feeling! Johnny Mathis' 1958 rendition...

* Nason, Marilyn, "Gannon Penned Yule 'Standard'" Albany, NY: Times Union, December 21, 1958

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