I keep telling you guys that nobody does this stuff like the great Mark Steyn, and he keeps right on proving it to be true.
As Richard Adler, Frank’s protégé, once told me, Lynn Loesser was a domineering woman. She was known around town, somewhat inevitably, as “the evil of the two Loessers”, a gag that’s stuck to her beyond the grave. You wonder sometimes whether her reputation hasn’t simply adjusted itself to a joke too good to pass up. Certainly, on her demonstration records with her husband, she’s very charming – and never more so than on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. Through the mid-Forties, Loesser held on to the number and he and Lynn performed it as their party piece at celebrity get-togethers in New York and Hollywood. Lynn Loesser loved the song, loved singing it, and loved the fact that it was theirs alone.
But business is business. And in 1948 Frank Loesser sold the song to MGM for Neptune’s Daughter. “I felt as betrayed as if I’d caught him in bed with another woman,” huffed Mrs Loesser. “I kept saying ‘Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban?'”
Her husband figured it this way: “If I don’t let go of ‘Baby’ I’ll begin to think I can never write another song as good as I think this one is.”
It’s the highlight of the picture – Ricardo Montalban putting the moves on Esther Williams. A couple of years back, when I protested that I had nothing new to add to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, some listeners responded, “Hey, switch things around: Make Jessica the predator, and you the one trying to resist.” But that switcheroo’s as old as the song: in the movie, after Ricardo hits on Esther, it’s immediately followed by a bit of role reversal from the comedy support, with a man-eating Betty Garrett pursuing Red Skelton. It brought Loesser his fourth Oscar nomination, and this time he won – for a song that predates the movie by four years and was only included for purposes of commercial exploitation. When the film came out, Loesser found himself with a new pop hit. Two versions – one by Dinah Shore and Buddy Clark, the other by Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer – both got to Number Four. Frank Loesser lost a party piece and gained a standard: At the Academy Awards, it was sung by Mae West and Rock Hudson. A few years later, Ray Charles and Betty Carter nibbled the lower end of the pop chart. The only person who wasn’t happy was Lynn Loesser: “her” song was now the world’s.
Read on to find out how—amazingly—not only the SJWs but the Muslim Brotherhood (!) tie in. Steyn just might have outdone even his own formidable self with this one.
And that seems like it might be my cue to post up the second installment of our Twelve Days Of Oso Grande Christmas here. I’m not on this track myself; it features my good friends in the Aqualads doing a swingin’, surfin’ version of Sleigh Ride. Enjoy, people, and that’s an order.