Frosty the Snowman

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"Frosty the Snowman"
Single by Gene Autry & The Cass County Boys
B-side"When Santa Claus Gets Your Letter"
GenreChristmas song
LabelColumbia Records
Songwriter(s)Walter Rollins & Steve Nelson
"Frosty the Snowman"
Single by Jimmy Durante
B-side"(Isn't It A Shame That) Christmas Comes But Once A Year"
GenreChristmas song
LabelMGM Records
Songwriter(s)Walter Rollins & Steve Nelson

"Frosty the Snowman" (or "Frosty the Snow Man") is a popular Christmas song written by Walter "Jack" Rollins and Steve Nelson, and first recorded by Gene Autry and the Cass County Boys in 1950 and later recorded by Jimmy Durante, releasing it as a single.[1] It was written after the success of Autry's recording of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" the previous year; Rollins and Nelson shipped the new song to Autry, who recorded "Frosty" in search of another seasonal hit. Like "Rudolph", "Frosty" was subsequently adapted to other media including a popular television special by Rankin/Bass Productions (formerly known as Videocraft International), Frosty the Snowman. The ancillary rights to the Frosty the Snowman character are owned by Warner Bros.,[2] but due to the prominence of the TV special, merchandising of the character is generally licensed in tandem with that special's current owners, DreamWorks Classics.


The song recounts the fictional tale of Frosty, a snowman who is brought to life by a magical silk hat that a group of children find and place on his head. Although Frosty enjoys roaming throughout town with the children who constructed him, he runs afoul of a traffic cop and leaves town, promising he will be back again someday.

Although it is generally regarded as a Christmas song, the original lyrics make no mention of the holiday (some renditions, like that in the 1969 Rankin/Bass TV special, change the lyric "I'll be back again someday" to "I'll be back on Christmas Day"). The song supposedly takes place in White Plains, New York, or Armonk, New York; Armonk has a parade dedicated to Frosty annually.[3][4]

It has been covered as an instrumental by the Canadian Brass, with founder Charles Daellenbach taking on the persona of Frosty, and repeatedly calling "One more time!" ("You know what happens when Frosty gets 'hot'"), and then starting to collapse ("I think he's melting" -- "You know what happens when Frosty gets hot"). It was also covered by the Hampton String Quartet on their inaugural album, "What if Mozart Wrote 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas'."


Gene Autry version
Chart (1950) Peak
US Pop Singles 7
US Country Singles 4
Jimmy Durante version
Chart (1950) Peak
US Pop Singles 7
Nat King Cole version
Chart (1950) Peak
US Pop Singles 9
Perry Como version
Chart (1957) Peak
US Pop Singles 74
Jan and Dean version
Chart (1963) Peak
US Pop Singles 11
Johnny Mathis version
Chart (2003) Peak
US Adult Contemporary 29
Kimberley Locke version
Chart (2007) Peak
US Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 1
Canadian Adult Contemporary 40
Billboard Top AC Songs of 2008 46
Whitney Wolanin version
Chart (2012) Peak
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[5] 13


In 1950, Little Golden Books published Frosty the Snow Man as a children's book, adapted by Annie North Bedford and illustrated by Corinne Malvern.

1950 short film[edit]

In 1950, the UPA studio brought "Frosty" to life in a three-minute animated short which appears regularly on WGN-TV. This production included a bouncy, jazzy a cappella version of the song and a limited animation style reminiscent of UPA's Gerald McBoing-Boing. The short, filmed entirely in black-and-white, has been a perennial WGN-TV Christmas classic, and was broadcast on December 24 and 25, 1955, and every year since, as part of a WGN-TV children's programming retrospective, along with their two other short Christmas classics, "Suzy Snowflake" and "Hardrock, Coco and Joe." The short had previously been telecast annually on WGN's The Bozo Show, "Ray Rayner and His Friends" and "Garfield Goose," along with its two other companion cartoons. The three cartoons are also a tradition on WJAC-TV in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, which not only broadcasts the cartoons on their station, but also makes them available on their website.

Television adaptations[edit]

In 1969, Rankin/Bass produced a 25-minute television special, Frosty the Snowman, featuring animation by Japanese studio Mushi Production, and the voices of comedians Jimmy Durante as the narrator, Billy De Wolfe as Professor Hinkle and Jackie Vernon as Frosty. Paul Frees and June Foray both also voice characters including Karen and Santa Claus in this animated special produced and directed by Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass.[6] This was a story based on the discovery of Frosty the Snowman. Three sequels were produced, Frosty's Winter Wonderland (based upon the song "Winter Wonderland") in 1976, in which Frosty got married, and Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July in 1979, followed by The Legend of Frosty the Snowman in 2005 (the last of which had Bill Fagerbakke take over as Frosty's voice after Vernon's death).

Frosty Returns, released in 1992, is a sequel to the original song, set in a separate fictional universe from the other specials, with John Goodman as the voice of a more sardonic Frosty defending the value of snow against Mr. Twitchell (Brian Doyle-Murray), the maker of a snow-removal spray.

Cast and characters[edit]

Characters Frosty the Snowman Frosty's Winter Wonderland Rudolph and Frosty's
Christmas in July
Frosty Returns The Legend of Frosty the Snowman
1969 1976 1979 1992 2005
Santa Claus
Jack Frost


  1. ^ Gene Autry, "Frosty the Snowman" Retrieved October 14, 2011
  2. ^ USPTO trademark database listing
  3. ^ Liebeskind, Ken (3 December 2011). "Armonk Celebrates Frosty Day Dec. 10". Armonk Daily Voice. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  4. ^ Weisler, Alex (5 December 2012). "Armonk to give Frosty a warm reception". The Journal News. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  5. ^ "Whitney Wolanin Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  6. ^ Frosty The Snowman at The Big Cartoon DataBase Retrieved 2012-11-16.

External links[edit]