It would be hard to imagine a more appropriate song for today’s Fantastic Foursome. With Winter weather doing its best to make us miserable, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is not only very descriptive of current conditions, but might also serve to give us a much-needed chuckle or two.
Written in 1944 by Frank Loesser, it was meant to be a little ditty that he and his wife could sing at parties, and she was pretty annoyed when he later sold ‘their song’ to MGM for use in an Esther Williams movie, Neptune’s Daughter. But after Esther and Ricardo Montalban performed it in the film — as did Red Skelton and Betty Garrett, in a very funny reversal of roles — Loesser’s wife was probably much happier because the song won him an Oscar. (You can see both duets in the video below.)
It almost immediately became a favorite for recording stars, who combined in some interesting duets to perform it. Although the odd twosome who’d performed it at the Oscar awards — Rock Hudson and Mae West — didn’t make a record, those who did included Dinah Shore and Buddy Clark, Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan, and even Homer and Jethro, who offered up a countrified parody with a young June Carter. There have been many others in the intervening years. Recent combos have included Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone (from the movie, Elf) and Willie Nelson joining up with Norah Jones.
You can listen to four different versions below (or in the left column) and then – if you like – vote for your favorite.
Ella/Louis — Leon/Zooey — June/Homer & Jethro — Willie/Norah