"Baby, It's Cold Outside"
is a pop standard
with words and music by Frank Loesser
. Loesser wrote the duet
and premiered the song with his wife at their Navarro Hotel housewarming party. The female voice in the song is called "The Mouse" and the male "The Wolf." The lyrics consist of his attempts to convince her to stay with him at the end of a date
; her indecisive protests reveal that although she feels obligated to go home, she is tempted to stay, partially because, as the title suggests, "it's cold outside." In at least one published version the tempo
of the song is given as "fantana," a humorous reference to the composer's name.
In 1948, after years of informally performing the song at various parties, Loesser sold its rights to MGM, which inserted the song into its 1949 motion picture, Neptune's Daughter. The film featured two performances of the song: one by Ricardo Montalbán and Esther Williams and the other by Red Skelton and Betty Garrett. These performances earned Loesser an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
The following versions were recorded in 1949:
- The recording by Dinah Shore and Buddy Clark was recorded on March 17 and released by Columbia Records as catalog number 38463. It first reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on May 6, 1949 and lasted 19 weeks on the chart, peaking at #4.
- The recording by Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer was recorded on March 18 and released by Capitol Records as catalog number 567. It first reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on May 6, 1949 and lasted 19 weeks on the chart, peaking at #4. . Today, this is the most commonly heard version of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" which is often mistaken for being sung by Bing Crosby and Doris Day.
- The recording by Don Cornell and Laura Leslie with the Sammy Kaye orchestra was recorded on April 12 and released by RCA Victor Records as catalog number 20-3448. It first reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on June 24, 1949 and lasted 10 weeks on the chart, peaking at #13.
- The recording by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan was recorded on April 28 and released by Decca Records as catalog number 24644. It first reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on June 17, 1949 and lasted 7 weeks on the chart, peaking at #17.
- Non-charting recordings were made:
"Baby, It's Cold Outside" has been recorded by numerous other artists over the years, including
The Ray Charles-Betty Carter version features prominently in a sixth-season episode of A Different World, also titled "Baby, It's Cold Outside," in which a husband and wife lip-synch to the song as a romantic gesture toward each other.
Due to the wintertime lyrics, the song is often played during the Christmas season.
On Saturday Night Live NBC on 10/11/1986, the song was featured as a duet sung by Sigourney Weaver and Buster Poindexter. The song has been performed by Suzy Bogguss and Delbert McClinton and the song is featured on Suzy's album "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" (2003). It was also featured in the 1991 movie For the Boys sung by Bette Midler and James Caan. In the 2003 Christmas film Elf, the song is sung during the film by Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell; a different version, sung by Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone, plays over the film's end credits. In 2006, the song was reissued on the album Christmas with Dino, this time as a duet by Dean Martin (posthumously) with Martina McBride, whose portion was recorded and mixed at the Los Angeles Capitol studio used by Martin for his 1959 version. Also in 2006, Peter Gallagher and Megan Mullally performed it on The Megan Mullally Show. One of the oddest and most amusing renditions was by husband-and-wife Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester on an American radio show.
Reference in the writings of Sayyid Qutb
"Baby, It's Cold Outside" is mentioned in a key passage from The America I Have Seen
, a 1951 book by the influential Egyptian Islamist Sayyid Qutb
. He described the scene as a record of the song was played at a church dance in the town of Greeley, Colorado
: ”The dance hall convulsed to the tunes on the gramophone and was full of bounding feet and seductive legs ... Arms circled waists, lips met lips, chests met chests, and the atmosphere was full of passion."
Snippets of the song are played multiple times in The Power of Nightmares, a BBC documentary on the origins of Islamism, Neocons and the ongoing War on Terrorism.
Version by Kelly Willis
and Bruce Robison