Frosty the Snowman

"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.[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, Frosty the Snowman. The ancillary rights to Frosty are owned by Warner Bros.,[2] but due to the prominence of the Rankin/Bass TV special itself, merchandising of the character is generally licensed in tandem with that special's current owners, DreamWorks Classics.

"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


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. Frosty enjoys roaming throughout town with the children who constructed him, only stopping once at a crosswalk when the policeman directing traffic orders pedestrians to stop. Frosty finally says goodbye to the children and comforts them, promising he will be back again someday. Although Autry's original recording does not explain the reason for Frosty's departure, later versions have lyrics that attribute it to the hot sun.

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'.


The song was quickly covered by many artists including Jimmy Durante, Nat King Cole and Guy Lombardo.[5] The versions by Nat King Cole and Guy Lombardo also reached the American charts.[5]

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
Guy Lombardo version
Chart (1950) Peak
US Pop Singles 28
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)[6] 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

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

In 1969, Rankin/Bass Productions produced a 25-minute television special, Frosty the Snowman, featuring the animation of 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.[7] This was a story based on the discovery of Frosty the Snowman.

Three sequels followed:

Frosty Returns (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.


  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. Bob Eckstein (30 October 2007). The History of the Snowman. Simon and Schuster. pp. 30–. ISBN 978-1-4169-5112-4.
  6. "Whitney Wolanin Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  7. Frosty The Snowman at The Big Cartoon DataBase Retrieved 2012-11-16.
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