Margaret Whiting was born in Detroit in 1924, but she was raised in Hollywood. Her father, Richard Whiting, was a successful songwriter whose efforts included “Hooray For Hollywood”, “On The Good Ship Lollipop”, “Too Marvelous For Words” and “Beyond The Blue Horizon”. “Too Marvelous” and “Hooray For Hollywood” were collaborations between Whiting and Johnny Mercer and it was that association that paved the way for Margaret’s singing career.
Whenever Margaret’s father and Johnny Mercer were working on a song and wanted to hear it aloud or were recording a demo, they’d say “let’s get the kid”. This practice began while the younger Whiting was about 6 or 7. When Margaret was just 13, her father died and Mercer became a surrogate parent to her. Her coached her and taught her to listen to other popular singers for technique and style. When, in 1942, Mercer founded Capitol Records, the first major west coast record label, Margaret Whiting was among the first artists he signed. Later that year, Whiting’s vocals were featured on the Freddie Slack recording of “That Old Black Magic”. By 1945, Margaret was singing under her own name and really began racking up the hits, charting 32 times between 1945 and 1952. Among those hits was a 1949 duet with Mercer, himself, on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”; the Whiting/Mercer take on Frank Loesser’s classic is often considered it’s definitive recording. Whiting also found herself paired with Country great Jimmy Wakely in 1949. Together, Wakely and Whiting recorded a number of memorable sides, including the #1 smash “Slippin’ Around” and a pair of Christmas songs, “Silver Bells” and “Christmas Candy” which would be released as a single. From 1953 to 1955, Margaret starred on Bob Hope’s NBC radio show.
Just as the hits began to dry up, Margaret Whiting turned to the new medium of television. Not only was she a frequent performer on the assorted variety shows of the day, she starred as herself in the sitcom/musical show “Those Whiting Girls”. “Those Whiting Girls” was a Desi-Lu summer replacement series in 1955 centered around the successful singer, Margaret, and her somewhat jealous college age sister Barbara. A second season aired in the summer of 1957. Outside of a two minute clip on YouTube, it would appear that “Those Whiting Girls” hasn’t been seen or available in over 50 years.
Whiting recorded sparingly after 1970, concentrating on a cabaret career. She recorded a trio of albums on Audiophile in the 80s. Her final album was 1991’s “Then And Now”, released on DRG. Whiting did record at least one more track—also for DRG--“The Christmas Waltz”, recorded and released in 1993 as part of the album “A Cabaret Christmas”.
Margaret Whiting was married 4 times. Her final marriage was to gay porn star Jack Wrangler in 1994. Wrangler was 22 years younger than Whiting. Friends maintain the relationship was not sexual. The pair met in 1976 and, living together for nearly 20 years before marrying, developed a bond of affection and respect. Speaking to NPR in 1988, Whiting said that Wrangler was a talented and engaging man who had found himself in a professional situation he wanted to escape, but wasn't sure how. She told him to come with her to New York ("where they're far more forgiving") and direct her cabaret show. Wrangler died of emphysema in 2009.
Margaret Whiting’s Christmas discography, as best as I can tell, consists of the following:
First, Margaret Whiting recorded “Moonlight In Vermont” (her signature song) and “It Might As Well Be Spring” numerous times throughout her career. Neither is properly a Christmas song, but both have been used in that context. They were among her earliest hits and both were recorded anew for the 1991 DRG album.
Since I was able to ascertain them, I've listed "B" sides (I know I always wonder what was on the flip). Only the two double-sided singles were issued as holiday records. The remainder were generally issued in the spring and summer months.
What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? (1947) (b/w “Don’t Tell Me”)
Baby, It’s Cold Outside (with Johnny Mercer) (1949) (b/w “I Never Heard You Say”)
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (1949)/
The Mistletoe Kiss Polka (1949)
Silver Bells (with Jimmy Wakely) (1950)/
Christmas Candy (with Jimmy Wakely) (1950)
Star Of Hope (with Jimmy Wakely) (1951) (b/w “Am I Losing You”)
The Christmas Waltz (1993)
An undated radio performance of Peggy Lee’s “It’s Christmas Time Again” was released on the Collectors Choice album “Swingin’ Songs For Santa”. It is available as an mp3 through Amazon (and iTunes) as part of the digital collection "Santa Claus Rockin' Blues" (a title that bears little relation to the songs it contains).
Finally, there’s the 1949 Promotional 78, “Season’s Greetings From Capitol 1949” in which Margaret meets up with Santa on the way to a party for jukebox distributors. As it's the only song in Ms. Whiting's holiday discography not commercially available, here is my copy ("A" side only) for anyone who is interested. (As a bit of trivia, Johnny Mercer is generally credited as the "inventor" of the "promotional single".)
SEASONS GREETINGS FROM CAPITOL 1949 (mp3)