Friday, July 9, 2004

100 years ago: “Toyland” hit #1


Corrine Morgan with the Haydn Quartet

Writer(s): Victor Herbert (music), Glen MacDonough (lyrics) (see lyrics here)

First Charted: June 11, 1904

Peak: 12 US, 6 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The 1903 show Babes in Toyland came about because producers Fred Hamlin and Julian Mitchell wanted another children’s fantasy like The Wizard of Oz. Lyricist Glen MacDonough had worked with Mitchell on some revisions for Oz and now worked with composer Victor Herbert to craft another musical. They wove together various Mother Goose nursery rhymes into “a musical extravaganza” WK along with a story about two children and their journey to get to the “fantastic land of the toys.” TY2

The show premiered on June 17, 1903, at the Grand Opera House in Chicago. It opened in New York at the Majestic Theatre (where The Wizard of Oz had played) on October 13, 1903, and ran for 192 performances. WK It became “Herbert’s most lasting operetta” PS and “one of America’s most lasting musical productions.” PS

“Of all the music from the show, none…has been as permanent as ‘Toyland.’” PS The “tender and haunting ballad…calls to one’s heart and mind both joyous memories and melancholy nostalgia for days gone by.” PS It was introduced in the original production by Bessie Wynn. In 1904, Corinne Morgan and the Haydn Quartet took the song to #1. It has become a poular song during the Christmas season.

The song gained attention in 1934 when revived by Laurel & Hardy in a film version of Babes in Toyland. Disney did a remake of the musical in 1961 and it was revived again in 1986 with a television version starring Drew Barrymore and Keanu Reeves. The latter included only two songs from the original score, but one of them was “Toyland.” An amimated version was released in 1997 that also heavily revised the original show, but again retained “Toyland” as one of the songs.

The song has been recorded by many artists over the years including Perry Como, the Manhattan Transfer, Barry Manilow, Johnny Mathis, Don McLean, Jane Morgan, Vaughn Monroe, Leon Redbone, Jo Stafford, and Andy Williams.


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First posted 12/13/2022; last updated 12/14/2022.

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