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70th Anniversary: The Mills Brothers’ ‘Paper Doll’ Tops The Charts

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The Mills BrothersSimilarly to the Fall of 1942, when one song – Bing Crosby’s unstoppable ‘White Christmas’ – sat unmoving at the #1 spot from early October into January, from November 1943 into the New Year of 1944, the top of the charts would belong to a single release:  The Mills Brothers’ ‘Paper Doll.’

A veteran vocal quartet, hits were nothing new to The Mills Brothers who had grown accustomed to making regular chart appearances as early as the late 1920s.  However, after a period of declining sales, the group was badly in need of a hit to revive their career.

Originally relegated to the record’s B-side, with the slower pop standard ‘I’ll Be Around’ as the chosen hit, it was only after a disk jockey turned the record over that the peppy ‘Paper Doll’ took off.  Allegedly recorded in less than fifteen minutes, ‘Paper Doll’ would prove to be The Mills Brothers’ biggest hit ever.  In total, ‘Paper Doll’ would hold on the #1 slot for twelve weeks, on its way to becoming one of only fifty records in the 20th century to sell over 10 million copies worldwide.

Enjoy the original 1943 Decca Records hit recording of The Mills Brothers’ ‘Paper Doll.’

This post by Collin Makamson, Family Programs & Outreach Coordinator @ The National WWII Museum

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