Chris Jericho is a wrestling and marketing genius who has successfully reinvented himself so many times it’s incredible, whether it’s his transformation into “Le Champion” or his love for champagne (aka “A Little Bit of the Bubbly”) leading to his own brand of champagne. However, every time I hear the former AEW World Heavyweight Champion say “A Little Bit of the Bubbly,” I can’t help but think of the dream duet “Well Did You Evah” between singing sensations Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby in the film High Society.
In case you’ve never seen it (and you’re telling me you’ve seen all three Human Centipede movies and you haven’t seen this?), the musical High Society (not to be confused with the men’s magazine) was released in 1956. A remake of 1940’s The Philadelphia Story, it featured Grace Kelly’s socialite character about to marry a dull-as-dishwater man while her wealthy ex-husband (played by Bing Crosby) and a reporter (played by Frank Sinatra) attempt to woo her away during the social events leading up to the wedding. The film is known for its musical numbers (including performances by jazz icon Louis Armstrong as well as the aforementioned stars) as well as the fact that it was Grace Kelly’s last Hollywood film before she married Monaco’s Prince Ranier III, becoming Princess Grace (talk about the P.O.P.).
While the film certainly isn’t the best work from any of the parties involved, it’s a lot of fun and it features an epic moment for Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby fans as it features the first duet between the two singing superstars. By 1956, Sinatra was basking in one of the greatest career comebacks ever, having won an Academy Award for his role in From Here to Eternity and proving Alexandre Dumas right that “nothing succeeds like success.” The Oscar was the shot in the arm Sinatra needed to regain his confidence and his singing career rose to new heights. As for Crosby, his singing and acting career were just two of many financially successful endeavors as he pioneered the use of audiotape and videotape, adding more cash to his coffers.
The duet was years in the making. This was an opportunity Sinatra had waited for his entire life. According to James Kaplan’s book, Sinatra: The Chairman : “Sinatra said the chance to duet with Crosby was his main reason for doing the movie” (89). The dream duet proved a challenge for “‘Ol Blue Eyes,” as:
In fact, Sinatra was intimidated by his onetime idol , who was so cool and aloof offstage that even Crosby’s longtime comedy partner Bob Hope would say after his death, “You know, I never liked Bing. He was a son of a bitch.” (90)
Both men shine as two rivals for Grace Kelly’s affections who seek solace from her engagement party. The duet is fun and seems as spontaneous as possible, yet as film scholar Jeanine Basinger comments in her book The Star Machine:
Sinatra and Crosby had to sing, dance, hit their camera marks, respect the sophisticated Cole Porter lyrics, deliver scripted dialogue, stay within their characters, pretend to be slightly drunk, keep the beat of the orchestra playback, move around a specially designed library set with limited space while following a specific choreography that had to look improvised, and never forget that they were rivals for the audience’s affection, “Frankie” and “Bing.” (19-20)
During the song, both men consumer their fair share of champagne with Bing quipping “I may have a little bit of the bubbly myself.” While the late crooner’s quip might not have the same gravitas as “Le Champion,” it’s a reminder of champagne’s legacy in our culture.
Champagne wasn’t always a little bit of the bubbly. While champagne is believed to date back prior to Medieval times, it wasn’t until later that winos (is there another name for wine drinkers?) discovered the joy of sparkling wine. Like Viagra (which was originally developed as a hypertension drug but while it failed at that, it worked great in pumping up the penis), champagne was one of those accidental discoveries that people realized could be of great benefit (in this case, looking classy while getting loaded). According to History.com:
When wine has bubbles, it’s a sign that it has continued to ferment inside the bottle. For much of the history of viniculture, this was a no-no, a mark of wine gone bad, associated with murky, unstable and unpredictable vintages. Although a few vineyards had produced intentionally sparkling wine (as early as the 15th century in Limoux in the South of France), it was only in the late 1600s that bubbly from Champagne began to be produced and respected. Wines from Champagne had a tendancy to fizz because early frosts often led to incomplete fermentation during the manufacturing process. When things warmed the following spring, some of the wine would begin to sparkle. Fizzy Champagne, in fact, was popular among the well-to-do in Georgian England before it became so in the courts and chateaus of pre-Revolutionary France.
Thanks to “Le Champion” champagne has risen to even greater heights, with the leader of “The Bubbly Bunch” reminding people it’s cool to drink champagne (and drink responsibly) and despite what Miss Manners may think, it’s okay to drink out of the bottle while relaxing in your hot tub.
So the next time you get your drink on and you reach for a little bit of the bubbly, think of Frank and Bing, and raise a toast to them and “Le Champion.”