October 17, 2004 by

Donald Gardner

11 comments

Categories: Musicians

Although Donald Yetter Gardner played many instruments, directed church choirs and produced community musical events, he was best known for writing the song “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.”
On Dec. 5, 1944, Gardner was teaching music at an elementary school in Smithtown, N.Y. During a second grade music class, the students were asked what they wanted for Christmas. As they replied, Gardner noticed that many of the children lacked at least one front tooth, a condition that caused them to lisp their answers.
This observation inspired Gardner to pen “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth,” a song that was recorded dozens of times by artists such as Nat King Cole, Mariah Carey, George Strait, Alvin and the Chipmunks and Harry Babbitt. The 1948 Spike Jones version reached number one on the music charts and sold nearly a million and a half copies in seven weeks.
Gardner later worked as a music consultant and editor at Ginn & Co., where he penned songs for music textbooks. A member of the American Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers, he still received royalties on the famous Christmas carol more than half a century later.
Gardner died on Sept. 15 of complications from surgery. He was 91.

11 Responses to Donald Gardner

  1. Carol Prince

    I have loved this song since I was a little girl. Imagine my surprise when I found out that my co-worker here in Georgia is Mr. Gardner’s daughter-in-law!

  2. Elizabeth

    I have always loved this song. But just this past week my mom told me about Don. She knew him really well. Apparently when i was younger (i am only 14 now) at age maybe 2 or 3, I used to live just a couple doors down from Mr. Gardner in Wellesley, MA. I think that it’s really cool. My mom told me that i used to love Don, he would babysit us all the time. She said that I used to always just walk over to his house without telling her and he would just tell me stories, true or fake stories, he would just keep telling them to me. When she couldn’t find me, she always knew just where to look.
    For a music project we have to write a biography on someone that wrote a Christmas carol. So when i came to look for info. on him, I only found out that he just recently died. Although i dont remember him all that much, i am still a little vulnerable to that fact. And for the project we need to have a reference list…I guess the only reference i have for this paper is my heart.

  3. Sue Carpenter

    Don Gardner was my great uncle. I have been researching my family tree for the past year and wanted so much to contact him, but the news was not good. A little too late. I grew up on Long Island and did not see him as often as I should have. I have fond memories and will always regret waiting so long. But I will LOVE that song!

  4. donald gardner

    I remember reading about don quite recently regarding the song “two front teeth” purely because of the same name. I may just possibly be a part of the family tree, who knows? Dad’s name was Patrick. It was sad when I read of his passing but dying is the last part of our life and we do hope that is more later than sooner.
    Good luck and good health. DON.

  5. Justin Nordan

    Donald Gardner was my mom’s Uncle (my Grandmother’s brother). He was not only a good person, but he was an inspiration of sorts for me to get into the music industry. I hope that everyone feels the joy that my family does, evertime we hear that great holiday classic that he penned. May he always remain in our hearts.

  6. ROSAMOND GILLESPIE BURNS

    Don Gardner was my music teacher from Smithtown Branch High School in 1945. Our chorus used to sing “All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth” before it was published. I have two yearbook pictures of him. What is astounding is that after 62 years I suddenly thought of Don and his famous song as I write a column for our local paper and wanted to do a story about Christmas.. Don and his song suddenly popped into my head and I looked for the yearbook to print a picture of him to go with my article. I then wanted to find out what happened to him and went on the internet..When I read his death notice I broke out crying..I feel he reached out to me. Anyone who knows more please contact me. I live upstate now but am going to my Smithtown H.S. Reunion and have printed up copies of his song so the group can sing it once again. Rosamond Gillespie Burns, 769 Washington Avenue, Dunkirk, NY 14048

  7. Rosamond Gillespie Burns

    After I wrote the above comments I remembered something else about Don Gardner that I had forgotten. Don was auditioning for a girl’s trio. I remember him at the piano and after I sang he signed me up immediately as the soprano lead singer. Previously through the years I loved to sing and had a good voice. I was told that at the age of three I used to sing along with Grace Moore on the radio. Actually my performance with the trio leasd me to love the stage. I had a fdriendship with Cornelia Otis Skinner, the actress and authoress and her son Dick. She sent me to her voice teacher in NY City and soon after I auditioned with Rogers and Hammerstein.n Any family that reads this and would be interested in my column about Don, please contact me so I may send you a copy. Rosamond Gillespie Burns, 769 Washingtron Avenue, Dunkirk, NY 14048 or rosamond@adelphia. net. I have a question..in the internet article it said Don died in Sept. 2006 at the age of 91..I am 76 and he being my teacher in HS would not seem correct.

  8. Rosamond Gillespie Burns

    TO ADD TO THE TWO MESSAGES ABOVE…AS A TRIBUTE TO DON GARDNER, MY MUSIC TEACHER FROM SMITHTOWN HIGH SCHOOL IN 1945, AT OUR REUNION DEC. 5TH AT NOON AT TYHE THREE VILLAGE INN IN STONY BROOK, NY., I WILL PASS OUT THE WORDS TO ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS AND WE WILL SING ONE LAST TIME IN HIS HONOR. IF ANYONE FROM FAMILY OR FRIENDS WANT TO PARTICIPATE YOU ARE WELCOME. CALL ME AT 716-672-9163

  9. Rosamond Gillespie Burns

    DECEMBER 10TH…YESTERDAYS…ROSAMOND GILLESPIE BURNS
    “ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS MY TWO FRONT TEETH”
    As I was thinking about what to write for my December columns, a sudden revelation came to me; write about Christmas music for children. Then Flash! “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” popped into my head. The exciting connection is that it was written by Don Gardner, my high school music teacher in 1944 and that my classmates and I from Smithtown Branch High School , Long Island had sung that song before it was even published!
    Wow! I then went on the internet to see about his life since those days 62 years ago. Then something amazing and heartfelt happened as I scrolled down the sites… There was his death notice! I cried right then and there since I realized I missed contacting him by two months. He died at the age of 91 in September of this year.
    I feel Don Gardner reached out to me in some mystical way . I had prayed whether to go to my high school reunion in December on Long Island. It is a long drive by myself and maybe I should wait and go to the beach party in June. I prayed for a sign. A sign came very quickly when the song “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” popped into my head and the subsequent information about his life for my column. I then remembered something else from that long ago time..Mr. Gardner was auditioning for a girl’s vocal trio. I remember the day he sat at his piano and I sang for him. I was chosen as the soprano lead. That was the start of my interest in the stage and my vocal music career which culminated in 1954 when I had an audition with Rogers and Hammerstein on the Schubert Theater stage in New York City. Oh, the road not taken!
    A short biography of Donald Yetter Gardner follows and how he came to write “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.”
    Although Don Gardner played many instruments, directed church choirs and produced community musical events, he was best known for writing the song, “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth”.
    On December 5, 1944, Gardner was teaching music at an elementary school (K-12 school) in Smithtown, N.Y. During a second grade music class, the students were asked what they wanted for Christmas. As they replied, Gardner noticed that many of the children lacked at least one front tooth, a condition that caused them to lisp their answers.
    This observation inspired Gardner to pen the song, that has been recorded dozens of times by artists Spike Jones, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Nat King Cole, George Strait and Mariah Carey among others. Little did Don Gardner realize that little song would now br ranked as number two, below White Christmas in Christmas music popularity. The 1948 Spike Jones version reached number one on the music charts and sold nearly a million and a half copies in seven weeks!
    Gardner later worked as a music consultant and editor at Ginn & Co, where he penned songs for music textbook. A member of the American Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers, he still received royalties on the famous Christmas carol more than a half century later.
    At my reunion I will pass out the lyrics and once again the voices from the assembled Smithtown High School graduates will ring out in his honor!
    God Bless You, Don From 1944 to 2006!!
    All I want for Christmas
    Is my two front teeth,
    My two front teeth,
    See my two front teeth!
    Gee, if I could only
    Have my two front teeth,
    Then I could wish you
    “Merry Christmas.”
    It seems so long since I could say,
    “Sister Susie sitting on a thistle!”
    Gosh oh gee, how happy I’d be,
    If I could only whistle (thhhh, thhhh)
    All I want for Christmas
    Is my two front teeth,
    My two front teeth,
    See my two front teeth.
    Gee, if I could only
    Have my two front teeth,
    Then I could wish you
    “Merry Christmas!”
    Thanks for reading, Rosamond

  10. Michael D Gardner

    Hello- Don Gardner was my grandfather, although to us he was always “Pop” or “Pops”, even his wife Doris called him that 🙂 Pop was the nicest man, and what an amazing person to have as one’s grandparent- always so incredibly interested in our lives, and always took time to share with us and be very engaged in our lives.
    I randomly found this website while doing some internet searching for my grandfather and his song online, and I am so blessed to have found the comments section of this article. Don’s wife Doris, my grandmother, is still alive and well- and soon to be 95 years young! I am going to print this page out and mail it to her TODAY; she will get such a thrill from reading it, especially because I think she will remember all of the stories that y’all have fondly written.
    Thank you so much for sharing, and know that I will be sharing this information with Don’s wife, his 2 living sons, his 6 grandchildren, and many other friends and family.
    Take care, be well, and keep smiling and singing 🙂

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