United Artists released the film Around The World In 80 Days in October 1956. The film starred David Niven, Shirley MacLaine, and Mexican actor Cantinflas. It eventually won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Victor Young composed and conducted the film’s score. Victor began work on movie soundtracks and songs related to films in the thirties. He had amassed 21 Academy Award nominations without a single win by the time the film came out. Sadly, he died in November and did not live to see his work on Around The World finally earn him an Oscar.
The film and its theme song turned out to be popular, and 1957 saw the release of multiple versions of the theme song. Eddie Fisher released a vocal single of Around The World in 1956, but it failed to chart when disc jockeys played the B-side of the record instead: Cindy, Oh Cindy easily reached the top ten.
When the excitement around the Oscars began in 1957, they put together an instrumental single version of the theme song using the music Victor Young created for the film. While Victor Young’s instrumental was on one side of the single, a vocal version was on the other side. That vocal version was by Bing Crosby, who had worked with Victor several times before. Billboard charted each side of a single separately in the fifties, and the initial focus was on the instrumental. Victor’s version reached #13 in July.
The McGuire Sisters recorded a vocal version of the song that only reached #73 in August.
The Mantovani Orchestra released their own instrumental version of the song and reached #12 in September.
Disk jockeys must have discovered Bing’s version of the song a little later. His version of Around The World reached #25 in October.
While the song may not have charted very high, thanks to all the versions that did chart, radio stations played the song for up to six months in 1957. Many other artists eventually recorded the song, but none of them reached the charts.