The author of the holiday perennial "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth," Donald Yetter Gardner also enjoyed a career composing contemporary church anthems. He wrote his seasonal classic in late 1944 while a public school music teacher in Smithtown, NY; while substituting for his wife, Doris, Gardner asked the class of grade-schoolers what they wanted for Christmas, and virtually all responded with lisps as a result of missing teeth. He wrote the song in about half an hour. Recorded by Spike Jones in 1948, "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" sold 1.3 million copies in just seven weeks, and was later recorded by everyone from Nat King Cole to George Strait to Mariah Carey. Gardner never again enjoyed a pop hit of any distinction, but he did pen popular spirituals, including "Man Shall Not Live By Bread Alone" and "O Give Thanks Unto the Lord," in addition to directing church choirs and producing community musical events. A member of the American Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers, he died in Boston on September 15, 2004, at the age of 91.
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