High Hopes (Frank Sinatra song)

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"High Hopes"
Song by Frank Sinatra from the album All the Way
Released 1959 (1959) (single);
1961 (album version)
Genre Show tune
Writer(s) Sammy Cahn[1]
Composer(s) Jimmy Van Heusen[1]
Language English

"High Hopes" is a popular song first popularized by Frank Sinatra, with music written by Jimmy Van Heusen and lyrics by Sammy Cahn.[1] It was introduced by Sinatra and child actor Eddie Hodges in the 1959 film A Hole in the Head, nominated for a Grammy and won an Oscar for Best Original Song at the 32nd Academy Awards.[1]


The song describes two scenarios where animals do seemingly impossible acts. First, an ant moves a rubber tree plant by itself, then a ram single-handedly destroys a "billion kilowatt dam." The desires of these animals are described as "pie in the sky," although the song implies they ultimately accomplish them. The song finishes comparing troubles and hardships and sorrows to balloons; the problem has gone away when the balloon is popped.


Frank Sinatra[edit]

The original version of "High Hopes" was sung by Frank Sinatra and child actor Eddie Hodges in the 1959 film, A Hole In The Head. Sinatra recorded the song later in 1959 in a hit version, featuring a children's chorus and slight changes to some of the lyrics, which was included in his 1961 album, All the Way. The tune reached #30 on the Billboard Hot 100.[citation needed] The track peaked at #6 in the UK Singles Chart.[1] Sinatra also recorded a version of the tune with different lyrics which was used as the theme song for the 1960 Presidential Campaign of John Kennedy.[2]

Sammy Davis Jr.[edit]

Sammy Davis Jr. performed the song with a chorus of children at the 32nd Academy Awards ceremony, where it won the award for Best Original Song.

Doris Day[edit]

Doris Day recorded a fusion jazz version of the song for her 1964 album, With a Smile and a Song (but skipping the line about the back to the wall and also adding a line warning the listener to "keep those high, apple pie in the sky hopes" just like the original "A Hole In The Head" version and the old televised version instead of a musical interlude before the lyrics about the problem compared to a toy balloon at the end). Her version was used in the 1998 film Antz.[3]

Harry Kalas[edit]

The song also was popularized in Philadelphia by Phillies play-by-play announcer Harry Kalas, who made the song his personal anthem. Kalas sang "High Hopes" after the Phillies won the 1993 National League Championship, and again after the 2008 World Series.[4] Beginning after his death, after each home Phillies win, the home fans sing the song while the lyrics and a video of Kalas are played on the scoreboard above Harry the K's restaurant in left field.

Sammy Cahn[edit]

Taking up the sentiments expressed in the song, the Boston-based Joslin Diabetes Center "High Hopes Fund" was established in 1993 by the estate of Sammy Cahn.[citation needed] The former Joslin patient and songwriter's goal was to provide hope and encouragement to kids with diabetes while supporting research into the causes of the disease.

Harry Shearer[edit]

Harry Shearer performed the song (as Principal Skinner) in the The Simpsons episode, Rosebud in 1993.

Dinah Shore[edit]

Dinah Shore recorded the song with a chorus of children in 1960.

Bing Crosby[edit]

Bing Crosby recorded the song for his 1968 album Thoroughly Modern Bing.

Rick Logan[edit]

Rick Logan recorded the song with a women's chorus by Donna Davidson, Luana Jackman, Susie Stevens-Logan and Bobbi Page and vocals only for A Goofy Movie in 1995.

Michael Dees[edit]

Michael Dees performed a customized version of the song with Gunnar Madsen, Warren Wiebe and Angus Macfadyen at a 1960 John Kennedy election campaign fundraiser during a scene in The Rat Pack in 1998.

Popular culture[edit]

  • Laverne and Shirley - The leads sing this song in various episodes when they feel disheartened.
  • Captain Kangaroo (many episodes)
  • The Simpsons (episode 1F01 - "Rosebud") - In that episode, Principal Skinner and the mob sing the song at one point.
  • Phillies - The home fans sing Harry Kalas's version of the song at the ballgames in Philadelphia every time the Phillies win.
  • Mr. Belvedere (episode "Valentine's Day") - Kevin Owens, portrayed by Rob Stone played the drums of the song with the group, "The Young Savages."
  • Ramona Quimby, Age 8 - In chapter one, Ramona's father sings his own version of part of the song with made-up lyrics.
  • Muppets Tonight (episode 12 - "Rick Moranis") - In that episode, Moranis explains to Seymour and Pepe that they need patience, skill and high hopes, and begins telling a story. When he is singing the song, Seymour interrupts by smashing the ant, who is later taken into an ambulance. Then he continues the song including the ambulance and Seymour smashing the ant.
  • Rocky Balboa - The song plays when Rocky Balboa enters the ring. He doubts when he hears the song that his brother-in-law, Paulie, has chosen, but later says "He's very good, Sinatra".
  • A Goofy Movie - At the beginning of their long trip, Goofy puts an 8-track tape of the song into the tape deck of his car stereo, starts it playing and sings (poorly) along with it. This annoys his son, Max who changes the stereo to very loud and raucous hard rock music and starts playing air guitar to it. The pair fight over the music, until they eventually destroy both the tape and the stereo.
  • Antz - The song plays during the first half of the end credits (skipping the first line of the song which is the line about the chin on the ground).
  • The Rat Pack - In a 1998 HBO dramatization of their 1960 association with John F. Kennedy's election campaign, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. (portrayed by Ray Liotta, Joe Mantegna and Don Cheadle), serenade the senator and a Las Vegas audience with a customized version of this song.
  • 85th Academy Awards - The song was performed by Seth MacFarlane, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Daniel Radcliffe during the 2013 Academy Awards ceremony.[5]
  • Newhart (episode: What Makes Dick Run) - Larry, Darryl and Darryl use the song in their play for Stephanie.


  1. ^ a b c d e Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 135. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  2. ^ http://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Research-Aids/Ready-Reference/JFK-Fast-Facts/High-Hopes.aspx.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "Soundtracks for Antz (1998)". IMDb. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  4. ^ Paul Luce (14 April 2009). "Remembering Harry Kalas". Delaware County Daily Times. Retrieved 20 April 2009. 
  5. ^ Harris, Aisha (25 February 2013). "Was That the Oscars? Or the Tonys?". Slate. Retrieved 25 February 2013. 

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