But the real life tale of the man who wrote the song is captivating in its own way.
While growing up in Mineral County, Jack Rollins had to care for a mother who had been blinded by glaucoma. She wrote poetry, so he did, too, recalled Rollins's grandson, James Busemeyer, who lives near Cincinnati, where Rollins died in 1973 at age 66.
After hearing her son's poetry, Rollins' mother had a suggestion that would come to reverberate across the years, Busemeyer said in a phone interview.
"It was her who said 'Maybe you ought to put some music to it.' She always encouraged him quite a bit. He felt very close with her."
Still, as a younger man, Rollins never took the leap into full-time songwriting. By age 40, he was still working at New York's Penn Station, where he was first hired as a baggage handler. He wrote music on the side and sold his very first song for $5, according to the Music Hall of Fame bio on Rollins.
After an irate customer unloaded a volley of complaints one day, Rollins quit on the spot to become a full-time songwriter.
He and lyricist Steve Nelson had early success with "Here Comes Peter Cottontail." As the story goes, the song's initial title was "Reginald the Rabbit." After switching it to "Peter Cottontail," Rollins had the lyrics down in 15 minutes.
Rollins then moved to Hollywood, where a long string of songs ensued, including a key bit of editing. After being signed on to write the lyrics to a USDA Forest Service campaign for "Smokey Bear," it was he who added the 'the' -- since he was unable to fit "Smokey Bear" into the lyrics.
In addition to helping burn Peter Cottontail, Frosty the Snowman and Smokey the Bear into the world's collective brain, Rollins also had success writing popular music for big stars. He co-wrote tunes for George Jones and Eddy Arnold and penned a No. 1 hit for Hank Snow in 1953 with "I Don't Hurt Anymore."
Rollins' grandson recalls a grandfather who could write songs at the drop of a hat or mention of a phrase.
"When I was a kid, I'd be around the house and I'd say, 'Grandpa, write me a song about my gym shoes!' And he'd write a song about it. That's what he did," said Busemeyer who accepted his grandfather's Hall of Fame award.
Busemeyer still possesses his grandfather's original songwriting paperwork. You'll also find sitting in his house a key item which helped to birth some of those "beyond classic" lyrics from a man whose gravestone in Keyser, W.Va., also bears the name of "Frosty the Snowman."
"I've still got the piano Grandpa wrote his songs on. My granddaughters are learning how to play on it."
Reach Douglas Imbrogno at doug...@cnpapers.com or 304-348-3017.