This song describes a man who deals with his heartbreak by denying it - he's mastered the art of smiling through the pain. It was written by The Platters' producer, Buck Ram, who needed a follow-up to the group's first hit, "Only You." Working fast, he wrote the lyrics in the washroom of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, where the group was performing.
This was used in the movie Rock Around The Clock, and also appeared on the American Graffiti soundtrack along with two other songs by The Platters: "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and "Only You."
Freddie Mercury revived "The Great Pretender" in 1987 when he released his version of a single. It didn't make an impact in America, but went to #4 in the UK.
This was the first ever doo wop #1 in the USA, and it also made The Platters the first R&B group to have a #1 on the pop charts. The music was not known as "doo wop" at the time - it was categorized as rock or R&B. Around 1970, Gus Gossert, who was an oldies DJ on WCBS in New York City, started using the term "doo wopp" to describe this type of music. Gossert didn't come up with the term however - a record collector named Stan Krause did. Krause helped produce Gossert's shows and gave him song information to use on the air.
You can hear a female voice harmonizing on this song. That would be Zola Taylor, who was brought in as the only female member of The Platters. She was Frankie Lymon's second wife, and was portrayed in the movie Why Do Fools Fall In Love by Halle Berry. She died from a stroke in 2007 at age 69. >>