I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

My Photo
Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christmas Specials

Having already reviewed "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1965), I will mention some of the other Christmas specials that flickered across TV screens in the past. "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" (1964) was one of many kid/family shows produced by Rankin-Bass in the 1960's and 1970's. It followed the lyrics of the famous song, but also added a snow monster, an island of misfit toys, and a romance for Rudolph for extra drama. Folk singer Burl Ives narrated the tale. It's an hour long, but moves along quickly.

"Frosty The Snowman" premiered in 1969, with comedian Jackie Verson supplying the voice of the affable snowman. Comedian/singer Jimmy Durante narrated the sentimental tale which has a magician (voiced by Billy DeWolfe) attempting to steal the hat that makes Frosty come alive. June Foray, a legend in the voice talent business (she's Natasha on "The Bullwinkle Show"), did the voice of Karen, the plucky little girl who journeys to the North Pole with Frosty. The story is surprisingly sentimental.

"The Year Without Santa Claus" (1974), had actors Mickey Rooney and Shirley Booth providing the voices of Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. Due to illness, Santa decides to take a vacation from his Christmas duties, much to the dismay of all around him. Rooney also played Santa in an earlier special "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" (1970), where a mailman (Fred Astaire) explains how Santa got his job delivering toys.

"The Littlest Angel" (1969) was a live action special about Michael (Johnny Whitaker), a shepherd boy who perishes after an accident, and finds himself in Heaven right before the Savior is born. The boy doesn't quite understand that he has died and can't return home, and is assigned a mature angel (Fred Gwynne) to look after him. Cab Calloway has a nice scene as the angel Gabriel, and Tony Randall appears as a philosophical angel.

"JT" (1969), another live action special, centered on a poor, trouble prone kid (Kevin Hooks) in a New York ghetto who takes in a one-eyed cat as a pet. He has to hide the pet from his mom (Jan'et DuBois), a single parent who can ill afford allowing her son to have a pet. The cat gives JT something positive to focus his energies on.

"How The Grinch Stole Christmas" (1966) was directed by Chuck Jones, who was responsible for many excellent Looney Tunes shorts. Based on the Dr. Seuss story, it tells the tale of a mean creature who robs a small town of all its Christmas trimmings simply because he doesn't like the holiday and wants them to be as miserable as he is. It is narrated by actor Boris Karloff, and features the great insult song, "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch".

"Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol" (1962) had the nearsighted cartoon character (voiced by Jim Backus) in the title role of Scrooge. A very well done version of the popular Christmas tale.

A friend of mine bemoaned the fact that musical variety Christmas specials of today aren't as well done as those of the past. "Mariah Carey having a concert is not a Christmas special, it's just her standing on stage and singing," he sniffed. Numerous comedy sketches, dance numbers and songs, both secular and non-secular, were staples of musical Christmas specials that ran during pre-1980. Singers Andy Williams, Perry Como and Bing Crosby could be counted on to have a Christmas show on every December. Regular weekly variety shows, such as "The Red Skelton Show" and "The Carol Burnett Show" would include a Christmas themed show around the holidays. Guest stars were in great abundance, and even the ones who couldn't sing well would make an effort to get out a tune or two.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

happy birtday...werner from the


Friday, December 08, 2006 6:57:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home