Sunday, February 18, 2018

Top 5 Rankin/Bass Christmas Villains

This essay is a part of the Classic TV Villain Blogathon hosted by the Classic TV Blog Association. Click HERE to view the complete blogathon schedule. Read the other essays too--they're good!

We just love to hate our favorite villains, don't we? Christmas entertainment is no different. I thought it would be fun to rank everyone's favorite evildoers in Rankin/Bass holiday animation. You know Rankin/Bass--they're the producer/directors of 20 animated Christmas and New Year's classics, among their many projects. They created both cel animation (the traditional style that Saturday morning cartoons were created in) and stop motion animation (the technique they charmingly referred to as "Animagic"). Some of these TV characters are well-known, but I'm hoping I surprise you and stimulate your childhood memories for a couple of these. Is there a Rankin/Bass animated Christmas villain you would add to this list?

Both sing about themselves, "I'm too much!"

#5. The brothers Heat Miser and Snow Miser, from The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)

The personification of the natural forces of cold and warmth, the delinquent brothers Heat Miser and Snow Miser are trouble for Mrs. Claus and the elves Jingle and Jangle. The argumentative, name-calling siblings are territorial, petty, jealous, irrational, and uncompromising. When they refuse to cooperate, Mrs. Claus goes straight to their mother--Mother Nature, that is--and tattles on them! These TV villains overshadow the plot of this Christmas special, which concerns itself with the two elves and Mrs. Claus finding someone with enough Christmas spirit that Santa won't cancel Christmas. Who cares, right? TV viewers just want to see more of the crazy, misbehaving Miser brothers.

These two villains are prominent because they are featured in an extremely catchy tune--you know you want to sing along...."I'm Mr. Green Christmas, I'm Mr. Sun..." They also earned their own spin-off animated special, 2008's A Miser Brothers' Christmas. To be fair, you can't really call yourself a fan of these villains until you've seen Harvey Fierstein and Michael McKean play the brothers in the 2006 live-action movie adaption of The Year Without a Santa Claus.

"If that hat is magic, I want it BACK!"

#4. Professor Hinkle, from Frosty the Snowman (1969)

Professor Hinkle is not mentioned in the original lyrics of the song, however this villain was created for the animated TV special as explanation for the snowman's magic hat. If you'll remember, Hinkle is the entertainment for the class Christmas party, described as "the worst magician in the world." When he fails at his magic performance, he throws away his hat which brings Frosty to life--only for Hinkle to re-claim ownership of the hat regardless of the consequences. When the children plead with him to let Frosty live, he refuses and calls them silly. Professor Hinkle's villainy also includes being mean, nasty, and greedy (he sees himself becoming a millionaire magician with the magic hat). He's also relentless in his pursuit of Frosty and Karen on their journey up north for the snowman's comfort and survival.

Villainy, thy name is Hinkle!

Professor Hinkle's most villainous act: he's the one who shuts the greenhouse nursery door on Karen and the snowman, trapping them inside and causing Frosty to melt! Don't worry--Santa Claus comes to the rescue and helps re-freeze Frosty. When Hinkle still wants to claim his hat, taking the life from the snowman, Santa threatens the magician telling him he'll never receive another Christmas present as long as he lives! Whoa. No one wants to be on Santa's naughty list.

NOT Henry Kissinger--it's the Burgermeister Meisterburger.

#3. Burgermeister Meisterburger, from Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (1970)

The Rankin/Bass Christmas villain with the name most fun to pronounce, the Burgermeister Meisterburger is the mayor of Sombertown who hates toys. Not only is he mean and grouchy, he refuses to help the orphaned baby Claus. When he trips on a rubber duckie on the steps, he breaks his funny bone and outlaws toys for everyone. The Burgermeister Meisterburger is a tyrant, and an abuser of power. His extreme behavior leads him to light a bonfire of a pile of confiscated toys. His villainy is so ruthless, he turns the rebel toymaker Kris Kringle into a local hero.

The despot is palatable in this Christmas special because he's also portrayed as foolish--he keeps stabbing his own broken foot with his cane, and he's ultimately ineffective at his job. His unreasonable hatred for toys also makes this villain seem ridiculous. Has modern medicine figured out how to repair broken funny bones yet?

King of the Kossacks Kubla Kraus.

Rankin/Bass created another tyrant in 1979's Jack Frost.  Kubla Kraus is the nasty, greedy tyrant of January Junction where Jack Frost wants to live. Kraus owns every house, the only horse, all the gold, and he wants Elisa to be his wife--the same woman that inspires Jack Frost to become human. One thing I love about Kubla Kraus is his steampunk styling--he has an iron-works horse and an iron ventriloquist dummy friend. This villain shares much in common with the Burgermeister Meisterburger, including an Eastern European accent and despotism. His name is also fun to repeat over and over.

Yikes! The terrifying Winter Warlock

#2. Winter Warlock, from Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (1970)

The Winter Warlock is described as a strange hermit of the North who lives alone in his ghostly palace of ice where he practices his spells and incantations. He threatens those who pass through his snowy territory, frightening the Kringle elves from delivering their toys. Years later, when Kris Kringle finally musters his courage to pass through, a wicked tree under Winter's power comes to life and grabs Kris. I still remember how scary the Winter Warlock was when I was a child. If you peek though your fingers while watching, you'll see Kris befriends the warlock, offering his a choo-choo train he's made, melting the evildoer's frozen heart. To cement the warlock's transformation from bad to good, Kris teaches him the song "Put One Foot in Front of the Other" to instruct him to take small steps toward his goals. It's a lesson we can all sing along with.

The Leprechaun's Christmas Gold draws upon Irish folklore to tell its Christmas story.

Rankin/Bass knew a good villain when they created one. You can see echos of the Winter Warlock in the banshee Old Mag the Hag in 1981's The Leprechaun's Christmas Gold. She's an evil fairy in search of gold for Christmas however, she's not as easily put off as Winter. She can only be tamed by failing to acquire the gold by Christmas Eve, or by Saint Patrick himself.

King Winterbolt is part magical being and part tyrant, but ALL villain.
TV viewers can see the influence of the Winter Warlock in the character of King Winterbolt from Rankin/Bass' 1979 theatrical release animated movie Rudolph & Frosty's Christmas in July too. Again, the appearance is similar. King Winterbolt is a tyrannical ruler of the North who destroys or drives away anyone who defies him, by using the magic in his ice scepter. He wants the love children have of Santa Claus for himself, so he sets out to replace Santa on his annual toy delivery. King Winterbolt's sleigh is pulled by a team of snakes. You read that right--snakes! What some villains will do for power!

King Winterbolt also has two dragons under his power to help him create a storm of snow and fog. How cool is that?

Gggrrrhhh! He's kind of like a white, furry King Kong with blue skin.

#1. The Abominable Snow Monster, from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

This may come as no surprise, but Rankin/Bass' number one villain of course, appears in their most popular TV special--and arguably, the most important Christmas TV special of all time. Not only has this TV special aired in prime time on a major network every year since it was created, but it still earns significant ratings each year too. We love to fear the Abominable Snow Monster, or the Bumble as Yukon Cornelius calls him.

What do we know about the Bumble? Nearly all of our information about him comes from the prospector. The Bumble is mean, nasty, and hates everything that has to do with Christmas. He has one weakness: he sinks (or doesn't like to swim). The Bumble prefers pork to deer meat (remember Hermey's lure of oinking like a pig?) And, in the end, we learn that Bumbles bounce.

The strongest of villains require an extraordinary hero to bring them under control.

Twice we see the narrator Sam the Snowman shake in fright from telling the story of the Abominable Snow Monster. Not only is this Christmas villain a scary creature, but he's only overcome once his teeth are removed! I remember this frightened me quite a bit as a child. Are there any other TV villains who are conquered by a wannabe dentist? I'm doubtful.

King Awgwa looks like he could stand to have a few teeth pulled.

Rankin/Bass created a a couple more Christmas villains worth mentioning even if they failed to make the top five list. In 1985's The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus, the Awgwas are described as a villainous group that live in the Rocky Mountains and influence children to do bad things. They can also make themselves invisible. King Awgwa throws a rock through Santa's window with the message "no more toys." Later they use their invisibility to steal toys from Santa, preventing him for delivering them to children.

Christmas monster? yup.

Winter is Here--in 1985 too.

My favorite is the three-eyed one!

As scary and intimidating as they look, these foes are easily defeated when the Immortals battle them on behalf of Santa Claus. To be considered serious villains, the Awgwas need to wage better defenses. Just saying.

Aeon the giant vulture has potential as a TV villain.

And, 1975's Rudolph's Shiny New Year includes the malevolent Aeon the Terrible, a giant vulture that "terrorizes the sands of time." Rudolph is helping Father Time find the baby Happy New Year who has run away because he's hurt by everyone laughing at his protruding ears. But Aeon knows that keeping Happy from ringing in the new year on Dec. 31st will stop time and allow the vulture to live--not just a thousand years--but forever.

He even captures the baby new year twice--but ultimately fails as a convincing Christmas/New Year's villain.

Aeon doesn't make the top five villain list either because he "laughs himself silly," and falls out of his nest and down the cliff when he sees the baby Happy New Year's ears. Rendered helpless, Rudolph is able to rescue the baby and get him to Father Time before midnight. Successful TV villains need to keep their giggling better under control.

Do you have a favorite Rankin/Bass Christmas villain I didn't mention? Be sure to check out the other essays on TV villains in the Classic TV Blog Association blogathon.

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned here can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701

Friday, February 16, 2018

Colorado Christmas: John Denver

You know me. I love visiting Christmas pop culture landmarks and statues. Two weeks ago I traveled to Denver, Colorado to visit a friend and couldn't resist looking for a Christmas pop culture detour. Look what I found!

This sculptural tribute to the memory of singer/songwriter John Denver was easy to find. It stands beside the Colorado Music Hall of Fame museum, just outside Denver.

I can't help but hear "Rocky Mountain High" when looking at this.

accompanying signage.

Make your own "I didn't know he trained eagles!?" joke here.

If you're not quite sure why the Christmas entertainment writer would go out of her way to see a John Denver statue, let me take you to school. The 1979 TV special John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together casts a long shadow.

This TV special debuted on ABC on Dec. 05, 1979. Photo is soundtrack album cover.

Even if it has never been officially released on home video, the soundtrack is easily available and I still hear their version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" on the radio each holiday season. However, there's more: John Denver had three other outstanding holiday TV specials too, including 1975's John Denver's Rocky Mountain Christmas, 1988's John Denver's Christmas in Aspen, and 1991's John Denver: Montana Christmas Skies. He guest starred on other Christmas variety specials too--and he even played the lead in the 1986 TV movie The Christmas Gift. For many fans, John Denver is closely connected to Christmas entertainment.

 The Christmas Gift starring John Denver, Jane Kaczmarek, and young Gennie James.

I decided to step into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame too. Jackpot! They have a large collection of John Denver items on display.

Aaahhh....the 1970s fashions.

John Denver on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine!? Yup.

There was a bust of the artist inside the Hall of Fame too! Colorado likes John Denver.

On display are gold records, personal clothing items, movie memorabilia, one of his guitars, and more. There's even a display about the singer's admiration for the conservationist and explorer Jacques Cousteau. It was pretty cool. And, admission to the museum was free.

Red Rocks Ampitheatre--a favorite music venue of many musicians, including John Denver.
Friends told me to check out Red Rocks Ampitheatre while I was out that way and I was a little worried about finding a second location. What my GPS didn't communicate clearly was that Red Rocks is literally across the street from the museum. I couldn't have missed it.

The list of musicians and bands that have performed here is the history of 20th century popular music. Have YOU seen a performance here before?

My favorite album as a teen: U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky.

As long as they aren't setting up for a concert, the gorgeous outdoor facility is open to the public. So I walked across the road and entered the grounds. There's a fascinating museum with displays on the history of the unique natural ampitheatre too. This place is a must-see destination for music lovers.

Screenshot from the intro to Mork & Mindy.

As I was posting photos of my trip to Colorado on Instagram, friend Big Mike (from Discovery Family's Lost & Found with Mike and Jesse) told me to go find Mork & Mindy's house in Boulder, about 30 miles outside Denver. Uhm...okay! So I did. I placed the street address in my GPS but driving down the road I spotted it immediately. It looks pretty much the same as it did in the late 1970s. It's located in a residential neighborhood in Boulder, Colorado.

Mork & Mindy house--February 2018.

I've written about the two holiday episodes of Mork & Mindy for this website already. Click HERE to see my discussion of the 1978 Christmas episode, and click HERE to see the 1979 Mork & Mindy adaptation of the movie It's a Wonderful Life. Nanu-nanu!

If you'd like to return to any of my previous Christmas pop culture landmark visits, click on the following links:

Perry Como's statue in Canonsburg, PA
Dean Martin's hometown of Steubenville, OH
Rosemary Clooney's home in Augusta, KY
The Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, PA
It's a Wonderful Life Museum in Seneca Falls, NY
Lucille Ball's birthday celebration in Jamestown, NY
A Christmas Story House & Museum in Cleveland, OH

If you've ever visited a Christmas pop culture landmark that you would recommend, let me know. I love to travel. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned here can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Christmas Music on CD

As I mentioned before, when you specialize in writing about Christmas on TV, you also research and write about music. Christmas TV episodes, specials and movies are loaded with music and carols. As a pop culture junkie, I love picking up soundtracks to holiday programs and collecting vintage record albums. Along with albums, I also have a collection of Christmas music CDs. I thought it might be interesting to share some of these CDs and talk about them. Just to be clear--my collection focuses on Christmas records with a television or film tie-in.

If you're just joining the conversation here, you may want to check out links to these two previous essays:
Christmas Records (Detroit trip)
Christmas Records--Part 1

I have 1971's A Partridge Family Christmas Card on vinyl too but I got it used and the pull-out card was always missing. I think I've had this CD for 20+ years. My favorite song on the album is the only original tune on the album "My Christmas Card to You." Fans of The Partridge Family TV series know that the songs "Winter Wonderland" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" in the 1971 Christmas episode "Don't Bring Your Guns to Town, Santa" can also be found on this release. Check out my discussion of that 1971 Christmas episode again HERE.

I also have this CD version of the 1970 vinyl release of Merry Christmas with The Brady Bunch. All the tracks are the same despite the slight album title change. The album features twelve traditional Christmas songs--no original compositions just for the Bradys. A missed opportunity: the recording of "O Come All Ye Faithful" for the album features Jan's voice (Eve Plumb) and while it's a nice voice, TV fans may feel more connected to either mother Carol (Florence Henderson) singing the tune--as she did in the 1969 Christmas episode, or even Cindy Brady (Susan Olsen) taking the lead since she's featured so prominently in the only Christmas episode of the series. Oh, what could have been! Check out my discussion of the 1969 Christmas episode of The Brady Bunch again HERE.

Speaking of family TV series, this CD is the second Christmas music release connected to The Waltons. It should not to be confused with 1974's The Waltons' Christmas Album. That album--which I also have--is a collection of spoken-word stories by Earl Hamner Jr. and Christmas carols sung by a group called The Holiday Singers--not the original cast of the series. (There's even a yuletide story told by Will Geer who played Grandpa--it's wonderful!) However, the 1999 CD A Walton's Christmas: Together Again features songs performed by members of the original cast! It was produced by Jon Walmsley--the actor who played Jason Walton, who is now a professional musician. The songs include traditional yuletide favorites, a couple originals written by Walmsley himself, and spoken-word segments too. Need to hear Richard Thomas (John-Boy Walton) recite the poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas?" It's here. I believe this was originally released on CD.

Most TV western fans love Bonanza.

Ever wanted to spend Christmas with the Cartwright family? I did--that's why I picked up this CD re-release of the 1960s album. It's Ben Cartwright (Lorne Greene), Hoss (Dan Blocker), and Little Joe (Michael Landon) singing holiday favorites while decorating the tree and celebrating with friends. There's even one song "The New Born King" sung by Adam (Pernell Roberts) although they explain he's not at the party--he's out of town spending Christmas with relatives! I think my favorite tracks are "Santa Got Lost in Texas" sung by Little Joe, and "Merry Christmas Neighbor" sung by the entire cast. If you're not a fan of the original series, you probably won't get it. That's okay. Give it a listen, see what you think.

Touched By An Angel: The Christmas Album (1999)

I just picked up this CD in a used record store this past holiday season. The 1999 release features 13 tracks of holiday songs but none are from the Christmas episodes of the TV series, to my knowledge. For example, the CD includes "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"performed by Randy Travis, however I don't believe he sings this song in the several Christmas episodes in which he appears. (For those keeping track: Travis does sing "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and "Silent Night.") But the songs here are pleasant enough, and performed by world-famous recording artists, including Charlotte Church, Amy Grant, Kenny Lattimore, Donna Summer, Jaci Velasquez, and more. Fans of the TV series will be pleased with the first track which is "If I Can Dream" performed by Della Reese, and the last track which is "An Irish Blessing" featuring Roma Downey. This too was originally released on CD.

This CD has been easy to find for quite some time. I've even seen it for sale during the holidays at Office Max!? I know. Who doesn't have a copy of this recording? But I still meet people who don't realize it is the soundtrack to the 1979 Christmas TV special John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together. Even more shocking is that the CD doesn't include all the tracks from the original vinyl release. Ugh!

If you're an obsessed fan of the TV special like I am, then you know that the original soundtrack release doesn't include all the music from the special either. Four songs are missing. Missing are the songs "Pleasure of your Company" and "Camaraderie"--both were originally composed for the 1974 hit London stage musical The Good Companions, music and lyrics by Andre Previn and Johnny Mercer. Miss Piggy's song "I Will Wait for You" was originally created for the 1964 French musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. And the instrumental "March of the Toys" in the toy soldier performance with Denver, was first heard in the Victor Herbert operetta Babes in Toyland. Despite being incomplete, the CD is wonderful to listen to each year during the holidays.

Yules of Yore: TV Land Tunes from Christmas Past (1995)

This CD was released as one in the series of Nick at Nite Records collections during the 1990s. This Christmas music collection is a set of fourteen holiday tracks recorded by TV stars and personalities, including Jimmy Dean, Mike Douglas, John Davidson, Arthur Godfrey, Jim Nabors, Neil Diamond, Richard Clayderman, Slim Whitman, and more. I've never been too impressed with this particular collection of Christmas music but I love the cover art's three-tiered snowman made from TV sets. I believe this was only released on CD.

Do you have any Christmas music CDs connected to film or television? What's in your collection? Feel free to share your comments below.

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Christmas Records, Part 1

One thing I learned early in my research for the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV, when you specialize in writing about Christmas on TV, you also research and write quite a bit about music. Christmas TV episodes, specials and movies are loaded with music and carols. As a pop culture junkie, I love picking up soundtracks to holiday programs and collecting vintage record albums. As a researcher, I often turn to these official releases for help in the identification of songs and for more information about the music. They're also just cool to have and display in my office.

Last summer on a trip to the Detroit Festival of Books, I picked up several vintage Christmas albums at a local record store. See that post again HERE. That post was so popular, I thought I'd share more of my Christmas record collection. Just to be clear--my collection focuses on Christmas records with a television or film tie-in.

Below are some of the records in my collection. Do you have a Christmas record with a television or film tie-in? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Official soundtrack album--Decca Records. Back cover includes lyrics.

If you're going to collect Christmas records with a television tie-in, your collection must include the original soundtrack to Rankin/Bass' 1964 animated TV special Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Lucky for me, this was a birthday gift from a friend a couple of years ago. It's nice to have friends looking out for me.

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town soundtrack from 1970.

Another Rankin/Bass favorite soundtrack is from the 1970 Animagic classic Santa Claus is Comin' to Town. My album copy is not in the greatest shape but I'm careful with it. I've had this record for decades--long before I was writing and researching Christmas entertainment. So glad I've held on to it.

Soundtrack from 1974 animated TV special

One of my more recent acquisitions is this Disneyland Records release of the story and soundtrack of the 1974 traditional cel animated, Rankin/Bass Christmas TV special Twas the Night Before Christmas. Do you have a favorite Rankin/Bass soundtrack?

Last year in Detroit, I found the soundtrack to Rankin/Bass' Cricket on the Hearth--see that album cover again HERE. I'm still looking for the Rankin/Bass Frosty's Winter Wonderland soundtrack. Might as well try to complete the collection!

1977 release--dialogue, music, and storybook.

This is another record that I've had in my collection for decades--long before I was writing about Christmas entertainment. It's just a fabulous pop culture item to have in any record collection. This album isn't a collection of the musical compositions written by the Vince Guaraldi for the Peanuts TV specials. Instead this is a recording of the dialogue and background music of the 1965 Christmas TV special. Sure Guaraldi's music is here, but the recording is the animated TV special's story and dialogue. The twelve-page storybook within the album's covers complements the visual storytelling with the audio recording. I can still recall the excitement I felt for record-and-book sets like these, to experience the joy of TV specials seen only once a year.

1969 musical TV special The Littlest Angel

I'm also amazed that I found this LP--despite its condition. This is the cast album from the 1969 musical Hallmark Hall of Fame TV special The Littlest Angel. The cast for this NBC musical is amazing--Johnnie Whitaker, Fred Gwynne, Cab Calloway, Tony Randall, Connie Stevens, and more. The feature-length TV special was adapted from the popular children's book by Charles Tazewell. I wrote about this TV special and the album a few years back. Click HERE to see it again.

Back cover flap

The back cover is a flap that opens to reveal more printed information. The previous owner had pulled at the perforated flap and it is detached. However, I still have it and keep the two pieces together.

Pop-up section
The back flap opens up to reveal a pop-up section with color images from the musical.

The interior of the back flap includes further credits for the actors and the production staff of The Littlest Angel. I'm not sure how many other Christmas Hallmark Hall of Fame productions had an official soundtrack release.

Storybook record for Disney's 1961 movie Babes in Toyland

I also have a copy of the Disneyland Record and eleven-page storybook from Disney's 1961 movie Babes in Toyland. The story is narrated by Little Boy Blue, and includes music written for the Disney movie. It is NOT the original soundtrack to the movie, which means Annette Funicello, Tommy Sands, and Ray Bolger are not heard on this album. In fact, you can clearly identify Thurl Ravenscroft as the voice singing Barnaby's (Bolger's character) songs. It's still a fun album with incredible artwork in the storybook's pages.

Page 1 of the storybook includes the Mother Goose characters.

Page 8 of the storybook with The Toymaker. Love that mid-century design style!

1977 animated TV special A Cosmic Christmas

I'm also very pleased to own the story and dialogue LP from the 1977 animated TV special A Cosmic Christmas. The Christmas special was created by the Canadian animation company Nelvana--the same company that created the animated segment within the Star Wars Holiday Special. Yup. This Canadian record came to me from Christmas music collector Jeff Fox. What a gift! Thanks Jeff.

The Odessa File starring Jon Voight and Maximilian Schell.

The soundtrack to the 1974 movie The Odessa File is another record in my collection. This movie isn't exactly one that will inspire the holiday spirit but the action/thriller is set during the holiday season. Its unique soundtrack was written by none other than Andrew Lloyd Webber and includes the song "Christmas Dream" sung by Perry Como. The song oozes Christmas--even if it originally appeared in this crazy movie about a journalist hunting Nazis.

The album says 1977 but don't be fooled!

I knew this was a gem as soon as I found it in the thrift store. The cheap design and lack of information on the cover don't do much to reveal what treasure lies within. This is actually the original broadcast recording of the 1957 Christmas TV episode of The Frank Sinatra Show. It includes the dialogue and songs by Sinatra and his guest Bing Crosby. I know, right!? That's just Side 1. To see what I wrote about this fantastic 1957 TV program, click HERE.

Side 2 is a mystery to me. I believe it is from a radio show. It features Bing Crosby and his four sons Gary, Lindsay, Philip, and Dennis in a Christmas program. The tracks listed on the album cover: Adeste Fidelis, Jingle Bells, Xmas Feeling, Hitch a Ride with Santa Claus, The Snowman, That Xmas Feeling, and Silent Night. If you know more about this recording--especially the radio program, please let me know. It may be Kraft Music Hall. Bing thanks a man named Ken offstage--maybe the host, maybe a band leader. Does any of this sound familiar?

The 1957 Christmas episode of The Frank Sinatra Show has been repackaged and released on DVD under the title Happy Holidays with Frank and Bing.

Christmas Records, Part 2 coming soon.

In addition to Christmas records, I also collect Christmas books with a film and television tie-in. Want to see what I've got?

Christmas Books--Part 1

Christmas Books--Part 2

 Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the episodes mentioned here can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701