About Christmas TV History

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Part 2: Rankin/Bass Voice Actors in Other Christmas Programs

Ever wondered what the celebrities who loaned their voices for our favorite Rankin/Bass animated specials looked like? Want to actually SEE them in other Christmas programs? Look for them in the following:

Billy DeWolfe provided the voice for the character of Professor Hinckle in 1969's Frosty the Snowman. But you can also see him as the fussy, irritable next-door neighbor, Mr. Jarvis, in the 1970 holiday episode "It’s Christmas Time in the City" on The Doris Day Show. This episode is also special because Ms. Day sings a beautiful version of the classic Christmas song, 'Silver Bells.'

Art Carney lends his voice talent to 1981's The Leprechaun's Christmas Gold. Carney appears often in Christmas-themed programs, including The Star Wars Holiday Special from 1978 as the pro-rebellion local outpost trader and the classic 1955 episode of The Honeymooners' entitled "‘Twas the Night Before Christmas" as Ralph's best friend and neighbor, Ed Norton. (This episode is a very quirky re-telling of the familiar O.Henry story "The Gift of the Magi" but here Ralph hocks his favorite bowling ball in order to buy Alice an orange juice squeezer shaped to resemble the head of Napoleon. It warms the heart, doesn't it?) Carney also appears in everyone's favorite Twilight Zone holiday episode, "The Night of the Meek" from 1960 as the embittered drunk that finds himself with a supernatural sack that is able to produce the perfect gift and fulfill people's Christmas wishes. This particular episode is certainly in my top five for all-time favorite Christmas TV episodes.

Comedic actor, Buddy Hackett provided the voice to the groundhog narrator, Pardon-Me Pete, in 1979's Jack Frost. Hackett can also be seen as Ebenezer Scrooge in the TV special-within-a-movie, Scrooged.

Actress Greer Garson who can be heard as the beautiful voice of the storyteller in The Little Drummer Boy and its sequel The Little Drummer Boy, Book II can be seen in the 1941 film Blossoms in the Dust--a movie closely associated with the Christmas holiday. Though not a holiday-themed story itself, this film dramatizes the real-life Edna Gladney, a Texas woman in the early twentieth century that worked to help unwanted children from being raised in orphanages and instead placed in homes. The film's story about orphans and its themes of compassion and charity make it a holiday favorite on television.

And, Angela Lansbury brought life to Sister Theresa in 1975's The First Christmas, now more often retitled The Story of the First Christmas Snow. Ms. Lansbury appears as super sleuth Jessica Fletcher in the ninth season Christmas episode of her series Murder, She Wrote entitled "The Christmas Secret." How many people know that Lansbury was also in the Jerry Herman Broadway musical Mame in the 1960s and it is her version of the hit song "We Need A Little Christmas" that became popular and most often can be heard played on the radio at holiday time?

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