In January, I was shopping in Cleveland, OH in a very cool vintage shop and found this LP. I probably paid too much but I don't care. This is the soundtrack to one of my favorite Christmas TV specials, The Littlest Angel. This two-hour special was a Hallmark Hall of Fame production based on the popular children's book authored by Charles Tazewell. It is also a musical and features songs sung by Johnny Whitaker, Fred Gwynne, Tony Randall, Connie Stevens and Cab Calloway, among others.
In The Littlest Angel, child actor Johnny Whitaker plays the young angel Michael who doesn’t like Heaven very much. The unhappy eight year-old angel is homesick, he doesn’t know how to fly and he’s much younger than the other angels. His guardian angel, Patience, tries to help him get flying lessons and to fit in so he can enjoy paradise, but to no avail. Michael is eventually allowed a brief return to his earthly home to retrieve his favorite box of things which includes: a dog collar, several broken birds eggs, a couple of river stones, a feather and a butterfly. Once he’s back in Heaven, all the other angels are busy preparing for the birth of God’s son and planning their gifts. While the other angels have made precious gifts befitting royalty, Michael has nothing to offer except his favorite box of treasures. Although he’s embarrassed by its inadequacies, he humbly shares his most prized possessions. However, God is pleased with Michael’s generosity and turns the humble gift into the bright Star of Bethlehem.
If you can get over the fact that Michael is a homesick little dead boy who is unhappy with being sent to Heaven, then the story can be sweet. This version of the popular Christmas story was originally produced on videotape and so it lacks the image quality of a filmed production. However, the casting is superb and more than makes up for the low image quality and budget chroma-key special effects.
Moreover, who would have known that actor Fred Gwynne, fondly remembered for his patriarchal role as Herman Munster on the 1960s TV series, The Munsters, would have a lovely singing voice? (Anyone who has seen the Christmas episode of Car 54, Where Are You? which also includes Gwynne singing--that's who!)
This is one of my favorite Christmas specials because it includes Johnny Whitaker--whom I adored as a child. I've always had a thing for Whitaker, Billy Mumy and Danny Bonaduce. Yeah, the red-heads were all over television in my childhood. But I'm also a *huge* Tony Randall fan. So I had to buy this album, at any price, when I found it at that vintage shop in Cleveland.
The cast of The Littlest Angel includes: Johnny Whitaker as Michael; Fred Gwynne as Patience; Tony Randall as the philosophical angel, Democritus; music legend Cab Calloway as the angel Gabriel; actress Connie Stevens as the Flying Mistress; James Coco as Michael’s father; and E.G. Marshall as God.
This Hallmark Hall of Fame production was rebroacast in 1970 and 1971 however it can now easily be found on cheaply produced dollar DVDs.
Part 1 of The Littlest Angel