I enjoy honoring Black History Month (BHM) on my blog because there are so many excellent Christmas episodes, specials and TV movies with exceptional African-American cast members. There are also many outstanding and touching Christmas TV story lines aimed at black audiences. This month I'm highlighting just a few of my favorites.
Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass produced some of the most popular Christmas TV specials of all time. Of course, I'm talking about Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), The Year Without A Santa Claus (1974), Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town (1970), Frosty the Snowman (1969) and The Little Drummer Boy (1968) just to name just a few. The final animated TV special made by Rankin/Bass is Santa, Baby! from 2001.
|Young Dakota wants to find homes for her friends in a neighborhood animal shelter.|
A young girl named Dakota helps out with her local animal rescue shelter and this year she’s working to find homes for the animals by Christmas. Her songwriting father Noel is struggling to write more material, putting his heart into it.
|Melody Songbird (voiced by Patti LaBelle) is a magical partridge in a pear tree.|
|Father Noel (voiced by Gregory Hines) works as a song writer|
|Vanessa Williams voices Alicia, the wife of Noel, here singing the classic song "Santa Baby" to her husband, disguised as a bell-ringing Santa Claus on the street.|
There are two fantastic reasons that this animated TV special stands out. One is that it includes Eartha Kitt. Kitt is the sexy vocalist who originally recorded the 1953 Christmas song "Santa Baby" written by Philip Spring and Joan Javits (see below). Though this song has been covered many times by many different artists over the decades, including one popular version by Madonna for the very first Special Olympics charity recorded album A Very Special Christmas in 1987.
Audio of Earth Kitt's 1953 recording
Kitt, Vanessa Williams and Patti Labelle join their voices in a version of "Santa Baby" in this animated TV special as Alicia, Noel's wife, discovers her husband Noel is secretly working as charity-collecting Santa Claus. Eartha Kitt sings another dance remix version of "Santa Baby" later in the special during the scenes where Noel and his daughter Dakota deliver Christmas presents.
|Eartha Kitt voices Emerald, the cat.|
|Eartha Kitt as Catwoman|
|The neighborhood comes together to clean up the garbage and join their voices in song.|
|Mr. Sweet and Mrs. Garcia, neighbors on Heptune Street|
|The neighbors also come together to repair a building for their friends in the animal shelter|