About Christmas TV History

Thursday, January 31, 2013

PART 5: Rankin/Bass Voice Actors in Other Christmas Entertainment

Are you following this series of posts?  This is the last one.  Parts 1 through 3 in this series are updated posts originally written in December 2009.  However Parts 4 and 5 are all-new posts about the professional actors and celebrity voice cast in some of our favorite Rankin/Bass animated Christmas specials.  Click HERE to see Part 1 againClick HERE for the link to Part 2. Click HERE for Part 3. Click HERE for Part 4.

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:

Actress Shelley Winters voiced Crystal, Frosty the Snowman's wife in Frosty's Winter Wonderland in 1976 and Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July in 1979. 

Winters also plays the title character in the 1971 American International B-movie Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (also known as Who Slew Auntie Roo?).  This horror film set at Christmas time reveals that the lonely but wealthy widow Auntie Roo has a dark secret hiding in the attic.  Click HERE to see a previous post I wrote about this unforgettable film.

Celebrating before disaster strikes on-board The Poseidon.  Winters in the center--and actor/comedian Red Buttons on the left.  Buttons also voiced a character in 1979's Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July, playing Milton the ice cream man. 

How many remember that the disaster film The Poseidon Adventure (1972) takes place aboard the doomed cruise ship over the Christmas and New Year's holidays?  Winters plays Belle Rosen, a role that earned her an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress.  Belle memorably meets her fate after swimming through an underwater corridor, trying to find an escape route on behalf of a dwindling group of desperate souls.

Winters (right) with actress Estelle Parsons (left), who played her uptight daughter Beverly, in their ugly Christmas sweaters.

Let's not forget that Winters also played Roseanne's grandmother Nana Mary on the hit sitcom Roseanne.  Don't miss the 1992 Christmas episode of Roseanne entitled "No Place Like Home for the Holidays."  In this episode, the elderly Nana Mary falls asleep in a chair and her granddaughters Roseanne and Jackie decorate her with twinkling lights like a Christmas tree!

What kind of bug is B.A.H. Humbug?  He's a cricket!

Actor Tom Bosley brought to life the narrator B.A.H. Humbug in the animated musical adaptation of Dickens' Christmas Carol, 1978's The Stingiest Man in Town.

Bosley (center) in the 1974 Christmas episode "Guess Who's Coming to Christmas" on Happy Days.

We all recognize Tom Bosley once we see him--he played patriarch Howard Cunningham on the long-running sitcom Happy DaysHappy Days, in its ten year run on the ABC network, produced six Christmas episodes, including 1974's "Guess Who's Coming to Christmas," 1975's "Tell It to the Marines," 1976's "Richie Branches Out," 1978's "Christmas Time," 1980's "White Christmas," and 1982's "All I Want for Christmas."  Tom Bosley appears in each of these Christmas installments.

With his long and successful career, it's not surprising that Bosley appeared in several more Christmas-themed episodes, specials and movies.  Without checking with IMDb, can you name one? 

I've always loved the translucence of the character of Jack Frost in this animated favorite.

Actor/singer Robert Morse voiced the young Ebenezer Scrooge in 1978's The Stingiest Man in Town as well as Jack Frost in the 1979 stop-motion classic Jack Frost

Young Scrooge pictured here with his fiancé Belle in the sequences during Christmas Past.  Morse sings two songs, "Golden Dreams" and "It Might Have Been."

Though Morse spent most of his career on the stage, you can currently see him in the hit TV drama Mad Men as the regular character Mr. Cooper.  You didn't even know that was him, did you?

The unraveling life of Don Draper and the fashionable, swinging culture of the 1960s has captured the attention of TV viewers in this popular AMC series.

Don Draper (left) with his business partner, Bertram Cooper (right) played by Robert Morse, in the 2012 Christmas episode "Christmas Waltz."

Mad Men features two Christmas episodes: 2010's "Christmas Comes But Once a Year" and 2012's "Christmas Waltz."  Click HERE to see what I had to say about the 2010 holiday episode. 

Of course, this five part series only examined the careers of the celebrity voice cast--and not the professional voice actors who specialize in cartoon and animation work.  THAT'S another whole series of posts there. 

What's your favorite Rankin/Bass animated Christmas entertainment?  Who's your favorite celebrity voice actor in a Rankin/Bass program?

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