About Christmas TV History

Monday, May 30, 2016

Ottawa Vacation: Pop Culture Records

This past week I took a break from work to journey north of the border to Ottawa. Why Ottawa? I came to hang out with Jeff Fox of NameThatChristmasSpecial.com. You've poked around his website before, haven't you? Yeah--me too! His interests cover Christmas TV episodes, specials and movies too. Fox came to holiday entertainment by way of his interest as a Christmas music record collector.

Jeff took me to the best thrift shops and record stores.

When I arrived in Ottawa and Jeff asked me what I wanted to do, I told him that I wanted to go record shopping with him. I too have a collection of records--pop culture and Christmas recordings--but nothing significant compared with Jeff's collection! I still had a lot of fun. Curious to see what I found last week in Ottawa?

Jeff's new James Brown Soulful Christmas LP.

I have a small collection of TV novelizations too!

At one of the first thrift stores we visited, I found these five paperback books. I already have a small collection of TV novelizations. The two top books are volumes #8 and 9 in a series about British sci-fi/espionage series The Avengers (featuring John Steed and Emma Peel) and the bottom three book are volumes 1, 2, and 3 novelizations from the later series The New Avengers with John Steed and his partners Mike Gambit and Purdey. Yes--that IS a young Joanna Lumley on the book covers! I love The Avengers (who doesn't, right?) and have previously reviewed the TV series' 1965 Christmas episode "Too Many Christmas Trees" on this website. Remember that one?

Jeff gave me The Twilight Zone action figure as a gift!  Thanks Jeff!

Another collectible I returned home with is this Santa Claus/Art Carney action figure from a series produced about popular Twilight Zone characters. Jeff knows I love the 1960 Christmas episode of The Twilight Zone entitled "Night of the Meek." What a fantastic gift--thanks Jeff!

Dennis Day was a regular on The Jack Benny Program.

Okay--back to records. I was excited to get this classic LP. Singer Dennis Day was a regular on comedian Jack Benny's TV show. The 1960 Christmas episode of The Jack Benny Program is a personal favorite and includes Day singing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." You may remember I wrote extensively about that particular episode in my book The Christmas TV Companion. I can't wait to check out this record.

Front cover

back cover

I also found two LPs with music from the 80s TV series Fame. I wrote lengthy discussions about both of Fame's two Christmas episodes--1985's "Ebenezer Morloch" and 1986's "All I Want for Christmas"--in my book Merry Musical Christmas Vol. 1. Both episodes include significant holiday music and wonderful performances. Did you know that the actor Albert Hague who played Mr. Shorofsky on Fame (the guy with the white beard pictured on the back cover above) is the same man who composed the music for the 1966 animated TV special How the Grinch Stole Christmas? That's amazing, isn't it? What a talented man. I don't believe either of these LPs include music from the Christmas episodes but I'm still excited to hear them.

2nd Fame record I found in Ottawa.

I also acquired a decent copy of the soundtrack to the 1963 movie Lilies of the Field--the film in which actor Sidney Poitier won the Oscar for Best Actor of the year. This movie resonates with me because there was a Christmas TV movie sequel produced in 1979 starring Billy Dee Williams. I wrote a review of Christmas Lilies of the Field for this website a few years back. The 1963 film's soundtrack includes the song "Amen" with vocalist Jester Hairston (and the 1979 movie sequel includes Hairston's arrangement too).  Hairston was a well regarded singer/composer and actor--you may remember him playing Rolly Forbes on the 1980s sitcom Amen. Remember the 1987 Christmas episode of Amen that featured Hairston singing the song "Mary's Boy Child"--the Christmas carol he wrote?



I was also pleased to get the brother and sister duo, Kristy & Jimmy McNichol album. I can't wait to hear what treasures lie within. Everybody remembers David Soul's hit single "Don't Give Up on Us," but now I have the entire album to discover. Of course, getting both of these records in one place reminds me that actress/singer Kristy McNichol appeared in the 1976 Christmas episode of Starsky & Hutch (with David Soul). Classic Christmas TV.


Jackpot! Although the cover isn't in too great shape, the record itself is good. When I found this, Jeff and I discussed how many Christmas episodes were produced by the 80s TV sitcom The Facts of Life.  Can you name them all? (Hint: there are five of them!)


I remember Lynda Carter as TV's Wonder Woman. Apparently she released this album as well. I can't wait to hear her version of Billy Joel's "She's Always a Woman" (side 1, track 2).

I can't find what year this album was released--maybe Jeff can tell me. It should be 1968 or later--indicated from the copyright date on the cover illustration of Snoopy from United Feature Syndicate Inc. The album is children's holiday favorites including "Snoopy's Christmas." Nothing special that I know of about the recording but I do like the album cover.


I'm excited to add this album to my collection of pop culture records. I already own Patty Duke's 1965 record "Don't Just Stand There." I've always admired her career. Duke appeared in numerous holiday programs including the 1963 Christmas episode of The Patty Duke Show.  Her recent passing was a tragic loss.


The one record I'm most proud of snagging is this Harpo Marx LP. Harpo is of course, the non-speaking, harp-playing brother of the comedy team The Marx Brothers. He actually whistles along as he plays the harp on the song "Lullaby Doll" on this album--the same style of performance he's known for in the Marx Brothers movies. What a find. Have you seen Harpo in the 1960 Christmas episode "A Silent Panic" of The Dupont Show with June Allyson? You can find it on the Shout Factory DVD set The Marx Brothers TV Collection.

Do you collect Christmas records or pop culture items too?

All smiles while we thrift for records and pop culture finds.

Thanks for hosting my visit, Jeff. If anyone is interested in reading about my past vacation stops, please feel free to click on the following links to the original Walton's Mountain in Schuyler, VA, the Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, PA, and the It's a Wonderful Life Museum in Seneca Falls, NY.


  1. Glad you had such a successful visit to our Nation's capital Joanna ! I'm envious of the gift Jeff gave you ;) Santa doll from The Twilight Zone ! WOW ! And, I had no idea that Albert Hague played Mr. Shorofsky on Fame. THX for sharin' EH !

    1. Jeff was extremely generous! I had a wonderful time in Ottawa. Thanks for your comments Mitchell :D

  2. It was fun all around, and perfect weather! Couldn't have asked for anything more, except maybe more time!
    So the Snoopy Album is by 'The Quiet Jungle' and it was released in 1968. Here's a tiny bit about them: http://www.garagehangover.com/quietjungle/
    Loved the Avengers and the New Avengers too - Killer find!

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