About Christmas TV History

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Detroit Festival of Books 2017

Last month, my publisher 1701 Press had a booth at the first-ever Detroit Festival of Books. The all-day event was held in Detroit's historic public market, Eastern Market. The turn-out from readers and book collectors was fantastic! Many, many thanks to all the people who showed up and the wonderful new friends I made. It was quite a rush--in July, no less--to meet so many people excited about Christmas entertainment! And, I extend congratulations and much gratitude to the efficient event organizers who hosted the successful happening.

Between conversations with readers, I stood on a chair to take a photo of some of the crowd. Michigan is filled with people interested in reading books in print. Don't believe the hype that says "No one reads anymore" or "Print books are dead." It's just not true.

While I was in Detroit, I decided to enjoy myself and go record shopping. In Ferndale, I found a used record store and hit the jackpot! They had a sizable Christmas music collection and I found several vintage records that I needed for my growing collection. As you can imagine, I'm usually looking for holiday records that tie into television, film, and popular culture. Here are a few of the records I got in Detroit:

from 1965 musical TV special

I've been looking for this for a few years--the music from ABC's 1965 musical The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood. The production stars Liza Minnelli, Cyril Ritchard, Vic Damone, and the British Invasion band The Animals. I'm very excited to finally have my own copy of the original soundtrack. If you haven't seen the production, you should. Several years ago it was officially released on DVD so it's fairly easy to find.


I've been keeping an eye out for this album for a while now too. It's a collection of Christmas carols sung by professional singers but Earl Hamner himself (the original creator and narrator of the TV series The Waltons) provides some storytelling. Will Geer (Grandpa Walton) can be heard too! Great album cover--I may just hang this on the wall! I'm so happy I finally found this.


I grabbed this record as fast I could! This LP is the 1983 release of the 1973 animated TV special The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas, by DePatie-Freleng. There is both music and spoken word on the record. I'm pleased that it includes the original voice actors: Tommy Smothers, Louie Nye, and June Foray. More on this record release from the expert Greg Ehrbar: http://cartoonresearch.com/index.php/depatie-frelengs-bear-who-slept-through-christmas-on-records/

1970 animated production

Ha! This one is still sealed. According to the cover (I haven't opened it yet), this record is the story and music from the soundtrack of the 1970 animated production Santa and the 3 Bears. Should I open it or keep it in sealed, original condition? I don't know yet. Decisions, decisions....


Ooohh I've been looking for this one too. This is a recording from the soundtrack of Rankin/Bass' cel animated TV special Cricket on the Hearth. It features Danny Thomas and his real-life daughter Marlo Thomas, as well as Ed Ames, Hans Conried, Abbe Lane, Paul Frees and even Roddy McDowall. This TV special is one of the lesser-known Rankin/Bass Christmas stories--one adapted from a Charles Dickens tale. This LP was probably a promo copy--it has a small hole punched through the top left corner, but I'm just glad to finally have my own copy.


I didn't know what this was when I pulled it from a box of Christmas records in the store, but for one dollar it was coming home with me. The album's cover shows considerable wear but for one dollar, who can complain!? Storytelling and music with Mel Blanc--what's not to love? Again, I defer to Greg Ehrbar for more info: http://cartoonresearch.com/index.php/bugs-bunnys-high-fructose-christmas-record/


This was another one that I just grabbed and added to my growing pile. I didn't care what songs were on it, it was one dollar and it was coming home with me. Now I see it includes familiar holiday carols, such as "Deck the Halls" and "Sleigh Ride," as well as less familiar ones, like "Children Go Where I Send Thee"--a song that always reminds me of Tennessee Ernie Ford's Christmas TV specials. There are also original holiday songs written just for the Cabbage Patch Kids! It's a little nuts.


Although this album cover has seen better days, it IS 55 years old so copies aren't that plentiful. This recording is the spoken-word story of Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, the live action Disney TV movie based on an original story by Mary Mapes Dodge, which takes place during the mid-nineteenth century in Holland. The story is set over the Christmas holiday. The movie originally aired in 1962 on The Wonderful World of Disney, in two parts. Do you remember this movie adaptation?

I don't see a year on the album cover--and I can't find anyone else suggesting a year on the internet. If you know when this was recorded or released, let me know. I believe I have the photo rotated--the title should not go across the top but along the left-hand side of the album. Anyway, this record used to belong to a radio station--it has a station identification written across the back cover.

The LP is a collection of ten recordings by Hollywood entertainers expressing their thanks, gratitude and holiday greeting to members of the U.S. Navy for their service. The celebrities speak over Christmas music. It's actually pretty cool. Celebrities on this album include Eddy Arnold, Phyllis Diller, Jack Webb, Norm Crosby, Florence Henderson, Robert Young, Gary Crosby, Shirley Jones, George Maharis, and Edie Adams. I'm guessing it's from the late 1960s or early '70s. The mother from The Brady Bunch and the mother from The Partridge Family on one record!? yup.


This is another weird one that I'm pleased to have found. It is still sealed and I haven't opened it yet. It is a spoken word recording of the 1980 Salvation Army annual Christmas program. The program consists of two parts--"A Search for Beauty" and "Christmas-Reflections by Starlight," featuring actor Michael Landon. There are chorale and orchestration credits on the back cover so clearly Landon is speaking over music. Again, it's still wrapped and sealed in the original plastic and I haven't decided to open it yet, but...it IS tempting.

Do you collect Christmas records? Have you seen the documentary movie Jingle Bell Rocks about Christmas music collectors? When I visited Christmas music collector Jeff Fox last year, we also went record shopping--here's that post again. I hope your summer is going well. Christmas is just around the corner.

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com


  1. Hi Joanna - first time commentor. That's a great haul of records! I say open those sealed one and listen :-) I'm the proprietor over at Merry and Bright! (www.merryandbright.blogspot.com) - I'll write up a post and direct my readers over here - you have a great site! I've seen "Jingle Bell Rocks" a couple times, the first time with the director himself, Mitchell Kezin, when he presented the film in my hometown. Cheers!

    1. Thanks for joining the conversation. Open 'em, huh? Mitchell and the Christmas music record collectors I've met have inspired me to continue gathering music connected to Christmas films and television programs. I've got more to collection--maybe I should share it here too? Lots to think over. Thanks for sharing my site with others :)

  2. Holy Moley! A Santa and the Three Bears LP? Wow. I'd keep it sealed for as long as possible (maybe until Christmas?) and see if I could find another unsealed copy cheap. Darnit, though... the promise of a "Santa Decoration" might be too much for me.

    1. I'm the same--the temptation of seeing the decoration inside feels overwhelming!! What to do? LOL.

      Thanks for commenting :D

  3. What a great haul of Christmas records!

    1. Thanks. I thought so too. Not just one or two records at one store but ALL of them!? I'm still shocked by my fortune :D

  4. Love your LPs. I love that WALTONS Christmas album! There's a CD the cast did later on, with a country flavor. Have the RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER LP. Love it that the songs on the flip side are instrumental versions of the songs that are used as background music in the special. But my favorite Christmas album is called "Speak to One Another," and is a recording of Christmas songs by the Acapella Choir at my high school, with my best friend doing a duet in one song. I can still distinguish her voice from the other girl's.