About Christmas TV History

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Christmas in July 2022: Richie Rich's Christmas Wish (1998)


Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #21 of the month-long celebration of Christmas entertainment. Each day this month I will be sharing brief reminisces about Christmas TV episodes, specials, and movies with a IT'S A WONDERFUL SUMMER attitude. Yes--this month I'm sharing brief essays about TV adaptations of the 1946 movie "It's a Wonderful Life" along with TV programs with significant references to the movie. Just a little something different and a way for me to show off the diversity of holiday stories I've collected in the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV (the updated and expanded 2nd edition being released soon).  

This is a feature-length children’s movie that was released directly to video in 1998, and eventually made its TV debut on Fox Family channel in 1999.  The story centers around the immensely wealthy character Richie Rich who was first introduced in Harvey comic books in the 1950s. This holiday story is a follow-up to the 1994 movie Richie Rich starring Macaulay Culkin. Here, the character is played by David Gallagher--who was then also appearing in the TV family drama series 7th Heaven.


In this live action holiday story, Richie’s attempts to deliver Christmas gifts to the orphanage by a remote controlled sleigh are sabotaged by his nasty rival Reggie Van Dough. Frustrated, Rich asks Professor Keenbean’s latest invention, the Wish Machine, what life would be like if he were never born. What follows is a plot taken straight from the movie It’s A Wonderful Life--Richie wakes up to discover that no one in Richville recognizes him any longer and Reggie is now the Rich’s son. 




As Richie wanders this new world that exists without him, he learns that Reggie has closed the local factory, charity hospital, and orphanage while threatening to cancel Christmas! Richie decides to help make things right, however Reggie orders the police to throw Richie in jail. It becomes a race against time for Richie to convince his former butler Cadbury and his former friends to help him get Professor Keenbean to re-invent his Wish Machine so Richie can return the world to its proper order before Christmas is canceled altogether.

This movie’s story also references O.Henry’s popular short story “The Gift of the Magi.” Mr. and Mrs. Rich exchange gifts for which they have sacrificed their precious yacht and golf course in order to buy a solid gold anchor and a high-end golf cart for each other.

The metal band members of Root Canal include Broadway’s Rex Smith as Rudy and Fleetwood Mac’s Billy Burnette as Nigel.

The cast includes David Gallagher as Richie Rich, Martin Mull as Mr. Rich, Lesley Ann Warren as Mrs. Rich, Keene Curtis as the butler Cadbury, Michelle Trachtenberg as Gloria, Jake Richardson as Reggie Van Dough, Marla Maples as Mrs. Van Dough, Richard Fancy as Mr. Van Dough, Richard Riehle as Sgt. Mooney, Kathleen Freeman as the orphanage director Mrs. Peabody, and Eugene Levy as Professor Keenbean. 


This is another example of an adaptation of It's a Wonderful Life aimed at young viewers. Did you see the 1946 movie It's a Wonderful Life or an adaptation first? Please feel free to leave comments below. Merry Christmas in July!

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for an upcoming release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com


  1. I have wanted to see this, even though I have been told to steer clear. But hey, a questionable movie has never stopped me before!

  2. I saw Chuckie's Wonderful Life before It's a Wonderful Life. That and Back to the Future II inspired me to watch IAWL.