About Christmas TV History

Friday, July 28, 2023

Christmas in July 2023: Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962)


Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #28 in the month-long celebration of Christmas entertainment. Each day this month I will be sharing brief reminisces about Christmas TV episodes, specials, and movies that are a creative or imaginative adaptation of Charles Dickens' tale A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 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 will be released soon). 


Magoo's on Broadway!


For the last couple days in the marathon, let me move on from parodies and finish up with a couple of favorites. Today let me discuss the 1962 animated special Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. The near-sighted cartoon character was featured in theatrically released animated shorts and a familiar to audiences in 1962. In this holiday special, Magoo plays an actor in a Broadway musical production of “A Christmas Carol," playing Ebenezer Scrooge in the stage show-within-a-show.


Gorgeous backgrounds!


This gorgeous, highly stylized animated special made by UPA (United Productions of America animation studio) is a sincere re-telling of the Dickens’ classic, yet several changes were made from the original Dickens text, including the elimination of the nephew Fred character, and the order of the ghosts that visit Scrooge on Christmas Eve. However, for an entire generation of young TV viewers, this special was their first exposure to Dickens’ classic Christmas story.

The original music within the production was written by Broadway legends Jule Styne and Bob Merrill. This animated TV special features six original songs including "Back on Broadway," "Ringle Ringle," "The Lord's Bright Blessing," Alone in the World," "Winter Was Warm," and "We're Despicable."  The songs "Alone in the World," "Ringle Ringle," and "The Lord's Bright Blessing" are reprised for the ending.

This hour-long animated classic has a significant claim to fame: It is the first animated Christmas special made just for television. Although Walt Disney had already established the tradition of animated specials on TV at Christmas (specifically “From All of Us to All of You”), this is the first entirely original animated Christmas special for television.

Tiny Tim sure looks like Gerald McBoing Boing!

There’s a reason that Tiny Tim resembles the 1950s incarnation of Gerald McBoing Boing. The Mr. Magoo and Gerald cartoons were both generated from the same animation studio. 

The voice cast includes Jim Backus as Mr. Magoo, Morey Amsterdam as Brady/James, Jack Cassidy as Bob Cratchit, and Paul Frees as Stage director/Fezziwig.

I wrote about this 1962 animated special before on this website with a little more depth. Click HERE to see that essay again.


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

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