About Christmas TV History

Friday, July 7, 2023

Christmas in July 2023: The Stingiest Man in Town (1978)


Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #7 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). 

Earlier this week, I shared two animated versions of Dickens' "Carol," and yesterday I discussed the 1956 TV musical. So, today let me share another animated version, but one that adapts the music from yesterday's The Stingiest Man in Town. Let's discuss the 1978 Rankin/Bass animated TV special The Stingiest Man in Town.

This is an hour-long, Rankin/Bass cel animated TV special. It is a musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ book “A Christmas Carol” featuring the familiar character design of Paul Coker, Jr. 

The music is written by Fred Spielman with lyrics by Janice Torre. The music by Spielman and Torre was originally written for the TV musical The Stingiest Man in Town which aired as an installment of “The Alcoa Hour” starring Basil Rathbone in 1956. This animated adaptation uses the cricket character B.A.H. Humbug to take over the Greek chorus role occupied by The Four Lads in the original 1956 production. Click HERE to see yesterday's discussion again about this 1956 TV special.


B.A.H. Humbug is voiced by Tom Bosley.

In this story, B.A.H. Humbug is a cricket that narrates this musical story about the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge. Although this story attempts a faithful adaptation, it is missing story from Ebenezer’s childhood and his sister Fan. However, this version cleverly works in Santa Claus to the nineteenth-century tale. Tiny Tim’s sister encourages her little brother’s faith in the holiday by singing a song about Santa Claus while the Ghost of Christmas Present transforms into the familiar image of St. Nick. This version also works in the story of the Nativity to the Dickens classic. B.A.H. Humbug sings a song about the First Christmas and the gifts brought by the wise men during Scrooge’s visit to his nephew Fred’s home, escorted by the Ghost of Christmas Present, as a lesson about generosity.  

The original songs in this program include “Merry Christmas Uncle Scrooge,” “An Old Fashioned Christmas,” “The Stingiest Man in Town,” “The Chain Song,” “Golden Dreams,” “It Might Have Been,” “Song of the Christmas Spirit,” “Yes, There is a Santa Claus,” “Birthday Party of the King,” “One Little Boy,” and “Mankind Should Be My Business.”  


The voice cast includes Tom Bosley as B.A.H. Humbug, Walter Matthau as Scrooge, Theodore Bikel as Marley’s Ghost, Robert Morse as the young Scrooge, Dennis Day as Fred, Paul Frees as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and Charles Matthau as the boy on Christmas morning. Charles is the real-life son of Walter Matthau.

Thanks for joining me during this first week of the Christmas in July marathon! There's more to come.

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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