Santa Claus is comin’ to Town

Rankin Bass Christmas specials! This was one of the things I loved most about Christmas as a child.

Watching television on holiday afternoons featuring those distinctive doll-like characters, brought to life with a stop-motion animation technique called “Animagic”. (I used to look forward to it almost as much as Santa dropping off the presents!)

According to wikipedia
The company was founded by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass in the early 1960s as Videocraft International. The majority of Rankin/Bass’ work, including all of their “Animagic” stop-motion productions, were created in Japan. Throughout the 1960s, the Animagic productions were headed by Japanese stop-motion animator Tadahito Mochinaga.
Their traditionally cel-animated works were animated by Toei Animation, Crawley Films and Mushi Production, and since the 1970s, they were animated by the Japanese studio Topcraft, which was formed in 1972 as an offshoot of Toei Animation.

The 5 most popular films (and also my personal favourites) were

Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer (1964)

With narrator Burl Ives in the role of Sam the Snowman

The Little Drummer Boy (1968)

About the birth of the baby Jesus, and with Greer Garson providing the dramatic narration

Frosty the Snowman (1969)
This was actually cell animation (as opposed to “Animagic”) and narrated by Jimmy Durante (who also sang the title song). Jackie Vernon voiced the title character.

Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town (1970)
An origin story about Santa Claus, narrated by Fred Astaire as (the animated character) mailman S.D (“Special Delivery”) Kluger. Kris Kringle is voiced by Mickey Rooney

The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)
Narrated by Shirley Booth as (the animated character) Mrs. Claus, and featuring Mickey Rooney once again as the voice of Santa Claus. The iconic characters of Snow Miser (voiced by Dick Shawn) and Heat Miser (voiced by George S. Irving) also featured in this film.

Snow Miser


Heat Miser

Merry Christmas, happy holidays and best wishes for a great start to 2013!
(Back again in early February. All the best in the meantime).