Remember when we could see holiday cartoons only when they came on TV once a year? Most kids had televisons, some even had color TV. My family did not have a television until I was eight. Fortunately Grandma and Grandpa did. I remember the rumor would go through the classroom if a Christmas classic was coming on that night. ‘Cause in those pre-cable TV, pre-VHS days, if you missed the program when it aired, too bad for you until next year. The Christmas holiday classics took on something of a religious ritual for us.
I’ve been collecting childrens’ Christmas cartoons for about ten years now. Being a tightwad, I only buy cheap, like $2 cheap, used copies of the cartoons. I’ve managed to find all but three of my top 10 list of classic cartoons. Here are the top 10 holiday classic movies and cartoons circa, 1960-1970s. Most of these holiday classics feature the voice talents of Paul Fees (Boris) and June Foray (Rockie Squirrel). Most you will probably recognize, but there may be a few you’ve forgotten or never seen. Make sure to watch these classic Christmas cartoons this season. You won’t regret it!
The Snow Queen (1959) Full length cartoon based upon the classic Hans Christian Anderson tale. A cold hearted queen steals little Kay and his friend Gerda comes to find him. This adventure and fantasy classic was often aired on New Year’s Day.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) Based on Gene Autry’s Christmas sone, this holiday favorite contains a whole musical of memorable songs, as well as a delightful retelling of the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer story. Remember: ‘Silver and Gold’ (Burl Ives), ‘The Island of Misfit Toys’ and ‘There’s always Tomorrow’? And the jolly voice of Burl Ives could be taken for St. Nick himself.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) features the talents of Bill Melendez (aka Snoopy) and Peter as Charlie Brown. If you’ve never seen A Charlie Brown Christmas, then there is a blockhead shaped hole in your life.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) Narrated by the master of horror, Boris Karloff, this to me is the quintessential Christmas story!
The Little Drummer Boy (1968 narrated by Greer Garson, with the voices of the Harry Simonte choir) This lovely adaptation of the Christmas carol is made in wonderful stop motion cartoon style like the other Rankin-Bass feature cartoons. Keep some tissues close at hand for this one’s a real tear-jerker.
Frosty the Snowman (1969 Rankin-Bass) Based on Gene Autry’s classic holiday song, this cartoon has the wonderful whimsical cartoon style of Saturday morning Rankin-Bass and Screen Gems cartoons. And who could survive a Christmas without the lovable raspy singing of Jimmy Durante?
Santa Claus is Coming to Town (1970) Another Gene Autry song provides the basis for this holiday classic featuring the voices of Mickey Rooney and Fred Astaire. A wonderful look at how Kris Kringle became Santa Claus.
A Christmas Carol (1971) A very believable holiday cartoon version of Dicken’s immortal tale. Alistair Sim, the original scrooge voices this beloved Christmas story.
A Cricket in Times Square (1973) Chuck Jones directed this adaptation of George Seldon delightful story. Chester Cricket comes to New York City to follow his dreams and finds a harsh, loud, hectic place where the joy of Christmas has been lost in holiday commercialism. Chester and his friends must help a struggling newsstand owner and ultimately the city of New York.
Nestor the Long Earred Christmas Donkey did not come out until 1977. Another Rankin-Bass production, this charming tale of a long-earred little donkey who managed to carry a most precious burden to Bethlehem. Features Roger Miller.
Enjoy these classic holiday cartoons and a walk down memory lane!