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Ruminations: More Animation for the Holidays

Ruminations: More Animation for the Holidays

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Special programming for the holidays is nothing new. And even though we can look back almost 40 years now to "A Charlie Brown Christmas", the tradition of seasonal shows to help get us into the mood go back to the days of radio with many favorite shows having music and stories that helped to make things a bit brighter in times that weren't for many people. Even movies such as "Miracle on 34th Street", "White Christmas" or "It's a Wonderful Life" captured the sentiments of those times in such a way that they have remained audience favorites years later on television. Perhaps that kind of nostalgia is a part of why many of us look back so fondly on many of the animated television shows of before and watch them again and again with family and friends, year after year.

Looking back to my own childhood, there certainly are the tried and true classics of television animation. The Rankin Bass production of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" was one of those we always seemed to watch every year. Made popular by a song recorded by Gene Autry, this stop-motion half-hour still attracts fans today. A recent line of toyseven included Yukon Cornelius and the Bumble! And who out there hasn't made a passing reference to the "Island of Misfit Toys" in a corporate setting?

 

Classic characters still going strong today!

Another favorite from those years was Chuck Jones animated adaptation of the Dr. Seuss favorite, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". With the inspired choice of Boris Karloff as the narrator of the story as well as the voice of the Grinch, is it any wonder it became so popular. Add those great songs written by Albert Hague and sung by Thurl Ravenscroft and who could resist? The later movie version directed by Ron Howard with Jim Carey in the title role even has it's own fans and has become a holiday favorite.

Disney managed to join the crowd with it's own hour on Walt Disney Presents. "From All Of Us To All Of You" first aired on December 19, 1958 and was a perennial favorite for many years after. The various incarnations of the hour of family television brought other classis Disney shows to us, such as "A Present For Donald", "Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates", "Holiday Time at Disneyland", "Disneyland Around The Seasons", "Babes in Toyland"and more. While some of those have made it to video on VHS or DVD, here is hoping that more do so someday soon!

Out of all of the various Christmas programming that has come and gone, I do have another particular favorite after "A Charlie Brown Christmas" -- Berkeley Breathed's "A Wish for Wings That Work".

It was first a wonderfully drawn children's book and later an animated special. Sadly, it is not available on DVD yet. It was released on VHS and also on laser disc (of which I am glad to have a copy). Directed by Skip Jones and produced by Universal Cartoon Studios and Amblin Entertainment, it has a great voice cast (as listed on the Internet Movie Database):

Michael Bell .... Opus (voice)

Joe Alaskey....Truffles/The Ducks (voice)

John Byner....Bill the Cat (voice)

Tress MacNeille....The Chicken (voice)

Andrew Hill Newman....Santa (voice)

Robin Williams....The Kiwi (voice) (as Sudy Nim)

Alexaundria Simmons....Ronald-Ann (voice)

Frank Welker....Santa Claus (voice)

Dustin Hoffman....Milquetoast the Cross-Dressing Cockroach (voice)

And the classic Opus dream sequence lifted from 1937's "Lost Horizon" makes me chuckle every time I watch it! Here is another one that I hope makes it to DVD soon so that more people can enjoy it.

And we won't even get started today on "A Christmas Story". That truly deserves a column all it's own...

Now that the holidays are here, this is a difficult time for many people across the country. If you can find a way, do what you can to share with those in need. A donation to a charity in your community (such as your local food bank) will go a very long way right now. Everything from the United Way to the Salvation Army to Toys for Tots and more will appreciate your help.

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