9 forgotten cartoon Christmas specials of the 1970s
'Family Circus' could not quite capture that 'Peanuts' magic.
Image: The Everett Collection
The Seventies gave us animated holiday programs that continue to air in the modern era, memorable specials like A Flintstone Christmas and Frosty's Winter Wonderland. However, several Christmas specials from the decade have been stashed away in the attic of our memory. Not everything can be A Charlie Brown Christmas or a Rankin-Bass stop-motion extravaganza.
Here are some overlooked specials of the '70s. Yes, of course some of them had disco carols. Did you watch any of these growing up?
1. The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas
Casey Kasem narrated this hit, which featured an impressive cast of voices, including Arte Johnson of Laugh-In and Barbara Feldon of Get Smart. It clicked with audiences enough to spawn a Halloween sequel a decade later, The Great Bear Scare, and a toy doll based on the special's ursa major, Ted E. Bear.
2. Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales
The Looney Tunes celebrated Christmas with three original shorts, "Bugs Bunny's Christmas Carol," "Freeze Frame" (a Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner battle) and "The Fright Before Christmas."
3. Casper's First Christmas
A whole gaggle of Hanna-Barbera stars — Yogi Bear, Boo Boo, Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss, Quick Draw McGraw, etc. — turn up to celebrate Christmas with the little ghost. It is of note as the rare crossover of characters from the worlds of Hanna-Babera and Harvey Entertainment, who owned the right to Casper and Richie Rich.
Image: Hanna-Barbera / NBC
4. A Christmas Carol
Believe it or not, this Charles Dickens adaptation won an Academy Award. The made-for-TV movie fared well enough to warrant a theatrical release, which enabled it to take home the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film in 1972.
Image: ABC / Wikipedia
5. Christmas Is…
Produced by the Lutheran Church, the folks behind the moral adventures of Davey and Goliath, this cartoon kicked off with a tour of Christmas traditions around the world. Then, schoolteacher Mrs. Baxter leads her children through a staging of the nativity.
Image: Lutheran Television
6. A Christmas Story
Another product of Hanna-Barbera, this syndicated special has nothing to do with Red Ryder BB guns and glowing leg lamps. No, here Goober the dog and Gumdrop the mouse deliver a kid's letter to Santa.
7. A Family Circus Christmas
After A Charlie Brown Christmas, it was inevitable that other daily comic strips would try to replicate its success. However, Bil Keane's precious characters just could not capture the nuanced emotions of Charlie Brown. Not having Vince Guaraldi probably didn't help, either.
8. The Night the Animals Talked
With a title that could be mistaken for a Twilight Zone episode, it's no wonder that this tale of Jesus's birth was lost to the sands of time. It plays like a cross of Animal Farm and your local school nativity scene.
9. The Stingiest Man in Town
One of the more overlooked Rankin-Bass productions, this cartoon technically classifies as anime. It was a Japanese-made adaptation of a 1956 episode of The Alcoa Hour, which had featured Basil Rathbone, Martyn Green and Vic Damone. The animation was done in Japan by Topcraft, who also churned out toons like The Jackson 5ive and Thundercats for Rankin-Bass.