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

 

1973

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.

Image: NBC

2. Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales

 

1979

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."

Image: Warner Bros. Television / Wikipedia

3. Casper's First Christmas

 

1979

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

 

1971

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…

 

1970

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

 

1972

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.

Image: Hanna-Barbera

7. A Family Circus Christmas

 

1979

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.

Image: CBS

8. The Night the Animals Talked

 

1970

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.

Image: ABC

9. The Stingiest Man in Town

 

1978

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.

Image: Rankin-Bass / ABC / Wikipedia

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109 Comments

lynngdance 29 months ago
Season’s Greetings Everybody! Thought I’d make a random off-topic Holiday post,…. so here it is!! (Anyone who complains about this post not being about the article is officially a grinch! 😝)

“Christmas Time Is Here Again” By The Beatles


My Favorite version of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” By Betty Garrett and Red Skelton (watch video to see why 😆)


“Someday At Christmas” by Stevie Wonder


“The Miser Brothers Song” From “The Year Without A Santa Claus”



And oh, yes, a random doodle of a polar bear I did a while ago. (Haven’t had much time at all for anything too detailed lol 😝)
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LoveMETV22 29 months ago
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timothys71 lynngdance 5 months ago
I agree about "neutral" greetings like Season's Greetings and Happy Holidays. While I wish my family and friends "Merry Christmas", I sometimes say "Happy Holidays" to people whom I do not know that well, especially if I do not know their religious background. IMHO that type of greeting is not intended to de-emphasize Christmas, but rather is an attempt to be all-inclusive, recognizing that some people observe other traditions at this time of the year.
LoveMETV22 5 months ago
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soonersjlg 5 months ago
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scp 29 months ago
There was one involving a cat, a mouse, and a cricket in Times Square done by Chuck Jones (I think), there was a half-hour animated "Yes, Viriginia, There Is a Santa Claus" narrated by Jim Backus that is nowhere to be found except in a few snippets on YouTube, an animated half hour one involving three aliens done by a Canadian animation firm, if I recall, and a whole bunch of other ones I remember from when I was little back in the 1970s that you just don't see today.

I mean, geez, they don't even show "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol" on TV anymore. I'm glad I bought a DVD of it back in the day.
ErinFencil scp 28 months ago
Your "three aliens" TV special is "A Cosmic Christmas" and it was indeed by Nelvana. :)
timothys71 scp 5 months ago
It would be cool if MeTV could get their hands on some of those holiday specials that are no longer regularly aired on over-the-air TV and show a block of them, maybe on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or the preceding Sunday.
hrcopter 29 months ago
I remember A Family Circus Christmas. I was 8 at the time.
CJLV 29 months ago
Golly the Networks (ABC CBS NBC) sure offered up those Holiday Specials back in the day .... and got stingy (moving all of that content onto Cable Channels & their Streaming Apps).

Thank you Rankin and Bass, DePatie-Frehleng , Hanna Barbera, Filmation, Warner Bros, Walt Disney Co (anyone else I forgot to mention!) ❤️🎄

https://vimeo.com/306951888
AnnieM 29 months ago
"The Bear Who Slept Thru Christmas" was always one of my favorites as a kid, as I also loved the Smothers Brothers, and Tom was the voice of Ted E. Bear. 😊
Wgomez 29 months ago
Thank you for reminding me how the how Hollywood createdproduced carrying Cartoons for families to watch. Sensitive not horror plots. How much it's needed today.

William Gomez.
Tresix 29 months ago
I remember a scene in the '71 "Christmas Carol" special that really scared me: When Scrooge looks under the robe of the Ghost of Christmas Present and sees Ignorance and Want. Quite chilling to an 11-year-old!
GeorgeSommers 29 months ago
Parts of the "Looney Toons Bugs Bunny ChristmasSpecial" were shown on Toon in with Me, and the TIWM Christmas special. Speaking of which, the Pink Panther had a very lwo key but charming 1/2 hour Christmas special which they should show as well.
timothys71 GeorgeSommers 5 months ago
Last year MeTV showed its own custom, expanded version of the special during the Looney Tunes hour on one of the Saturdays before Christmas. They showed all 3 of the original segments and interspersed them with other Christmas-themed Looney Tunes shorts to expand it to a full hour.
timothys71 timothys71 5 months ago
Update: I saw that they are showing again this coming Saturday morning during the regular Looney Tunes hour.
FrankieRae 29 months ago
I loved The Night the Animals talked. Whomever wrote their opinion missed the whole point of the special. I was 11 years old and the message was at the birth of Jesus, the miraculous happened. The animals were able to communicate to each other and each thought they were better than each other but come to the realization they were wrong due to the miracle they had witnessed. Wish they'd bring that and The Littlest Angel, with Fred Gwynne and Johnny Whittaker back.
scp FrankieRae 29 months ago
You can find The Littlest Angel on Tubi.
DiscountInferno 29 months ago
I remember a really sweet Ziggy Xmas episode from the early 1980s. Too long for the MeTV special, but def worth checking out on YouTube.
murphylives 29 months ago
I remember a wonderful movie that starred Martin Sheen. It hasn't been shown in years, as far as I know. It was called The Fourth Wise Man.
Michael murphylives 29 months ago
I don't even remember it, but looking it up now, quite an all star cast
UniversalSteve56 29 months ago
I remember one called "The Story of Holly and Ivy" It played once on CBS and it had Jonathon Winters voicing an owl. It was really a depressing story. I remember asking my son when it was over how he like it and he said it made him sad so it wasn't just me.
Caretaker245 29 months ago
I still go over to YouTube and watch the Family Circus one.... and anyone watch the "For Better or for Worse" Christmas?
KJExpress 29 months ago
I can remember seeing "The Night the Animals Talked." I was visiting my Grandmother at the time. I liked it, but never saw it again. I wonder if I would like it now? 🤔 The animals in the picture look kind of mean.
MrsPhilHarris 29 months ago
While looking up old tv Christmas episodes, I saw mention of a show called A Very Merry Cricket from 1973. Mel Blanc voiced a couple of characters. I’ve never heard of it.
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MrsPhilHarris KJExpress 29 months ago
It’s related to Cricket In Times Square.

LoveMETV22 MrsPhilHarris 29 months ago
I found it on youtube. I'm impressed by some of the clips people put on youtube. I'm guessing people use video editing software when making their video clips. Thanks though for the compliment even though I didn't create it.
LoveMETV22 MrsPhilHarris 29 months ago
I'm glad, You enjoy it.
At some point I may look up how people make their videos, there's lots of good ones. As far as I know I think you can only post YouTube videos here, probably cause they have already been checked by YouTube. Which is a good thing.
Deleted 29 months ago
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jeopardyhead 29 months ago
Or find out that some voice actor played the part of someone not of their own ethnicity.
AnnieM 29 months ago
🤣
Runeshaper 29 months ago
All of these seem like they would be interesting. Side note to #7; The Vince Guaraldi Trio = AWESOME!
Janssen_Cool 29 months ago
The Little Rascals Christmas. 1978 or 1979
😢
timothys71 Janssen_Cool 29 months ago
I remember seeing that one way back when. One line sticks in my head: One of the Rascals is reading the sheet music for "Deck the Halls" and starts singing, "Deck the halls with...boojes of holly!"
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