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.

Image: NBC

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."

Image: Warner Bros. Television / Wikipedia

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.

Image: Hanna-Barbera

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.

Image: CBS

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.

Image: ABC

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.

Image: Rankin-Bass / ABC / Wikipedia

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JMFabianoRPL 10 months ago
How about The Christmas Raccoons?
McRadlan 10 months ago
This is my favourite underrated Christmas cartoon
A Cosmic Christmas - Three aliens from an unknown planet, who bear a strong resemblance to the Biblical Magi, visit earth to know the true meaning of Christmas. A Cosmic Christmas is the first television special produced by the Canadian animation company, Nelvana https://youtu.be/5wxKQR9kTmo
Randy 22 months ago
My favorite Christmas special wasnt listed. The Tiny Tree (1975) staring Buddy Ebsen
A little girl is injured in an accident and confined to a wheelchair. When Christmas arrives, the forest animals decorate a small tree outside her window to give her a happy holiday.
ndebrabant 22 months ago
I think I saw all of those listed. Wish they would show them again.
bmoore4026 22 months ago
I've never forgotten The Stingiest Man in Town. That "I wear a chain" song freaked me out.
Mato1970 22 months ago
There's also The Chipmunk Christmas, in which Alvin gives away his Golden Echo harmonica to a sick boy, and then must find a way to replace it when he learns he's expected to perform with it at Carnegie Hall. I believe Chuck Jones did the animation.
Rachel 22 months ago
Does anyone remember an older animated Christmas special that was about a dog band? One of the younger dog members in the ban
d was going through a hard time. I think it was from the 70s or 80s
KitanaKombat Rachel 10 months ago
Jingle Bell Rap is the name of that Cartoon 1991
Lillyrose 22 months ago
I never saw any of these Christmas specials. But “Family Circus Christmas “ sounds great!
BIG 23 months ago
Anybody remember "A Cosmic Christmas"?
Mato1970 BIG 22 months ago
I do!
McRadlan BIG 10 months ago
K 23 months ago
Family Circus Christmas may not be as good as "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (really...what is?), but it has a charm of its own.....as do all of the specials you have listed. All are worth seeing at least once.
FrankieRae 35 months ago
I loved The Night the Animals Talked. I also remember (but can't remember the year) The Littlest Angel with Johnnie Whitaker and Fred Gwynne.
K FrankieRae 23 months ago
The Littlest Angel was from 1969 and can be found as a video a few places online, including YT.
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