Few holiday specials are as well remembered and beloved as the collection of stop-animation offerings from Rankin/Bass Productions that originated in the 60s and 70s. Today, we look back at the 1970 classic, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, a charming tale that taught many of us the evolution of the big jolly guy in the red suit.
Fred Astaire cheerily narrated Santa Claus is Coming to Town as a mailman named Kluger, who decided to answer an inquiry as to Santa’s roots. As Kluger’s story unfolds, we’re introduced to Kris Kringle (voiced by Mickey Rooney), whose appreciation for peace and love and harmony fueled his benevolent desires to bring joy to the children of the world. Standing in their way, a government official named Burgermeister Meisterburger (Paul Frees, a Rankin/Bass regular) and the evil Winter Warlock. When Kris wanted to deliver toys to the kids at nearby village of Sombertown, it immediately infuriated Burgermeister, who quickly put a stop to such altruism. So Kris joined forces with a kindly schoolteacher named Jessica, evaded Burgermeister and his henchmen, melted Winter’s cold heart and got his special toy deliveries accomplished. He would become known as Santa Claus, Jessica became his loyal Missus, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Based on the hit song of the same name from 1934, Santa Claus is Coming to Town quickly endeared itself to children of all ages. From its quirky stop-motion animation, to its delightful cast of voice actors and a toe-tapping musical soundtrack, it has earned its place as a holiday staple, much like its other Rankin/Bass cousins, Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Together, they have helped welcome the arrival of the season year-after-year, keeping youngsters glued to the television set and bringing back waves of nostalgia to millions of adults who continue to make them a part of their annual must-see Christmas list.
Did you learn the origins of Santa Claus from this beloved classic? Did you fear the Winter Warlock? Does the song “Put One Foot in Front of the Other” get stuck in your head for days after watching this special? Share all of your memories of watching Santa Claus Is Coming to Town with us in our comments section, as we tip our hats to Rankin/Bass for bestowing this beloved classic upon us.