Christmas Songs: “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” from “How The Grinch Stole Christmas!” Thurl Ravenscroft, 1966

I was 12 when this half-hour holiday cartoon aired on CBS.  Boris Karloff was yet alive–he would not die until 1969, but he was already scaring and fascinating a new generation of kids with reruns of his old movies, a couple of new B movies in theatres, and new horror shows like Thriller on TV.   This was Boris Karloff’s last major role.  He was the only narrator out of four who was credited on How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, but many still do not know that Karloff didn’t sing this song.  He couldn’t sing a decent note.

Some also thought Tennessee Ernie Ford, with his booming tones, sang “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch“; I thought it was Ford too for a long time, but it didn’t quite have that Ford feel, so my vote was always conditional.  The unattributed Thurl Ravenscroft, forever known as the voice of Tony The Tiger from the Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes cereal box–“They’re grrrreat!”–did.  Theodor Geisel, “Dr. Seuss,” spent the rest of his life trying to correct that misconception.

Ravenscroft died at the great, old age of 91 in 2005. His career as a singer (The Mellomen, The Johnny Mann Singers, The Sportsmen) and voice actor (radio, commercials, movies) spanned fifty years in Hollywood.  His voice is also heard on Disney rides like the Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion.   In the 1980s and 1990s, Ravenscroft was narrator for the annual Pageant of the Masters art show at the Laguna Beach, California Festival of the Arts.  His most well-known solo accomplishment is the album, Great Hymns in Story and Song His legacy website is here.

From Wikipedia:

Thurl Ravenscroft, who voiced Tony the Tiger for many years for Kellogg (Courtesy:  Google)

Thurl Ravenscroft, who first voiced  Tony the Tiger for Kellogg, lent his voice to Disney projects, and who sang “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” (Courtesy: Google)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a 1966 American animated television special directed by Chuck Jones. It is based on the homonymous children’s book by Dr. Seuss, the story of The Grinch trying to take away Christmas from the townsfolk of Whoville below his mountain hideaway. The special, which is considered a short film as it runs less than an hour, is one of the very few Christmas specials from the 1960s to still be shown regularly on television. Jones and Giesel previously worked together on the Private Snafu training cartoons during World War II.

The 26-minute short was originally telecast on CBS on December 18, 1966. CBS repeated it annually during the Christmas season until 1987. It was eventually acquired by Turner Broadcasting System, which now shows it several times between November and January. It has since been broadcast on TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, and The WB Television Network. Most recently, it has been shown on ABC and ABC Family, but with some scenes trimmed down because of time constraints (the show was made at a time when commercial breaks on television were shorter than they are now). In any event, as of the present time, it is the lead-off “classic” special (i.e. the first classic special) that airs on network television each Christmas season.

Time Warner owns the rights to the cartoon, through its various subsidiaries.

In the same Wiki article, TV Guide had rated the cartoon No. 1 among family holiday offerings.

Dr. Seuss was initially resistant to Boris Karloff narrating the cartoon, thinking that he would make The Grinch too scary.    So Karloff’s high voice was modulated at certain moments so as not to frighten the little ones.  Um, I don’t think that was really necessary.  Since I was several years older than my brother and sister, who were four and five at the time,  I was able to see that they were riveted to the TV screen, and not grabbing after my mother or me.

The great June Foray, the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel, was also featured in this cartoon as Cindy Lou Who, but she remained unattributed at the time of the cartoon’s release.  June Foray is now 94.  Note too that The Grinch was directed by Chuck Jones, the animator most responsible (along with voice god Mel Blanc) for Bugs Bunny and the other memorable characters from the Golden Age of Warner Brothers Cartoons.  When the Warner Bros. cartoon factory closed down for good in 1962, Jones went on to create his own production company–and other wonderful cartoons like this one.

Every time I see How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, I feel so sorry for Max, The Grinch’s voiceless, but hardly quiet dog, who must pull that great sack of swag up the tall mountain overlooking Whoville.  In fact, before The Grinch’s transformation, I thought I would feel sorry for anything or anyone The Grinch condescended to have feelings for, if at all.

How can you can get How The Grinch Stole Christmas! these days if it is not repeated yearly on TV, much less in its original form?

The special was made available on high definition Blu-ray Disc on October 6, 2009, containing all the bonus features from the 2000 DVD except for Horton Hears a Who!, which was made available separately. It also included a DVD of the special and a Digital Copy.

On October 4, 2011, the special was released on DVD by Warner Home Video under Santa’s Magical Stories and again on October 18, 2011 under Dr. Seuss’s Holidays on the Loose!

~ by blksista on December 10, 2011.

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