Frosty The Snowman

“Frosty the Snowman,” debuted in 1969. It was by Rankin/Bass Productions, the same company that produced many holiday specials. Most of us had favorite Christmas specials we would watch. Mine was Rudolph, A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Grinch, and this one…Frosty The Snowman.

Narrated by the legend Jimmy Durante, the special involves a magic hat that transforms a snowman, Frosty, into a living being. The magician who owned the hat wants it back now that he knows it contained actual magic, so the kids had to get together and find a way to bring Frosty to the North Pole to keep him from melting. However, once there, Frosty sacrifices himself to warm up the little girl, Karen, who took him to the North Pole. He melts, but Santa Claus explains that Frosty is made out of special Christmas snow and thus can never truly melt. Frosty then comes back to life and everyone has a Merry Christmas.

The song was written in 1950 by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson. They wrote it for Gene Autry, especially, after Autry had such a huge hit with “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” the previous year. It was later recorded by Jimmy Durante as we hear in this wonderful cartoon.

This wasn’t the only animation of Frosty…

In 1954, United Productions of America (UPA) brought Frosty to life in a short cartoon that is little more than an animated music video for a jazzy version of the song. It introduced the characters mentioned in the lyrics visually, from Frosty himself to the traffic cop. The three-minute, black-and-white piece quickly became a holiday tradition in various markets, particularly in Chicago, where it’s been broadcast annually on WGN since 1955.

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

16 thoughts on “Frosty The Snowman”

  1. I’ve often heard the song (the 50s one) but never seen any of the animations of it!

    When I was a small child there was a movie (a ‘weepie’) that was shown on British TV every Christmas called The Glass Mountain. Rather a sad story, and not really made for children but I adored it and the music (you probably won’t like the music which is quasi-classical – or am I making presumptions? 😉 ) and I had intended to buy myself a DVD copy of it for Christmas this year – but I left it too late. So… maybe I’ll get it in the new year.

    Have a happy Christmas/holidays, Max, and I hope the new year will be better for all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is one I started to watch in the seventies…and still do.

      Oh that music is fine. I just looked it up…it looks really interesting.

      You have a happy Christmas/holidays yourself…I dont’ want to ask how could it be worse? Because we all know it could…but I do think it will get better.

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  2. That early version is something! I never quite “warmed” up to this one (pun semi-intended) as much as the other specials you mention, but I still watched it almost every year as a kid. When competing against Rudolph and Charlie Brown, the bar is set pretty high…

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  3. The older I get, the more I can appreciate the UPA “Frosty.” I grew up with it, of course, but it wasn’t until much later I could appreciate the harmony and the jazziness of it.

    The Rankin-Bass “Frosty” was great, too, not just for Durante but Jackie Vernon as Frosty with a Brooklyn accent (“Happy Boithday!”) and the always hilarious Billy De Wolfe as the down-on-his-luck magician. And, if that’s not enough, the vocal talents of Paul Frees and June Foray.

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    1. I want to check out the UPA more. I haven’t seen it all the way through. The reason the Rankin-Bass clicked is because I grew up with that one.

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      1. Definitely watch the whole cartoon. I think it’s only about 3 minutes long. The animation is really primitive, but the quartet singing the song does some amazing harmony, almost a distant ancestor of The Manhattan Transfer. I sometimes wonder if Tim Hauser heard it when he was a kid and said “yeah, I wanna do that…”

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      2. Oh I’ve seen that… for some dumb reason I thought it was a longer version and this was just a part of it.
        I do like the style they sing it in a lot…you are right..I do see that.

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  4. We are the same for favorites, breaks my heart that kids nowadays don’t see these unless parents like me show them to them. Hard to find them on tv anymore. Little Drummer Boy, Nestor the Long Eared Donkey, Frosty’s Winter Wonderland, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I know. A Charlie Brown Christmas is officially off the major networks. It’s heartbreaking to me.
      We so looked forward to these when we were growing up.

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