Most of us had favorite Christmas specials we would watch as kids. Mine was Rudolph, A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Grinch, and this one…Frosty The Snowman. These four would get me primed and ready for Christmas…like I needed anything else.
“Frosty the Snowman,” debuted in 1969. It was by Rankin/Bass Productions, the same company that produced many holiday specials.
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.