My family has a lot of Christmas traditions that we partake in every single December. One of those traditions is watching How The Grinch Stole Christmas, which, in my opinion, is probably the best Dr. Seuss movie/story ever. I’ve been watching the original animated version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas since before I could remember, so I obviously love that one.
Each year, millions of Americans also welcome the holiday season by tuning into their favorite TV specials. For most people, this includes at least one viewing of the 1966 animated classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Adapted from Dr. Seuss’s equally famous children’s book by legendary animator Chuck Jones, How the Grinch Stole Christmas first aired more than 50 years ago, on December 18, 1966.
Here are a few facts about the TV special that will surely makes your heart grow three sizes this holiday season:
- In the book, the Grinch wasn’t green. It’s easy to forget, but the book is illustrated in black-and-white. The Grinch’s green coloration was Chuck Jones’ creation. “Chuck always said, ‘I’m not trying to add things to it, I’m trying to extend the original idea out,” The original Grinch was not green, he was black and white with red and pink splotches. The green coloring of the Grinch was inspired by none other than by a rental car. Hmm!
- Boris Karloff didn’t sing “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”
Horror-movie legend Boris Karloff voiced the Grinch and was the only voice actor listed in the end credits, so people assumed that he sang the Grinch’s theme song, but it was actually performed by Thurl Ravenscroft, a well-regarded voice actor who was also the voice of Tony the Tiger.
- The cartoon was exorbitantly expensive for animation at the time.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas cost around $300,000 to make, 10 times the price of the average half-hour of animation at the time. (A Charlie Brown Christmas, which came out a year earlier, cost $76k.) The cost was offset by a bank sponsorship, which is ironic considering the special’s anti-consumerist message.
- Seuss had a “GRINCH” vanity license plate. Theodor Geisel, who admitted the Grinch was inspired by his own disenchantment with the Christmas holiday at the time he wrote the story, drove a car with the license plate “GRINCH.” His widow Audrey kept the GRINCH plate alive after her husband’s death in 1991.
- At one point, the special received a “censored” edit. Over the years, How the Grinch Stole Christmas has been edited in order to shorten its running time (in order to allow for more commercials). However, one edit—which ran for several years—censored the line “You’re a rotter, Mr. Grinch” from the song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” Additionally, the shot in which the Grinch smiles creepily just before approaching the bed filled with young Whos was deemed inappropriate for certain networks and was removed.
- The special’s success led to both a prequel and a crossover special. Given the popularity of the Christmas special, two more Grinch tales were produced: Halloween is Grinch Night and The Grinch Grinches The Cat in the Hat. Airing on October 29, 1977, Halloween is Grinch Night tells the story of the Grinch making his way down to Whoville to scare all the Whos on Halloween. In The Grinch Grinches The Cat in the Hat, which aired on May 20, 1982, the Grinch finds himself wanting to renew his mean spirit by picking on the Cat in the Hat. Unlike the original, neither special was deemed a classic. But this is not to say they weren’t well-received; in fact, both went on to win Emmy Awards.
So many Trivium’s! It’s a fun change to research facts about Christmas traditions and memories!
What about you? Join the discussion about favorite traditions over the holidays.
Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.
As always, I am…a Who-ville Boomer Explorer.