Frosty the Snowman (TV program)
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|Frosty the Snowman|
2007 DVD cover
|Directed by||Jules Bass
Arthur Rankin, Jr.
|Produced by||Jules Bass
Arthur Rankin Jr.
|Written by||Romeo Muller|
Billy De Wolfe
|Music by||Maury Laws|
|Release date||December 7, 1969|
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Followed by||Frosty's Winter Wonderland|
Frosty the Snowman is an American animated christmas family television special based on the popular song of the same title. The program, which first aired on December 7, 1969 on CBS, was produced for television by Rankin/Bass and featured the voices of comedians Jimmy Durante as narrator (Durante's final performance in a film) and Jackie Vernon as the titular character.
This special marked the first use of traditional cel animation (as opposed to stop-motion animation) for Rankin/Bass in a Christmas special. Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass wanted to give the show and its characters the look of a Christmas card, so Paul Coker, Jr., a greeting card and Mad magazine artist, was hired to do the character and background drawings. The animation was produced by Mushi Production in Japan, with then-Mushi staffer Osamu Dezaki among the animation staff.
One day in a school shortly before Christmas, an inept magician named Professor Hinkle is hired to perform for the children but fails to entertain them, so instead the children go outside and build a snowman, whom they name Frosty (suggested names included Christopher Columbus and Oatmeal). However, Hinkle's rabbit Hocus Pocus, escapes from the building while wearing his hat, which the children decide to put on top of Frosty's head. To their surprise, the magic of the hat causes Frosty to come to life.
This delights the students, but after seeing that the hat is actually magic, the agitated Hinkle wants it back. The children refuse to turn it over to him, much to his annoyance. Antagonized by both the children's dislike of his magic performance and the fact that he may not receive his top hat back, Hinkle makes it his main priority to snatch the hat back from Frosty and tells the children that snowmen can't come to life when they grow up.
Hocus returns the hat to the children and use it to bring him to life again, The children are very happy with their new friend, but the temperature is rising and Frosty must leave for somewhere that is colder or else he will melt, to which Frosty explains that the only place he won't melt is the North Pole. They parade through town to the train station, shocking passersby with Frosty's anthropomorphism and even having a sudden stopping with the traffic cop. When they get to the station however, they are barred from boarding a train that will take him there due to their lack of money to buy tickets. So, Karen, Frosty, and Hocus sneak into the back of a train headed north. However, Hinkle sneaks aboard in hopes of stealing back his hat.
Needing to put as much distance between themselves and Hinkle as possible, Frosty and Karen continue on toward the North Pole, accompanied by Hocus, who has chosen to side with them rather than Hinkle. While Frosty is safe from melting, Karen is freezing and Hocus, seeing her predicament, gathers with a group of woodland creatures to build a fire for her. Frosty knows that it is best if Karen is brought home, and he and Hocus decide to enlist the help of Santa Claus to transport her there.
Hocus leaves to search for Santa, but Hinkle has since come to steal Frosty's hat, still proclaiming that it's his, he blows out Karen's fire and starts to pick a fight with Frosty who dodges and weaves. Being too slow for Hinkle, Frosty and Karen race down the hill to a small greenhouse, used to grow poinsettias. Frosty carries Karen inside where she will be warm and safe. However, Hinkle has followed them on foot all the way down the hill to the greenhouse and locks Frosty and Karen inside.
Hocus brings Santa to the greenhouse, only to find Karen crying over a melted Frosty. Santa explains to Karen that Frosty is made of Christmas snow and can never melt away. He then revives Frosty by opening the door and letting in a strong wintery wind. Afterwards, they take Karen on a sleigh ride back to her house and Santa brings Frosty back to the North Pole, keeping his promise that Frosty will return every year when another Christmas snowfall comes around.
As the end credits roll, Frosty leads the children, the narrator, and the rest of the town on another parade through town, and Hinkle is seen with a new top hat as the title song is sung. At the end of the parade, Frosty climbs in the back of Santa's sleigh and the final line is altered with Frosty saying, "I'll be back on Christmas Day!"
- Jackie Vernon as Frosty the Snowman
- Jimmy Durante as Himself (the Narrator).
- June Foray as Karen, schoolteacher, the other children
- Billy De Wolfe as Professor Hinkle
- Paul Frees as the Policeman, Santa Claus, and the Ticket Taker
Released by Rhino on October 1, 2002, the entire audio portion of Frosty the Snowman is available on CD along with the entire audio portion of Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, the Rankin-Bass special produced in 1970. This edition contains the full dialogue and song audio of both specials.
The tracklisting is as follows:
- Medley: Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town...Be Prepared To Pay 25:18
- Medley: Put One Foot In Front Of The Other...Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town (finale) 24:55
- Frosty The Snowman Theme & Narration (Beginning) 13:45
- Frosty The Snowman Theme & Narration (Conclusion) 11:48
- Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town (Soundtrack Version) 1:50
- Frosty The Snowman (Soundtrack Version) 1:04
In 1970, June Foray's voice was replaced by an uncredited voice (Foray's voice is still heard as Karen's singing voice, as well as other minor roles). The dubbing is also obvious on the DVD, as the audio quality of the replacement voice is better than that of the other sounds. The current restored version, which debuted in 2005, does not restore Foray's voice. At the time, rumors implied a controversy over copyrights and/or royalties as the reason behind the change, but the reason remains unknown. The original soundtrack with Foray's original voice track is available on CD.
In the United States, CBS continues to hold the telecast rights to the original program (under license from the current copyright holder, DreamWorks Classics and still airs it yearly with the CBS-produced sequel Frosty Returns (see below). The CBC holds broadcast rights in Canada. The special also airs on ABC Family in some territories. However, CBS does not own the telecast rights to the 1976 sequel Frosty's Winter Wonderland (that special currently airs on ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas each year), which prompted CBS to produce its own "sequel" of sorts, Frosty Returns (see below).
Frosty returned in several sequels:
- Frosty's Winter Wonderland - This 1976 sequel by Rankin-Bass was also written by Romeo Muller. Narration is provided by Andy Griffith. Jackie Vernon reprised his role as the voice of Frosty. Unlike the original, the sequel has much more to do with the season of winter than Christmas; in fact, Christmas is never mentioned.
- Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July - This 1979 Rankin-Bass sequel was filmed in stop-motion animation in the style of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Rudolph's Shiny New Year. While the Frosty specials were 30 minutes long, and the Rudolph specials were 60 minutes, this ambitious special was feature length, at 97 minutes long (120 minutes on television, including commercials). Vernon once again played the role of Frosty.
- Frosty Returns - This 1992 half-hour special is not truly a sequel to the 1969 classic, as it was produced not by Rankin-Bass but by CBS. The characters, setting, and voices are different and the animation (by Bill Melendez) is vastly different. Despite this, it is shown with the original special every year on CBS and was even included as a bonus on its DVD release. John Goodman provides the voice of Frosty in this special, as Jackie Vernon had died five years earlier, in 1987.
- The Legend of Frosty the Snowman - This 2005 straight-to-video film was produced by Classic Media, the current rights holder for the original Rankin/Bass special, and the remainder of their pre-1974 library. This movie has been bundled with the original 1969 Rankin/Bass special and the CBS sequel, and has also aired on Cartoon Network. The appearance of Frosty resembles much more the Rankin-Bass character design from their original animation, and Professor Hinkle returns in two cameo appearances - shown in a picture and flashback during the special. Frosty is voiced by Bill Fagerbakke.