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 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 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. Rankin/Bass veteran writer Romeo Muller adapted and expanded the story for television as he had done with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
One day in a school shortly before Christmas, a magician named Professor Hinkle is hired to perform for the pupils but fails to entertain them, so instead the children go outside and build a snowman, who they name Frosty. However, Professor Hinkle's rabbit Hocus Pocus, escapes from the building while wearing his owner's top 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 with a trademark exclamation: "Happy Birthday!"
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, Professor Hinkle makes it his main priority to snatch the hat back from Frosty. The children and their snowman gleefully parade through town, shocking passersby with Frosty's anthropomorphism. 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.
Karen, a little girl who is especially attached to Frosty, suggests that the group bring him to the North Pole, but they are barred from boarding a train that will take him there due to their lack of tickets. So, Karen and Frosty sneak into the back of a train delivering frozen goods, and off they go. However, Hinkle has also secretly managed to hitch a ride on the train as well in hopes of stealing back his hat; but soon, he accidentally falls off and is knocked cold.
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 Claus while Frosty decides to take Karen to a greenhouse for warmth, but Hinkle has since come to and wants the hat back. He blows out Karen's fire and starts to pick a fight with Frosty who dodges and weaves. Being too slow for Hinkle, Frosty sees no other choice but to put Karen on his back and do a belly flop down to the bottom of the hill where a greenhouse lies. Frosty carries Karen inside where she would be warm and safe. However, Hinkle has followed them on foot all the way down the hill to the greenhouse and he locks Frosty and Karen inside.
In the meantime, Hocus manages to bring Santa Claus back to the greenhouse in order to take Karen home. But when they enter, they discover to their horror Karen sobbing over a puddle of water that used to be Frosty, with Frosty's top hat lying nearby. However, Santa Claus revives Frosty by opening the door and letting in a strong wintery wind. Before Karen can put on Frosty's hat, Hinkle pops up and declares that he wants it back. Santa stands up to him and threatens to never deliver another present to Hinkle in all his life if the magician dares to harm Frosty in any way. He also tells him that he'll find a new hat in his stocking on Christmas morning, if he writes his apologies; this causes Hinkle to hurry home and start writing. Afterwards, Santa Claus takes Karen and Frosty on a sleigh ride back to her house. There Frosty and Karen bid each other goodbye and Santa brings Frosty back to the North Pole, keeping his promise that Frosty will be back again someday.
At the end of the program, Hinkle is seen with a new top hat as the title song is sung. Towards the end, the final line is altered with Frosty declaring, "I'll be back on Christmas Day!"
- Jackie Vernon as Frosty the Snowman
- June Foray as Karen (a schoolgirl), the school's teacher, and one of the boys
- Billy De Wolfe as Professor Hinkle
- Paul Frees as the Policeman, the Ticket man, and Santa Claus.
- Jimmy Durante as Himself (the Narrator),
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
Later edits 
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.
Television rights 
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.
- 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.
- Frosty the Snowman at CBS.com
- Holiday Central at CBS.com
- Frosty the Snowman at the Internet Movie Database