Jump to content

Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town (TV special)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town
Title page
Written byRomeo Muller
Directed by
Voices of
Narrated byFred Astaire
Music by
Country of origin
  • United States
  • Japan (Animagic)
Original languageEnglish
  • Arthur Rankin Jr.
  • Jules Bass
CinematographyKizo Nagashima
EditorIrwin Goldress
Running time51 mins
Production companyRankin/Bass Productions
Original release
ReleaseDecember 13, 1970 (1970-12-13)

Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town is a 1970 American stop motion Christmas television special produced by Rankin/Bass Productions in New York, New York. The film is narrated by Fred Astaire and stars the voices of Mickey Rooney, Keenan Wynn, Robie Lester, Joan Gardner and Paul Frees, as well as an assistant song performance by the Westminster Children's Choir. The film tells the story of how Santa Claus and several Claus-related Christmas traditions came to be. It is based on the hit Christmas song, "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town", which was written by J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie for Leo Feist, Inc. and introduced on radio by Eddie Cantor in 1934; and the story of Saint Nicholas.[1]

The special was created using Japanese stop motion animation called "Animagic", in which all the characters are made out of wood and plastic and animated via stop-motion photography. The special was originally telecast December 13, 1970, by ABC,[2] which continues to air the special every year, along with its sister network Freeform, as of 2022 (commemorating the special's 50th anniversary), although, at times, both networks have edited the special to make room for commercials.


After a newsreel prologue stating that children around the world are preparing for the arrival of Santa Claus, a postman named Special Delivery "S.D." Kluger is introduced when his snowmobile/mail truck breaks down. After that, he tells the story of Santa in response to several letters sent from children. The story begins with a baby named Claus arriving on the doorstep of Burgermeister Meisterburger, the ill-tempered mayor of the gloomy Sombertown. Meisterburger orders his minion, Grimsley, to take Claus to an orphanage, but on the way there, a gust of wind blows the baby away. A group of animals takes Claus to the Kringles, a family of elves. The Kringles rename him Kris and raise him as their own, teaching him the practice of making toys.

When Kris is old enough, he travels to Sombertown, accompanied by a lost penguin he names Topper. Meanwhile, Meisterburger trips on a toy duck, so he enacts a law prohibiting toys. Kris arrives in town and bestows toys on the children, even giving one to Miss Jessica, their schoolteacher. Meisterburger arrives and orders Kris arrested, but Kris flees into the woods with Topper. Kris and Topper are captured by the wicked Winter Warlock, but the Warlock befriends Kris after he is given a toy train. To prevent further toy deliveries, Meisterburger orders all doors and windows locked, but Kris enters by the chimneys and places toys in the children's stockings. Meisterburger sets a trap for Kris, while his soldiers capture Winter and the Kringles.

Jessica visits the prison and converses with Winter, who has no magic left, except for some corn that enables reindeer to fly. With the reindeer's help, Kris and his friends escape. Soon after, Kris grows a beard as a disguise and returns to his "Claus" name. He marries Jessica and travels to the North Pole to build a toy workshop. With the death of Meisterburger, the toy ban is nullified, and Kris is deemed a saintly figure, becoming Santa Claus. Due to the enormous demand for toys, Santa limits his trips to one night a year; that being Christmas Eve, the holiest night of the year, and the perfect time for giving. After finishing the story, S.D. Kluger remembers that he has to deliver the letters to Santa. He leaves in his now-mended truck with Topper, Winter and a parade of children, singing "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town".

Voice cast[edit]

An original advertisement for the special.
  • Fred Astaire as Special Delivery "S.D." Kluger
  • Mickey Rooney as Kris Kringle/Santa Claus
  • Keenan Wynn as Winter Warlock
  • Robie Lester as Miss Jessica/Mrs. Claus
  • Paul Frees as Burgermeister Meisterburger, Grimsley, Topper, animals (horse and seals), guards, doctor, Newsreel Announcer, Kringle Brothers (Dingle, Ringle, Tingle, Wingle, and Zingle), male townspeople, businessman, Scrooge-related man, tree monsters (Willy Willow and Peter Pine), and more
  • Joan Gardner as Tanta Kringle, grouchy store lady, female townspeople, and more
  • Dina Lynn, Greg Thomas, Gary White, and Andrea Sacino as the children (Greg Thomas also as Baby and Young Kris Kringle)


  1. "The First Toymakers to the King" – Tanta and the Kringles featuring the Mike Sammes Singers
  2. "No More Toymakers to the King" – Burgermeister Meisterburger and Grimsley
  3. "Be Prepared to Pay" a.k.a. "If You Sit On My Lap Today" – Kris and the Westminster Children's Choir
  4. "Put One Foot in Front of the Other" – Kris and Winter featuring The Mike Sammes Singers
  5. "My World Is Beginning Today" – Jessica
  6. "Wedding Song" a.k.a. "What Better Way to Tell You" – S. D. Kluger and The Mike Sammes Singers
  7. "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" – S. D. Kluger and the Westminster Children's Choir

Released by Rhino on October 1, 2002, the soundtrack for Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town is available, along with that of Frosty the Snowman, the Rankin/Bass special produced the previous year. This edition contains the full dialogue and all songs for both specials.

Editing by ABC, Viacom and Freeform[edit]

The special has been edited for content and length by ABC, Viacom and Freeform since its original airing. In 1986, ABC cut two songs from the special ("My World Is Beginning Today" and "What Better Way to Tell You"), as well as cutting two other songs in half.

When Viacom syndicated the special to local television stations in the 1980s and 1990s, only the songs (with the exception of "Put One Foot In Front Of The Other") were shortened for time, while "What Better Way To Tell You" was removed entirely.

Freeform has cut several scenes they believe may be traumatizing to younger viewers, such as Kris climbing and leaping to escape (which was cut to prevent children from trying to imitate the same stunt), Winter Warlock knowing Kris will return and telling him he will never escape, and the scene in which the Burgermeister torches the seized toys in front of the children of Sombertown.

In 2019, Freeform's print of the special included the 2012 Universal Pictures logo preceding the film, due to their 2016 purchase of DreamWorks Animation (the current owner of the pre-1974 Rankin/Bass library), and the scenes that were originally cut were added as well.

Home media[edit]

Beginning in 1989, the special has been released numerous times on VHS and DVD. The 2005 DVD release included a CD single of Mariah Carey performing the title song. The special is also available as part of a DVD box set with other Rankin/Bass Christmas titles, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, and Bill Melendez's Frosty Returns. In 2010, the special was released in the same box set on Blu-ray. In 2015, both the special and Frosty the Snowman were released on Blu-ray-DVD combo packs in the 45th Anniversary Collector's Edition. In 2022, the special was released on 4K Ultra HD as part of The Classic Christmas Specials Collection (with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman).


The film has an aggregated review score of 93% based on 14 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, with a critic consensus stating: "Arriving with light-hearted cheeriness and the best musical numbers, Santa Claus Is Comin To Town is a magical story told by charming wood-figure animation."[3]


A novelization of the film was published by Running Press in 2008 in an oversized children's hardback edition. The script was adapted by Sierra Harimann with watercolor illustrations based on the original show by Michael Koelsch.[4] There are some additional details in the book, although it is unknown if they are from the imagination of the author or were based on the original script. The Dismal Forest is at the foot of the Mountain of the Whispering Winds. The little girl and boy Kris meets when he arrives are named Annette and Andy. The Sombertown Dungeon was built like a fort, with a courtyard in the center, and it is there the reindeer land to rescue everyone.

Video game[edit]

Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town!
Developer(s)1st Playable Productions
Publisher(s)Red Wagon Games
Nintendo DS
  • NA: November 8, 2011
Mode(s)Single player, multiplayer

A video game based on the film was released November 8, 2011, for the Nintendo DS and Wii.[5][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Crump, William D. (2019). Happy Holidays—Animated! A Worldwide Encyclopedia of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year's Cartoons on Television and Film. McFarland & Co. pp. 264–265. ISBN 9781476672939.
  2. ^ Woolery, George W. (1989). Animated TV Specials: The Complete Directory to the First Twenty-Five Years, 1962-1987. Scarecrow Press. pp. 359–361. ISBN 0-8108-2198-2. Retrieved March 27, 2020.
  3. ^ "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town on Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  4. ^ Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town. Running Press Google Books. September 23, 2008. ISBN 9780762430215. Archived from the original on June 26, 2020. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  5. ^ "SX5E4Z - Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town!". www.gametdb.com.
  6. ^ "Wiiloveit.com: Santa Claus Is Coming to Town - DS Review". n4g.com.


  1. ^ Recurring characters include Rudolph (voiced by Billie Mae Richards), Santa Claus (voiced by Stan Francis), and Mrs. Claus (voiced by Peg Dixon) in this special. Various actors portray the other reindeer.
  2. ^ Recurring characters include Frosty the Snowman (voiced by Jackie Vernon), Santa (voiced by Paul Frees), and Professor Hinkle Tinkerton (voiced by Billy De Wolfe) in this special. Santa's reindeer also feature.
  3. ^ Recurring characters include Santa (voiced by Mickey Rooney), Mrs. Jessica Claus (voiced by Robie Lester), and S.D. Kluger (voiced by Fred Astaire) in this special. Rudolph and Santa's other reindeer also feature.
  4. ^ Recurring characters include the Easter Bunny (voiced by Casey Kasem), and Santa (voiced by Frees) in this special. Santa's reindeer also feature.
  5. ^ Recurring characters in this special include Santa (voiced by Allen Swift), alongside his featured reindeer.
  6. ^ Recurring characters include Santa (voiced by Rooney), Mrs. Claus (voiced by Shirley Booth), Snow Miser (voiced by Dick Shawn), Heat Miser (voiced by George S. Irving), and Mother Nature (voiced by Rhoda Mann) in this special. Rudolph and Santa's other reindeer also feature.
  7. ^ Recurring characters include Easter Bunny (voiced by Robert Morse and Burl Ives), and Santa (voiced by Frees) in this special. Santa's reindeer also feature.
  8. ^ Recurring characters include Frosty (voiced by Vernon), Mrs. Crystal Frosty (voiced by Shelley Winters), and Jack Frost (voiced by Frees) in this special.
  9. ^ Recurring characters include Rudolph (voiced by Richards) and Santa (voiced by Frees) in this special. Santa's other reindeer also feature.
  10. ^ Recurring characters include Easter Bunny (voiced by Skip Hinnant), and S.D. Kluger (voiced by Astaire) in this special.
  11. ^ Recurring characters in this special include Santa (voiced by Frees), alongside Rudolph and his other featured reindeer.
  12. ^ Recurring characters in this special include Santa Claus during a scene which compares the Ghost of Christmas Present to him (both characters were voiced by Frees).
  13. ^ The recurring character is Jack Frost (voiced by Robert Morse) in this special.
  14. ^ Recurring characters include Rudolph (voiced by Richards), Frosty (voiced by Vernon), Santa (voiced by Rooney), Mrs. Claus (voiced by Darlene Conley), Crystal (voiced by Winters), and Jack Frost (voiced by Frees) in this special. Santa's other reindeer also feature.
  15. ^ The recurring characters in the special include Santa (voiced by Swift), alongside his featured reindeer.
  16. ^ The recurring character is Frosty (voiced by John Goodman) in this special. Mother Nature is also referenced in the short.
  17. ^ Recurring characters include Rudolph (voiced by Kathleen Barr), Santa (voiced by Garry Chalk), and Mrs. Claus (also voiced by Barr) in this film. Santa's other reindeer, and various other characters from the 1964 original also feature.
  18. ^ Recurring characters include Frosty (voiced by Bill Fagerbakke), and Professor Tinkerton (voiced by Kath Soucie) in this special.
  19. ^ Recurring characters include Snow Miser (voiced by Juan Chioran), Heat Miser (voiced by Irving), Santa (voiced by Rooney), Mrs. Claus (voiced by Catherine Disher), and Mother Earth (voiced by Patricia Hamilton) in this special. Santa's reindeer also feature.

External links[edit]