The Year Without a Santa Claus

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The Year Without a Santa Claus
Based onThe Year Without A Santa Claus
by Phyllis McGinley
Written byWilliam Keenan
Directed byJules Bass
Arthur Rankin, Jr.
Voices ofShirley Booth
Mickey Rooney
Dick Shawn
George S. Irving
Bob McFadden
Bradley Bolke
Rhoda Mann
Narrated byShirley Booth
Composer(s)Maury Laws
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Producer(s)Jules Bass
Arthur Rankin, Jr.
CinematographyAkikazu Kono
Ichiro Komuro
Running time51 mins
Production company(s)Rankin/Bass Productions
Original networkABC
Original release
  • December 10, 1974 (1974-12-10)
Preceded bySanta Claus Is Comin' to Town
Followed byRudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July

The Year Without a Santa Claus is a 1974 Christmas stop motion animated television special produced by Rankin/Bass Productions. The story is based on Phyllis McGinley's 1956 book of the same name. It was originally broadcast on December 10, 1974 on ABC.

The film was Shirley Booth's final acting credit as she retired from acting after its completion. The film took a total of about 2 months to edit and film.


Santa Claus wakes up with a cold sometime before Christmas. His doctor, who thinks nobody cares about him anymore, advises him to make some changes to his routine, so Santa decides to take a holiday instead of delivering gifts. Mrs. Claus unsuccessfully tries to convince him otherwise, so she enlists two elves named Jingle and Jangle to find proof that people still believe in Santa. Jingle and Jangle set out with Santa's youngest reindeer, Vixen, but are shot down by crossfire between the conflicting Miser Brothers: Snow Miser, who controls the world's cold weather, and Heat Miser, who controls warm weather.

Jingle, Jangle, and Vixen come upon Southtown, a small town in the southern United States. They try to ask around, but they find the populace, including a young boy named Iggy, are skeptical of Santa's existence. To make matters worse, Vixen is ticketed by a policeman and later sent to the dog pound after Jingle and Jangle disguise her as an "instant Rover." The policeman refers them to the town's mayor, who laughs at their story but agrees to free Vixen if they can prove they are elves by making it snow in Southtown on Christmas.

Jingle and Jangle call Mrs. Claus to pick them up. As she leaves, Santa discovers Vixen is missing and travels to Southtown himself to retrieve her, disguised as a civilian named "Claus." While there, he meets Iggy and his family. Iggy asks "Claus" if he believes in Santa, and he replies that he believes "like I believe in love." Iggy's father reveals that Santa personally visited him one Christmas, and he still believes. When "Claus" leaves with Vixen, Iggy realizes who "Claus" really is, and resolves to help Jingle, Jangle, and Vixen.

Iggy joins Mrs. Claus when she arrives to pick up Jingle and Jangle, and together they visit the Miser Brothers. They ask Snow Miser to send snow to Southtown for a day but he cannot, as it is part of Heat Miser's territory. They ask Heat Miser, but he will only comply if Snow Miser gives him the North Pole for a day in exchange. The Miser Brothers begin bickering, so Mrs. Claus asks their mother, Mother Nature, to help them. Mother Nature asks her sons to compromise, and they obey reluctantly.

As Christmas approaches, the world's children send their own presents to Santa, setting off international headlines. However, one girl misses Santa and writes him that she will have a "Blue Christmas." Santa, touched by the outpouring of generosity and appreciation, decides to make his journey after all. On Christmas Eve, he makes a public stop in Southtown during a snowfall. The next day, the children, including Iggy, are delighted to receive their presents.

As the special ends, Mrs. Claus narrates that somehow, "yearly, newly, faithfully and truly," Santa always comes. Santa is shown getting out of bed to prepare himself, his reindeer, and his gift-loaded sleigh, remarking he could never imagine "a year without a Santa Claus."


  • Shirley Booth as Mrs. Claus, the narrator
  • Mickey Rooney as Santa Claus
  • Dick Shawn as Snow Miser
  • George S. Irving as Heat Miser
  • Bob McFadden as Jingle Bells, Doctor
  • Bradley Bolke as Jangle Bells, Police Officer
  • Rhoda Mann as Mother Nature, Mrs. Thistlewhite
  • Ron Marshall as Mr. Thistlewhite, Mayor of Southtown
  • Colin Duffy as Ignatius "Iggy" Thistlewhite
  • Christine Winter as the Blue Christmas Girl
  • The Wee Winter Singers as the Children Choir


  1. "Sleigh Ride" (instrumental)
  2. "The Year Without a Santa Claus"
  3. "I Could Be Santa Claus"
  4. "I Believe in Santa Claus"
  5. "It's Gonna Snow Right Here in Dixie"
  6. "The Snow Miser Song"
  7. "The Heat Miser Song"
  8. "Blue Christmas"
  9. "Here Comes Santa Claus"
  10. "The Year Without a Santa Claus (reprise)"

Television rights[edit]

The special premiered in 1974 on ABC, and aired annually on Freeform during its 25 Days of Christmas programming block until 2017. As of 2018, AMC: American Movie Classics currently airs the special uncut.[1] Warner Bros. Entertainment (thru its classic animation division and its family film and children’s entertainment label) is the show's current distributor through their ownership of the post-1974 Rankin/Bass Productions library.

Home media[edit]

The special was first released on VHS by Vestron Video on September 5, 1991 as part of their Christmas Classics Series, which is distributed by Family Home Entertainment. Warner Home Video released the special on VHS on September 2, 1992, and re-released it on VHS on September 28, 1999. The special was then released on DVD on October 31, 2000, and re-released on the Deluxe Edition DVD on October 2, 2007. Warner Home Video released the special on Blu-ray on October 5, 2010, making it the first Rankin/Bass production to be released on that format.

DVD details[edit]

  • Release date: October 31, 2000 (Original DVD), October 2, 2007 (Deluxe Edition DVD), October 5, 2010 (Blu-ray)
  • Full Screen
  • Region: 1
  • Aspect Ratios: 1.33:1
  • Audio tracks: English
  • Special Features:

Live-action remake[edit]

A live-action remake of The Year Without a Santa Claus premiered on NBC on December 11, 2006, and was released on DVD the following day.[2] It follows largely the same plot as the original special.


A sequel, titled A Miser Brothers' Christmas, was produced in 2008 by Cuppa Coffee Studios, and also used stop-motion animation. Mickey Rooney, age 88, reprised his role as Santa Claus, and George S. Irving, age 86, reprised his role as Heat Miser. Juan Chioran and Catherine Disher replaced Dick Shawn and Shirley Booth as Snow Miser and Mrs. Claus, respectively, Shawn and Booth having died prior to the film's production.

See also[edit]


  2. ^ The Year Without a Santa Claus starring John Goodman, Chris Kattan, Ethan Suplee, Eddie Griffin, Carol Kane from Warner Home Video on DVD – Widescreen, Original Aspect Ratio – 1.78 Archived 2011-08-16 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]