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
Narrated byShirley Booth
ComposerMaury Laws
Country of originUnited States
ProducersJules Bass
Arthur Rankin, Jr.
CinematographyAkikazu Kono
Ichiro Komuro
Running time51 mins
Production companyRankin/Bass Productions
DistributorWarner Bros. Television Distribution
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 is told and sung by Shirley Booth and starring Mickey Rooney, Dick Shawn, and George S. Irving.[1] It was originally broadcast on December 10, 1974, on ABC.[2]

The film was Shirley Booth's final acting credit as she retired from acting after its completion.


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 its warm weather.

Jingle, Jangle, and Vixen come upon Southtown, a small town in the southern United States. They ask a group of children, including a boy named Iggy, if they believe in Santa, but they are skeptical. To make matters worse, Vixen is ticketed by a police officer and later sent to the local dog pound by Animal Control after Jingle and Jangle disguise her as an "instant Rover". The police officer 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 while disguised as a civilian named "Claus". While there, he meets Iggy and his family. Iggy asks him 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 to retrieve Vixen, Iggy realizes his true identity and resolves to help Jingle and Jangle.

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; he is agreeable but says he cannot as it is part of Heat Miser's territory. They then ask Heat Miser, who says he will only comply if Snow Miser gives him the North Pole for a day in exchange. The brothers begin bickering again. This causes Mrs. Claus to go over their heads as the brothers start to blame each other for sending Mrs. Claus to their mother. Mrs. Claus goes to see their mother named Mother Nature who convinces her sons to compromise.

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". Touched by the outpouring of generosity and appreciation, Santa 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".

Voice cast[edit]

  • Shirley Booth as Mrs. Claus
  • Mickey Rooney as Santa Claus
  • Dick Shawn as Snow Miser
  • George S. Irving as Heat Miser
  • Bob McFadden as Jingle Bells, Elf 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
  • Noelle Magargle 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. "Sleigh Ride" (instrumental)
  10. "Here Comes Santa Claus"
  11. "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 as part of the Best Christmas Ever block.[3] Warner Bros. Entertainment currently distributes the special through their ownership of the post-1974 Rankin/Bass Productions library.

Home video[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), January 17, 2004 (30th Anniversary Edition 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. The remake stars John Goodman as Santa Claus, Michael McKean as the Snow Miser, and Harvey Fierstein as the Heat Miser.[4] It follows largely the same plot as the original special.


A sequel, titled A Miser Brothers' Christmas, was produced in 2008 by Warner Bros. Animation and 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.

Gay culture[edit]

The Miser Brothers have often been read as gay.[5][6][7]

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. 348–349. ISBN 9781476672939.
  2. ^ Woolery, George W. (1989). Animated TV Specials: The Complete Directory to the First Twenty-Five Years, 1962-1987. Scarecrow Press. pp. 461–463. ISBN 0-8108-2198-2. Retrieved March 27, 2020.
  4. ^ 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 August 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Reid, Joe (December 18, 2017). "The Gay Icons of Christmas Classics". Decider.
  6. ^ Vanderhooft, JoSelle (November 17, 2009). "They're Too Much!". Qsaltlake magazine.
  7. ^ "New shows". The Advocate. September 28, 2004.

External links[edit]