There are some Christmas traditions that instantly restore all the childhood wonder of the season.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is one of those traditions.
Chuck Jones, the genius animator behind Warner Brothers cartoons, he directed What’s Opera Doc?, produced and directed the special. But Seuss (Who’s real name is Theodor Seuss Geisel) remained heavily involved in its creation adding two verse passages to the story and writing the lyrics for the 3 songs; Welcome Christmas, Trim Up the Tree, and You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch. Jones and Geisel had been friends since 1943 when they first worked together on animation for U.S. Army training films made by Warner Brothers.
It was Jones who suggested that they make the Grinch green. Like everything in the original book, he was drawn simply black and white with occasional splotches of red. Jones said that the green color was inspired by several ugly rental cars he had driven. Although Max the dog was minor in the book, Jones made him a major character in the feature, in part because “he represented the audience, including me…. He was the one you wanted to rescue.”
The music was composed by Albert Hague, and Boris Karloff, the original movie Frankenstein, was the voice for both the narrator and the Grinch himself. It was an uncredited Thurl Ravenscroft who sang You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch. Thurl was an accomplished singer and voice over artist, voicing characters in over a dozen Disney movies and even a handful of rides at the Disney theme parks. The Haunted Mansion, The Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Tiki Room……just to name a few.
At the time, Variety magazine said it was the most expensive animation ever made for TV, but its immediate and continuing success more than justified the cost.
Today, almost 50 years after its debut, the 26 minute cartoon is still on the Internet Movie Database’s list of the top 250 films.
We couldn’t imagine a holiday season without it.