If you have watched any Christmas cartoons since the mid 1960’s or so, you’re likely familiar with the work of Rankin-Bass, though you may not know them by name. In 1964, their production house pioneered a new technology known they dubbed ‘Animagic’ in the creation of a timeless classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The combination of catchy, original music and the interesting animated style made the piece an instant classic with viewers, and it has remained so to this day.
They followed up a few years later with Frosty the Snowman, produced in 1969. Another animagic classic, this famous Christmas cartoon is famous for featuring Jimmy Durante as a narrator. 1970 brought us Santa Claus is Coming To Town, which in many ways is their best-produced work. Higher quality animation and top-notch voice overs from the like of Fred Astaire, Mickey Rooney, and Paul Frees make this Christmas cartoon a memorable one.
However, Rankin-Bass certainly doesn’t have a monopoly on classic Christmas cartoons. A Charlie Brown Christmas still managed to grab the #1 spot in most Christmas cartoon lists, and there are other holiday staples as well such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Christmas cartoons have a long and storied history, and have been a fixture of American culture for over fifty years. Watching them every holiday season with your family is a great tradition to carry on and enjoy that can build memories which last a lifetime.