It's that Frosty time Again!
The tale..with Jimmy Durante, a magician, and a snowman, and a odd tale from Rankin/Bass
FROSTY THE SNOWMAN
First broadcast: Decemeber 7,1969
20 minutes by itself, plus commercials for TV airing, 30 minutes
A Rankin/Bass (Videocraft, Ltd.) Production
Produced and DIrected by ARTHUR RANKIN,JR. and JULES BASS
Written by ROMEO MULLER
Musical Direction by MAURY LAWS
Based on the 1951 song (pub.Hill/Range songs, BMI) of same title by JACK ROLLINS and STEVE NELSON
Design PAUL COKER, JR.
Continuity DON DUGA
Narrated and sung by JIMMY DURANTE
Professor Hinkle, the Magician/BILLY DeWOLFE
Karen (orig.1969 showing only)/other children,including other singing/Teacher,briefly/JUNE FORAY
Traffic Cop/Railroad Ticket Clerk/Santa Claus/PAUL FREES
Five years after producing "Rudolph", and in stop-motion, and after many other productions for TV and screen, (which we'll get around to).,
Rankin/Bass studio over in New York, produced one of the their other well known specials, and another of their many Christmas ones,
based on the 1951 song "Frosty the Snowman". This well known story of a snowman who came to life and fun with the kids,and the top was tweaked
- no, not just TWEAKED, HUGELY twisted - to fit a half-hour special (though why not an hour..still a half-hour works just fine) in tradition animation,
with Jimmy Durante narratiing and singing, as in fact he had originally in 1951, expanding the Traffic cop's role and adding, important, a snobby, nasty
magician who reforms at the end, his rabbit, and a named little girl.
And in this case, since 1966, with the cel animated "Wacky World of Mother Goose", they more and more used a real MAD-man..PAUL COKER,JR.
for the design. He also designed greeting cards, including Christmaz, for Hallmark (so are any animated Hallmark movies to be made, with his design?:))
Anyway, the story in this case opens with Jimmy Durante as himself, walking towards the camera (Iand us) and telling the story from the start
that opens with a few pan shots around town. He gets then to the school house where this takes place, in one of many classes, where the teacher
(JUNE FORAY, who'd started working there a few years ago), who introduces to the kids, just for fun, the new magacian, Professor Hinkle,voiced
by veteran radio, stage, film and TV "fey", nasal character actor with "Jan Brady"Eve Plumb of The Brady Bunch(who'd debuted in their own show
in its origianl incarnation that came TV season, 1966-69, while DeWolfe himself also was with fellow part-time voice, Larry Storch,in the "Love Boat"
flop, "The Queen and I":)..BILLY DeWOLFE, who infuses the character with a lot of hamminess and then pettiness. He drops some eggs (the old turns-into-
doves into a magic hat thing).the eggs are.."messy, messy, messy"(See than Jan Brady connection?:) He then picks up hat,unfazed, and summons up his
(un)faithful(?) rabbit "Hocus Pocus" who doesn't appear. "THIS old hat is ONLY GOOD FOR THE TRASH bit", he says, throwing it in there only for it to
pop right up, with his rabbit Hocus Pocus landing on his head. Recess is now called, so the kids run outside---OVER Prof.Hinkle..knocking him down, and make Frosty (JACKIE VERNON, the comic
whod did many talk and variety shows and TV/film acting.).
Hocus Pocus hops right outside to bring the hat to the snowman. One of the tykes deicdes on the name "Oatmeal", which sounds gross, so :Frosty" is chosen, and the
snowman comes to life, but Prof. Hinkle's now outside and tries a couple of con games to sneak the hat back, with the wind blowing the hat off and "killing" Frosty just in time.
The magician naturally only sees the now-"normal" Snowman, and denies its magical life but.."My hat has Magic"..After a few rounds he manages to successful snach that magic
hat, and say,"Silly, Silly, Silly" while wlaking off before the credits then start.
As post-credits start and actual story gets underway................The story then follows Frosty's knowledge of how even snowy days had be sunny, which can make him "Wish Washy",
and melting him and while Frosty has always wanted to shed a "few pounds, this is crazy", so starts their trek to the north pole. Hocus Pocus, now inside Hinkle's magic hat on his owner's head,
bumps off with it as the magician flirts(!) with the ladies before finding out(cut from the show,I believe, on screen.) The kids and snowman, and rabbit go to the street, and just like in the song,
march down the street to that traffic cop (PAUL FREES) , who one girl, Karen (JUNE FORAY for 1969 and some kid actress since 1970), who, of course, becomes the only human child here, tells,
that Frosty just came to life while the cop almost gives Frosty, whose own catch line's "Happy Birthday' every time he keeps coming to life, a ticket, to which the naturally, not-so-bright-Frosty replies
that he;'d love a "ticket to the north pole". The cop lets them go, commenting on how strange it is when snowmen can talk.."they can talk", then the famous "Cop-swallows- whistle bit". Meanwhile the kids
go to a ticket clerk who rivals the magician in nastiness (PAUL FREES,using his "Snuffy Smith" and "Mr.Limpet's buddy Crusty the crab" voice) offers the trio of Frosty, Hocus Pocus and Karen a ticket if
the have money, which they dont."NO MONEY...NO TICKET!!" yells the ticket clerk, himself as "busy,busy', as Hinkle, slamming the door!) but the resource Frosty and friends manage to sneak onto
a northbound train anyway, pretty far fetched esp,since Karen, as a little nice girl, is concerned,with all three of them on. Anywya, Prof.Hinkle has caught on (big plothole as mentioned since we don't see
him usually being aware of his hat's absence in many showings of this) and now has caught up to the train, sneaked under the rails and held on (like some insect holding onto a twig or branch) but is tehn knocked off.
"Oh, you TRICKED me., That's not FAIR". As Durante says, the magician lands on his rear end under a snowy tree while Frosty and friends decide it's much easier (true!) to go to a forest and built a fire, which Prof.Hinkle
then sees and puts out,then Frosty tobogganing (as Maury Laws borrows his own "Tivoli Bells" tune for veteran charater actor JACK GILFORD in "The Daydreamer" several years ago for Frosty "tobogganing" on his chest..
where all four of them get to a greenhouse in that famous scene. Frosty, Karen and Hocus Pocus get inside to warm HER up, but Frosty is a snowman, whom Hinkle now shuts in (the door being just before open), so
Hocus Pocus gets Santa over as he does, where now Frosty.....is melted. The saddest moment is now accompanied by Jimmy Durante singing Frosty real sad, and followed then by what may be one of the first villians
to have the NERVE to confront Santa! Santa points out..."no Christmas presents if you set foot in there" Prof.Hinkle."NOT EVEN a Dek of CARDS.." then admitting being an "evil magician" who needs "to make a living,too".
So Santa makes a deal. Prof.Hinkle agrees to follow it, and does. If the second-named an go along with writing, "I am very sorry for what I did to Frosty" a number of times, as he does as seen under end credits, he'll get a magic hat and he agrees, giddily and perkily bouncing off, telling the kids now proud of him(?) that he's Busy Busy, Busy..while Santa revives Frosty, as something that ONLY (being him) Santa would know or even handle, Christmas snow., and he comes back,. so everyone's happy.
Santa then takes Karen Home. The end before credits.
Continuingm, but then Professor HInkle stills has to catch that rabbit and his hat, and does, so Hinkle and his bunny are happy, but there's still that whistle blowing traffic cop...
well, he seems kind of happy m(all of this under credits as Durante for the final time sings). He also, blowing the same way, with the same voice, rejoined Frosty (with new characters and Andy Grifffith instead
as narrator) in the first sequel). One can ONLY guess HOW he gets it out!
Anyway, this special, first broadcast on December 7,1969, as mentioned, from the start, soon really hit big, and has been rerun ever since. In 2002? Clasic Media, which owned a lot of the studio product released it..
Today MANY people think that these characters were around back when the original song came out! Too bad that Billy De Wolfe couldn't return, and that Jackie Vernon as Frosty couldn't make it back earlier,like 1971 or 1972,
or in a new series (think how great THAT would be, a regular Christmas show every week or day!) the Billy as a now persnickety but ex-villianous Hinkle, buta show might have been too much.. In 1974 With Vernon, even the aforementioned
cameo by Frees as that cop with whistle (it's a cartoon, don't worry about his having a whistle in his throat or ever, it;'s just a cartoon,heh heh) and as a Elf,with Andy Griffith as mentioned, narrating, and Shelley winters appeared, and many more seemingly hwere that came from. DeWolfe having already died that year it was needless to say, impossible to bring his character back, and maybe they didn't want someone imitaitng him..and maybe Karen and Hocus Pocus were non longer needed..anyway personally the first, as usual is best. Vernon managed to make himself fuinally really immortal just like snowmen or Frosty, with his cheery Happy birthday, while DeWolfe's hammy, fussy diction, which got him on his good female friends Doris Day and Marlo Thomas's shows, was in a lot of old-time radio, "drag" stage (as advice-giving "Phoebe Mergatrod) and Film certainly worked a lot of miracles (the record and later cartoon < done with Thomas a spar tof her "Marlo Thomas/Friends" and with stage/film/TV actor Bobby MOrse,"Dudley Pippin: would be his swan soing.) Durante retired around this time,dying 1980. Frees died 1986. Vernon a year later. Fooray is still around, though the cartoons she's been on and in general in TV can be dealt with on other people's blogs. And no, even she doesn't know why some post-1969 Child actress got her role as Karen, just as bad as Janet Waldo's being replaced by Tiffany (not only Tiffany as a celeb but being younger) as far as pre-1970s female replacements goes..on the 1989 Jetsons movie, but that's not the classic (or Christmas film) that Frosty was and is...anyway, glad to see if anyone loved this review, as I enjoyed writing, it and was, if I DO say so, "Busy, Busy.Busy"..and Happy Biirthday,and of cours.e.Holiday. (And natural BIG christmas present..GET THAT DARN WHISTLE outta that cop, with out having to resort to the first (2002) "Jackass" movie's gross attempt..:))