January 2, 2014 posted by

Cartoons Of Christmas Past

Today: The last vestige of Christmas Cartoons before putting them away for the year.

Many years back, the landlord for the house we were renting stopped over just a week or so after the beginning of the year; her parting words after seeing our still lit tree were ‘The celebrating season is over!’. So, with that, since we’re just after the first of the year, here are some parting shots for the season. Maybe these will be a quick diversion from the things you’re doing while off from your regularly scheduled gig.

First, Toyland Premiere. I loved the few early color Lantz cartoons that were part of the Woody Woodpacker package as a kid, and sat through many hours of cartoons I didn’t like very much hoping they’d show this one. In a way it is very much responsible for me collecting films. I still hope that one day the seemingly edited out footage at the end will show up:

Christmas Daze. This cute little short was made for the Australian Broadcasting commission, with animation by the small Rowl Greenhalgh productions. Finding information about this small studio has been difficult, but the studio did produce commercials in Australia in the late 50’s through at least 1960. Greenhalgh also illustrated children’s books into the 70s. The infamous Krazy Toons seems to have bootlegged this one, but at least they left the original music at the beginning. Who knows if this is the original name of the film, but at least they didn’t call it Romeo Monk. My friend Jeff Missinne made a film transfer of this one for me back in 1990…and likely still has one of the few prints of this one…

Then there’s Frosty the Snowman, Suzy Snowflake, and Hardrock, Coco and Joe.

Frosty seems to be the first of the shorts made, from 1951, directed by John Hubely at UPA. These were really promotional shorts made by the then-small Hill and Range Music, who had recorded Gene Autry’s ‘Frosty’ in 1950;

They would soon become one of the largest music rights management companies in the world, largely due to their success with Elvis and country music song rights. They gave these shorts away to Television stations originally for a promised ‘plug’ of their records.

The two Wah Chang stop motion shorts produced for Hill and Range are always fun to see; The first here is Suzy Snowflake. The Snowman that appears in the film is the UPA design from Frosty – a neat sort-of connection…

Then there’s Hardrock and Coco and Joe. I always thought that the designs have a kinship to the Time for Beany puppets. Who would think this bit of mischief was created by the guy who would design the communicator for Star Trek (and with that, designing flip phones). Chang had worked at Disney earlier in his career as well.

Castle Films released these in 16mm for the home movie and rental market, making them a staple of home screenings as well as cartoon parades shown in schools from the 50’s into the 70’s.

I hope everyone is having a good holiday season!


  • In the Toyland Premiere cartoon, I believe the deleted moment was the chocolate cake hitting Laurel & Hardy, turning them into Amos & Andy.

    • There’s another seeming deletion a bit earlier.

      When moths consume Santa’s usual costume, the elves paint his long johns red and stick on cotton to create a substitute. When an elf prepares to paint the last exposed spot on the center of Santa’s behind, there’s a slight jump. Too violent? Or did Santa seem to enjoy it?

    • Truly a shame if they’ll lost to the ages.

  • Thanks for posting these seasonal treats, and especially for the history behind the three “music videos”. Letting TV stations play their music free of charge in exchange for the promise of a plug? I suspect most modern music executives would have an aneurysm at the very thought of doing so.

    • You can thank MTV for changing the playing field there, but I bet it all came crashing in the 70’s.

  • Same back at you. Looking forward to new Thunderbean product.

  • I’ve been doing some digging on Rowl Greenhalgh based on what I could find on the web and found a few more examples of his work.

    A survey/documentary of early Queensland talkies contains excerpts of his first short “Hop and Swing” (scroll down to Links to resources, it’s in Recording 7):
    He apparently sold 52 color cartoons to American TV:
    The National Film and Sound Archive in Australia reveals the original title as “Christmas Bells”:
    And finally, “Waltzing Matilda” seemingly from the same sing-a-long series:

    • And this is why the Internet works in our favor!

    • Did you know Rowl Greenhalgh is my poppa and I miss him so much he used to draw to me everyday, I have like 30 drawing of his .

  • WGN in Chicago ran those 3 shorts on shows like Ray Rayner’s morning show, Garfield Goose, and Bozo’s Circus. MBC (Museum of Broadcast Communications) has a DVD available (for a $29.97 donation) with cleaned up versions of the shorts, and as an added holiday bonus includes UPA’s Peter Cottontail:

    Here’s the MBC Youtube Channel with a link to Peter Cottontail:

    WGN Radio had a nice segment about the shorts’ 60th anniversary:

    • “Here’s the MBC Youtube Channel with a link to Peter Cottontail:”

      And because of that, I’ll have that tune running through my head endlessly until Easter! Damn you Hill & Range!

  • All hail KRAZYTOONS

  • “Hardrock, Coco and Joe” was precisely parodied on the short-lived “TV Funhouse” with a stop-motion spirit of Christmas depression.

    While I didn’t encounter “Hardrock” until stumbling over a fairly recent tribute to Chicago’s long-running “Bozo” show, I do recall kid show hosts trotting out odd, not-quite-regular shorts for the holidays.

    • ““Hardrock, Coco and Joe” was precisely parodied on the short-lived “TV Funhouse” with a stop-motion spirit of Christmas depression.”

      Let’s not forget that!

      “While I didn’t encounter “Hardrock” until stumbling over a fairly recent tribute to Chicago’s long-running “Bozo” show, I do recall kid show hosts trotting out odd, not-quite-regular shorts for the holidays.”

      It’s the least they could do I bet. I recall one station that aired one Christmas Eve, several of the King Features Trilogy cartoons themed to Christmas and perhaps “The Chipmunks Song” segment from The Alvin Show just so they had something to show when said programs never aired at all on said station.

  • Toyland Premiere was included on the first volume of the ‘Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection” DVD. I don’t have my copy handy, but I believe it was uncensored.

    • James, just to get it out there—the DVD version is censored.

  • Toyland Premier was always a favorite of mine. The prints of the Lantz Cartune Classics that are floating around are mostly re-titled reissue prints. Note that neither Walter Lantz or Carl Leammle are mentioned in the titles, only Universal. It’s my guess that the Cartune Classics were reissued during the the Lantz studio shutdown of 1940 as these were the only color cartoons that Universal had control over. I’d also guess the censoring of Toyland Premier happened at this time.

    • Wouldn’t surprise me if that was when it happened.

  • I find the ending to to Toyland Premeire so awkwardly funny, due to how edited it is. Santa blows the candles like the Big Bad Wolf from the 3 little pigs and then it cuts to him laughing like a madman. Also, call me ignorant, for all of the un-PC gags turning black by getting splattered on chocholate cake seems like the most creative but it’s funnier that the gag is cut out leaving akwardness. No wonder Myron Waldman thought Lantz was worse than his own Famous Studios in terms of how un-PC they were

  • I always thought the “city” in TOYLAND PREMIERE looked like Moscow, for some reason.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *