10 Things You Might Not Know About HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! (TV Special) - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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10 Things You Might Not Know About HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! (TV Special)

Geek Dave puzzled and puzzled until his puzzler was sore...


1. Directed by Chuck Jones and first broadcast on December 18th 1966, How The Grinch Stole Christmas! is a rather faithful adaptation of Dr. Seuss' 1957 children's story. It has become something of a holiday classic and the annual repeats still draw huge audience (the 2010 broadcast on ABC won its time slot!).

However, it very nearly didn't get made as Dr. Seuss, whose real name is Ted Geisel, had long rejected any more offers to adapt any of his work for film or television as his previous experience had been rather unpleasant.

After his initial success with Gerald McBoing-Boing (which won an Oscar in 1950 for best animated short), Geisel submitted a live-action storyline for The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, which was snapped up by Columbia and released in 1953.


The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. is a musical fantasy film about a boy who dreams himself into a fantasy world ruled by a diabolical piano teacher enslaving children to practice piano forever. Geisel wrote the story, screenplay and lyrics.

At the Hollywood premiere, patrons walked out after 15 minutes, and box-office receipts were disappointing. At the time it was released, the film received negative reviews from critics. The New York Timesr called the film...
"...strange and confused... not only abstruse in its symbols and in its vast elaboration of reveries but also dismally lacking in the humor or the enchantment such an item should contain."
Geisel regarded the film as a "debaculous fiasco" and omitted mention of it in his official biography. He even stated after the film,
"Hollywood is not suited for me and I am not suited for it".
2. Legendary American animated filmmaker and cartoonist Charles Martin "Chuck" Jones is, of course, best known for his work with Warner Bros. Cartoons on the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts. He wrote, produced, and/or directed many classic animated cartoon shorts starring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, Pepé Le Pew, Porky Pig, and a slew of other Warner characters. After his career at Warner Bros. ended in 1962, Jones started Sib Tower 12 Productions, and began producing cartoons for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, including a new series of Tom and Jerry shorts. He was also very keen on adapting one of Geisel's books into a television special.

If it hadn't of been for Chuck Jones, Geisel would've no doubt declined yet another request, but the pair had worked together on the Private Snafu training cartoons at Warner Bros. during World War II, so when Jones approached him in early 1966 about adapting How the Grinch Stole Christmas! in time for that year's holiday season, Giesel agreed and even supplied the screenplay.


3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! cost $315,000 to produce (around $2,465,000 in 2019).

4. The entirety of the book's text, with some slight embellishment, was adapted into the special; to pad the special to a full 30-minute time slot, songs and animated sequences without words (the longest being an extended scene in which the Grinch and Max comically descend into Whoville) were added.

5. As all the major networks had flipped to full color schedules by 1966, the special was likewise produced in color, establishing the Grinch's color (white in the two-tone illustrations of the original book) as green, a convention used in later television specials featuring the character as well as the 2000 and 2018 film adaptations.

6. Though all of the production and character designs were based upon original artwork from the book, Giesel later stated that he thought the Grinch more closely resembled Chuck Jones rather than his original Grinch drawings.


7. Geisel initially disputed casting Boris Karloff as the narrator and voice of the Grinch as he feared Karloff would make the character too scary.

Karloff is, of course, best known for his work in horror films, but Chuck Jones had actually discovered him through a recording of Karloff reading Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book stories, and felt he was perfect for the part.

8. On December 18th 1966, the day of the premiere, MGM also released the soundtrack LP. Thanks to this release, Boris Karloff would go on to receive a Grammy Award in the Spoken Word category - this was the only major performing award of his career!


9. The song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" is often credited to Karloff, but actually it was performed by Thurl Ravenscroft (you'll likely know him as the booming voice behind Kellogg's Frosted Flakes/Frosties animated spokesman Tony the Tiger, a role he performed for more than five decades).

Ravenscroft was not credited in the closing credits of the 1966 television special. After becoming aware of this oversight, Seuss himself called Ravenscroft and apologized profusely and later wrote letters to columnists nationwide telling them that it was Ravenscroft who provided vocals for the musical number.

10. I'm sure everyone is aware of the 2001 live-action Jim Carrey film and the 2018 animated cinematic version, but before those were even considered How the Grinch Stole Christmas! spawned two lessor known television sequels.

A television special called Halloween Is Grinch Night, aired on ABC in 1977. This special involved a tale of the Grinch coming down to scare the Whos every Halloween. Though less successful than the original, it was awarded an Emmy. A later cartoon, The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat (alternatively titled The Cat in the Hat Gets Grinched), aired on ABC in 1982.

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