Three for Christmas: Chicago classics

I debated making today’s Two for Tuesday about Burl Ives, but then I thought “nah, share the Christmas videos.”

I grew up in Chicago (which I’m sure everyone knew) at a time when locally-produced children’s television was at its peak. One of the key programs of the day was “Garfield Goose and Friends,” on WGN, starring Frazier Thomas and featuring several puppets, paricularly Garfield, a goose who thought he was the King of the United States.

The cast of "Garfield Goose and Friends": Romberg Rabbit, Beauregard Burnside III, Garfield Goose, Mackintosh Mouse, Frazier Thomas, and Christmas Goose. (Image courtesy Wikipedia)
The cast of “Garfield Goose and Friends”: Romberg Rabbit, Beauregard Burnside III, Garfield Goose, Mackintosh Mouse, Frazier Thomas, and Christmas Goose. (Image courtesy Wikipedia, from a postcard that WGN-TV sent in response to letters from viewers)

The day after Thanksgiving, in the days when only the employees of department stores called it “Black Friday,” WGN would start playing one of today’s videos every day until Christmas on Gar’s show, typically in the order shown here. The first, “Hardrock, Coco, and Joe – The Three Little Dwarfs,” is the story of Santa’s three main helpers: Hardrock, who drove the sleigh; Coco, who navigated; and Joe, whom the song tells us Santa had really no use for, “but takes him ’cause he loves him so.” The second, “Suzy Snowflake,” is the whimsical story of a snowflake who brings hapiness whenver she comes to town. Years later, I realize that some of the lyrics have an unintended double meaning. These were filmed using stop-motion animation by illustrator Wah Ming Chang for a company called Centaur Productions around 1953. The third, “Frosty The Snowman,” was cartoon produced in 1954 by United Productions of America (UPA), creators of such cartoons as “Gerald McBoing-Boing,” “Dick Tracy,” and “Mr. Magoo.” No one knows who the quartet who sang this was, but I really wonder if this cartoon inspired The Manhattan Transfer. (On a more personal and somewhat bittersweet note, this was the cartoon shown on “Garfield Goose” the day my brothers and I saw our father for the last time, in 1966.)

WGN created a show several years ago called “Bozo, Gar, and Ray: WGN-TV Classics” which includes these cartoons as well as scenes from some of their more memorable kids’ shows of the Sixties, and they show it on WGN America on Christmas at noon Central Time (which, as you remember, is Sierra time). If you get WGN America on your cable or satellite TV and it’s not too late, it’s worth a watch.

Merry Christmas!

5 thoughts on “Three for Christmas: Chicago classics

    1. It was one of the things we looked forward to every Christmas season. Evidently Frazier Thomas had been on another station in the Chicago area and brought those to WGN from there. To me, it isn’t Christmas until I’ve seen them.

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  1. Hi John. Wow. That guy is dressed like Herman Goering. I’m sure he’s probably a nicer person than Herman was. The choice of jacket color indicates that he or the producer were aware of Herman’s taste in uniforms.

    happy New Year to you and to all your readers

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    1. Frazier Thomas was from Cincinnati, so that might explain a Teutonic bent in his dress, but to us he was “Fat, Friendly Frazier.” I think he was looking for something that showed up well in black and white, because his show started before the advent of color TVs and broadcasts. When we were watching his show, we still had a black and white set, as did a lot of people in Chicago.

      Happy New Year to you, Holmes and your readers!

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