Frosty the Snowman (TV program)

Frosty the Snowman (TV program)

"Frosty the Snowman" is a thirty-minute animated television special based on the popular song of the same title. The program, which first aired on December 7, 1969 on CBS (where it has aired since year one), was produced for television by Rankin/Bass and featured the voices of comedians Jimmy Durante as narrator and Jackie Vernon as the title character. This special marked the first use of traditional cel animation for Rankin/Bass. Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass wanted to give the show and its characters the look of a Christmas card, so Paul Coker, Jr., a greeting card artist who would later be known for his work in MAD Magazine, was hired to do the animation. The actual animation work was done in Japan, by Osamu Tezuka's studio, Mushi Production. Rankin/Bass veteran writer Romeo Muller adapted and expanded the story for television as he had done with "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" in 1964.


A young girl named Karen (credited to June Foray, but actually voiced by an unknown) brings a snowman (voiced by Jackie Vernon) to life with a top hat discarded by inept magician Professor Hinkle (voiced by Billy De Wolfe). The snowman's first words after coming to life are "Happy Birthday!" Karen's friends suggest names for their new friend including Oatmeal and Christopher Columbus, but Karen decides to call him "Frosty". When Hinkle learns of the magic power his hat actually possesses, he demands that Karen and Frosty return it immediately.

Frosty and the children elude Hinkle long enough to have some fun in town, including the confrontation with the traffic cop mentioned in the lyrics, but Frosty soon senses the temperature is rising and worries about melting.

With Hinkle in hot pursuit, Karen and Frosty flee together to the North Pole to get Frosty to a place where he will not melt. Helping them in their journey is Hocus Pocus, the professor's rabbit. When they cannot afford a train ticket, the friends stow away aboard a refrigerated train car. Unbeknownst to them, Hinkle has also hitched a ride on the same train. Later Frosty, Hocus, and Karen jump off the train, leaving Hinkle behind once again.

Fearing that Karen cannot survive the cold weather, Frosty asks Hocus Pocus who might be able to help them. Hocus suggests (by pantomiming) the President of the United States and the United States Marines, before suggesting Santa Claus. Frosty agrees, and promptly takes credit for the idea himself. The forest animals build a campfire to keep Karen warm until they can locate Santa Claus, but Hinkle again arrives and blows out the fire. Frosty and Karen are again forced to flee, this time with Karen riding on Frosty's back as he slid head-first down a hill. At the bottom of the slope, Karen and Frosty discover a greenhouse filled with poinsettias. Against Karen's advice Frosty steps inside the warm greenhouse, suggesting that he could afford to lose a little weight anyway, but Hinkle again catches up to Frosty and locks him and Karen in the greenhouse.

Hocus brings Santa Claus (voiced by Paul Frees) to the greenhouse only to find Karen in tears and Frosty melted on the floor. Santa explains to Karen that Frosty is made from Christmas snow, and that he can never completely melt away. With a gust of cold wind through the open greenhouse door, Frosty is brought back to life and again exclaims "Happy Birthday!" Hinkle again arrives on the scene and demands the return of his hat. He relents only when threatened with being removed from Santa's Christmas list for the rest of his life. Santa states that if Hinkle is truly repentant for his mean attitude and harming Frosty, that he may find a gift in his stocking on Christmas morning, which makes Hinkle run home to write repeatedly his apologies. Santa returns Karen home and Frosty exclaims as he rides off in Santa's sleigh, "I'll be back on Christmas Day!"

The credits show all the characters marching through the town square with Frosty in the lead, singing the "Frosty the Snowman" song. Among them is a reformed Professor Hinkle, who is proudly wearing his new top hat.

From 1969 to 2005, Frosty wore a yellow scarf with orange squares on it in this special until the 2005 restoration of the original 1969 film.

Television rights

In the United States, CBS continues to hold the telecast rights to the original program (under license from the current copyright holder, Great Britain's Entertainment Rights' Classic Media division, the owner of much of the pre-1974 Rankin/Bass library) and still airs it yearly with the CBS-produced sequel "Frosty Returns" (see below). The CBC holds broadcast rights in Canada. The special also airs on ABC Family in some territories. However, CBS does not own the telecast rights to the 1976 sequel "Frosty's Winter Wonderland"; that film currently airs on ABC Family.


Frosty returned in several sequels:

* "Frosty's Winter Wonderland" - In this 1976 sequel by Rankin-Bass, also written by Romeo Muller, narration is provided by Andy Griffith. Jackie Vernon reprised his role as the voice of Frosty.

* "Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July" - This 1979 Rankin-Bass sequel was filmed in stop-motion animation in the style of their classic 1964 Christmas special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Where Rudolph was 60 minutes, and all of the other Frosty specials were just 30 minutes, this ambitious special was feature length, at 97 minutes long. Jackie Vernon once again played the role of Frosty.

* "Frosty Returns" - This 1992 half-hour special is not truly a sequel to the 1969 classic, as it was produced not by Rankin-Bass but by CBS. The characters, setting, and voices are different and the animation (by veteran "Peanuts" director Bill Meléndez) is vastly different. Despite this, it is shown with the original special every year on CBS and was even included as a bonus on its DVD release. John Goodman provides the voice of Frosty in this special, as Jackie Vernon, the original voice of Frosty, died in 1987.

* "The Legend of Frosty the Snowman" - In this 2005 made for video, Frosty returns yet again - this time in an animated film produced by Classic Media, the current rights holder for the original Rankin/Bass special, and the remainder of their pre-1974 library. This movie has also been bundled with the original 1969 Rankin/Bass special and the CBS sequel. It has also aired on Cartoon Network. The appearance of Frosty resembles much more the Rankin-Bass character design from their original animation, and another character, Professor Hinkel, returns in a cameo, shown in a picture during this special. (This may be an attempt to tie the two shows together, or perhaps an in-joke for those who have seen the original classic.)

External links

* " [ Frosty the Snowman] " at
*imdb title|0064349|Frosty the Snowman

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