Looking for some last minute Christmas gifts for the TV fan in your family? I offered several suggestions, mainly DVD box sets and books, in a story for The Canadian Press this week. You can read that entire story here.
Among the DVD sets I single out is Shout Factory’s Mr Magoo–The Television Collection (1960-1977). The nearsighted cartoon character–voiced by the late, great Jim Backus of Gilligan’s Island fame–was a big deal way back when I was a kid, even appearing in a memorable series of GE bulb ads.
I mentioned in the article that the one goodie missing from the Magoo box set was Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, which first aired in 1962 and which was the first animated-for-television Christmas special. Rudolph came flying along two Christmas’s later.
Basically a re-telling of the Dicken’s classic, Magoo’s Christmas is available separately on DVD and Blu-ray; you can order it here. Morey Amsterdam, Paul Frees and Jack Cassidy also lend voice to the special.
Magoo was one of the main stars of the UPA Studio. UPA emerged as the anti-Disney in the ’50s, featuring sinple line drawings and stark backgrounds. The limited animation style was well suited to the demands of television. Another UPA headliner, Gerald McBoing-Boing, “played” Tiny Tim in the Magoo special. If you know McBoing-Boing, you are likely a hard core ‘toon head, studying animation, or Magoo’s age.
Magoo’s Christmas was shown throughout the ’60s and ’70s, mainly on NBC, but is harder to find today. The original running length, back when fewer commercials were shown, was 53 minutes; today it must be chopped down to 44 to fit in modern hour-long timeslots.
You can read more about the history of the special here in this book by author Darrell Van Citters.
There are, of course, a ton of other TV-related Christmas gifts out there. You can find Scene It versions of everything from Seinfeld and The Simpsons. Even spotted a 50th Anniversary Password board game at a mall yesterday with pictures of host Allan Ludden and his wife Betty White on the box. The password is: “merchandising.”

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