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Art Carney Donned Santa’s Costume for Three Christmas TV Offerings

Art Carney Donned Santa’s Costume for Three Christmas TV Offerings

Art Carney, the master of mischief as Ed Norton on The Honeymooners, donned the Santa suit not once, not twice, but thrice! Talk about ho-ho-honeymooning with the big man in red! Most famously, the adored comedian and actor portrayed the role of Old Saint Nick in an episode of The Twilight Zone titled “The Night of the Meek.”

In this episode, Carney plays a disillusioned Santa Claus who gets dismissed on Christmas Eve. However, his fortunes change when he stumbles upon a mysterious bag that dispenses presents. Armed with newfound power, he sets out on a mission to fulfill his heartfelt wish: to bring the magic of Christmas to those in need.

Art Carney also portrayed Santa Claus in an Ed Sullivan holiday special and also appeared as the jolly gift-giver in a lesser-known TV film titled The Night They Saved Christmas.

Art Carney Once Pointed Out the Differences in His Santa Roles

During a 1984 interview with the Asbury Park Press via MeTV, the renowned actor shared insights into his portrayal of different Santas and the personal significance of the festive season for him and his family.

“I was the last kid on the block to believe in Santa Claus,” he told the outlet at the time. “The first time I played [Santa] was a good number of years ago. I did a department store Santa Claus for Rod Serling on The Twilight Zone.” 

While filming for The Night They Saved Christmas, Carney found himself in a hotel room fitting when he stumbled upon a rerun of the episode. This unexpected encounter prompted him to reflect on the stark contrast between the two roles.

“On The Twilight Zone, I played a derelict alcoholic, a very sad-looking Santa Claus,” Art Carney noted. “This character is warm and very human, the head of the household. He’s today’s man.”

In the television film, Santa’s village is threatened by an oil company looking to drill in two arctic locations. Santa grows concerned for his home’s safety when a blast occurs due to the oil company’s activities. To prevent a second blast, he seeks the assistance of a woman and her husband, who both work for the company. As Santa endeavors to protect his home, he unveils the secrets behind his gift-giving magic.

Art Carney loved playing Santa in the film. However, his favorite holiday was Christmas because of his wife. “I’ve got three kids and six grandchildren, and my wife really goes all out as far as the shopping goes,” Carney said. “She doesn’t forget anybody. It’s a big deal with her.”