Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘Frosty the Snowman’ First Aired on This Day in 1969

‘Frosty the Snowman’ First Aired on This Day in 1969

Christmas specials hold a dear place in people’s hearts and one of those, Frosty the Snowman, debuted on this day in 1969. Frosty the Snowman is an animated special produced by Rankin-Bass. The people behind the scenes, including the late Arthur Rankin Jr., had an idea about what they wanted the cartoon to look like.

“I wanted a Paul Coker Jr. Christmas card look. Mushi Studios captured the Coker look exactly,” he said in an interview. Rankin was co-producer and co-director of the special. Coker’s work was seen in Mad magazine and on numerous Hallmark cards.

When it came to getting Frosty’s looks just right, Coker said, “It was easy to do with the beautiful scripts that I was sent written by Romeo Muller.”

‘Frosty the Snowman’ Took A Team Effort

Making everything come together was truly a team effort. Mushi Production took care of the animation in Japan. Muller provided the story that could be followed. Then there’s the voice cast. When Frosty the Snowman premiered, it had the great fortune of having some wonderful entertainers on board.

Let’s start with Jimmy Durante, known as the “Old Shnozzola” for his rather large nose. Durante was a vaudevillian and nightclub star who was quick with a joke. He also could play the piano and intersperse jokes in a song. Durante’s voice is quite familiar and has provided a guiding hand in this cartoon for decades.

Jackie Vernon was a stand-up comedian who made appearances on television variety shows in the 1960s. Vernon provided Frosty’s voice in this cartoon as well as the sequel, Frosty’s Winter Wonderland. He also was fond of playing the clarinet in his act, too. Billy De Wolfe, who was seen on stage and TV shows, provided the voice of Professor Hinkle. June Foray and Paul Frees were veteran voiceover artists whose contributions helped round out this special.

ABC Wanted A Different Kind of Special

Frosty’s Winter Wonderland aired first on ABC in 1976 and was another Rankin/Bass cartoon. In this one, Andy Griffith provides the narration. Frosty gets married to Crystal (Shelley Winters) and Jack Frost (Frees) is Frosty’s best man. ABC requested something unique be done for that network. Therefore, some other characters from Frosty the Snowman did not appear in this special.

By 1976, Rankin and Jules Bass had a number of specials airing across different television networks. Yet people young and old alike still wait each Christmas season for Frosty the Snowman to come on TV.