Saturday, December 25, 2010

"Get out of bed....It's Christmas!"

Friday, December 24, 2010


This cool 3-D linticular HALLMARK card came in the mail from my pal Chris Wolfson! Also, got a wonderful package from Ruben Castillo at the New York STAPLES...many THANKS to both!!
RANKIN/BASS' contribution to this series was 1968's THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY! Beautiful 3-D photos shot right on the set of the special. Several years back, VIEW MASTER processed RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER to look 3-D and did a very nice job with it as well!
Ken Netzel sent me a few cool pics! He did the art in the above group! He found a RANKIN/BASS KNICKERBOCKER PINOCCHIO puppet and a LARRY HARMON BOZO below!

Christmas Eve!

"Warn the people, call the papers, I am much too tired for Christmas capers!"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

S & T PROVISIONS has become a holiday tradition for PIZZA set ups and beef sandwiches! This place has been here (Mt. Greenwood) since I was a little kid and still going strong!
Rachel found a BUMBLE shirt!


Chicago Firemen are in our prayers...
Get your RANKIN/BASS on the AM dial in Chicago from 4:30 to 5:00 pm at WLS 890 AM with Anna Davlantes and Dane Placko on the ROE & ROEPER show! You can also watch it on NBC-TV (2), second NBC station on the converter box dial.

From our Chicago Kid's TV Book project

Monday, December 20, 2010

Just 4 days left.....

from my good ol' buddy Jack Davis!
This is the CD....and we have it here!
It's a Marshmallow world in Oak Lawn! Josh is shoveling right now for the 2nd time...
Order now!

Holiday Central! Last minute gifts....


Email Wes at We still have books, T-Shirts, Paul Coker signed post cards, RARE DVDs and CDs, etc. etc. Check for your RANKIN/BASS Toy needs! STORE FRONT and MEDIA CENTER coming soon via Wes!

ROMEO MULLER: One of the greatest TV writers of all!

The Marvelous Mr. Muller, a/k/a "Mr. Christmas"

Copyright 1995 and 2010 by George Zadorozny

Many years ago now I discovered something strange and wonderful. As a devotee of animated children's films, naturally I have watched quite a lot of them over the years. Most were enjoyable but far from extraordinary. On those rare occasions when I did run across one that was good--really good, as in "hallelujah, shoot off fireworks, this one's great!"--a curious coincidence emerged. It turned out that nearly all of those splendid films had been written by one man, named Romeo Muller.

What films am I talking about? Most of them are Christmas or other holiday films, and the most famous of these is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the puppet-animation classic from 1964, with music and lyrics by Johnny Marks. (Don't confuse this with the uninspired 1940s version from the Max Fleischer studio, which otherwise did outstanding work on Betty Boop and the early Popeye cartoons.)

I remember watching the 1964 Rudolph as a child, delighted and enraptured by the story it told. Do you remember? Sam the Snowman as narrator (voiced and sung in the performance of a lifetime by Burl Ives); Rudolph the misfit and rejected reindeer; Rudolph's friend, Hermey the Elf, also a misfit because he doesn't like to make toys but wants to be a dentist; Yukon Cornelius, the prospector who befriends them both; the Abominable Snowmonster of the North (whom Yukon, in prospector slang, invariably calls a "bumble"); the Island of Misfit Toys, and the winged flying lion who rules so wisely over it; and many other characters and story threads. The presentation, interweaving, and resolution of all of these elements is positively Shakespearean in deftness, wit, poetic brevity and beauty of expression, depth, pathos, joy, moral instruction, and the sense that all ends as indeed it should. Grounded in a deep and sparkling love of all creation, these qualities characterize all of Romeo Muller's films.

So far as I've been able to determine, his other animated Christmas films are:

* Cricket on the Hearth (1967; co-author, Arthur Rankin, Jr.; adapting Dickens' story);

* The Little Drummer Boy (1968; voices of Greer Garson & José Ferrer);

* Frosty the Snowman (1969; narrated by Jimmy Durante);

* Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town (1970; narrated by Fred Astaire);

* Rudolph's Shiny New Year (1976; narrated by Red Skelton as Father Time);

* Frosty's Winter Wonderland (1976; narrated by Andy Griffith);

* Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977; narrated by Roger Miller);

* The Stingiest Man In Town (1978; a musical version of Dickens' Christmas Carol, narrated by Tom Bosley);

* The Little Rascals Christmas Special (1979; with two of the voices by original Rascals Stymie [Matthew Beard, as the neighborhood grocer] and Darla [Darla Hood, as "Mom"]);

* Jack Frost (1979; narrated by Buddy Hackett, and with a dazzling performance by Paul Frees--best known as the voice of Boris Badenov--as bad guy Kubla Kraus);

* Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July (1979; narrated by Mickey Rooney);

* Pinocchio's Christmas (1980);

* The Leprechauns' Christmas Gold (1981; this is a little-known gem, with Art Carney [in perfect Irish brogue] as Blarney Kilakilarney, chief leprechaun and guardian of the Christmas gold);

* The Wish that Changed Christmas (1991; with Jonathan Winters as an evil stuffed owl!--a film lovely, hypnotic, and superb); and finally

* Noël (1992; narrated by Charlton Heston)--a glorious film.

Muller's non-Christmas works are likewise a feast for the mind and the heart. Among them is Here Comes Peter Cottontail (1971; narrated by Danny Kaye, and with Vincent Price simply perfect as the voice of the wicked bunny, Irontail). Although an Eastertime story, it manages to encompass all of the year's major holidays, in a plot that amply and nimbly justifies such multi-holiday extravagance. Others, likewise well worth your and your children's enchanted attention, include The Emperor's New Clothes (1972, and again narrated by Danny Kaye, this time in a dazzling musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's ever-timely tale); Puff the Magic Dragon (1978) and Puff and the Incredible Mr. Nobody (1982) (don't miss this one!) (both with Burgess Meredith as Puff); The World of Strawberry Shortcake (1980); Strawberry Shortcake in Big Apple City (1981); Strawberry Shortcake in Pets on Parade (1982; these three films are all narrated by Romeo Muller as the Sun; all the later Strawberry Shortcakes are written by others and are merely standard fare); and Peter and the Magic Egg (1983; narrated by the immortal Ray Bolger). (Please visit the "Spotlight" section of this website for a more complete filmography; and also for a fine biography of Mr. Muller by the incomparable Rick Goldschmidt.)

After seeing Mr. Muller's name turn up on about ten of these films, I was so moved by their artistic greatness that I did something unprecedented for me. I wrote him a fan letter! I tried to get an address from the library, but all they could tell me was that he was a member of the Screen Writer's Guild. I wrote to him care of the Guild. The theme of my letter was that so long as there is such a thing as childhood, his films will endure, and be cherished. I never did get an answer, but that was okay--writers are often shy. At any rate, I really hope that Mr. Muller got my fan letter; he certainly has my love and esteem.

I continued to seek out his films, and on January 4, 1993, I came across this notice in the newspaper:

"ROMEO MULLER, 64, a writer of animated children's television Christmas specials--including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, The Little Drummer Boy and others--died December 30, 1992, at his home in High Falls, N.Y. Mr. Muller, whose Christmas specials were watched by millions in America, was known as 'Mr. Christmas' or 'Mr. Santa Claus' to his friends and family, said his brother, Eugene Muller, who said his brother had cancer but died in his sleep, apparently of a heart attack. . . ."

I was grief-stricken by this, and greatly saddened by the thought that this magnificent writer's voice was now silent, and could tell the world no more of his marvelous and enchanting tales. But there remained films of his I hadn't yet seen.

Two Christmases later, I finally got hold of a copy of his last film, Noël, which had been broadcast (but which I had missed) in December of 1992, the month that he had died. Although most of his films are secular, Noël adroitly reveals his gentle faith, telling the story of the life and death of a living Christmas tree ornament who, through his life-giving loving happiness, a life-giving and indeed beatific goodwill and joy, is granted a transfigured resurrection, and endless, glorious, and dazzlingly transcendent life. Such, I am sure, was Romeo's faith; and such, I hope, his fate. His death, coming so soon after Christmas Day, can perhaps be understood as a subtle sign of a wonderful destiny for this warmhearted and wonderful human being.

For like his bright little character Noël, he had a loving happiness so vast, so without bounds, as to be capable of transforming mankind into something truly wonderful, something worthy of the wonder of Christmas, which he of all people sensed and felt and knew the most deeply and keenly and delightfully and ecstatically—and he kept giving us that incomparable gift of delight and ecstasy in his films, again and again and again. No thanks can ever be enough. He will live because he deserves to live in the magic of Christmastime forever, and in the happy hearts of children of all ages everywhere forever.

What an amazing, loving, and splendid writer and human being was my hero, Romeo Muller. If you will see any, and preferably all, of Romeo's films, you will become a finer, more compassionate, and a more truly loving human being. What finer Christmas magic could there be than that?



DVD BIOGRAPHY. There's a fine (albeit short) video biography of Romeo Muller at the end of a 1993 animated film now on DVD called The Twelve Days of Christmas. (ASIN: B000A7BQRE). Strangely, the biography is not mentioned anywhere on the DVD's cover! Nor can I recommend the animated film; it was based on a sketchy outline by Romeo, and was completed after his death by another, who lacked Romeo's magical touch. But the biography is great!

THE LOST FILMS OF ROMEO MULLER. In addition to his work in animation, Romeo also wrote scripts for regular, non-animated network TV, apparently in the '50s and '60s. The most famous of these is a locked-in-the-vaults episode of the celebrated Studio One series called Love Me to Pieces, Baby (which of course I'd love to see!). I don't have a list of what else he wrote in this category. So if you watch classic TV, please be on the lookout for his name in the credits, and let me know if you see something that he wrote, so I can add it to this list! You'll get a "thank you" in an acknowledgments section if you do!

Likewise, if anyone who reads this knows more about Romeo Muller or his marvelous works, or can add to this list, please e-mail me at

or write to: George Zadorozny
P.O. Box 5466, Hudson, FL 34674. Merry Christmas!