Can it be? Are we really in the holiday season? In spite of everything? Yes and the evidence is everywhere , Twinkly lights, Xmas Tree lots, ethnic and Seasonal foods laced together with just a wee nip of our special “Egg Nog! But, our favorite holiday tradition is, of course, Christmas Music! Every year around this time, one of our local radio stations abandons their usual playlist and begins programming Christmas music exclusively! And now with the popularity of Satellite radio, Serius XM offers several Christmas music options! This time of year, whenever we’re in the car we flip on the “Christmas channel and we’re instantly surrounded by the many musical “Ghosts of Christmas’s past However they are all “Commercial Radio stations, and they must cater to their core audience, so there are occasional downsides with massive redundancy’s! Honestly if we never hear “Santa Baby” by Taylor Swift again, we’ll still have a great Xmas! No, we’re not “Taylor Trashing” but for us nobody will ever come close to Eartha Kitt’s original and somewhat salacious version from 1953 ( Didja know, Eartha’s version was banned by dozens of radio station’s in the southern U.S. in it’s first year of release) Now, we’ll bet you want to hear it as bad as we do! Yeah! Les Taylor and more Eartha is all were asking for this Xmas!, which brings us to our absolute favorite and most unusual Xmas record from, where else? The 1960’s A perfect combination of Singer, Song and Story, all of which we can never get enough of! Co – written by film composer Albert Hague with lyrics by Theodore Geisel You’re probably more familiar with Mr. Geisel’s pen name… Dr. Seuss! Growing up in Los Angeles, in the 50’s / 60’s like so many other school districts around the world Dr. Seuss was required reading for students and Teachers, Dr. Seuss knew how to make children laugh like no other writer in history! Sooo in 1966 when CBS teamed with Chuck Jones to produce a Christmas T.V. Special the audience was “Baked in”so to speak. “Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas” was an instant favorite and has gone on to be a Perennial holiday special, a veritable feast for the eyes and ears and the first time we heard what would oddly become one of our life long holiday favorites, “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch” As a song, it holds it’s own with a powerful melody, and clever lyrics that are visual and comical! But, in this case “It’s the singer, not the song” that packs the wallup! also In this case,”The Singer” has been a point of debate and question since we first heard him in 1966. In fact, my little brother Robbie and I would have our annual debate about “Who’s voice is that”? Many folks, my brother Robbie included, believed the “Basso Profondo” vocals were being performed by the great Boris Karloff, it makes sense, as Mr. Karloff actually narrates the program, but nope! Many more folks thought it was Tennessee Ernie Ford, a very popular singer and T.V. Star from the period! Nope yet again and in more recent times “Grinch” fans were convinced it is the voice of James Earl Jones, perhaps his precursor to Darth Vader, a perfect fit but it ain’t Mr. Jones either, NO! The vocalist who possesses this sonic boom of baritone is a singer whose name is familiar to no one yet we all had been enjoying his voice long before any of us had heard of Mr. Grinch! His name is Thurl Ravenscroft, yeah, you read it right, and There in lies the rub! When CBS was finished with the final edit to their Christmas Special, they somehow missed crediting Mr. Ravenscroft’s performance of “Mr. Grinch” Yikes! Among the many consequences, Dr. Seuss himself was appalled and set out on a letter writing campaign, personally writing to every critic and media person he’d ever heard of asking them to set the record straight. Meanwhile, Thurl ‘s career was thriving, he was continuing his second decade as the voice of “Tony the Tiger” the animated spokesman for Kellogg’s sugar Frosted Flakes, with his signature… “They’re Great” And our favorite work from Thurl, the many voices he created for Disneyland Yep, spend a day at Disneyland and you can hear Thurl’s voice in every corner of the “Magic Kingdom! Those singing headstones in the Haunted House ride? Yep that’s Thurl, the pirates in The Pirates of the Caribbean? Aye Matey they’re Thurl! As well as The Disneyland Railroad, Mark Twin Riverboat, Country Bear Jamboree and various characters in Disney’s enchanted Tiki room
Thurl Ravenscroft is his real name, and he was gifted with a voice that sounds like it originates in his shoes and works it’s way up and out! Born and raised in Norfolk Nebraska, but in 1933 he packed up his shoes and his voice and set out to So. Calif. to attend the Otis School of Art and design and pursue putting his Baritone to work! Ironically he settled in Fullerton (Orange County) Calif. Just minutes away from what will be his most frequent and fascinating employer, Disneyland!
How about you? We’re you among the early young audience who fell in love with the Grinch and Dr. Seuss back in 66 or in more recent years? Especially any Millennials or “Echo Boomers” who may be among the readership. Or perhaps this is something you wouldn’t touch with a 39 1/2 foot pole ?
Now! There’s nothing left to do except get thoroughly Thurl’d
“There ought to be a LAW!!!” Gosh – how many times have I said THAT??? But anyway your piece of gteat info here (I of course was clueless here for sure) but I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard songs, riffs, melody or fascinatingly SUPER MUSIC inserted into films, commercials or any other mefia where THE MUSIC presented is NEVER GIVEN A CREDIT! NO offering of the Writer, Performer, or even the SONG TITLE!!! I am left GOOGLING ALL OVER MY KEY BOARD for “some hint of info!” Drives me NUTS — “There Ought To Be A Law!!!”
And Yeah….I was with you and Rob…tryin’ to figure it out!
THANX FOR FILLING IN SOME BIG BLANKS “SHOE”!!
Peace and Love….wood
Rick, I thought maybe voice actors would be of particular import to you, and then when I heard the line about a “sea sick crocodile” I figured I was right. Great article by the way. Very Christmasy.
So glad you caught that detail, you’re quite right about my sensitivity to anything resembling Beany and Cecil and voice over acting specifically!! I do recall the first time I saw and heard the grinch cartoon, I thought “Seasick Crocodile” and Seasick Sea Serpent… Hmmm? FYI Cecil first appeared circa 1955 and the grinch in 1966!
Thanx Jim, stay safe and have a great holiday season
Rick, great stuff about Thurl. I saw the making of which told us about the film or I would have never known he was Grinch AND Tony! What a voice and story. Thanks, Clark
Hey Clark, glad you enjoyed the piece!
We didn’t go deep into his bio but the number of films, T.V and incidentals is staggering!