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The 12 Geeky Days of Christmas: Vintage Christmas-Frosty the Snowman (1954)

UPA's 1954 version of Frosty the Snowman is a favorite that's been around for nearly 60 years.

UPA’s 1954 version of Frosty the Snowman is a favorite that’s been around for nearly 60 years.

Almost everyone is familiar with the 1969 Rankin-Bass television special version of Frosty the Snowman with  Jimmy Durante and Jackie Vernon, but there was an even earlier animated version done by UPA (United Productions of America) in 1954.

UPA was created after the  Disney animators’ strike of 1941 in which a number of Disney artist left the studio. Former Disney artists Ub Iwerks and John Hubley went to work with Stephen Bosustow, Zack Schwartz, and Dave Hilberman who formed UPA. UPA family made their animation style flat and two dimensional in direct opposition to Disney’s ultra-realism.  Modern audiences might not recognize this animation studio, but they will recognize their most famous star, Mr. Magoo.

The song “Frosty the Snowman,” came before the animated version by a good 4 years. Written in 1950 by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson and recorded by the singing cowboy  Gene Autry and the Cass County Boys. Rollins wrote not only “Frosty the Snowman,” but also the familiar “Here Comes Peter Cottontail,” and the Smokey the Bear theme. Rollins also worked with many of the early country singers, such as Hank Snow and George Jones.

Written after the previous year’s success of “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the song was sent to Autry in hopes of another holiday hit. Also like RudolphFrosty has become a bit of Christmas legend and perennial favorite not just in the mid-west where it was featured for years on WGN-TV, but still to generations today on WJAC-TV in Johnstown, PA. Not only they they still air Frosty throughout the holiday season, but along with Suzy Snowflake, Hardrock, Coco, and Joe, Frosty the Snowman is available on their website.

The UPA’s animated version does not feature the Autry version of the song, but instead features the music of the Normal Luboff Choir.

What are some of your Christmas favorites?


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