The Walt Disney Christmas Show … 1951

The Walt Disney Christmas Show … 1951

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The Walt Disney Christmas Show is a Christmas television special, originally broadcast at 3pm on Christmas Day 1951. This was Disney’s second venture into television, following One Hour in Wonderland which debuted in 1950.

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Newspaper columnist Bob Foster provided this preview of the show on December 18, 1951:

Television is only a few years old, but already a number of traditions have been founded which make it a bit more enjoyable around Christmas time. One of the most delightful traditions to be set up is the annual appearance of Walt Disney before the television cameras. Because Christmas is basically children’s holiday, this year, as last, Walt leaves his studio and produces for television on the “Walt Disney Christmas Show.”  And what a show he has lined up for this year. Disney will devote more time to his cartoon characters. There will be the Uncle Remus Tar Baby sequence from “Song of the South.” a scene from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and “Bambi,” plus previews from Disney’s next big feature, “Peter Pan,” now in production, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto, Goofy and others will, of course, contribute their comedy cavorting. Live talent will include Bobby Driscoll, Kathryn Beaumont, Hans Conried, Bill Thompson, Don Barclay, all of whom have taken part in Disney films. 

The Set

The Set

One solid hour of Disney classics went out over 57 stations of the CBS-TV network with Walt Disney himself acting as emcee before a gathering of enthusiastic children. The program’s sponsor, Johnson and Johnson provided $250,000 to produce the special, a figure unprecedented in the medium’s then short history.  CBS, embarrassed by not running the 1950 show, quickly lined up the 57 stations that sealed the broadcast agreement with Johnson and Johnson.

Bobby Driscoll

Bobby Driscoll

The special is notable in that it included an appearance by child star Bobby Driscoll dressed as Peter Pan, the character he would voice in the 1953 animated feature. Soon after his fortunes began to decline and he died in 1968 aged just 31.

 

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