Thursday, December 13, 2018

K.A.C. 2018 - T - 12 ...

     Good morning! We've got an even dozen days to go and time is of the essence - so what better way to start your day by WASTING those precious moments watching these rare holiday oddities? I thought you'd agree!

     First up, we might as well get this out of the way right now. From the album Shatner Claus, it's the mellow tones (?) of Captain Kirk talking/singing (??) his 'unique' rendition of everyone's favorite red-nosed hoofer, Rudolph! 


     Next, we turn the Wayback Machine dial all the way to 1931, smack in the heart of The Great Depression, and this cheerful (?) holiday cartoon, Mickey's Orphans. As the link states: "A bunch of orphan kids (depicted as kittens) are left on Mickey's doorstep in a basket. They make life into hell as Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto try to give them a Christmas party." Or as I like to put it, "No good deed will go unpunished!" 


     Back to the Wayback Machine and we move forward in time to 1955 and a Nativity film that is one of the strangest I've seen in recent memory, and that's saying something! Called The Little Lamb, this one has it all: Iridescent Infants, Awesome Angels of the Lord (who give a pretty good accounting of themselves just WHY the shepherds were scared to death when THIS appeared in the sky, booming down at them!) and the most absolutely comatose Mary you've ever seen! I mean, to be fair, she's got reason to be pretty overwhelmed (as we all know), but usually the Marys shown in paintings and film are always rather beatific and happy ... this one just wants a nap!  :)  What's even MORE impressive are the acting pedigrees in this short. First, Azar the Shepherd (who doesn't give two hoots if the titular lamb is alive or dead, he's just That Tired of chasing after it - which seems to me to go against everything being a shepherd is all about ... I mean, you HERD SHEEP for a living, man! Take some PRIDE in your work! Anyway ...) is played by an uncredited Morris Ankrum, a 1950's stalwart character actor in numerous sci-fi and horror films, and a genuine surprise here. But the BIGGEST surprise is our uncredited Mary - played here by none other than Hollywood icon Maureen O'Sullivan! I'd LOVE to know the back story to this short: my guess is they were both contractually obligated to do this, since they most likely didn't have veto power over what the studio assigned them, but that's just a guess. And they save the best part for last: how to keep Baby Jesus warm ... hmmm, WHAT is the name of this film again? Time to hit play and be amazed!

      Sticking with the year 1955, let's end on a high note with someone who is MUCH more attentive and involved with the holiday proceedings, Ms. Betty Lou Varnum! Who, you ask? Only the host of the longest-running children's show in American history, The Magic Window! The show ran 43 years and it's a nostalgic delight! This Christmas-themed show ran on December 16th, and is all over the map, with her dog Domino EATING the ornaments off the tree, a visit with her puppet friends that goes awry as only locally produced shows can, and visits with guests who talk holiday topics such as LIVE BATS AND GUN SAFETY, and more! I'm also including links about the show and Betty Lou (who is still with us as of this writing) ... take some time and watch this rarity. It's my favorite item I've found for this year's calendar and is full of holiday cheer of the oddest sort! Special thanks to the Special Collection Iowa State University Library for providing this - it truly IS a 'Magic Window' into Christmas Past!  - The episode - Wiki entry on the show - Wiki entry on Betty Lou


     Coming tomorrow: Holiday Potpourri Day, featuring a scattering of stories from around the globe as only we can tell them!

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