Frosty the Snowman, the popular vintage TV special (1970)
Frosty, the famous snow figure whose old silk hat full of magic has turned him into a “jolly, happy soul” and a musical Christmas legend, demonstrates his unique snowmanship in the animated holiday special, “Frosty the Snowman,” to be rebroadcast Saturday, Dec. 5 in color on the CBS Television Network. Jimmy Durante is the narrator. The special was originally broadcast December 7, 1969.
Comedian Jackie Vernon provides the voice for Frosty in the musical Christmas fable based on Jack Rollins’ now-traditional song about the good-natured snowman with the corncob pipe, the button nose and the eyes made out of coal.
Billy De Wolfe is heard as the villainous Professor Hinkle, the magician whose stovepipe topper transforms the lifeless now person into an enchanting song-and-dance man.
Pursued by the hatless professor and rising temperatures, Frosty dances from the schoolyard with the children at his floppy white heels, then sets off for the North Pole to keep from melting.
With the help of some influential friends, including a magical white-whiskered gentleman, the indomitable snowman overcomes the threat of evaporation and weathers the whirl of adventures that face him en route.
The special was produced and directed by Arthur Rankin Jr., and Jules Bass, with new lyrics and music by Bass and Maury Laws. The story was written by Romeo Muller.
Video: Frosty the Snowman! (1969)
Jimmy Durante narrates Frosty the Snowman (1974 & 1976)
What does a piano player-comedian have in common with a snowman? For Jimmy Durante, it was determination coupled with a love of music that paid off. For Frosty the Snowman, it was determination coupled with love of life which helped him overcome his obstacles.
Veteran comedian Durante helps keep the ice from melting when he narrates the story of “Frosty the Snowman,” an animated musical special, to be rebroadcast Friday on CBS.
Durante, the piano-demolishing, gravelly-voiced comedian with a talent for creating chaos out of the English language, loved doing the holiday special.
“Frosty, as he tries to keep from melting, is an inspiration for children,” said Durante. “He teaches them that it’s possible to get what they want out of life if they work hard enough to get it.”
Durante is a product of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. As a youngster, one of his first jobs was delivering newspapers in Manhattan’s Broadway area. Many of his customers were in show business.
“I would hear a lot of them playing the piano,” he recalls. “I kept thinking that the guy who plays the piano has the swellest job in the world. I wanted to be like him.”
The success story started one day when his father bought young Durante a piano and hired a piano teacher for him. Jimmy worked at many odd jobs to help pay the family bills, and would practice on the piano day and night in between jobs. In no time at all, he was earning a few dollars a night playing at neighborhood parties and athletic club dances.
At 17, he got a job in one of the ‘wildest joints’ in New York’s Coney Island, Diamond Tony’s Saloon. “Twenty-five bucks a week. Hours from eight in the evening until unconscious.”
Then followed other jobs in saloons and dance halls on the Bowery, at Coney Island and in Chinatown — and once as an accompanist to a singing waiter named Eddie Cantor.
“At that time, I didn’t sing yet or tell jokes. I devoted myself to the keyboard.”
But it wasn’t long before Durante’s versatility blossomed, and he became a household name. Indeed, determination paid off. And, like Frosty the Snowman, Jimmy Durante has melted the hearts of millions.
Jimmy Durante and Frosty the Snowman have something in common, although the former is a warmer sort of performer, and the latter finds it more difficult to keep his cool.
The main ingredient the unique showman and the unique snowman share is magic, an attribute Durante has in his whole being. and Frosty has in his “old silk hat.”
The inexplicable Durante aptitude for creating a magical atmosphere helps the enchanted snow figure melt the ice on ‘Frosty the Snowman, animated musical special, narrated by the veteran comedian, to be rebroadcast at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8 on CBS.
Durante, the piano-demolishing, gravelly-voiced comedian with a talent for creating chaos out of mere confusion and a vocabulary that has been said to “defy any law of syntax, grammar or gravity,” got a tremendous kick out of doing the holiday special.
“I’ve always liked youngsters,” he notes. “You must remember, I performed with Margaret O’Brien and Shirley Temple when they were moppets.”
Mrs. Calabash’s greatest booster also gets great joy out of making children laugh.
“People like to laugh, and I like to make them laugh,” says the entertainer who has proved that statement for over 60 show-business years. “That makes me happy, making them happy. That’s my life.”