It’s a ritual as old as time…or at least as far back as I can remember. Every year on Christmas morning, my sisters and I gathered around the TV to watch the 1966 animated version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Thanks to additional viewings that we snuck in during the rest of the year, we all knew the movie so well we very nearly could recite it aloud, but that hardly mattered. Viewing How the Grinch Stole Christmas on Christmas morning always seemed to make it feel like we were seeing it again for the first time.
The ritual continues even now that we’re grown. On Christmas morning, we simultaneously watch the movie at our various houses across the country, texting each other the whole time. To this day, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” is my favorite Christmas carol. Yes, it’s a Christmas carol. I’m putting my foot down there.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas has been beloved by families everywhere for over 50 years, but how much do you really know about this seasonal favorite? Here are seven facts you can wow your family with next time you all sit down to watch it.
1. The ending was a struggle.
Dr. Seuss wrote the book in only a few weeks and found the process overall to be very easy – except for the ending. He wanted to avoid sounding overly preachy or religious when showing the reconciliation between the Grinch and Whoville, so after a lot of deliberation and a touch of desperation, he decided to end the story with a pun about carving roast beast.
2. Dr. Seuss and the Grinch have a lot in common.
In the story, the Grinch complains about 53 years worth of noise from Whoville Christmas celebrations. Dr. Seuss wrote How the Grinch Stole Christmas when he was 53 years-old. His car’s license plate also read GRINCH. In the December 1957 edition of Redbook, he confessed to writing the book to help himself recapture some of the Christmas magic he felt he’d lost.
3. The original Grinch looked a bit different.
In the book, the Grinch is black and white with pink eyes. It was animator/director Chuck Jones’ (of Looney Tunes fame) idea to make him green for the animated special. Supposedly he’d been inspired by an ugly green rental car he was driving at the time. And while we’re on the subject, that famous Grinch smile is also modeled after Chuck Jones’ own grin.
4. The cartoon is over 50% padding.
The narration of How the Grinch Stole Christmas is essentially verbatim from the book. But the story takes only 12 minutes to read aloud, and for a television special, they needed 26 minutes worth of material. Their solution? To shine a spotlight on the trials and tribulations of Max, the Grinch’s long-suffering dog, as he struggles to pull the sleigh. But don’t worry: Max is rewarded for his efforts with the evening’s first slice of roast beast.
5. You might recognize a few voices.
Many people already know that “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” was sang by Thurl Ravenscroft, the actor who voiced Tony the Tiger for over 50 years, as well as performing parts in several Disney attractions (such as Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion). The Grinch himself was voiced by horror movie icon Boris Karloff. But there’s yet another famous voice packed into those 26 minutes.
Max the dog has two lines in the movie–well, not really lines so much as sounds. Once he yelps, and once he yells, “Rah!” But for that, they needed a voice actor, and so they got Dallas McKennon. At the time, McKennon was most famous for his work in Woody Woodpecker, but he also voiced several secondary characters in Disney’s The Lady and the Tramp. And if you’ve been to Disneyland, you’ve likely heard him again: he narrates the safety instructions at Big Thunder Mountain.
6. No, it’s not Latin.
The Whoville song “Fahoo Foraze,” in typical Dr. Seuss style, was written with nonsense words for lyrics. But when it aired, however, people contacted the network asking for a translation to the beautiful Latin carol.
7. There’s a sequel.
Apparently the peaceful relations between the Grinch and Whoville were short lived, because 11 years later, ABC aired Halloween is Grinch Night, which features the Grinch coming down to scare Whoville every Halloween.
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