THE GRINCHOriginal Medium: Children's Picture Story
First Appeared: 1957
Creator: Dr. Seuss
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Collaborations between Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel and animation director Chuck Jones go back as far as World War II, when they worked together on the
"Private Snafu" series of Army training films. And adaptations of Seuss's books into cartoon form go back equally far — it was in 1942 that his character Horton the Elephant was first animated. And so, when Jones approached Seuss about turning his 1957 book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (which is not, as many seem to believe, titled The Grinch Who Stole Christmas) into an animated TV special, Seuss was receptive to the idea.
The special, which was first aired on December 18, 1966, won a Peabody Award for outstanding children's programming, and has since become a traditional part of television's Christmas season. Boris Karloff's moody narration, combined with the style of over-the-top animation that Jones had become famous for back in his Road Runner and Pepe LePew days, perfectly complement Seuss's whimsical story of the anti-Christmas monster whose heart grew to encompass the holiday spirit.
Karloff's voice wasn't the only one contributing to the success of the cartoon. It wasn't he who sang the famous song, "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," which Seuss wrote especially for television. That credit belongs to the incomparable Thurl Ravenscroft, who, among his many other accomplishments, is the voice of Kellogg Cereal's Tony the Tiger.
In 2000, The Grinch followed in the footsteps of George of the Jungle, Inspector Gadget and many other toons, as Jim Carrey portrayed him in a live-action feature film. The story was expanded, giving a more detailed account of that fateful Christmas Eve and adding a love interest in Whoville (played by Christine Baranski). But in outline, it was the same story.
Since Dr. Seuss's death, his estate has authorized one or two new stories starring The Grinch. However, these never amounted to anything; for all intents and purposes the character appeared in just one story. Yet, he has so firmly entered our culture, that when speaking of one whose attitude toward Christmas is "Bah! Humbug!", we no longer say that person is an old Scrooge. We call him a Grinch.