Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Tiny Tree (1975)

With the success of the Peanuts and Grinch Christmas specials from the 1960s just about every other animation studio tried their hands at one, and DePatie-Freleng was no exception. In fact they made three, this being one of them.

The Tiny Tree was first broadcast on NBC in 12/14/1975 at 7:30 pm Eastern and was sponsored by the AT&T as part of their Bell System Family Theater. It was produced, written and directed by Chuck Couch, who worked at Disney as an animator and storyman in the late '30s/early '40s; he would spend his final years writing at Hanna-Barbera's sausage factory.

Buddy Ebsen narrated the special. Other voices include Paul Winchell, Frank Welker, Lucille Bliss, and Janet Waldo. This special also features a couple of songs sung by Roberta Flack with music by Johnny Marks. You may be familiar with Marks for Rudolph the Red-Nose Raindeer. The animation is done by the usual DFE guys (Bob Richardson, John Gibbs, Nelson Shin, etc.), although it also has some other names like veteran animator Ed Love, who did a couple of works for the studio in the past.

Despite not airing for years it's still remembered by the people who watched it. Indeed, when I was updating the DePatie-Freleng site for GAC (still up here) I used to get emails after emails about the whereabouts of this special. AT&T currently owns the rights to it, but because they're not exactly known for producing movies and TV works don't expect a DVD release yet. In the meantime, though, here's the special from YouTube in three parts.


Anonymous said...

I think there were two versions of the ending of this special, from having seen it years ago. There was some alteration about how the little girl's plight was solved.

Greg D.

Brubaker said...

You're right, Greg, there was. The other ending didn't show the part where she regained the ability to walk, and we are left to assume that she was on the wheelchair when she went to check outside the window.

Pokey said...

This is rare for DFE to have Jean Vanderpyl & Janet Waldo, making it sound veyr much like a Hanna-Barbera special! I remember seeing THAT when it first iared in 1975..oddly, Bell was the developer of Vitaphone, the sound process used by the Freleng and everyone else working at WB for years..small world! [of course Vitaphone itself ceased to exist already and DFE had long since broken away from WB]. "Trust a Turtle" was not written for this special, btw! It originally was written in 1966 for a Rankin-Bass special with Jimmy Cagney about Smokey the Bear! [source Rick J.Goldschmidt, "The Enchanted World of Rankin-Bass", first pub.'97].

Steve C.

Pokey said...

..And the compsoer wasn't Johnny MACK, it was Johnny MARKS.

Larry Bird said...

A lost classic