You'll probably be spending a lot of time with family over the next couple of weeks. When conversation turns to the treatment Great Aunt Ethel is trying for that nagging cyst that's been bothering her, here are a few bits of holiday movie trivia you can throw in to steer conversation back to the safe zone. (See our first installment of holiday movie facts here.)
The Santa Clause
Photo courtesy of movies.disney.com
1. There’s a scene in The Santa Clause where Tim Allen makes a little joke about a number his ex-wife should call: 1-800-SPANK-ME. It should come as a surprise to no one that bored kids actually called this number. Parents were scandalized when they discovered they were paying for “hot, wild phone fun” at $2.50 to $4.99 a minute. Apparently one man’s 10-year-old daughter racked up more than $250 in phone bills. Disney removed the scene from post-1997 VHS copies; it has also been removed for television broadcast.
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Photo courtesy of Popmatters
2. Fake hair on the Grinch? Never. Every single hair on the suit Jim Carrey donned in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas was real yak hair, individually dyed and sewn onto a lycra spandex suit. It took four months to make.
3. More than 250 pieces of knitwear were hand-knitted for the movie by three L.A.-based knitters in just four months.
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas Cartoon
Photo courtesy of Fanpop
4. Although Boris Karloff is credited as the singing voice behind “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” in the animated version of Dr. Seuss's story, that’s not the case. The memorable tune was actually sung by Thurl Ravenscroft, perhaps better known as the voice behind Tony the Tiger (and, my favorite, one of the singing busts in the Haunted Mansion at Disney parks). Ravenscroft was erroneously left off of the credits, however, and Dr. Seuss felt so bad about it that he personally called TV and entertainment columnists across the country to make sure they mentioned it, and also partnered with animator Chuck Jones to take out an ad in Variety thanking Thurl for his now-iconic work.
5. Neither movie was really faithful to Dr. Seuss' original representation of the Grinch, who was actually black and pink—not green.
Mickey’s Christmas Carol
6. Mickey's Christmas Carol was the last time the voice of Donald Duck was provided by Clarence Nash, the original voice of Donald Duck.
7. The film also marked was the first time that Scrooge McDuck was voiced by Alan Young, who then went on to voice Scrooge for other Disney projects, including DuckTales. The 94-year-old Young actually still provides the voice for the billionaire duck, most recently for video games like DuckTales: Remastered and Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. You might also know Young as Wilbur from everybody's favorite talking horse sitcom, Mr. Ed.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
8. Tim Burton originally pitched the Nightmare Before Christmas concept to Disney in 1983, with the idea that it would be a short, low-budget, stop-motion TV special like the Rankin/Bass classics. Disney passed.
9. Jack Skellington had more than 400 heads that animators could switch out to provide a convincing spectrum of emotions.
10. Vincent Price was slated to do the voice of Santa Claus, but when recording started, his wife had recently passed away. Price’s despondency came through in his voiceover, and a local actor was used instead.
11. There was an alternate “Scooby Doo” ending that was storyboarded but never shot where it was revealed that Oogie Boogie was really Dr. Finkelstein in disguise.
12. The reference “tender lumplings everywhere” in the song “This is Halloween” is a reference to composer Danny Elfman’s years with the band Oingo Boingo. They had a song called “Tender Lumplings.”
13. My 8-year-old self was surely not alone in thinking that Kevin McCallister’s burglar booby traps were nothing short of genius. But were they really? Last year, Dr. Ryan St. Clair analyzed the actual physical harm that Kev’s creative weapons would have inflicted. The ones that could actually impair a dimwitted criminal: the iron to the face, the heated doorknob, the blowtorch to the scalp, and the paint can to the head. Check out his diagnoses here.
14. Remember, if you will, the part in the movie where Kevin discovers a picture of his older brother’s girlfriend in his hidden stash of treasures and blurts, “Buzz, your girlfriend. Woof!” You don’t have to worry that this poor girl grew up to have all kinds of psychological problems based on the fact that millions of movie-goers laughed at her ugly mug. Director Chris Columbus was worried about this exact repercussion in the future, and dressed up a boy instead.
By the way, Woofmaker allows you to substitute any picture you want for Buzz’s girlfriend, then allows you to share it with your friends. Though they may not be your friends for very long if you’re using an unflattering photo of them. Not that I would do that.
15. “White Christmas” was written especially for this movie—not, funnily enough, for White Christmas, which came 12 years later.
16. Although the song has become one of the most popular holiday songs ever, Bing himself was unimpressed with his performance. “A jackdaw with a cleft palate could have sung it successfully,” he once said.
17. Named by founder Kemmons Wilson, the name of the Holiday Inn hotel chain was, in fact, inspired by this movie.
18. Though it’s often cut when aired on TV, Holiday Inn includes a song and dance number with Bing Crosby in blackface.
Photo courtesy of Fanpop
19. You know the part in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Clark references Bing Crosby tap dancing with Danny Kaye? This is the movie he’s talking about...
20. ...But it should have actually been Bing Crosby tap dancing with Fred Astaire. Astaire was slated to star with Der Bingle but dropped out after he read the script.
Babes in Toyland
21. The toy soldiers from 1961's Babes in Toyland also have a cameo in Mary Poppins, which was released three years later. Hint: They’re near the end.
Santa Claus: The Movie
22. Producer Ilya Salkind thought Dudley Moore would make a great elf after remembering a scene in Arthur where Liza Minelli asks Moore’s character if he’s Santa’s Little Helper.
23. It’s been deemed one of the worst Christmas movies of all time by Alonso Duralde, author of Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas.
Jingle All the Way
24. In 1998, a Detroit high school teacher named Brian Webster claimed that Jingle All the Way was a little too similar to a screenplay he had written called Could This Be Christmas? Though the court initially agreed with Mr. Webster, awarding $19 million, an appeal later overturned the decision.
25. Randy Kornfield wrote the screenplay for the movie after seeing his in-laws go to extreme lengths to obtain a Power Rangers toy for his son.