Pitchman John Cameron Swayze chats with Santa’s number one helper in this 1959 spot for Timex watches. Swayze, a longtime gameshow panelist and respected newsman, was perhaps most famous for reciting the classic Timex slogan, “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking“.
When you think of Vincent Price and holidays, Halloween probably comes to mind. In 1949, the horror icon narrated an early television performance of Dickens’ holiday classic.
In this 1959 cartoon from inside the Eastern Bloc, an extremely whiny young boy named Kolya wants to bring a Christmas tree to his father, a weatherman stationed in Antarctica. Luckily for Kolya, Santa Claus shows up with a series of complicated instructions. When Santa’s unreliable Soviet jet breaks down over Africa, Kolya is forced to improvise if he wants to make it to Antarctica before time runs out.
Joking aside, this is actually a very sweet cartoon that suffers mostly from a terrible translation into English.
You’ve probably seen shaky, old silent home movies of families opening presents at Christmas and children playing in the snow. Starting in 1900, and continuing for many decades, Kodak’s Brownie line of cameras helped popularize photography as a hobby that virtually anybody could enjoy. Kodak’s 8 and 16mm Brownie movie cameras helped families preserve holiday memories on film. Today, they’re a common and inexpensive collectible item among photography and film enthusiasts.
These commercials were a part of Kodak’s “Give and Take Christmas” ad campaign in 1959.
Photographer Alexey Kljatov takes macro photographs of snowflakes using a standard point-and-shoot camera rigged up with a Soviet-era lens, with impressive results. Kljatov explains his unusual camera setup and shooting technique in a blog post. You can find more of his great snowflake photos in his Flickr stream.
There have been hundreds of adaptations of Charles Dickens‘ A Christmas Carol. Over the last 170 years, everyone from Mickey Mouse to the Six Million Dollar Man has adapted the classic story to fit different characters.
But long before Batman was playing the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in comic books, theater adaptations of A Christmas Carol were common. Theater eventually gave way to cinema, and popular plays were among the first movies to be put to film.
Scrooge, or, Marley’s Ghost is the earliest film adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Until 2011, when The Death of Poor Joe, a 1900 adaptation of “Bleak House” was discovered, it was believed to be the earliest film adaption of any of Dickens’ works.
This three-and-a-half-minute fragment is all that survives of the original five-minute film, and is significant as the earliest known film to use intertitles.
Jane Lynch hosts the 91st annual National Christmas Tree lighting today at 4:30. Performers will include Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Train, the Avett Brothers and others.
John Wayne fights tuberculosis on the set of “Blood Alley” in this 1955 public service announcement for the American Lung Association.
Since 1907, the American Lung Association has been fighting lung diseases in the United States. The association got its start fighting tuberculosis, which was still a major killer when The Duke filmed this public service announcement in 1955. From the Christmas Seals website:
In the early 20th century, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death in the U.S. Physicians were experiencing the first signs of success treating tuberculosis in special hospitals called sanitoriums, and one of those facilities had fallen on tough times. The tiny Delaware sanitorium would have to close its doors if $300 could not be raised to save it. One of its doctors explained the plight to his cousin, a volunteer named Emily Bissell. Bissell was a veteran fundraiser, and she soon came up with a plan based on one that had worked in Denmark: She would design and print special holiday seals and sell them at the post office for a penny each. By the end of her holiday campaign (and after an endorsement by President Roosevelt), she and a large group of committed volunteers had raised ten times the goal and the American Lung Association Christmas Seals® were born.
Tuberculosis isn’t much of a factor in the United States these days, so the American Lung Association has shifted its efforts to fighting other diseases such as lung cancer and asthma. Christmas Seals donations are still a major source of funding for the association, and you can donate online.
And now, from the list of songs you haven’t heard since kindergarten, Bob Dylan performs “Must Be Santa” from his 2009 alum, Christmas in the Heart.
I don’t know what’s going on in this video, but I think I like it.