Rediscovering Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol
DVC: Well, the whole thing with Walt Disney. That was stunning to me that he would call Orgel and congratulate him after it aired. It was interesting that he would call about a TV special and congratulate someone from UPA because they had broken away from Disney and it wasn't pretty.
BD: What else?
BD: What about the animation?
DVC: The surprise there was how quickly this thing was put out: spending a year trying to get the thing off the ground and then boom: it's done! You couldn't do a whole lot without recording the tracks and they were done in June and this thing aired in December. You can board and things like that, and in those days you had to go to film, so they would've had to have been done at least a month earlier than their air date. In that situation, everything works or the speed makes you suffer.
BD: What else led you to want to write the book?
DVC: The Charlie Brown Christmas book came out and they had one for Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. I thought that this was right up with those guys and somebody's got to put a book out on Mr. Magoo. Nobody ever did and I didn't give it any thought until one day a friend of mine and I were discussing an artist who did serigraphs and he mentioned that he happened to also backgrounds on Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. Well, that's pretty obscure information. So after that, I thought we should go talk to him and see what he knows about the production. We contacted him through a gallery and he said he was up for talking. I got a nice digital recorder, had all my questions written out, sat down in front of him and asked him what he remembered about Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. And he said he didn't even remember working on it.
BD: That says it all, doesn't it?
BD: What else really stands out about the show?
DVC: The songs. Not just musically but the lyrics really hit people where they live like "Alone in the World" or "Winter Was Warm." That doesn't work so well on a child's level but really works well for adults: anyone who's had loved and lost. "The Lord's Bright Blessing" talks about the spirit of Christmas so well, without being cloying. The sentiments really echo what was in the original Dickens material.
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.