mascot chair and bottle picIf it’s the Friday after Thanksgiving, then regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog know it’s the day when I kick off my annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon in which I review several versions of A Christmas Carol. I look at movies, television shows, radio shows and books which adapt the Dickens classic. Every year I present new reviews and a few old classics since new readers will have missed them.

To start off this year’s edition Balladeer’s Blog will look at what little is known about lost television versions of A Christmas Carol from the days of live broadcasts, when not even kinescopes were being kept. Previously, the Rufus Rose Marionettes adaptation from 1948 was the only lost version I looked at.

christmas present and scroogeA CHRISTMAS CAROL (1943) – An early experimental broadcast on December 22nd, 1943 from Dumont TV’s station W2XWV in New York, presumably to mark the 100 year anniversary of the publication of A Christmas Carol.

Very, very few people would have seen this production. George Lowther directed the Montebank Players, while William Podmore wrote the teleplay AND starred as Ebenezer Scrooge. This program aired around 9:30 PM and was the second hour of a two-hour slate of music, World War 2 coverage, commercials and a film short.

           Radio and Television Weekly called it “the longest and most elaborate studio play yet presented over television” and extravagantly praised the antique furniture and costumes in the production. Reviews of the time indicated that this Carol resorted to narration from the Dickens novel to cover story elements which could not be depicted by the primitive special effects of the time.

dumontCHRISTMAS, 1944 (1944) – This half hour production of the Carol aired on December 19th, 1944 at 8:45 PM as part of the Video Varieties television series. Dumont TV station WABD in New York presented the show in conjunction with WOR-TV in New Jersey. Reviews of the time indicated it was an adaptation of the story of Scrooge set in 1944.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1944) – The long-gone Dumont Network stikes again! The very next night – December 20th, 1944 at 9:30 PM came this half hour presentation. Oddly, though the existing records do not show who played Scrooge in this production, it is known that Carl Eastman played Bob Cratchit, Helen Jerome played his wife and Bobby Hookey played Tiny Tim.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1945) – WBKB in Chicago presented this half hour Carol on December 20th, 1945, making it the first post-World War 2 televised version of the Dickens tale. The performers were all students at Chicago’s Taft High School and got rather undeservedly bashed by the review in Variety.

           Among other things, Variety called it “unfortunate”, “amateur” (Well, DUH!) and noted that “the obvious conclusion to be drawn is that television was never meant for the non-professionals.” The publication did praise the technical skill of the broadcast “with double-dissolve technique for the ghost business expertly done.”

           Billboard elaborated, praising Beulah Zachary for using “a double dissolve to present Marley’s Ghost and Scrooge in conversation … Effect gave the impression of the ephemeral qualities of the ghost.” 

           Beulah Zachary produced, directed and wrote the adaptation. Norman Pellegrini starred as Scrooge, Raymond Groya played Nephew Fred, James Wade portrayed Bob Cratchit and Dave Koukal was Marley’s Ghost.      

CHRISTMAS NIGHT (1946) – A one hour live BBC broadcast from December 25th, 1946. An adaptation of A Christmas Carol via music, ballet and mime performances. As the Radio Times described it: Director and Producer Philip Bate “will be introducing Scrooge and company in ballet and mime and a highlight of the production is expected to be a musical version of Mrs Fezziwig’s ball.”

I’ll have more lost television versions and other Carols up to Christmas Day.    





  1. It might have been your blog that told me about the animated 1971 Richard Williams version.

  2. Darth Scipio


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