Holiday Cheer

Poll: Pick Your Holiday Cheer

Thanks to everyone who voted in our holiday poll—we had a tremendous response! You spoke, and our elves have tabulated the votes. Here are the top 5 holiday television specials, as chosen by you:

Star Wars Holiday Special - 59%
A Charlie Brown Christmas - 34.6%
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! - 31.3%
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - 28.4%
John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together - 16.3%

These holiday specials will be screened at the Paley Center in New York and Los Angeles between December 10 and 24, 2008:

New York
The Star Wars Holiday Special screens Tuesdays to Sundays at 12:15 pm, and again at 6:00 pm on Thursday evenings. The other four specials screen Tuesdays to Sundays beginning at 2:30 pm.

Los Angeles
Please consult the Daily Schedule.

Below, you can browse the full results of our poll. Happy Holidays!

Amahl and the Night Visitors (NBC operetta staged each year between 1951-1956; 7th staging: Dec. 25, 1963; also NBC, Dec. 24, 1978

Bing Crosby Christmas Specials: Various from 1962-77, including Merry Christmas Fred, from the Crosbys (CBS, December 3, 1975 with Fred Astaire) and Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas (NBC, November 30, 1977 with David Bowie)

A Charlie Brown Christmas (CBS, 1965; first animated Peanuts special, from the Charles Schulz comic strip)

A Christmas Memory (ABC, December 1966; episode of ABC Stage 67 adapted from Truman Capote story; with Geraldine Page and Donny Melvin)

The Christmas Toy (ABC, December 6, 1986; Jim Henson special, narrated by Kermit)

A Claymation Christmas Celebration (1987, CBS; stop-motion clay animation from Will Vinton; hosted by dinosaurs Rex and Herb)

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (CBS, 1966; animated; Boris Karloff narrates the Dr. Seuss story)

Edith Ann’s Christmas (ABC, December 14, 1996; animated; with voice of Lily Tomlin)

A Flintstone Christmas (NBC, December 7, 1977; animation from Hanna-Barbera)

The Frank Sinatra Show: Merry Christmas from Frank and Bing (ABC, 1957; Sinatra with guest Bing Crosby; directed by Frank Sinatra)

Frosty the Snowman (CBS, December 7, 1969; Jimmy Durante narrates and Jackie Vernon speaks the title role in this Rankin-Bass animated presentation)

A Garfield Christmas (Dec. 21, 1987; animated; voices of Lorenzo Music and Pat Carroll)

The Happy Elf (NBC, Dec. 2, 2005; animated; with songs and narration by Harry Connick, Jr.)

The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (CBS; December 19, 1971; drama that served as the pilot for The Waltons; with Patricia Neal and Richard Thomas)

House without a Christmas Tree (CBS, December 3, 1972; drama with Jason Robards and Mildred Natwick)

John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together (ABC, December 5, 1979)

J.T. (CBS, December 13, 1969; Peabody-winning drama written by Jane Wagner; with Kevin Hooks and Theresa Merritt)

Lamb Chop’s Special Chanukah (PBS, Dec. 11, 1995; Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop)

The Littlest Angel (NBC, December 6, 1969; Johnny Whitaker has the title role in this Hallmark musical costarring Fred Gwynne, Cab Calloway, and Tony Randall)

The Man in the Santa Claus Suit (NBC, December 23, 1979; fantasy-comedy with Fred Astaire, Gary Burghoff)

Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (December 18, 1962; animation based on the Magoo cartoons; with voices of Jim Backus and Jack Cassidy; with songs by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill)

A Muppet Family Christmas (ABC, December 16, 1987; gathering of characters from The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock)

Pee-wee Herman’s Christmas Special (CBS, December 21, 1988; Pee-wee Herman with Playhouse regulars and Dinah Shore, Whoopi Goldberg, Grace Jones, and more)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (NBC, December 6, 1964; stop-motion animation from Rankin-Bass; narrated by Burl Ives) 

A Rugrats Kwanzaa Special (Nickelodeon, December 11, 2001; animated Rugrats special)

Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (ABC, December 14, 1970; stop-motion animation from Rankin-Bass; narrated by Fred Astaire; voices of Mickey Rooney and Keenan Wynn)

A South Park Christmas: Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo (Comedy Central, December 20, 1997; animated; with Poo)

Star Wars Holiday Special (CBS, November 17, 1978; Beatrice Arthur and Wookiees)

The Weinerville Chanukah Special (Nickelodeon, December 14, 1995; aliens and Chanukah) 

The Year without a Santa Claus (December 10, 1974; stop-motion animation from Rankin-Bass; with voices of Shirley Booth, Mickey Rooney, Dick Shawn)

Write-in Votes:

Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas - 3 votes

Olive the Other Reindeer

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

The Little Rascals Christmas Special

The Fat Albert Christmas Special

The Daily Show Andy Williams Christmas Special

The Johnny Cash Christmas Special

The Bob Hope All Star Christmas Comedy Special

It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special

A Pinky & the Brain Christmas Special

The Smurfs Christmas Special

A Very Supernatural Christmas

Babes in Toyland

Julie Andrews: The Sound of Christmas

Christmas Eve on Sesame Street


Expert Commentary

Happy Holidays from the Sixties

Charlie Brown, Rudolph, and the Grinch: Holiday Cards from the Great Society

Read More
  • Pinklady, Keep in mind that we do encourage write-in votes for specials not included on the list and will be tabulating these into the poll results. So, by all means consider OLIVE THE OTHER REINDEER voted for, by yourself, or any Chanukah specials you might want to include. Also, remember that we were trying to narrow down the list to holiday specials only, though this can be a fuzzy area, with some titles being mere extensions of existing shows. A list consisting specifically of holiday episodes is something to consider in the future.

    Barry, November 25, 2008 at 11:10 am

  • I voted for four; my favorite, Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas, isn't listed. This is my write-in for it!

    throwingspoons, November 22, 2008 at 10:11 pm

  • I am saddened Grandma got Run Over by a Reindeer isn't on the list. I also loved Olive the Other Reindeer. Someone needs to work on creating more holiday specials for other cultures. Where are all the Chanukah specials? Adam Sandler should make a TV special. There was an episode of a show called Stanley that compares and contrats all three major holidays. It first aired on Thursday November 29, 2001 AT 10:00 AM EST and I do believe it is in the Paley collection.

    pinklady510, November 22, 2008 at 11:37 am

  • Not on the list is one of my favorites...Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas by Jim Henson first aired on HBO in 1977 (I think). I have a DVD copy and watch it EVERY Christmas season.

    HDLady, November 20, 2008 at 8:32 pm

  • The sound of Bing Crosby's voice always spells Christmas, and he was a much more versatile entertainer than Andy Williams and other popular stars of Christmas specials. "The Grinch" is a dream, a drunken carnival-30 minutes of innovation and brilliance, so much better than the grotesque, overstuffed feature film version. "Charlie Brown Christmas" also demonstrates what simple charm and warmth can achieve...years before "Seinfeld" it shows how a show seemingly "about nothing" can have great resonance. "Rudolf" has a great song score and memorable characters. "Santa Claus is Comin'" has Fred Astaire's class. And special props to Pee Wee Herman for being so bizzare and subversive (watch for Pee wee's unexplained hunky holiday visitors) and yet truly sweet and celebratory at the same time. The infamous "Star Wars" special doesn't really even belong with the others on the list; it's a novelty of interest only to Star Wars completists.

    tblink, November 19, 2008 at 9:22 pm

  • Charlie Brown and the Grinch are family classics, no matter how old you are they can remind you of why the holidays are so great. Missing from the list however are The O.C. Chrismukkah episodes. They deserve to be on the list because the idea of celebrating more than one holiday or tradition in a family is a very common practice today.

    hi-may, November 19, 2008 at 6:26 pm

  • Missing from the list: "The Little Rascals Christmas Special" (1979 Animated) "The Simpsons" Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire (1989) "The Fat Albert Christmas Special" (1977 Animated) "The Daily Show Andy Williams Christmas Special" (1997) "The Johnny Cash Christmas Special" (w/ ANDY KAUFMAN) (1977) "The Bob Hope All Star Christmas Comedy Special" (1977) "It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special" (1992) "A Pinky & the Brain Christmas Special" (1995) "The Smurfs Christmas Special" (1982)

    jpazz, November 19, 2008 at 5:26 pm

  • "The House Without a Christmas Tree" makes me cry until my eyes are puffy. That gets my vote!

    candypants, November 19, 2008 at 4:59 pm

  • Missing from the list: A Very Supernatural Christmas

    Pop Culture Curmudgeon, November 19, 2008 at 3:02 pm

  • Plenty of great shows on here, and sure, the Star Wars special has a cult following and the kitsch factor, but for my money, A Charlie Brown Christmas is what defines the term "Christmas special" for me. Something I look forward to seeing ever year. The message, the script, the dancing!

    Ken, November 18, 2008 at 12:31 pm

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