The Story of Frosty the Snowman

The story of Frosty the Snowman is a holiday staple. But where did this story come from? Although Christmas isn't specifically mentioned in the lyrics to the song, Frosty was meant to be a part of Christmas from the very beginning.

A Holiday Hit
Frosty was first introduced to the world in 1950, when the songwriting team of Walter "Jack" Rollins and Steve Nelson decided to try to come up with a song that would be a good follow up to Gene Autry's 1949 Christmas hit, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer."  The pair decided on a song about a magical snowman who comes to life when children place a magic hat upon his head. The song was recorded by Gene Autry that same year, and became another holiday hit for the singing cowboy. The song has been recorded many times since by other artists, and has been a staple of Christmas radio since the year it was released.

The character of Frosty the Snowman won the hearts of the American public, and before long a children's picture book based on the song was published. Frosty the Snow Man, a Little Golden Book, was published in 1951, and became the first of many Frosty picture books. That same year, the first in a series of Frosty the Snowman comic books was published, as well.

Frosty on the Small Screen
Frosty was first seen in full animated glory in 1954, when a cartoon short of the song was produced and aired on the television station WGN-TV. The short film was shown along with other animated holiday shorts throughout the Christmas season. The short remains a perennial favorite on WGN, and has been shown many times over the years, as recently as 2005.

In 1969, Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass produced a half-hour animated television special featuring Frosty that would quickly become a holiday classic. Screen writer Romeo Muller expanded upon the song lyrics, adding more characters and a new storyline, including an appearance by Santa Claus.

Rankin and Bass were famous for their stop-action animation, but Frosty the Snowman was their first project that used traditional cel animation. This was chosen to give the production the look of a Christmas card. Like their other children's specials, which include Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Frosty the Snowman became an instant holiday classic that is still aired on television each year in December.

Rankin and Bass later produced two sequels to the original TV special, in 1976 and 1979. Frosty came to life again in the 1990s, with the TV special Frosty Returns and the video The Legend of Frosty the Snowman.

Frosty has beome such an integral part of Christmas lore that it's hard to believe he's only been around for a little more than half a century.Frosty has become a symbol of the magic of Christmas and the joy of youth, making his appeal timeless.

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