Santa and the Three Bears

Santa and the Three Bears is a 1970 animated feature film, which aired in syndication on television regularly during the holiday season.[2]

Santa and the Three Bears
Directed byTony Benedict
Barry Mahon (live-action portions)
Written byTony Benedict
Produced byTony Benedict
James Kernodle
Barry Mahon
StarringHal Smith
Jean Vander Pyl
Christina Ferra-Gilmore
Bobby Riha
Beth Goldfarb
Brian Hobbs
Edited byMilton Krear
Music byJoe Leahy
Tony Benedict Productions
Key Industries, Ltd.
Distributed byR & S Film Enterprises Inc.
Warner Bros.-Seven Arts
Release date
  • November 7, 1970 (1970-11-07)[1]
Running time
46 minutes (50 minutes complete with live-action footage)
CountryUnited States

Background edit

The film was originally pitched to TV networks, which rejected it as it lacked a villain, but was then shown in theaters instead. This special has been rerun on TBN, USA Network, FOX Family (now Freeform), and on KTLA channel 5 in Los Angeles. It also received a "blue ribbon" award for Best Family Film at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

The live-action sequences, directed by Barry Mahon, at the beginning and end of the film are often edited out in television reruns.[3] The edited version was later released on VHS in 1992 by Kids Klassics, and distributed by GoodTimes Home Video.

Plot summary edit

Two young bears, Nikomi and Chinook, know nothing of Christmas until the local park ranger tells them about the legend, and they become curious to meet Santa Claus. Their mother, Nana, is preparing for Winter hibernation and cynically tells her children there is no Santa, but they are determined to believe. Mother finds it impossible to begin their sleep, since the young cubs wish to stay awake until Santa arrives.

Voice cast edit

  • Hal Smith as Grandfather, Santa and Mr. Ranger[4]
  • Jean Vander Pyl (credited as Jean van der Pyl) as Nana
  • Christina Ferra-Gilmore (credited as Annette Ferra) as Nikomi
  • Bobby Riha as Chinook
  • Joyce Taylor
  • Ken Engels
  • Beth Goldfarb as Beth
  • Brian Hobbs as Brian
  • Lenard Keith
  • Kathy Lemmon
  • Roxanne Poole
  • Michael Rodriguez

Live action segments edit

The theatrical release of the film contains live-action sequences directed by director Barry Mahon, running for around four minutes in total. These sequences feature actor Hal Smith and two young children (Brian Hobbs and Beth Goldfarb) sitting in a cabin and conversing by the fireplace and Christmas tree, and a short montage of mechanical toys, Christmas decorations, and a pet kitten, during the opening and closing credits. The film has been also released by Modern Sound Pictures Inc. with the live-action sequences cut.

Legacy edit

Bill Hutten and Tony Love, the film's animators, created another Christmas television special in 1983 named The Christmas Tree Train, also starring a bear cub alongside a fox cub and a park ranger, which led to a TV series called Buttons & Rusty.[5]

The film is currently owned by Multicom Entertainment Group.[6]

Mary Jo Pehl and Bridget Nelson of the cult series Mystery Science Theater 3000 spoofed the film on RiffTrax December 22, 2023.[7]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Print advertisement for the film. Clipped from The Miami News on November 6, 1970.
  2. ^ Woolery, George W. (1989). Animated TV Specials: The Complete Directory to the First Twenty-Five Years, 1962-1987. Scarecrow Press. pp. 358–359. ISBN 0-8108-2198-2. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  3. ^ Crump, William D. (2019). Happy Holidays—Animated! A Worldwide Encyclopedia of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year's Cartoons on Television and Film. McFarland & Co. p. 263. ISBN 9781476672939.
  4. ^ Beck, Jerry (October 28, 2005). The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Review Press. pp. 243. ISBN 978-1556525919.
  5. ^ Buttons & Rusty (TV Series 1983-1994) - IMDb
  6. ^ Multicom Entertainment Group
  7. ^ RiffTrax

External links edit