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'Mr. Magoo' Christmas Special Turns 50

21 Nov, 2012 By: John Latchem

Touted as TV’s first-ever animated holiday special, Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

To mark the occasion, DreamWorks Classics has re-released the special as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, and NBC, which first aired it in 1962, will air it again Dec. 22.

In a move that would be emulated by countless TV shows for years to come, producers hit upon the idea of adapting Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, with Magoo as Scrooge.

“A lot of it is based on the music of the Broadway team of Jule Styne and Bob Merrill,” said Robert Mayo, SVP and GM of home entertainment for DreamWorks Classics. “It’s kind of presented as a Broadway show.”

Jim Backus voices Magoo, reprising his role from the TV series. The voice cast also includes Paul Frees, perhaps best known as the narrator for Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion.

Mayo said Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol was the first holiday Blu-ray released by Classic Media, before DreamWorks Animation bought the company. The special has been on DVD since 2001.

“We do very well with it sales-wise every year,” Mayo said.

Despite its age, Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol did not present any major challenges for a high-definition transfer, Mayo said.

“We had all the masters,” Mayo said. “Whatever was needed was there.”

DreamWorks Classics’ next Blu-ray will be the 1971-73 animated series “The Jackson 5ive” Jan. 15.

About the Author: John Latchem

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