Directed by: Jules Bass
Arthur Rankin, Jr.
Frank Oz
Written by: Karey Kirkpatrick
Romeo Muller
Music by: John Powell
Narrated by: Fred Astaire (as Special Delivery Kluger)
Release date: December 14, 1970
Running time: 13 minutes
Original network: ABC
Related specials: The Year Without a Santa Claus

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town is Rankin Bass's fifth Christmas special. The special, originally broadcast on ABC on December 14, 1970, stars actor Fred Astaire as S. D. Kluger, the narrator, and Mickey Rooney as Kris Kringle. The movie tells the story of how Santa Claus, and several Claus-related Christmas traditions, came to be. It is based on the Christmas song of the same name, which was introduced by Eddie Cantor in 1934.


When Special Delivery Kluger's mail truck breaks down, he decides to share some letters to Santa with a group of off-camera children, which in turn prompts him to tell the story of Santa Claus.

The story begins in a gloomy small town called Sombertown, which is ruled by a mean, grouchy, nasty cold, cruel and heartless mayor named Burgermeister Meisterburger. A baby arrives on his doorstep, with nothing more than a name tag that reads: "Claus". The Burgermeister orders his right-hand man, Grimsby to take the baby to the "Orphan Asylum" as he does not want it. On the way to the building, however, a gust of wind blows both sled and baby far away, where he is discovered by an elf family by the name of Kringle, led by their wise Queen, Tanta Kringle. They immediately adopt him, giving him the name Kris.

As Kris grows older, he volunteers to deliver the toys to Sombertown, through the woods. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Kris, the Burgermeister has outlawed all toys in the neighborhood. Before Kris reaches the town, he befriends a penguin who has lost his way to the South Pole and gives him the name "Topper". When Kris and Topper enter the town, Kris meets Miss Jessica, the local school teacher. Kris wins Jessica's affection when he offers her the one thing she'd always wanted for Christmas - a China doll. Kris, seeing the dismal and gloomy state the town is in, decides to raise the children's spirits by handing out toys to the children. Just then, the Burgermeister arrives and chases Kris out of town.

In the woods outside of town, Kris and Topper meet the Winter Warlock, an evil wizard who lives in the woods, and has vowed to capture the interloper. Before the Warlock can finish Kris off, the Kris offers the warlock a toy train. This act of kindness melts the Warlock’s icy heart. Winter shows Kris how to see who is naughty and nice through magic through a Magic Crystal Snowball. They soon see Jessica, who has been looking for Kris to tell him that the kids are requesting more toys since the Burgermeister destroyed the ones Kris give them earlier. Much to the Burgermeister's chagrin, Kris quickly grants that wish. The Burgermeister makes several more attempts to stop young Kringle but to no avail. Soon the Burgermeister and his men start to search every home for toys, and eventually sets a trap for Kris and captures Kris and the others.

Jessica confronts the Burgermeister about the imprisonment only to be rudely rebuffed by him. She sneaks back to Winter's dungeon cell, where the Warlock shows her some of his "magic feed corn", which will give reindeer the ability to fly. With the help of the reindeer, Jessica frees Kris, Topper, Winter and the Kringles from their holding cells, and they all flee into the woods.

After months of being an outlaw, Kris returns to the woods, where he begins to grow his trademark beard. But Tanta, realizing the Kringle name is now dangerous, suggests that he return to his birth name of "Claus." Taking the Queen's advice, he then asks Jessica to share the Claus name with him as his wife. The forlorn group journeys to the North Pole, where they eventually build Santa's Castle and Workshop. As time continues to pass, the Burgermeister regime ends, Kris' legend spreads worldwide, and, having now fully styled himself as Santa Claus, Kris soon accepts that keeping up with the daily toy requests is impossible... leading him to make the fateful decision of limiting his visits to once a year, on December 24th.



Voice actor Character
Fred Astaire Special Delivery Kluger
Mickey Rooney Kris Kringle
Keenan Wynn The Winter Warlock
Paul Frees Burgermeister Meisterburger
Ebenezer Scrooge
Joan Gardner Tanta Kringle
Robie Lester Miss Jessica
Andrea Sacino Child
Dina Lynn Child
Gary White Child
Greg Thomas Child

External links

Rankin/Bass Holiday Specials
Christmas Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerCricket on the HearthThe Little Drummer BoyFrosty the SnowmanSanta Claus is Comin' to Town'Twas the Night Before ChristmasThe Year Without a Santa ClausThe First ChristmasFrosty's Winter WonderlandThe Little Drummer Boy, Book IIRudolph's Shiny New YearNestor, The Long-Eared Christmas DonkeyThe Stingiest Man in TownRudolph and Frosty's Christmas in JulyJack FrostPinocchio's ChristmasThe Leprechauns' Christmas GoldThe Life and Adventures of Santa ClausSanta, Baby!
Other holidays The Mouse on the MayflowerHere Comes Peter CottontailMad, Mad, Mad MonstersThe First Easter RabbitThe Easter Bunny is Comin' To Town
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