The beloved holiday special How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is 50 this year. The collaboration between Chuck Jones, arguably the greatest animator of the 20th century, and Dr. Seuss, arguably the greatest children's book author of all time, first aired on CBS on December 18, 1966.
The half-hour special about the grouchy cave-dwelling Grinch's attempt to ruin Christmas for the Whos down in Whoville and his change of heart once he gets to know little Cindy Lou Who is a classic that gets shown every year during the holiday season.
To celebrate the special's 50th anniversary, we've complied some fun facts about How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
1. In the book, the Grinch wasn't green
It's easy to forget, but the book is illustrated in black-and-white. The Grinch's green coloration was Chuck Jones' creation. "Chuck always said, 'I'm not trying to add things to it, I'm trying to extend the original idea out,'" media studies professor and animation expert Kevin Sandler told Vulture.
2. Boris Karloff didn't sing "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch"
Horror-movie legend Boris Karloff voiced the Grinch and was the only voice actor listed in the end credits, so people assumed that he sang the Grinch's theme song, but it was actually performed by Thurl Ravenscroft, a well-regarded voice actor who was also the voice of Tony the Tiger.
3. The cartoon was exorbitantly expensive for animation at the time
How the Grinch Stole Christmas cost around $300,000 to make, 10 times the price of the average half-hour of animation at the time (A Charlie Brown Christmas, which came out a year earlier, cost $76k, according to Sandler). The cost was offset by a bank sponsorship, which is ironic considering the special's anti-consumerist message.
4. Dr. Seuss had a "GRINCH" vanity license plate
Theodor Geisel, who admitted the Grinch was inspired by his own disenchantment with the Christmas holiday at the time he wrote the story, drove a car with the license plate "GRINCH." His widow Audrey kept the GRINCH plate alive after her husband's death in 1991.
5. There's a sequel
A Halloween-themed sequel (prequel?) came out in 1977, bearing the awkward title Halloween Is Grinch Night, where the Grinch again attempts to terrorize Whoville but this time doesn't find redemption. It won the Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program that year, but it hasn't stood the test of time the way the original has.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas airs Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 8/7c and 8:30/7:30c on TNT and Friday, Dec. 23 on NBC, and is available to stream via Amazon.