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How the Grinch Stole Christmas! 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Dr. Seuss' Yuletide Classic

The Grinch turns 57 this year, and we bet there are things you still don't know about the Christmas classic!

By Tara Bennett
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Let's face it, the holiday season isn't for everyone. For those of you out there — for whatever reason — who aren't feeling the festivities, it's nice to know author Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, wrote How the Grinch Stole Christmas! as the alternative to all of the unfettered cheer. The story was so well-received that its since been adapted into every medium, including live musical theater and a podcast. But per Rotten Tomatoes, it's the 1966 animated special of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, as narrated by Boris Karloff, that still grabs the shriveled hearts of most.

The classic television special How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (streaming on Peacock) turns 57 years old this year, and remains beloved and synonymous with the season, especially for those who like a dash of dour to temper the Who's huzzahs. To celebrate, SYFY WIRE has compiled some lesser known facts about the animated special you can dazzle your friends and family with while you all watch it together.

Fun Facts About Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

The Grinch character didn't first appear in How the Grinch Stole Christmas!


Whether you first came upon the Grinch character in Seuss' book or the animated special, just about everyone assumes that the green guy was birthed specifically by the author for this Christmas story. But you would be mistaken! The Grinch character first appeared in a Seuss poem, "The Hoobub and the Grinch," featured in the May 1955 Redbook Magazine. Two years later, the book with the Grinch as the lead character, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, was published. 

RELATED: From the Grinch to Shrek: The best animated holiday specials, ranked

WWII training cartoons led the way for special to get made

During WWII, a lot of talented artists were enlisted to create materials that would help the war effort, or help train troops heading overseas. Two of those talents were animator Chuck Jones and Geisel, who met and worked together on the U.S. Military commissioned animated short films produced by Warner Bros. Studio. The Private Snafu series helped educate G.I.s on a range of subjects in an easy and entertaining way. 

Having worked well together, Jones approached Geisel about adapting the book into an animated holiday special in the same vein as the hit 1965 animated special, A Charlie Brown Christmas. Unhappy with previous adaptations of his books, Geisel agreed to give Jones the rights because of their previous personal collaborations. 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! was given a massive production budget for the time

The Grinch appears at the mouth of his snowy cave in How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Due to the success of CBS' A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1965, Jones was able to get MGM to amply fund his 30-minute animated adaptation of How The Grinch Stole Christmas! He and his crew of animators were given a budget of $315,000 which calculated in today's currency would be $2,991,245.83. The special took 14 months to complete and featured 15,000 hand drawings and production animation cels.

RELATED: Universal Studios Unveils 2023 Exclusive Holiday Merch from Harry Potter to The Grinch

Dr. Seuss wrote all of the animated special's songs

Actively seeking Geisel's inclusion in the making of the animated special, Jones had Dr. Seuss write all of the lyrics for the original songs, which included "Welcome Christmas," "Trim up the Tree," and "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." Broadway composer Albert Hague wrote the music for the songs and was the composer of the score for the special. Hague was also an actor; fans of the film and TV series Fame will remember him as the teacher, Mr. Shorofsky. 

Boris Karloff did not sing "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch"

The Grinch holds his dog Max up by the scruff in How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

The only credited voice on the 1966 special is actor Boris Karloff, who narrates the tale, voices the Grinch's speaking voice, and does some incidental Whoville voices. However, there were other voice actors used in the special, most notable being animation voice acting legend June Foray as Cindy Lou Who. But because Karloff voices the Grinch, it is another common misconception that he sang the character's voice too. In truth, voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft (the voice of Kellogg's Tony the Tiger) did the singing for what has since become the Grinch's anthem, "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch."

Watch the classic animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas! streaming now on Peacock!