Note: This is a repost from last year, but the links to the radio shows have been changed. The links in the old blog are no longer valid.
In 1937 a Hollywood production company called Transco (Transcription Company of America) produced a 26-episode children's Christmas program called The Cinnamon Bear.
Since that time, the Cinnamon Bear program has reportedly been broadcast somewhere in the world every holiday season.
In some locales, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, it has become a much beloved yearly radio tradition.
In 1951, the Cinnamon Bear program was done with hand puppets on TV (using the audio from the radio show). The show was so popular, it wasn't uncommon in the 1950's to find department stores with a Cinnamon Bear that kids gave their Christmas wish lists to.
And a new book was released on the program's 70th anniversary.
Jerrel McQueen and Timothy Holmes illustrated this book published in 2007 by Beautiful America Publishing Company. –Wikipedia
Its 26 15-minute episodes (with commercials) were designed to be aired six nights a week from November 29th to the grand finale on Christmas Eve.
Geared for the 3 to 8 year old crowd (not that adults couldn't enjoy it!), the plot involves the adventures of Judy and Jimmy Barton as they go to the enchanted world of Mabyeland in search of their missing silver star that belonged on the top of their Christmas Tree.
Along the way they meet the Cinnamon Bear, a miniature stuffed bear with shoe-button eyes who would serve as their guide, and other characters like the Wintergreen Witch and Fe Fo the Giant.
The copyright status of these shows is a little blurry. The Wikipedia lists the copyright as being current, and held by the heirs of the author, Glanville Heisch, who died in 1986.
The shows, however, are available for free download from a variety of sites, http://www.cinnamonbear.co.uk, and are rebroadcast each year by a great many radio stations. You’ll also find some Cinnamon Bear Coloring books available for download from this site.
The cast includes some familiar names and voices.
- Joseph Kearns (as the Crazyquilt Dragon) is best remembered for his role as Mr. Wilson in the TV series Dennis The Menace.
- Howard McNear (as the Cowboy, and Sammy the Seal) created the role of Doc Adams on radio's Gunsmoke, but the baby boomer generation knows him as Floyd the barber on the Andy Griffith Show.
- Gale Gordon (Weary Willie the Stork and Oliver Ostrich) was an accomplished radio actor as well, but is best known for playing Theodore J. Mooney on The Lucy Show.
- Frank Nelson (Captain Tintop) was Jack Benny's long time foil, appearing as a variety of rude salesclerks. His signature lines "Ye-e-e-e-s?" and "Oo-oo-oo-ooh, DO they!" are imitated to this day on shows like The Simpsons.
In the tradition of Alice in Wonderland, and The Wizard of Oz, these are wonderful fantasy trips for children of all ages.
A reader has pointed out that hotlinks to the Cinnamon Bear website produce an error, so to access these shows please go to the Cinnamon Bear website.