Christmas Specials Wiki
Christmas Specials Wiki

Brown-haired boy: Aw, Frosty, we don't care what grownups say.
Red-haired boy: We know you did come to life.
Karen: We know, Frosty. We just know.

— Karen and her friends right before the title card

Frosty the Snowman is an animated Christmas special that first aired on CBS on December 7, 1969 and has aired annually since then. Written by Romeo Muller and produced and directed by Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass, it is based on the song of the same name, which was originally written by Jack Rollins and Steve Nelson and first performed by Gene Autry in the 1940s. It is Rankin/Bass's second most prominent special to be aired on broadcast channels, behind Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and is notably the longest-running animated television special to have consecutively aired annually on its original network.


SPOILER: Plot details or story follow.

Professor Hinkle and the children are surprised to see that the hat has brought Frosty to life.

On Christmas Eve, a girl named Karen and her classmates are waiting for the end of the school day. After seeing an attempted magic act by inept magician Professor Hinkle, they go out to enjoy the newly-fallen snow. They build a snowman and, after several suggestions of what to name him (including "Christopher Columbus" and "Oatmeal"), Karen decides on "Frosty". They then acquire the Hinkle's now-discarded top hat, and when Karen places it on top of Frosty's head, he comes to life and says "Happy Birthday!" Hinkle, having seen the magic power his hat actually possesses, takes it back and departs, pretending that he did not see Frosty come to life. However, his pet rabbit, Hocus Pocus, soon returns the hat to Frosty.

Frosty and the children march to the train station.

Frosty soon senses the temperature is rising and worries about melting. The children suggest putting him on the next train to the North Pole, where he will never melt, and they all parade into the city on the way to the train station, where Frosty has his confrontation with the traffic cop mentioned in the song's lyrics. When Karen explains that Frosty came to life and is just coming to terms with his surroundings, the cop lets Frosty go. At the train station, Frosty stows away aboard a refrigerated boxcar, since neither he nor any of the children have money for a train ticket. As the train is about to depart, Karen and Hocus decide to join Frosty for the ride to keep him company. With that, they wave goodbye to the other children as the train departs, unaware that Hinkle has also hitched a ride on it, intending to get his hat back.

As the train continues up north, however, Frosty notices that Karen is freezing and starting to catch a cold, so they get off the train, leaving Hinkle behind once again. Seeing them escape, Hinkle jumps off the train too, but falls down a mountain and crashes into a tree where a pile of snow falls on him. At Frosty's request, Hocus convinces some forest animals who are preparing for Christmas to build a campfire for Karen. Fearing that she still can't survive for long in the cold weather, Frosty asks Hocus who might be able to help them. Hocus suggests (by pantomiming) the Marines and the President of the United States, before suggesting Santa Claus. Frosty agrees, and promptly takes credit for the idea himself (much to Hocus' annoyance). Hocus gets Santa, but Hinkle then confronts Frosty and Karen once more and blows out Karen's campfire. They are forced to flee again, this time with Karen riding on Frosty's back as he slides headfirst down a hill. At the bottom of the slope, they discover a greenhouse filled with Christmas poinsettias. Despite Karen's objections, Frosty steps inside with her, saying that he could afford to lose a little weight. Unfortunately, Hinkle catches up to them immediately after and locks them inside.

Santa, having just revived Frosty, confronts Hinkle.

Hocus brings Santa to the greenhouse only to find a heartbroken Karen in tears and Frosty melted on the floor. Santa explains to Karen that Frosty is made of Christmas snow, and that he can never completely disappear, only take the form of summer rain until next December. With a gust of cold wind through the open greenhouse door, the puddle that was Frosty blows out the door and magically changes back into his inanimate snowman form. Hocus brings the hat outside, but before they can put it back on Frosty's head, Hinkle arrives on the scene and demands they return the hat to him again. He relents only when threatened with being put on Santa's naughty list for the rest of his life if he so much as lays one finger on the brim. Santa states that if Hinkle is truly repentant for his misdeed, and if he goes home and writes "I am really sorry for what I did to Frosty" a hundred zillion times, he may find a gift in his stocking on Christmas morning. He promptly bids Frosty and Karen farewell and runs home to repeatedly write his apologies, assuming he may get a new hat. Santa then places the hat back on top of Frosty's head and brings him back to life. After celebrating, Santa takes Karen home and Frosty to the North Pole, but promises that Frosty will be back next winter.

Frosty leaves for the North Pole with Santa.

The closing credits show all the characters the next Christmas parading through the town square with Frosty in the lead, singing the title song. Among them is a redeemed Hinkle, who is proudly wearing his new hat. At the end of the parade, Frosty gets back into Santa's sleigh and they return to the North Pole, with Frosty proclaiming, "I'll be back on Christmas Day!"

Television rights

CBS has broadcast the special in the USA since its debut, even after the pre-1974 Rankin/Bass library was sold first to Broadway Media, then to Golden Books, and then to Classic Media, a successor of the British-owned Entertainment Rights company, which was purchased by Classic Media's own successor, Boomerang Media. In July 2012, DreamWorks purchased Classic Media, and in turn, DreamWorks Animation was later purchased by NBC Universal in April 2016. The special made its cable debut on Freeform's 25 Days of Christmas in December 2019.

In Canada, CBC holds the broadcasting rights.


The special was followed up by two sequels produced by Rankin/Bass - Frosty's Winter Wonderland in 1976, and Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July in 1979. In 1992, CBS produced a new follow-up special, Frosty Returns, which has followed up their broadcasts of the original one since then, and also accompanied it on most DVD and Blu-ray releases. Classic Media created a direct-to-video sequel titled The Legend of Frosty the Snowman in 2005.


The special was released on home video by Family Home Entertainment in 1989 and 1993, then by Sony Wonder in 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2004, by Genius Entertainment in 2007, by Vivendi Entertainment in 2010, and by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment in 2018. Most of the DVD and Blu-ray releases also included Frosty Returns.


Frosty the Snowman Special poster.png
I was called in to voice the little girl Karen. I was disappointed to learn later that my work for the Karen character was replaced by another actress. To this day I am unsure of the reason, but I still enjoy the special.

  • In addition to narrating the special, Jimmy Durante sang the title song, recording it for the second time in his career. He is one of the few recording artists to release it with both its original and modern lyrics that are more familiar today.
  • From 2002 through 2005, Nickelodeon ran a parody of the special during their commercial breaks at Christmas, titled Patrick the Snowman and featuring Patrick Star from SpongeBob SquarePants in the title role. Coincidentally, Patrick's voice actor, Bill Fagerbakke, would voice Frosty himself a few years later in The Legend of Frosty the Snowman.


  • On most DVD releases, when Frosty says "Great!" the animation repeats itself once.
  • Since 2010, all current home media releases (as well as the Freeform airings) utilize an early "workprint" master of the special. This master omits the "Rankin/Bass Present" credit at the very beginning, as well as some other differences:
    • Some of the sound effects are more in sync.
    • The line "Yeah, Frosty it is. Frosty the Snowman!" is spoken by June Foray's demo track.
    • After Frosty says "Let's have a parade!", the children's cheering of "Yay, we're going to the railroad train!" is more audible.
    • The instrumental at the beginning of the special is slightly different.
    • The background music has been lowered in volume in most spots, and come half a second early in other spots.
    • Certain sound effects have been removed, including part of the children's laughter at the start, the springy sound that Hocus Pocus makes when he lands on the classroom floor, the sound that he makes when he falls out of the hat after returning it to the children, and the sounds of the squirrel that laughs at Hinkle after he crashes into a tree and is covered up in snow.


  • Many times in the special, the petals of the flower on Frosty's hat switch between five and six.
  • Santa only has four reindeer pulling his sleigh instead of eight.
  • When Frosty says they'll have a parade and the children are ready to march, the boy in the blue sweater is behind Karen. During the parade, the boy in the brown sweater is there.
  • The edges of Frosty's hat repeatedly switch from sharp to smooth and back many times in the special.
  • When Karen says "Then we've got to get you there!" and when the barber notices Frosty, the flower on Frosty's hat is on the right side instead of the left.
  • When Karen tells Hinkle "But it's not yours anymore. You threw it away." if you look closely at her, her legs are drawn weirdly, almost like she isn't wearing any pants. In later parts of the special however, you can clearly see that she is wearing pants (thankfully).
  • In the same scene, when Karen tries to convince Hinkle that she and her classmates saw Frosty come to life, both boys' mouths move, even though only one voice says "Uh-huh, we sure did".
  • The girl in the pink dress has short sleeves, but when she is waving goodbye to Frosty and Karen on the train, she has long sleeves.
  • Karen's scarf briefly disappears and then reappears after Hocus pulls on it to get her attention at the train station.
  • Frosty takes his broomstick along with him during the parade and leaves it in town, but when he is revived, it suddenly appears out of nowhere.
  • Frosty's mouth doesn't move when he says "I am alive!" and "Besides, I've been wanting to take off a little weight anyway."
  • When Frosty takes Karen into the greenhouse, his nose turns white for a split second.
  • When Frosty is revived, his mouth is missing, but when Hinkle comes, it reappears, and the background keeps changing.
  • When the camera cuts to Frosty and Karen as the ticket agent is getting the tickets ready, the brim of Frosty's hat turns white for one frame. Also, his corncob pipe disappears.
  • In the first shot outside the ticket window, the "Ticket" sign is missing. When the ticket agent says, "No money, no ticket!" it appears.
  • Just after Frosty says "Let's have a parade!" his mouth disappears for a split second.
  • When Karen is getting on the train, one of her mittens becomes the same color as her skin tone for one frame.


Voice actor/actress Character(s)
Jimmy Durante Narrator
Billy De Wolfe Professor Hinkle
Jackie Vernon Frosty
June Foray Teacher
Karen (replaced during post-production)
Karen's friends (replaced during post-production)
Suzanne Davidson (uncredited) Karen
Greg Thomas (uncredited) Karen's friends
Paul Frees Santa Claus
Traffic Cop
Ticket Agent
Karen's friends (replaced during post-production)


External links

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed
content from Wikipedia (view authors).
Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerCricket on the HearthThe Little Drummer BoyFrosty the SnowmanSanta Claus is Comin' to Town • "A Christmas Tree" • 'Twas the Night Before ChristmasThe Year Without a Santa ClausThe First Christmas: The Story of the First Christmas SnowFrosty's Winter WonderlandRudolph's Shiny New YearThe Little Drummer Boy, Book IINestor, 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!