TNB Night Owl – The Grinch, Unmasked

Grinch sand sculpture, Photo by Cayobo

Maybe, based on the title of this Night Owl, “The Grinch, Unmasked”, you jumped to the inaccurate conclusion that the topic tonight was about How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (2000) – the one with Jim Carrey.

Nope. I wouldn’t touch that one with a thirty-nine and a half-foot pole, as I’ve never been a Carrey fan and have never seen that version. Nor have I seen the computer-animated The Grinch (2018), although I’ve read some good things about it.

No, aside from some trivia about the original TV special (1966) and the Dr. Seuss book (1957) that the special was based on, this Night Owl is hunting for something a little deeper. First, let’s get right to the trivia, ’cause I like trivia and you are at my mercy!

Probably most of you will remember that the TV holiday special was narrated by Boris Karloff. Many people assumed that Karloff also sang the signature song, You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch. The song was actually sung by Thurl Ravenscroft, best known as the voice of “Tony The Tiger”, in Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes commercials.

The song is also heard in Home Alone (1990) as Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) falls asleep while watching the special (or has already fallen asleep, I can’t recall – dock me a trivia point).

Theodor Seuss Geisel, known as Ted Geisel to his friends and as Dr. Seuss to the rest of the world, said of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, that it was “the easiest book of my career to write.”

Cindy Lou Who was voiced by June Foray, who also played the voices of Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Natasha Fatale, among other characters.

Both Geisel and Foray were born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He in 1904, and she in 1917. It’s an entertaining coincidence that makes for useless but interesting trivia. On the plus side, it gives me something to pad this story with. (Just being brutally honest with you).

Geisel, who scorned the commercial aspect of the Christmas holidays, was 53 years old when he wrote “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”. In the book, the Grinch complains that he has had to endure the Christmas celebrations of the Whos in Whoville for 53 years.

Lark Dimond-Cates, who was Geisel’s step-daughter by his second marriage, said, “I always thought the Cat [In The Hat] was Ted on his good days, and the Grinch was Ted on his bad days”. This is an interesting observation, as it suggests that Dr. Seuss, the famous and beloved author of children’s books, was a complex man.

In an interview with Redbook magazine in 1957, Geisel recollected, “I was brushing my teeth on the morning of the 26th of last December when I noted a very Grinchish countenance in the mirror. It was Seuss! Something had gone wrong with Christmas, I realized, or more likely with me. So I wrote the story about my sour friend, the Grinch, to see if I could rediscover something about Christmas that obviously I’d lost.”

With that personal and candid observation, Geisel embarked on a journey of self-examination that led to writing his first book that featured a villain, the Grinch.

After he wrote the book, Geisel put vanity license plates on his car that read, ‘GRINCH’. He acknowledged the truth about himself and owned it.

Near the end of the TV special, after the Grinch has done everything he possibly could to ruin their Christmas, he’s puzzled by the reaction of the Whos in Whoville. They’re singing, joyfully. Then it dawns on the Grinch, just as it had to have dawned on Geisel, that, “Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more”.

There you have it. The Grinch, unmasked, was Dr. Seuss himself. A complex man, indeed.

Question of the night: Are you now, or have you ever been, a Grinch?

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About Richard Doud 606 Articles
Learning is a life-long endeavor. Never stop learning. No one is right all the time. No one is wrong all the time. No exceptions to these rules.