Because we all love them so - Hardrock, Coco and Joe is up first. I am growing a bit tired of WGN (Chicago) trying to take all the credit for airing these first. I don't believe it! Knowing the archives so well at WJAC-TV and the early history of the station. WJAC-TV was the FIRST station to air this back in 1951.
Hardrock along with Suzy Snowflake were brought back east by the first film phototog George Gore on 16mm. Mr. Gore was a very well respected newsreel shooter based in Los Angeles, from the Johnstown/Jennerstown area who made it bigtime with his FoxMovietone film of the 1936 St. Patrick's Day Flood. He knew many people in the film making community - from in front of the camera to behind it. In the early days of television - it was hard to fill all the time in the broadcast day - stations needed all the filler they could get their hands on. And these Christmas Classics fit the bill perfectly.
The tune was recorded by the Les Tucker Singers with the words and music by Stuart Hamblen and Published by Hill and Range. So what does Hardrock, Coco and Joe, Star Trek, Bambi and the Pillsbury Doughboy have in common? They all came to life in the hands of the late Wah Ming Chang (1917-2003). The soft-spoken artist pioneered special effects for productions like Pinocchio, Planet of the Apes and Star Trek.
To create the animated short or song cartoonette, Hill & Range Songs hired Centaur Productions. The company was established in the early 1950s by Wah Ming Chang, a sculptor in Walt Disneys Effects and Model Department who created the model of Pinocchio; and George Pal, a producer and Academy Award nominee. The shorts were produced in black-and-white using stop-motion animation, a cinematic process that brings figures or puppets to life by minutely reposing and photographing them frame-by-frame, resulting as fluid movement on screen. Now tell me if you don't think Santa looks just a little bit like Mr. Chang...
Mr. Chang also designed some of the props used on Star Trek - such as this well known item:
There is also a 45 record release of the song.