We’re starting to play Christmas classics this weekend in tandem with the arrival of Santa on Saturday downtown – in fact I have ‘The Grinch Song’ scheduled for Sunday evening in the 8pm hour during my weekend show.
There has always been the assumption that Boris Karloff, who narrated the classic animated TV show based on the beloved Dr. Seuss story, sang the song.
The man who gave the song life was Thurl Ravenscroft, a network and commercial announcer who is most famous for providing the voice for the original Tony the Tiger (“They’re GRRRRRRRREEEEEEAAAAAAT!!).
The story is, Karloff wasn’t keen on doing the song, but producers wanted to keep the sound and feel of the show consistent, so they found someone with a really pronounced lower register (even lower, as it turned out) like Karloff.
Thurl was happy to do it. A very nice man. Came in, sat down, did the song in one take apparently, got up, smiled, said “That was fun, Merry Christmas” and off he went.
The song became even more iconic than the show. And everyone thought Karloff had done the performance.
Someone had forgotten to include Ravenscroft in the credits. So, because there was no name associated with the song – the performer wasn’t referenced – everybody assumed it was Karloff, and he got all the credit.
For years, no one knew that Ravenscroft was the actual performer.
It is said that Dr. Seuss himself was livid at the oversight. Mortified, actually – especially given the popularity of the song.
As I said, Ravenscroft was a sweet man. He just smiled and said, “hey, they gave me a cheque. What more does a guy want? Happy to do it…
So next time you hear “Mr. Grinch” on FRESH, think of Thurl Ravenscroft as you enjoy your Sugar Frosted Flakes…