Article by George Zadorozny--Copyright 1999

A great man named Romeo Muller wrote all of the following animated Christmas specials, which I believe are the finest ones ever:

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964)--with Sam the Snowman as narrator, voiced and sung in the performance of a lifetime by Burl Ives.

Cricket on the Hearth (1967)--featuring the voices of Roddy McDowall and Danny Thomas; co-author, Arthur Rankin, Jr. A beautiful adaptation of Charles Dickens' second-most-famous Christmas story.

The Little Drummer Boy (1968)--narrated by Greer Garson; with voices of Jose Ferrer and Paul Frees. An intense study of hatred overcome by devotion to God.

Frosty the Snowman (1969)--narrated by Jimmy Durante. There's magic in Christmas snow!

Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town (1970)--narrated by Fred Astaire; voice of Mickey Rooney as Kris Kringle. The magically imaginative "origins" of Santa Claus and of lots of Christmas customs. Watch out for Burgermeister Meisterburger!

Rudolph's Shiny New Year (1976)--with Father Time as narrator, voiced and sung by the incomparable Red Skelton. This is a radiant sequel to the 1964 Rudolph, and which begins exactly when and where the original left off. Please don't miss this one! (Technically a New Year's Eve film rather than a Christmas film, but hey, it's got Rudolph, and it's set in December!)

Frosty's Winter Wonderland (1976)--narrated by Andy Griffith. Frosty seeks a wife, and Jack Frost contrives to have winter last--forever! Is there ANYONE who can change his mind?

Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977)--narrated by Roger Miller. A bittersweet tale of cruelty and oppression overcome by bravery and divine Providence.

The Stingiest Man in Town (1978)--this is a musical version of Dickens's Christmas Carol, narrated by Tom Bosley.

The Little Rascals Christmas Special (1979)--this film captures perfectly the finest essence of the original Rascals/Our Gang films. In a nice touch, Matthew Beard (the original Stymie) provides the voice of the neighborhood grocer, and Darla Hood (the original Darla) provides the voice of Mom (which is quite a big part in this film).

Jack Frost (1979)--narrated by Buddy Hackett, and with a dazzling performance by Paul Frees (best known as the voice of Rocky & Bullwinkle's Boris Badenov) as an amazing bad guy named Kubla Kraus. Technically, this is not a Christmas film, since its ostensible purpose is to explain the origin of the shadow legend of Groundhog Day. However, Christmas does come into the story, and it just feels like a Christmas film! (And don't miss Buddy Hackett singing "Me and My Shadow"!)

Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July (1979)--narrated by Mickey Rooney as Santa Claus. The innocence of Rudolph and Frosty pitted against the wickedness of Winterbolt.

Pinocchio's Christmas (1980)--a nicely wrought Christmas version of the Collodi story.

The Leprechaun's Christmas Gold (1981)--this is a little-known gem, with Art Carney (in perfect Irish brogue) as Blarney Kilakilarney, chief leprechaun and guardian of the Christmas gold. Beautiful and superb.

The Wish that Changed Christmas (1991)--with Jonathan Winters as an evil stuffed owl! A lovely, hypnotic, and poetic story of a wish and an orphan girl.

Noel (1992)--narrated by Charlton Heston. This tells the story of a living Christmas tree ornament who, through spreading happiness, earns the greatest gift of all.

VIDEO BIOGRAPHY. There's a fine video biography of Romeo Muller at the end of a 1993 animated video called "The Twelve Days of Christmas." (ISBN 1-55511-516-0; Goodtimes Home Video 05-77126.) Strangely, the biography is not mentioned anywhere on the tape's cover! Nor can I recommend the animated film; it was based on a sketchy outline by Romeo, and was completed after his death by another, who lacked Romeo's magical touch. But the biography is wonderful!

Also by Mr. Muller are many non-Christmas animated films, just as marvelous and superb. They are:

****Dorothy in the Land of Oz (1980) (narrated by Sid Caesar)--also known as "Thanksgiving in the Land of Oz"

****The Easter Bunny Is Comin' to Town (1977) (narrated by Fred Astaire)

****The Emperor's New Clothes (1972) (voices: Danny Kaye, Imogene Coca)

****The Flight of Dragons (1986) (with additional material by Jeffrey Walker; for young adults) (voices: James Earl Jones, Harry Morgan)

****The Hobbit (1977); ****The Return of the King (1980) (based on J.R.R. Tolkien's works; for young adults)

****Here Comes Peter Cottontail (1971) (voices: Danny Kaye, Vincent Price)

****It's a Brand New World (1977)

****Mouse on the Mayflower (1968) (voices: Tennessee Ernie Ford, Eddie Albert)

****Peter and the Magic Egg (1983) (narrated by Ray Bolger)

****Puff the Magic Dragon (1978) (voices: Burgess Meredith, Peter Yarrow)

****Puff the Magic Dragon in "The Land of the Living Lies" (1979) (voices: Burgess Meredith, Peter Yarrow)

****Puff and the Incredible Mr. Nobody (1982) (voices: Burgess Meredith, Peter Yarrow) (this superb film tells the story of the struggle and triumph of a gifted child)

****Return to Oz (1964) (voices: Susan Conway, Carl Banas)--also known as "A Return to the Mystical, Magical World of Oz"

****The World of Strawberry Shortcake (1980)

****Strawberry Shortcake in Big Apple City (1981)

****Strawberry Shortcake in "Pets on Parade" (1982) (Please note that these are the only three Strawberry Shortcake films written by Romeo Muller; all other ones are merely standard fare)

****The Wacky World of Mother Goose (1966) (voices: Margaret Rutherford, Robert McFadden)

****Willie Mays and the Say-Hey Kid (1972) (voices: Willie Mays, Tina Andrews, Paul Frees)

****The Wind in the Willows (1987) (voices: Charles Nelson Reilly, Roddy McDowall, Jose Ferrer)

Romeo was also the sole writer of a TV animated series called:
****The Tomfoolery Show (1970-1971)

He is also credited as one of the two writers of another TV animated series called:
****The Reluctant Dragon and Mr. Toad Show (1970-1971)

He is also credited as the lead writer of another TV animated series called:
****The Jackson Five Show (1971-1973)

He is also credited as one of several writers of two more animated TV series called:
****The Smokey Bear Show (1969-1971),
****The Osmonds (1972-1974)

He is also credited as having written "special material" for a half-hour ABC-TV special called:
****The Mad, Mad, Mad Comedians (1970)

He is also credited as having written "additional dialogue" for a mixed live action/animation film called:
****The Daydreamer (1966)

{POSTSCRIPT--THE "LOST" FILMS OF ROMEO MULLER. In addition to his work in animation, Romeo also wrote scripts for regular, non-animated network TV, apparently in the '50s and '60s. I don't have a list of exactly what he wrote in this category. So if you watch classic TV, please be on the lookout for his name in the credits, and let me know if you see something that he wrote, so I can add it to this list! You'll get a "thank you" in an acknowledgments section if you do!}

{If anyone who reads this knows more about Romeo Muller or his marvelous works, or can add to this list, please e-mail me at; or write to me at P.O. Box 125, Oldsmar, FL 34677. Merry Christmas!}

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