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Uncle Mistletoe - Dwarfish little man on the children's puppet adventure UNCLE MISTLETOE AND HIS ADVENTURES /SYN/ABC/1952.

Uncle Mistletoe was a 12-inch puppet dressed in a costume resembling an English coachman who assisted Santa Claus with his business matters, a sort of ambassador of good will for the North Pole. Uncle Mistletoe lived with Aunt Holly (debuted in 1948) and the inhabitants of Candy Cane Lane, a magical world where "dreams come true."

Uncle Mistletoe debuted as part of an annual Christmas display designed by Foote, Cone and Belding advertising agency for the Marshal Field Department Store in Chicago in 1946 (to compete with Montgomery Ward's creation, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer).

The original Uncle Mistletoe character (who sported a bright read coat, long white scarf, a set of gauzy wings, and a sprig of mistletoe in his hat) was created by Addis Osborne, an instructor at the Art Institute of Chicago and the spouse of Joanna Osborne, a Marshal Field associate.

 

The Uncle Mistletoe character later moved to a local 15-minute children's program on WENR-TV and was later picked up for nationwide broadcast on the ABC Network.

The show featured a segment called the Kindness Club where viewers who wrote to the show were rewarded for their good deeds with a Kindness Club button and a copy of the Kindness song. The Kindness Club had 15,000 members.

Other puppet characters on the series included Olio, Molio, Aunt Judy, Skippy Monkey, Obadiah Pig, Tony the Pony and Humphrey Mouse. Their voices were provided by Johnny Coons who later starred in his own children's show LIFE WITH JOHNNY COONS/CBS/1954-55. Jennifer Holt and later Doris Larson appeared as the Lookout Lady.


Aunt Holly and Uncle Mistletoe Dolls - Courtesy of the Annette and Bob Lederman's Christmas Memorabilia Collection
Aunt Holly & Uncle Mistletoe Dolls


Uncle MistletoeMarshall Field was one of the original companies to place advance orders for "Little Golden Books" when they were first released in 1942. In the book "Uncle Mistletoe and Aunt Holly (#175) two youngsters, Peter and Bets venture into the winter woods to see Santa Claus. Along the way, Mistletoe and his wife, Aunt Holly greet them at the Cozy Cloud Cottage where Santa stopped on his way to and from the North Pole.

Uncle Mistletoe Article - Part 1

Uncle Mistletoe Article - Part 2

Uncle Mistletoe magazine article

TRIVIA NOTE: Marshall Field's (Marshall Field & Company) was acquired by Cincinnati-based Federated Department Stores on August 30, 2005. The Marshall Field and Company Building on State Street in The Loop of downtown Chicago was renamed Macy's on State Street on September 9, 2006, and is now one of three national Macy's flagship stores

A similar puppet character called Mr. Bingle was created by Emile Alline Sr.(1917-1998), a display director a Maison Blanche Department store in New Orleans who was inspired by the Uncle Mistletoe character during a blustery visit to Chicago in 1947.

With Alline's aid, puppeteer Edwin Harmon "Oscar" Isentrout (died 1985) who provided the voice and movements for Mr. Bingle, designed a snowman marionette that had ornament eyes, holly wings, an ice-cream cone-shaped hat, and a magic candy cane. The Mr. Bingle character soon became a symbol of Christmas in New Orleans.

For several years, Mr. Bingle, too, earned his own 15-minute TV show during the holiday season. The Mr. Bingle character was also seen in the Lowenstein's department stores in Memphis, TN during the 1950s.

According to the poem written by Emile Alline, Sr. "When Santa left his shop one day, he found a snowman near his sleigh..."You'll be my helper", now he said, and tapped the little fellow's head." Mr. Bingle theme song proclaimed "Jingle, jangle jingle, here come Mr. Bingle."


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