Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to All

We have successfully avoided doing a lot of Christmas-related posts this year, but there's one holiday tradition we have no intention of ending: the airing of "Hardrock, Coco and Joe." If you're unfamiliar with HC&J, it was created in 1951, with words and music by Stuart Hamblen and animation by a gentleman named Wah Ming Chang. It wasn't until 1956, though, that it became legend after it began airing every Christmastide on Frazier Thomas' Garfield Goose and Friends on Chicago's own WGN-TV.

Stuart Hamblen was a singing cowboy who had undergone a conversion at a Billy Graham revival in 1949. Henceforth, he focused on Christian music and hosted a radio show called "The Cowboy Church of the Air." It is unclear to me whether "Hardrock, Coco and Joe" is considered part of his Christian period or his pagan period.

Mr. Hamblen died in 1989, but his work will live on in the hearts of children who grew up in Chicagoland and, now thanks to YouTube, to the entire world. You could say the same about Wah Ming Chang, who died in 2003, but he will also live on in the hearts of Trekkies throughout the universe, for he designed all the props for the original Star Trek series as well as all the delightful animation you see here. (There are two full published biographies of Wah; sadly, I have yet to read either). Set your phasers on joy:

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