Santa Claus is a difficult role to play, whether on television or in film. The legend of Santa Claus has created big shoes for actors to fill. Plenty of actors have tackled the role over the years, but a few stand out as the jolliest of the lot. Here are a few fan-favorite portrayals of Santa Claus in television and film.
The original 1947 version of “Miracle on 34th Street” features Edmund Gwenn as the infamous Kris Kringle. The film is based on the character of Mr. Kringle as society ostracized him for his claims to be the real Santa Claus; the townspeople even attempted to lock him up for reason of insanity. Despite the constant battle he faced, Edmund Gwenn’s portrayal of Kris Kringle radiated strength and hope throughout the film. He never lost sight of his can-do spirit and always maintained a positive attitude.
“The Polar Express,” released in 2004, was a film adaptation of a 1985 children’s book, written by Chris Van Allsburg. In the animated film, two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks gave a voice to the character of Santa Claus. While he only made a brief appearance toward the end of the film, Hanks’ character of Santa Claus had a huge impact on the main character—he even gave him a bell from his sleigh. However, many people don’t realize that Tom Hanks voiced more characters throughout the film than just Santa Claus. Hanks provided the voices for five different characters, including the narrator and the train conductor.
A classic, unforgettable Christmas film is the 1969 animated version of “Frosty the Snowman.” In the film, Santa Claus is voiced by the talented singer-songwriter Paul Frees. Frees’ character of Santa Claus provided reassurance and hope for the young characters, reminding them of the light in the world, even when sad things happen to us. Santa even faced off with the villain of the film and brought Frosty back to life by returning his hat.
Tim Allen took on the role of Santa Claus in the “The Santa Clause” film series. The story began with Scott Calvin (Tim Allen), an average, everyday dad who had to take over the job of being Santa Claus when he injured the real Santa by knocking him off of his roof. The film series became a trilogy, with Tim Allen returning to the North Pole each year to work with his elves to make Christmas happen for all of the children around the world.
As part of television special, Stan Francis was the voice of Santa Claus in the classic stop-motion animated film, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Santa provided Rudolph with self-confidence throughout the film, showing Rudolph the positive attributes of his red nose, a trait he was otherwise ashamed of. The one-hour stop-motion film has become a Christmas classic, re-airing year after year across several different channels.
Santa Claus is a household name, making it a difficult role for any actor to take on. However, these actors have done exceptionally well in portraying Santa’s legacy on the big screen.