The thing I like about digging through old Christmas specials on YouTube is seeing how they’re really like miniature time capsules. While guys like Tony Bennett have been famous for decades, most famous people tend to get famous for a short while but it never lasts. It’s the fleeting nature of fame, of course. So, as often as not, Christmas specials, in the tradition of all variety shows, are a reflection of the time in which they were produced.
I put this video, again, from a Dean Martin special, on my Facebook page a while back just to show how quickly things can date. A friend didn’t know who any of them were.
For those born after 1980, they were, from the left, Andy Gibb of the Bee Gees, once a massively popular pop group, Erik Estrada, who played a motorcycle cop best known for his tight fitting uniform and his dazzling white teeth (in those days a novelty), and Mel Tillis, a Country and Western singer known for his humourous songs and a stutter, which he played for laughs. For about 15 minutes in 1980, all of these men were superstars.
Then there was the appearance of Andy Kaufman at the Johnny Cash Christmas special, a comedian whose humour could best be described as “conceptual.”
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the other clip from that broadcast in which Andy proposes marriage to Anne Murray.
And I’m just going to leave this one here:
Grace Jones, on the Pee Wee Herman Christmas special, wearing a molded plastic breast plate and singing “Little Drummer Boy”. The oddest thing? The joke in the show that she was supposed to delivered to the White House where, presumably, she would do this song for then President Ronald Reagan.