Friday, October 3, 2008

Disney's 1977 Halloween Hall O' Fame


Today's Monster Memories are of:
Disney's 1977 Halloween Hall 'O Fame

Last October as I was going through old videos, to put favorites on DVD, I found two treasures that I had taped off TV back in the early 80's... both versions of the Disney Halloween specials! The first, (and best) was the "Halloween Hall O' Fame," and featured Jonathan Winters as a security guard and pumpkin-headed Jack O. Lantern. The show, part of the weekly "Wonderful World of Disney," premiered on October 30th, 1977.

This was my first introduction to my now-favorite Disney Halloween cartoons; "Lonesome Ghosts," "Trick or Treat," "Pluto's Judgement Day" and most importantly "Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Later I searched out the entire cartoons, but for years this tape was must-watch each October. But it got lost in the boxes of tapes, and now has been rediscovered like an old toy from childhood.

Last October I transferred it to DVD and now have it to savor again. I also have the next special that came out a few years later, "Disney's Halloween Treat," with the talking pumpkin on the table. Although it is padded out with the "Disney Villains" clips, (which have nothing to do with Halloween to me), it is good as well for all the actual HW clips. After the new one began showing, the one with Jonanthan Winters was no longer seen, which was a shame. And there's zero chance it will ever be sold on DVD, unless it's part of a collection of Wonderful World of Disney shows. If you have this on tape somewhere, treasure it! I know my DVD transfer will be viewed many times in years to come.


Loathe to lose a customer, Joe the barber didn't have the heart to tell Jack he had no hair left to trim.

On October 3rd, 1977, Time magazine published this mention about the upcoming special in an article:

Cinderella's coach turned into a pumpkin—and Jonathan Winters' head has now suffered the same fate. With a little help from his makeup man, Comic Winters ripens into a big jack-o'-lantern on the set of Walt Disney's special, The Halloween Hall o' Fame. The show, scheduled to air Oct. 30 on NBC, stars Winters as a bumbling night watchman who swaps heads with a talking pumpkin. The tricks and treats are vintage Disney, and Winters loved it all—especially his costume. "I was secure with my head," he says. "I knew I was a pumpkin mentally. There's a lot of seeds up there—some gone."

After kicking off this year's Halloween season by watching it, I made some screen captures off of the DVD to share with you. Enjoy!







The program opens at night, as we move past the sign and toward a window in a building on the Disney campus. Inside, we see a beagle walking down a hallway, followed by the night watchman, played by Winters. The dog's name is Peanuts. That doesn't sound like what he is saying, though.

Peanuts senses something strange in a dark room, and the night watchman goes in to check it out.

Bumping into a skeleton unawares, the guard gets a scare as he cautiously secures the room.

It turns out to be a prop room, with all sorts of interesting things laying about. This prompts the night watchman to mess around with some, doing impromptu bits using various items on a table. This is the kind of comedy Winters was famous for, unrehearsed improv using various voices and characters.

Giving an award to the midget baseball team, whose players are the same size as the trophy.

After finding a bird that had been placed in his lunch pail, he discovers that it had eaten his food.

An Indian fakir charms a snake but gets bitten, then bites the snake in return.

A small-town fire chief rallies his men to put out a doghouse fire.

A doctor chides his patient for not eating his veggies.

Jack O. Lantern startles the night watchman when he appears in a crystal ball.

Challenging the pumpkin-headed intruder, he learns that Jack is hiding out til midnight to avoid Halloween. He doesn't like what it has become, a kid's holiday full of fun and not true scares.

The night watchman disagrees, telling his he ought to be ashamed; a pumpkin hiding on Halloween!

Jack tells how back in the old days they had real ghosts and goblins, not like today. To illustrate, he shows some clips from classic Disney cartoons in his crystal ball. The first is "Trick or Treat."


The final scene from "Trick Or Treat," a last-second "boo" shot if there ever was one.


The next was an edited version of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." So... was the Headless Horseman in this cartoon a real ghost, or just the jealous Brom Bones?

After all the cartoons, at the end of "Legend of Sleepy Hollow," the night watchman, using some reverse psychology, cleverly provokes the spirit of Halloween to come out of hiding and go celebrate the season.

Finding himself temporarily in the crystal ball, our hero wonders what is going on.

Jack tells him he's using his body to go out and mix with the trick or treaters.

Thinking he is paying back the night watchman for questioning his ability to frighten, Jack has a good laugh and heads out into the night.

Content to switch places just for the evening, the night watchman is happy that he got the spook to join the celebrations.

"And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Halloween well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, Happy Halloween, Every One!"

A treat fer ya; Here's a Youtube post someone has made of the entire special!

13 comments:

Todd Franklin said...

Wow, in the back of my brain I vaguely remember this special. Winters looks great with a pumpkin head!

Stephen said...

Nice! It's a shame these things get lost over time, but I'm glad you re-discovered it - and shared it with us.

Frederick said...

Todd,

Thanks for the comment! Enjoying your blogs as always.

And Stephen, your blogs are neat: it's good you save your children's art and Santa letters; my mother never saved anything of mine like that. We enjoy our daughter's items we saved now that she has a little one of her own. They get more treasured over time.

And the artwork of the portraits blog... wow! I wish I was a tenth of that good.

Rozum said...

Man, when I first saw this post, I couldn't believe it. I had planned to post on this later in the month. Yours is far superior to my scans of the make-up being applied, the tv guide ad and my vague memories. Great screen grabs.

I'd love to get a copy of this if you'd be willing to make one.

Frederick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jesse said...

Frederick,

I was just browsing halloween sites when i came accross your blog, and
saw that you have a copy of the halloween hall of fame (loved watching
it as a kid), i was hoping that i might be able to aquire a copy from
you... please let me know how we could go about this if you are
willing :)

my email is jmillest@rogers.com

(i wasnt able to email to your profile address, it kept bouncing back as a failure)

Scotty said...

Hey!

I had the same problem as Jesse: fredsweetskull isn't working for me either, but I'd love to get a copy of this special (I never could track down my copy of the taped VHS)! Let me know--jscottyca@gmail.com

Charles said...

I love old memories like this. When Disney Channel was good! And I watched it. Now its just super silly kids stuff, I do not want to watch :( Remember "Vault Disney" -- hooray! I also would love to get a copy of your vid. I have the special on tape at home...might be time to transfer to DVD!

Melissa said...

I would love to get a copy also if you would be willing. I can't access your profile but my e-mail is suseblues@hotmail.com. I had a copy of this special (taped off TV) along with the Garfield Halloween and the Peanuts Halloween specials and my kids watched it each year. But the tape died and I've not been able to assemble all the shows to replace it.

Nicholas said...

This version is much better than halloween treat. I'm 23 now and remember watching this as a child in the 80's. The memories of this is what made me love Halloween so much in the first place, especially the legend of sleepy hollow. I would appreciate a copy of this if at all possible.

Please E-mail me:

ndautrich@gmail.com

Thanks and HAPPY HALOWEEN!

Chrissy said...

Hi!!

I have been searching for a copy of Disney's Halloween O'Fame for years...would I be able to get a copy of this? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE
Please email me asagesky@aol.com

Very cool site, great job.
Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

my kids and i have this special on a old vhs tape from my grandma. we love it a watch it every year!

Sam Steele said...

To make your life easier do you think you could post the DVD in an .iso format so we could download it and burn it to a DVD ourselves. I would really love to get my hands on this and you did such an amazing job!! It's incredible... Anyways if you need helping posting it I would love to help my email is manofsteele02@gmail.com