Friday, December 6, 2019

THE HAPPY HOLIDAYS BLOGATHON: Stubby Pringle's Christmas, 1978


Today's article is part of The Happy Holidays Blogathon hosted by the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. The good cheer runs from December 6th - 8th and you click HERE to enjoy the contributions.

Television's long-running and acclaimed anthology series Hallmark Hall of Fame sponsored by the Kansas City based Hallmark Cards began on radio in the 1940s and began broadcasting stories on the small screen in 1951 with the December 24th live production of Gian Carlo Menotti's written-for-television opera, Amahl and The Night Visitors. The Peabody Award won by the production is just one of the hundreds given to the Hallmark Hall of Fame throughout its history, including the Emmy, the Golden Globe, and the Humanitas.

During my formative years, the prestige of Hallmark Hall of Fame was indicated by a Close-up in the TV Guide highlighting the creative talents both on and off the screen of the current presentation. It was always a highly anticipated television event.


The work of Jack Schaefer (Shane, Mavericks, Monte Walsh) is distinguished by vivid character studies. Each character, be it lead or supporting is presented in a knowing and understanding totality. A word or an action speaks to the reader creating the whole fabric of life.


Jack Schaefer's Stubby Pringle's Christmas was presented on NBC on the evening of Sunday, December 17, 1978. The story was adapted by James Lee Barrett (Shenandoah), directed by Burt Brinckerhoff (Lou Grant) and filmed on location in Colorado.

Beau Bridges plays Stubby Pringle, a young cowboy with big plans. Stubby has been dreaming of attending the Christmas Eve dance in the settlement 25 miles away from the Harper Ranch where he is employed. At last year's dance Stubby kissed a girl, whose name he failed to get. Has this girl been thinking of Stubby all of these months as well? It is an important question that hasn't stopped Stubby from making plans. He has bought presents of dress goods and candy, and he will make the long and cold journey.

Edward Binns as Stubby's fellow ranch hand Red is of the opinion that he personally was never as young as his friend. Their fellow bunkmate Old Hollander played by Strother Martin is of the opinion that Stubby is a selfish fellow for not sharing the candy with him. Stubby is of the opinion that you can't gift a young lady with an already opened box of candy, and there the matter stands.

Mrs. Harper, the boss's wife played by Kim Hunter sees Stubby as an unusually thoughtful and almost poetic young man when he compliments the emotional warmth of her home. She is rooting for the young cowboy and that girl with no name.


On his way to the Christmas Eve dance, Stubby hears the sound of chopping and comes across Georgia Henderson played by Julie Harris. The family was displaced from their Georgia farm and has been working inhospitable land for the past year. Mr. Henderson has become ill and it is left to the harried woman to care for the family which includes a young son and daughter. Stubby stops and finishes the onerous chore.

Mrs. Henderson offers coffee and, all the while professing he has somewhere to be, they share life stories and philosophy. Stubby sees that no Christmas will be awaiting the Henderson children. He chides and then helps Mrs. Henderson to create an unexpected Christmas morning for the family. Stubby's act of kindness takes time. Much time has passed when Stubby reaches the schoolhouse where the dance had been held. Will that kissable young lady be waiting another year?

Back at the Harper ranch, Red and Old Hollander have been waiting to hear of Stubby's night. The young cowboy spins a grand yarn about the dancing and the music, and the food, and all the pretty girls before falling asleep to the sound of sleigh bells in the air. "Santa" Stubby will spend another year of dreaming.

The genuine act of kindness by Stubby Pringle embodies the true spirit of Christmas giving for its own sake. Stubby Pringle's Christmas is a simple, sweet, and memorable story.

















30 comments:

  1. I remember KIM HUNTER from TENDER COMRADE with GINGER ROGERS. She also guest-starred on BONANZA, COLUMBO and MURDER, SHE WROTE. I know JULIE HARRIS best from KNOTS LANDING. She also was a guest star on Bonanza and Columbo.

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    1. Kim Hunter had an incredible career making her movie debut in The Seventh Victim and her Broadway debut in A Streetcar Named Desire.

      Kim Hunter played the character of Grace in Rod Serling's Requiem for a Heavyweight for Playhouse 90 in 1956 and Julie Harris played the role in the 1962 feature film.

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  2. Former child actor SPARKY MARCUS is 53 today. I remember him from THE BAD NEWS BEARS, the TV series with JACK WARDEN. He guest-starred on an ep of WKRP IN CINCINNATI as the son of MR. CARLSON(GORDON JUMP). He also did an ep of TRAPPER JOHN, MD where he played a teenage boy who wasn't growing like he should. ANN WEDGEWORTH played his mother. According to imdb he was on MARY HARTMAN, MARY HATMAN. I didn't watch that show. I might have seen 2 or 3 eps, though. Also according to imdb his credits stop in 1985-that was the year he turned 18. He did a lot of work on TV!

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    1. I just noticed I didn't put an R in the last HARTMAN. It, of course, should say MARY HARTMAN, MARY HARTMAN.

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    2. Sparky Marcus! Now, there's someone I haven't thought of in ages.

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  3. What?! You're not going to tell us how this ends?

    I didn't realize the Hallmark Hall of Fame had such a long history on television. That is truly impressive.

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    1. Hallmark indeed has forged an impressive record in entertainment. Over the years they have brought great plays (Shakespeare to O'Neil) to our homes and actors like George C. Scott, Hume Cronyn, Maurice Evans, Judith Anderson, Lynn Fontanne and Jessica Tandy have won Emmy Awards. Imagine all of that on DVD!

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  4. I found the history of Hallmark's television movies very interesting as well. This story does sound very sweet and I love that it's written by the same author that wrote Shane. You just know it's gonna be good.

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    1. The current era of splintered media consumption provides much diversity, but there is much to be said for the era of "3 channels" and prestige productions of which everyone was aware. That crown logo for Hallmark stood for excellence.

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  5. Thanks for the tempting intro to what sounds like a vintage TV Christmas classic! I don't remember seeing this, so I'm wondering how did you watch it? Is it on DVD? Or do you have just a great memory? Anyways, always enjoy your posts -- I was listening to a CBC radio clip on the passing of Clive James, the Australian author and broadcaster. They played an interview he did with the host a handful of years back, he talked about among his favourite personalities on TV was James Garner, then he mentioned you -- the Caftan Woman -- when talking about the current and future evolution of film and pop culture criticism. He gushed about you and your insights. This was last sunday's The Sunday Edition if you want to check it out!

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    1. My goodness, I shall certainly have to check that out. (I wonder if there's another Caftan Woman!).

      I remembered the special very well, but refreshed that memory with a YouTube find. It is not of the best quality, but the heart shines through.

      Thanks so much, and have a wonderful December.

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  6. JAMES GARNER-I saw him and JOANNE WOODWARD in BREATHING LESSONS. I didn't think it was a great movie but I did like it. It was what I call a nice little movie. I say little because it was like different vignettes or scenes in one day, I believe. Besides Joanne, there were two other actresses in it that I like-EILEEN HECKART(as a waitress they meet on their trip)and JOYCE VAN PATTEN. I also saw James in DECORATION DAY. (ROCK HUDSON worked with DORIS DAY 3 times and Garner got to work with Doris 2 times. Rock and James-two hunks who not only were very attractive but also good actors!)

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    1. I don't believe I have seen Breathing Lessons. Something to check out as a James Garner fan - and Joanne Woodward.

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  7. BEAU BRIDGES will be 78 on MONDAY, the same day(Dec. 9) that KIRK DOUGLAS turns 103! Kirk was born in 1916 and Beau in 1941. Beau was born the day Kirk turned 25.

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    1. Well, happy birthday to Beau! None of us are getting any younger.

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  8. You left me hanging, Paddy! :-D Oh, I would love to track this down as it sounds like a really beautiful story. Those Hallmark movies can just leave you in pieces!
    I once met Beau Bridges along with one of his sons and it was a grand moment for me. Too bad no one around me seemed to know who he was!

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    1. You can find "Stubby" on YouTube. It isn't of the best quality, yet that won't matter once you start watching.

      If I ever met Beau Bridges I'd probably grin at him and giggle. I'm sure you did better!

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  9. JORDAN BRIDGES, the son of BEAU, has had a prolific acting career. Also Beau was in three DEFENDERS movies about a father and son that are lawyers. They were made for SHOWTIME and later TNT aired them. E.G. MARSHALL was back in his role from the TV show. Instead of having Beau take over the role that ROBERT REED had played on the show they had Beau play the brother of that character. It had MARTHA PLIMPTON as a niece/granddaughter, the daughter of the late character who had been played by Reed.

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    1. I'm a fan of Jordan's from Rizzoli and Isles.

      I must catch up with The Defenders. My mom speaks highly of the program.

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  10. JOANNE WOODWARD was in BLIND SPOT(93) as a woman who, after the death of her son-in-law in a car accident, finds out that he was addicted to drugs-as is her daughter. The daughter is expecting a baby. FRITZ WEAVER played the husband to Joanne, REED DIAMOND played the son and LAURA LINNEY played the daughter. Sadly, in real-life Joanne lost her only stepson to drugs, SCOTT NEWMAN, the son of PAUL NEWMAN.

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    1. All actors I admire and another title I must get to one of these days.

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  11. What are some other movies that you like BEAU BRIDGES in? Do you know very many of his TV-Movies? Beau has won 3 EMMYS for TV-Movies including one in the lead role. According to imdb he is the only actor to win 2 Emmys for SUPPORTING ACTOR for a TV-MOVIE.

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    1. The first that came to mind was when he played P.T. Barnum.

      Others: Kissinger and Nixon, Inherit the Wind and going way back - Benjamin Franklin.

      Recently: Loved his dad bits in Blackish (sorry the character died) and Flower Shop Mysteries (wish that had continued).

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  12. Like you, the Hallmark Hall of Fame was "event television" when I was growing up. I don't remember this one, but that's only because it was broadcast when I was in college and seldom watched TV on weeknights. Glad this one is on YouTube because I like both Julie Harris and Beau Bridges. I was surprised to see that it had a shorter running time than the earlier Hall of Fame presentations.

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    1. The program stands out due to its unique run time in the series, and at the same time, seems to have gotten lost because it was unexpected. I think it is a lovely gem in the Hallmark crown and it should fit easily into a busy December schedule.

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  13. On Dec. 6 I stated that SPARKY MARCUS is 53. I meant to say he is 52. Did you watch the TV show THE BAD NEWS BEARS? What do you remember Sparky from best?

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  14. I forget his name but I read that HALLMARK HALL OF FAME has had the same announcer all these years! He is a great announcer! Also the Hallmark Hall of Fame commercials were great! I remember one where a girl gives one to her music teacher who is an older man. The commercials were maybe 5 minutes long or at least 3 or 4 minutes. They were like mini-movies! HALLMARK, WHEN YOU CARE ENOUGH TO SEND THE BEST.

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    1. I meant to say the Hallmark CARD commercials that were shown during the Hall of Fame Movies.

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    2. I associate Sparky Marcus most with Freaky Friday. I didn't watch the TV series The Bad News Bears, but I did enjoy the movie.

      The commercials for the Hall of Fame were just as memorable as the outstanding productions. The whole entertainment spoke to quality and that is the association the viewers/customers would retain.

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