The Little Drummer Boy (TV special)

The Little Drummer Boy
The Little Drummer Boy - advertisement.jpg
Official release promotional poster
Genre Christmas
Based on "The Little Drummer Boy" Katherine Davis
Jack Halloran
Written by Romeo Muller
Directed by
Narrated by Greer Garson
Theme music composer Maury Laws
Country of origin
  • United States
  • Japan
Original language English
Cinematography Takeo Nakamura (uncredited)
Running time 25 minutes
Production company Rankin/Bass Productions
Original network NBC
Original release December 19, 1968 (1968-12-19)
Followed by The Little Drummer Boy, Book II

The Little Drummer Boy is a stop motion television special produced by Rankin/Bass Productions, based on the song of the same name. It was first televised December 19, 1968, on NBC, and was followed by a sequel in 1976.[1]


A young boy named Aaron lives with his parents on a farm with their three farm animals, Samson the Donkey, Baba the Lamb, and Joshua the Camel. On his birthday, Aaron's parents give him a drum, to which the animals dance when he plays it. One night, bandits from the desert steal all the livestock, kill Aaron's parents, and burn their farm down, causing Aaron to hate all humanity. Because his drumming can make the three animals dance, Aaron is forced to join Ben Haramed's caravan with rather inept performers. When performing in Jerusalem, Aaron becomes infuriated by the townspeople's amusement and lashes out at them for being thieves and knaves.

Some time later, the troupe comes upon the Magi caravan who are following a bright star in the sky. Seizing his chance, Ben greedily attempts to perform for the Magi, but they are uninterested as they try to make haste to get to the star's destination. One of the caravan camels becomes too weak to continue traveling and the Magi has no extra camel, so Ben seizes Aaron and bargains with them that they use Joshua in exchange for some of their gold, but Aaron refuses to take any gold from Ben and leaves for Bethlehem with Samson and Baba. There, upon recognizing Joshua and trying to reunite with him, Baba is hit by a Roman chariot. Aaron takes him to the Magi to be healed. However, they can do nothing, but insist that maybe the baby can help. Having no gift to give to the baby, Aaron decides that his "gift" to Him and His parents will be his playing his drum for them. As a sign of gratitude, Baba is healed and runs into Aaron's arms, filling Aaron's heart with joy at last.[2]

Voice cast



The Little Drummer Boy received an approval rating of 75% on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on thirteen reviews. The site's critical consensus reads: The Little Drummer Boy is a mature addition to the Rankin-Bass catalogue, with a powerful conclusion that compensates for the special's dour storytelling and unpolished animation."[3]

1976 sequel

In 1976, Rankin/Bass produced a sequel, titled The Little Drummer Boy, Book II, again sponsored by the American Gas Association. It premiered on December 13, 1976, also on NBC, and like its predecessor, has also aired on Freeform and separately on AMC as of 2018.[4] Warner Bros. is the show's current distributor through their ownership of the post-1974 Rankin/Bass Productions library.[5] In this sequel, written by Jules Bass (under the pseudonym Julian P. Gardner), Aaron and his animal friends team up with Melchior, one of the Magi, to protect silver bells, made to ring for Christ's arrival, from a band of greedy Roman soldiers.[6] Warner Archive released The Little Drummer Boy Book II, in a collection called Rankin/Bass TV Holiday Favorites Collection.


Voice cast

See also


  1. ^ Crump, William D. (2019). Happy Holidays—Animated! A Worldwide Encyclopedia of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year's Cartoons on Television and Film. McFarland & Co. p. 169. ISBN 9781476672939.
  2. ^ "The Little Drummer Boy". 19 December 1968 – via
  3. ^
  4. ^ "AMC Presents Its Largest Slate Of Holiday Programming With "AMC Best Christmas Ever"". 8 November 2018. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  5. ^ "The Little Drummer Boy Book II". 13 December 1976 – via
  6. ^ "Movie Reviews". 24 December 2017 – via

External links

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