|Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim and Charles Dickens|
It’s fairly well known that the success of Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol spawned the 1964 TV series, The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo. What has been unknown until now is that there was a later attempt to recapture that earlier success by making a sequel to Christmas Carol. A recent investigation into Lee Orgel’s files turned up a few copies of a long lost treatment called The Return of Ebenezer Scrooge. Making sequels to projects from the past seems to be de rigueur in Hollywood today but it was less common at the time it was proposed.
Although Orgel probably began pitching the show around that time, nothing in the files indicates any further activity until a pitch at Universal in June of 1976. It’s not unreasonable to assume that Orgel continued to shop the show after that and by this time, Orgel had allied himself with Depatie Freleng as a production house for the special, due in part to his efforts at selling Mr. Magoo as a new series, one that was eventually produced by the company. The greatest concentration of sales efforts appears to have been in the summer of 1979 when the show was rejected by an ad agency, Helfgott, Towne and Silverstein and also Wometco Home Theatre, a NYC-centric early pay-TV service. Despite those rejections, Orgel finally had a contract with Showtime in June of 1979 to produce the special but for unknown reasons, the deal fell through and the contract was never signed.
It’s doubtful that The Return of Ebenezer Scrooge would have achieved anywhere near the success of its original inspiration. By the 1980s, the culture had irretrievably changed, animation as a viable medium was in the doldrums and Mr. Magoo had begun fading from the public consciousness. What is interesting, though, is that the success of Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol continued to reverberate for decades, much beyond what anyone could have predicted in 1962.
Special thanks to The Mago0 Admirer for the headline image.