December 25, 1950 – The Christmas Special “One Hour in Wonderland” Premieres on Television
“We now bring you Walt Disney and his beloved characters in their world television premiere.”
On December 25, 1950, the first Disney television show and the Christmas special “One Hour in Wonderland” premiered on television. The episode was sponsored by Coca-Cola, and was touted as the world television premiere of Walt Disney and his cast of characters. The show had several noticeable guest stars, including Edgar Bergen (with Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd). The special was presented on NBC, and was actually an advertisement for the animated feature film Alice in Wonderland.
The special begins with Mortimer, Charlie, and Bergen getting ready to attend a tea party at the Walt Disney studios. On the way to the party, Bergen explains the story of Alice in Wonderland, as the voice for Alice has been asking to meet Charlie. They arrive at the studio, and find that Santa has left Walt a model train, which he is showing off to his guests. Walt introduces Kathryn Beaumont to Charlie, who is quite smitten with her on first sight.
Kathryn takes Charlie to meet Bobby Driscoll, who is surrounded by several girls asking for his autograph. Charlie is unimpressed with Bobby, even though Kathryn mentions that Bobby has won an Academy Award. As Bergen is explaining ventriloquism to the party guests, Walt asks him to sit down. As he does, he accidentally ends up sitting on Donald Duck, who loudly proclaims his pain by his squawking. Walt sends Donald downstairs, much to the disappointment of the guests. Walt then tells a story to the guests about a magic mirror, revealing that he has bought the magic mirror and unveils it to the guests. They call forth the slave of the magic mirror, who doesn’t react well to Charlie’s insults.
Walt then orders that whatever Kathryn wishes, the mirror should do. Kathryn then asks the mirror to see the “Silly Song” segment from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and the mirror happily complies. After the segment, Charlie rudely asks to see a young actor known the world over, and although he speaks of himself, the mirror instead shows a scene from the Mickey Mouse short Clock Cleaners. After this, Kathryn talks to Bobby about what he wishes to see, and Bobby recalls the Uncle Remus stories from Song of the South. After showing the scene of B’rer Rabbit leaving the Briar Patch, Kathryn finds that they’ve been overworking the mirror, and everyone decides to take a break with a bottle of Coca Cola.
After the break, Kathryn convinces Mortimer to ask the mirror to see something, and the mirror shows the Pluto short film Bone Trouble. After this, Bergen wishes to see the Firehouse Five Plus Two, although he wishes to see them working hard as Disney animators rather than the band. Walt agrees that he wants to see this, and tells Bergen that the band members would never let the music interfere with their work. The mirror complies with Bergen’s request, and the guests are treated to an impromptu performance by the Firehouse Five Plus Two, who ignore their work to play their music as they think Walt is not watching. The men soon receive a note from Walt that they “look great,” and realize that the magic mirror is watching them. Everyone is disappointed that they are unable to see a clip from Alice in Wonderland, as the mirror cuts out before Ward Kimball can show them anything. The mirror makes excuses, as does Walt, but they finally agree to show a small snippet of the film after everyone begs. After the clip, Bergen, Charlie, and Mortimer head home, with Bergen being allowed to take home the magic mirror to keep an eye on Charlie and Mortimer.