In November 1939, NBC's fledgling television station W2XBS broadcast the first known holiday special, The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Despite its small viewership (very few TV sets existed at the time), the experimental telecast was a harbinger of a now-beloved American tradition: the holiday television special.
This book offers a thorough account of holiday television specials in the United States from 1939 to 2021, highlighting variety shows, comedic performances, musical spectaculars and more. From familiar favorites (1964's Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) to campy one-offs (1985's He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special), the 1140 programs are covered alphabetically and feature performance casts, production credits and storylines for each. Three appendices cover "lost" holiday specials, along with Christmas and Halloween-themed episodes of popular television series.