The Little King in "Christmas Night" (aka "Pals", 1933) Christmas Cartoon
Van Beuren Studios
RKO Radio Pictures
Cartoon Characters: The Little King, Two Hobos, Queen, Santa Claus.
Directed By James Tyer.
Produced By Amadee J. Van Beuren.
Written By Otto Soglow.
Released on December 22, 1933.
The Little King is feeling low on Christmas Eve, so he joins a pair of homeless bums in admiring the toys and holiday decorations in a department store window. The ever-childlike monarch smuggles the hoboes under his robe into his castle. They go to his room and undress. Then all three climb into a tub and take a bath together. Afterward, the three get in the same bed while the queen sleeps in another room.
The Little King was a comic strip created by Otto Soglow, famously telling its stories in a style using images and very few words as a pantomime comic strip.
It first appeared in 1931 in The New Yorker and soon showed signs of becoming a successful strip. The Little King began publications in comic book issues from 1933, was licensed for a 1933-34 series of animated cartoons by Van Beuren Studios and featured in an advertising campaign for Standard Oil.
It early became evident that William Randolph Hearst was determined to add The Little King among his King Features Syndicate newspaper strips, but he was hindered by Soglow's contractual obligations with The New Yorker. While seeing out the final period of the contract, Soglow produced a placeholder strip for King Features, The Ambassador. During the week after the final publication in The New Yorker, The Little King resumed as a King Features Sunday strip, on September 9, 1934.
The strip continued a successful run with several more animated cartoon appearances and advertising campaigns, and Soglow was awarded the 1966 National Cartoonists Society Reuben Award for the strip. The Little King ran until Soglow's death in 1975.
The strip is notable for having virtually no dialogue; the title character never speaks. Its placeholder strip, The Ambassador, was nearly identical in format, and the main characters of the two strips were similar. When The Ambassador gave way for The Little King in 1934, the reader could not be certain if it was the Little King who had arrived into Hearst syndication or the Ambassador who had removed some disguise.
All cartoon shorts were produced by Van Beuren Studios except where otherwise noted.
1933 * A.M. To P.M. (Part of Aesop's Fables Series) * A Dizzy Day (Part of Aesop's Fables Series) * The Fatal Note * Marching Along * On The Pan * Pals (aka Christmas Night)
1934 * Jest Of Honor * Jolly Good Felons * Sultan Pepper * A Royal Good Time * Art For Art's Sake * Cactus King
1936 * Betty Boop and The Little King (Produced by Fleischer Studio)
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