Let’s Talk Hallmark: The Beginning of Hallmark Christmas Movies

Christmas is a season often associated with happiness and hope. Many of us see everything take a magical look: decorations, lights twinkling, and, for those who live on northern regions, a snowy landscape that makes it look as magical as in the movies. When all of these combine, you understand when people say “Christmas is in the air”.

Enter here Christmas music and Christmas movies. As we start reminiscing about our Christmas memories, radio stations start playing Christmas music, and TV networks start playing Christmas themed movies. For most of us, our mind connects those memories with happy feelings. This is what the music and the movies are making us feel.

I love Hallmark

Now, enter here the Hallmark Channel network and their Christmas movies. The Hallmark Channel has been producing and promoting Christmas themed movies for a long time. Although the network shows movies all year long, and promote the other seasons -winter, spring, summer, fall-, Christmas movies are always the most popular ones.

Image courtesy of Hallmark Channel

As a reminder, I always mention that, even though I love the movies, I’m only a fan. I have no rights or access to any production or merchandise. None. But if you’re interested, you may visit the website www.hallmarkchannel.com. I check the Hallmark Channel page every day! Check this post I wrote about the Hallmark royal-themed movies https://fullofcoffee.blog/2019/09/07/lets-talk-about-hallmarks-royal-romance-movies/.

The Hallmark company became the Crown Media Holdings, Inc, and in 2001 they launched the Hallmark Channel. But the Hallmark brand has been in the media market for much longer. Let me go back in time and tell you their story. According to the company’s website, in 1910, a young man named Joyce Clyde (J.C.) Hall started a business of selling greeting cards in Kansas City, Missouri. He was joined by his brother, Rollie Hall, and they named their company the Hall Brothers. In 1928, they started promoting their brand as “Hallmark”, attracted by the meaning of the word as a sign of quality, but also because it was a play on their name. For more information, see https://corporate.hallmark.com/about/hallmark-cards-company/history/founding-1910s/.

In 1951, they were approached by the NBC TV station (National Broadcasting Company) to sponsor movies. Those were the times when big popular companies were sponsoring television programming. That’s how the term “soap opera” became popular. Major soaps or detergents companies sponsored TV shows. For Hallmark, this meant the beginning of the “Hallmark Hall of Fame”, and the opportunity to market their greeting cards business. See more information here https://corporate.hallmark.com/about/hallmark-cards-company/history/building-brand-1930s-50s/.

After that, the Hallmark company started sponsoring TV movie specials. Those movies were then promoted as “Hallmark Hall of Fame” movies. For a full list, check here https://www.hallmarkchannel.com/hallmark-hall-of-fame/movies. Some of those movies were Christmas-themed productions, and aired during the month of December. We can consider this the beginning of the “Hallmark Christmas” movies, way before it became “Countdown to Christmas”. They were later shown in CBS (Columbia Broadcasting Station), and ABC (American Broadcasting Company). For those of you who live outside United States, many networks around the world have started showing some of these movies.

This year, 2019, Hallmark Channel celebrates the 10th year anniversary of the “Countdown to Christmas” movies. Interested in how it all started, I did this research. The following titles are the ones I found to be Christmas-themed. There might be more, or might not. There are over 100 movies sponsored by Hallmark from 1951 to 1980 only. Some of these titles on the list were filmed as movies, others were a show or presentation for TV. Being productions from the 1950s, I couldn’t find pictures for all.

Let’s take a look:

  • Amahl and the Night Visitors (1951) – this was not a Christmas-themed presentation, but I include it on this list, because it was the first show presented as a “Hallmark Hall of Fame”. It was an original made-for-TV opera show written by Gian Carlo Menotti and it debuted in December 24, 1951 on NBC. (Information retrieved from Filmed Television Drama, 1952-1958 by William Hayes)
Promotion from Hallmark
  • The Other Wise Man (1953) – adapted from the book “The Story of the Other Wise Man” by Henry Van Dyke (1895) (Information retrieved from Filmed Television Drama, 1952-1958) (no image available for the movie/show)
Book cover The Story of the Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dike
  • The Christmas Tree (1958) – adapted by Helen Deutsch from the short story “An Affair at the Inn” by Charles J Finger (Information retrieved from Filmed Television Drama, 1952-1958) (no picture available)
  • A Christmas Festival (1959) – adapted from the story “The Borrowed Christmas” by L Bemelmans (information retrieved from Enser’s Filmed Books and Plays: A List of Books and Plays from which Films have been Made, 1928-2001) (no picture available)
  • A Cry of Angels (1963) – written for TV by Sherman Yellen (Information retrieved from IMDb -International Movie Database- movie guide) (no picture available)
  • The Littlest Angel (1969) – movie adapted by Lan O’Kun from the novel by Charles Tazewell (first published in 1920) (Information retrieved from IMDb -International Movie Database- movie guide and Enser’s Filmed Books and Plays: A List of Books and Plays from which Films have been Made, 1928-2001)
Promotion posters from Hallmark Hall of Fame
  • The Man Who Came to Dinner (1972) – movie adapted by Sam Denoff and Bill Persky from the play written by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman (1941) (Information retrieved from IMDb -International Movie Database- movie guide)
Orson Welles and Don Knotts, scene of
The Man Who Came to Diner. Image from IMDb
  • Have I got a Christmas for You (1977) – written for TV by Jerome Coopersmith (Information retrieved from IMDb -International Movie Database- movie guide) (no picture available)
  • Stubby Pringle’s Christmas (1978) – adapted by James Lee Barrett from the story by Jack Schaefer (1964) (Information retrieved from IMDb -International Movie Database- movie guide)
Promotion Image from IMDb
  • A Season for Miracles (1999) – adapted by Maria Nation from the novel by Marilyn Pappano (1997) (Information retrieved from IMDb -International Movie Database- movie guide and Enser’s Filmed Books and Plays: A List of Books and Plays from which Films have been Made, 1928-2001)

These are only a few titles. I only covered from 1951 to 1999. There are more, many more. I haven’t seen any of these movies/shows, but found it very interesting how the Hall brothers were visionaries and created a brand that is so popular today. The Hallmark brand has put their stamp name in many great movies throughout the years. In 2001, the Hallmark Channel was launched, and now they have 2 more cable TV channels -Hallmark Movies and Mysteries and Hallmark Drama- and they recently launched a streaming online service for customers called Hallmark Movies Now.

Well, I have more research to do, and many more movies to write about. Good, that means I have more to write about, and more movies to watch and love. I love writing, I love Christmas, and I love Hallmark movies. It’s time for my tacita de café. Salud!

Para versión en español, vea https://fullofcoffee.blog/2019/10/13/hablemos-hallmark:-el-comienzo-de-las-peliculas-navidenas-de-hallmark/

10 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Hallmark: The Beginning of Hallmark Christmas Movies

  1. Very interesting. I am 82 and the names of those movies brought pleasant memories to mind. I am in awe of the history of Hallmark! Thank you for allowing me to read this information.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fascinating, I didn’t know the full history. Hallmark has certainly become woven into the fabric of our family memories. It breathes happiness and joy into the season even if it’s hard to celebrate because of what life has thrown at you. I’ve even watched the Countdown to Christmas from my hospital room and it helped bring the spirit of Christmas into an otherwise bleak season. Only Hallmark could do that! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. Hallmark has created a brand that we associate with joy and happiness, especially during the Christmas season. This was an interesting research! I’ll be writing some more about it. Thanks for reading!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s