Frosty the Snowman: The Story in All Iterations

Updated November 3, 2021
Mother and daughter making a snowman

Frosty the Snowman ranks right up there with Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as one of the most recognizable symbols of the holiday season. Learn the beginnings of Frosty the Snowman, and how this character has evolved into a Christmas tradition.

The Original Story of Frosty

The story of Frosty the Snowman originated from a Christmas song. The lyrics to Frosty the Snowman describe how a group of young children bring their snowman to life with the help of a magical hat. The snowman and the children then go on to have a series of adventures before he is forced to say goodbye. Sound interesting? Learn more about Frosty's story.

Frosty's Story

Frosty was a happy snowman, with a corncob pipe, a button nose, and eyes of coal. The children who built him found an old silk hat, which had magical properties. As soon as they placed the hat on his head, Frosty came alive and began to dance.

Snowman on sunset background

Frosty realized that because the sun was hot, he had a limited amount of time before he melted. He invited the children to run and play with him. The children and Frosty played chase around the town square. He led them through the streets. They pass a policeman who yells "Stop!" Frosty, however, pauses only briefly, as he knows his time is almost up. He tells the children goodbye and comforts them by saying he will return.

Details of the Song of Frosty the Snowman: A Christmas Legend

The Frosty the Snowman song was written by Steve "Jack" Rollins and Steve Nelson in 1950. Mr. Rollins is also known for writing Here Comes Peter Cottontail. Frosty the Snowman was recorded by Gene Autry, the same singer who recorded Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Later, the same song was covered by Nat King Cole, the Beach Boys, Ray Conniff, the Cocteau Twins, and a variety of other musical acts.

The Television Special

Once the Frosty song became an overnight sensation, it was only a matter of time before Frosty made his television debut. In 1969, the Rankin-Bass company produced a 30 minute animated television special based on the song. This program featured the voices of comedians Jimmy Durante, as the narrator, and Jackie Vernon as Frosty himself. Writer Romeo Muller, who also worked on the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer program, was given the responsibility of adapting the song for television.

The Frosty television special was unique in that it marked the first use of traditional cell animation for the Rankin-Bass company. In addition, the company hired greeting card artist Paul Coker, Jr. to create characters that would give the program the feel of a "moving Christmas card." Mr. Coker would later go on to become famous for his work as an illustrator with MAD Magazine.

Frosty the Snowman Characters

Before you dive into the TV adaptation of the famous song, it can be helpful to look at a few of the famous characters from this Christmas special.

  • Frosty the Snowman - snowman that comes to life with the help of a magic hat
  • Karen - Frosty's friend, a school girl who builds Frosty with friends after school and travels with Frosty
  • Professor Hinkle - the villain of the story whose hat brings Frosty to life, but he tries to take it back
  • Hocus - Professor Hinkle's pet rabbit
  • Santa Claus - the one who saves Frosty and takes him to the North Pole
  • Narrator - Jimmy Durante, who tells the story of Frosty

Frosty's Television Story

When the story of Frosty the Snowman moved to television, it was expanded a great deal. Check out the details.

Birth of Frosty

Karen is the child who finds the magical hat, which originally belonged to a magician named Professor Hinkle. She uses the hat to bring Frosty to life. However, once Hinkle discovers the magic powers of the hat, he repeatedly tries to get it back.

Taking Frosty to the North Pole

Frosty, Karen, and the children are concerned about Frosty melting. They decide that Frosty should go to the North Pole, where he can never melt. Karen and Frosty stowaway on a refrigerated train car. On the same train is Professor Hinkle, who is still trying to get the hat back.

While on the train, Frosty notices how cold Karen is becoming. They jump off the train so she won't freeze, leaving Hinkle behind. Hinkle's rabbit, Hocus Pocus, suggests that Santa Claus may be able to help them. The forest animals build a fire to keep Karen warm, but Hinkle arrives and extinguishes the fire. As they flee, Hinkle, Frosty, and Karen discover a greenhouse. They go inside: Karen to get warm, and Frosty to avoid Hinkle. The magician, however, locks them in the greenhouse.

Here Comes Santa Claus

At this point, Hocus Pocus arrives with Santa Claus, but it appears to be too late. Frosty has melted in the greenhouse. Santa, however, explains that Frosty is made of Christmas snow and therefore cannot melt away completely. Just then, a cold wind blows through the greenhouse and Frosty comes back to life.

Hinkle arrives again and demands his hat. Santa convinces Hinkle that he should give Frosty the hat. If he does, Santa promises a special present in his Christmas stocking. Hinkle departs to write his Christmas list.

Returning Home

Santa returns Karen to her home and takes Frosty to the North Pole. The show closes with a scene from the following Christmas. All the characters are parading through the town square, singing Frosty the Snowman. Hinkle is wearing his present from Santa: a new top hat. At the conclusion, Frosty goes back to the North Pole with Santa, vowing to be back on the next Christmas Day.

Little boy having fun with snowman.

Frosty's Sequels

After the original Frosty television special became a Christmas classic, several sequels were produced.

Frosty's Winter Wonderland

In this animated 1976 classic, Frosty comes back from the North Pole to see the kids again. However, he's lonely when they go back home. Therefore, they create a wife for him, Crystal. After several adventures, the pair go back to the North Pole.

Frosty and Rudolph's Christmas in July

Premiering in 1979, Frosty and his family team up with Rudolph to fight the evil Winterbolt and his attempt to make an everlasting Christmas. After a bit of help from Jack Frost, they defeat Winterbolt and make their way back to the North Pole.

Frosty Returns

Making its way to TV in 1992, this animated classic tells the story of Frosty coming back to life on a snow day after a magic hat lands on a snowman. However, there is a magic spray to eliminate snow that hurts Frosty. The children save him, and he leaves them but promises to return.

The Legend of Frosty the Snowman

An animated film created in 2004, The Legend of Frosty the Snowman tells children of Frosty's travels to the town of Evergreen where he befriends a young Tommy. Though magic is outlawed in Evergreen, Frosty shows them that magic does exist.

From a Song to a Legend

While Frosty started as a fun Christmas song, this tale is one of the well-known Christmas stories still told today. In fact, the Frosty Christmas programs are often broadcast on several television stations during the month of December.

Frosty the Snowman: The Story in All Iterations