The Little Drummer Boy (TV special)

The Little Drummer Boy is a stop-motion animated television special produced by Rankin/Bass Productions, based on the song of the same name. It was first televised December 19, 1968, on NBC, and was followed by a sequel in 1976.

The Little Drummer Boy
Written byRomeo Muller
Directed by
Narrated byGreer Garson
Theme music composerMaury Laws
Country of origin
  • United States
  • Japan
Original language(s)English
CinematographyTakeo Nakamura (uncredited)
Running time25 minutes
Production company(s)Rankin/Bass Productions
Original networkNBC
Original releaseDecember 19, 1968
Followed byThe Little Drummer Boy, Book II


In the special, the narrator (Greer Garson) tells the story of a young Jewish boy named Aaron, who is a misanthropic orphan who finds enjoyment only from playing his drum for his animal friends: Samson the donkey, Joshua the camel and Baba the lamb. At one time, Aaron was a happy child who lived with his parents who gave him a drum for his birthday. But one night, bandits of the desert stole all the livestock, killed Aaron's parents (before they can try to intervene), and burned their house down, causing him to hate all humanity. Because his drumming can make the three animals dance, Aaron is forced to join Ben Haramed's caravan with rather inept performers. When performing in Jerusalem, Aaron becomes infuriated by the townspeople's amusement and lashes out at them for being thieves and knaves.

Some time later, the troupe comes upon the Magi's caravan who are following a bright star in the sky. Seizing his chance, Ben greedily attempts to perform for the Magi, but they are uninterested as they try to make haste to get to the star's destination. One of the caravan camels becomes too weak to continue traveling, so Ben bargains with them that they use Joshua in exchange for some of their gold. Later, Aaron and his remaining animal companions escape and join up with the Magi as they journey toward Bethlehem. There, upon recognizing Joshua and trying to reunite with him, Baba is hit by a Roman chariot and Aaron takes the dying lamb to the Magi to be healed. However, they can do nothing. One of the men insists that maybe the baby could be of help. Having no material possession to give to the baby, Aaron decides that his "gift" to him and his parents will be his playing his drum for them. As a sign of gratitude, Baba is healed and runs into Aaron's arms. Aaron finally feels kindness for the first time since the death of his parents.[1]

Voice cast


1976 sequel

In 1976, Rankin/Bass produced a sequel, titled The Little Drummer Boy, Book II, again sponsored by the American Gas Association. It premiered on December 13, 1976, also on NBC, and like its predecessor, has also aired on Freeform and separately on AMC as of 2018.[2] Warner Bros. is the show's current distributor through their ownership of the post-1974 Rankin/Bass Productions library. .[3] In this sequel, written by Jules Bass (under the pseudonym Julian P. Gardner), Aaron and his animal friends team up with Melchior, one of the Magi, to protect silver bells, made to ring for Christ's arrival, from a band of greedy Roman soldiers.[4] Warner Archive released The Little Drummer Boy Book II, in a collection called Rankin/Bass TV Holiday Favorites Collection.

Voice cast



  1. "The Little Drummer Boy". 19 December 1968 via
  2. "AMC Presents Its Largest Slate Of Holiday Programming With "AMC Best Christmas Ever"". 8 November 2018. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  3. "The Little Drummer Boy Book II". 13 December 1976 via
  4. "Movie Reviews". 24 December 2017 via
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