The Lorax (TV special)

The Lorax is a musical animated short produced by DePatie–Freleng Enterprises which first aired as a television special on CBS on February 14, 1972. It is based on the book of the same name by Dr. Seuss.[1]

The Lorax
Based onThe Lorax
by Dr. Seuss
Written byDr. Seuss
Directed byHawley Pratt
Voices of
Narrated byIntroduced by:
Eddie Albert
Composer(s)Dean Elliott
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)David H. DePatie
Running time24 minutes
Production company(s)
Original networkCBS
Original releaseFebruary 14, 1972


One night, a young boy living in a polluted, grim ghost town wanders down 'the street of the lifted Lorax.' Along the dark street, he comes to the residence of a man named The Once-ler, a man in dark green-colored gloves whose face is never seen. He takes up an audience with the boy, and begins to explain the tale regarding the Lorax.

The land once thrived with Truffula trees when the Once-ler first came to the area in a horse-drawn cart. Living among the foliage are the brown Bar-ba-Loots, who eat Truffula fruit from the local trees. In the nearby pond live the Humming Fish, and overhead fly the Swomee Swans. The trees amaze the Once-ler with their texture and scent, and he soon builds a small shop in the area. After cutting down a Truffula tree, the Lorax pops out of its stump. The Lorax claims to speak for the trees, and demands to know what the Once-ler is doing. The Once-ler explains that he is using the Truffula tree's tufts to make something called a "Thneed... a fine something that all people need." He insists that he is only cutting one tree down and causing no harm, but when the Thneed sells quickly, the Once-ler begins cutting down down Truffula trees en masse to make more Thneeds. (It is also noted that the Truffula tree grows extremely slowly - ten years before the seed even becomes a sapling and at least ten years after that to grow - making farming the tree impractical.) Soon, he calls his relatives to help him grow his thriving business into a boomtown. As the Lorax protests against the Once-ler's actions, a bulldozer picks up the Truffula tree where he stands and the Lorax is thrown into a truck with the Truffula tree and caught in an assembly line.

Some time later, at a major celebration, everybody reminisces about how Thneeds, Inc. started and how famous the Once-ler has become and how it has diversified, showing "Once-ler Cones", "Once-ler Burgers", a "Once-lermobile" and a blimp advertising Thneeds, then a stone with the word "Thneed" carved in it. Shortly after Thneeds, Inc. has produced its millionth product, the Lorax gets out of the box and, despite his protests, falls back into the box to be shipped off with more finished Thneeds. All the while, the air is becoming increasingly polluted and darker as the industrialization progresses, the countless accumulated garbage is being dumped in rivers, and the few remaining Truffula trees are visibly wilting.

The Lorax continues to fight the Once-Ler. By this point the Lorax has had to send the starving Brown Bar-ba-loots out of the area in search of food. After this, the Once-ler has his first bout with a guilty conscience; he justifies his doubts by remarking "But if I didn't do them, then someone else would." The Lorax then protests that the smog is suffocating the Swomee Swans, preventing them from singing, and thus the Lorax also has to send them away. The Once-ler protests that closing the factory would put countless employees out of a job; the Lorax concedes that he has no answer to that. Finally, the pond that was home to the Humming Fish is filled with viscous toxic waste clogging the fish's gills and rivaling Lake Erie; they too are sent away over dry land. Confronted by the Lorax, the Once-ler appears to be ready to act, until his secretary announces that the company's stock has shot upward. The elated Once-ler flips from empathy to defiance, vowing to ramp up production even further—until at that moment, with the sound of an ax, the last remaining tree is cut down. With no raw materials, the factory is forced to close anyway, and the Once-ler's relatives all sadly depart. The Lorax glares at the Once-ler before he lifts himself by the seat of his pants, and disappears through a tiny hole in the smog. On the spot where the Lorax last stood sits a small pile of rocks, with a word carved into one: "Unless."

The tale then switches back to the Once-ler talking to the boy, who is given the last Truffula seed by the Once-ler, encouraging the boy to help revitalize the long-dead trees by growing a brand new forest, with the possibility that the Lorax and all of his friends may then come back. The final scene shows the hole in the smog has grown larger, a sign of hope as the special ends.


  • Eddie Albert – Narrator
  • Bob Holt – The Lorax, the Once-Ler
  • Athena Lorde – Ms. Funce-ler
  • Harlen Carraher – Boy



Home media

The Lorax was released on VHS in 1994 as part of a CBS Video four-tape package called "Dr. Seuss Sing-Along Classics".[2]

In 2003, Universal Studios Family Productions got the rights to the original 1972 TV special, and Universal released The Lorax on DVD under its home video label, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, with newly-remastered picture and sound.

To tie-in with the 40th anniversary of the special and the release of film The Lorax, Warner Home Video released the special on a deluxe edition DVD and Blu-ray on February 14, 2012.[3]


The Lorax received the Critics Award from the International Animated Cartoon Festival (Zagreb, 1972) and the Silver Media from the International Film and Television Festival (New York, 1972).[4][1]


  1. Lindemann, Richard H.F (2005). The Dr. Seuss Catalog. McFarland & Company. p. 128. ISBN 0-7864-2223-8.
  2. Fitzpatrick, Eileen (May 21, 1994). "Sing-Along Seuss Titles Coming from CBS Video". Billboard. Los Angeles. pp. 53, 56. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  3. Lorax, The: Deluxe Edition DVD – Warner Bros.: – The Official Online Store of Warner Bros. Studios
  4. Cullinan, Bernice E.; Person, Diane G, eds. (2005). The Continuum Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. p. 710. ISBN 0-8264-1516-4.
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