In 1972, the creator and voice of the Chipmunks, Ross Bagdasarian, died of a heart attack. The Chimpunks' career was now in question. Without Ross, the Chipmunks albums stopped coming and it wasn't until 1979 when NBC decided to show reruns of The Alvin Show on Saturday mornings. A year later the Chipmunks released another album, Chipmunk Punk, which featured contemporary songs sung by Ross' son, Ross Bagdasarian, Jr.
The success of Chipmunk Punk and the reruns of The Alvin Show caused Bagdasarian Jr. to create a new animated special for the 1981 holiday season! A Chipmunk Christmas premiered on NBC and was a big hit! It sported all new Christmas songs (the soundtrack was the Chipmunks' third Christmas album) and new character designs by legendary animator Chuck Jones, who also served as the producer for the show.
The half-hour special tells the tale of Alvin Seville who gives his harmonica away to a terminally ill little boy for Christmas only to find out he needs it for a special Christmas gig. Alvin tries to raise enough money by Christmas to buy another, which causes Dave to think that Alvin only thinks Christmas is about money and greed.
Along with Ross Bagdasarian Jr. as Alvin, Simon and Dave and Janice Karman as Theodore, we also get treated with animation voice actors Frank Welker as Santa Claus and June Foray as Mrs. Claus! And fans of The Alvin Show will be happy to see a special guest appearance by Clyde Crashup (pictured below), voiced by the original actor, Shepard Menken!
The animation in this show is a nice look back at 80's television animation. While it suffers here and there from off-model characters and obvious shortcuts, the animation suits the show perfectly and is a great lead up to their next hit TV show, Alvin and the Chipmunks
You can find A Chipmunk Christmas and two Christmas episodes from Alvin and the Chipmunks on a special edition DVD.