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About Edmund Gwynne And "Miracle on 34th Street"


Subdeacon Joe

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According to Natalie Wood's biographer, during the shoot for "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947), she was convinced that Edmund Gwenn was actually Santa Claus (by all accounts, he was a very good natured man on the set). It wasn't until she saw him out of costume at the wrap party that she realized he wasn't Santa.

 

The cast and crew were unanimous in their opinion of Gwenn: they loved him. Alvin Greenman who played Alfred called him "a dear, dear man," and Robert Hyatt, who played Tommy Mara, Jr., said in a 2001 interview, "He was a really nice guy, always happy, always smiling. He had this little twinkle in his eye." Added Maureen O'Hara, "By the time we were halfway through the shoot, we all believed Edmund really was Santa Claus. I've never seen an actor more naturally suited for a role."

 

Unbeknownst to most parade watchers, Gwenn played Santa Claus in the actual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade held on November 28, 1946. He fulfilled the duties of most parade Santas, including addressing the crowd from Macy's marquee after it was over. He was introduced to the crowd by Philip Tonge, who played Mr. Shellhammer, and later unveiled the mechanical Christmas display windows to the accompaniment of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite." This gesture symbolized the opening of the Christmas season there.

 

Both Macy's and Gimbel's were approached by the producers for permission to have them depicted in the film. Both wanted to see the finished film first before they gave approval. If either had refused, the film would have had to been extensively edited and re-shot to eliminate the references. Fortunately at the test viewing, both were pleased with the film and gave their permission.

 

When Gwenn accepted his Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the role, he said, "Now I know there's a Santa Claus." (IMDb)

 

Happy Birthday, Edmund Gwenn!

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45 minutes ago, Tex Jones, SASS 2263 said:

Pretty good myrmecologist as well.  :)

 

Just saw THEM the other night.  Great cast.  Aside from Gwenn it had James Arness, James Whitmore, Fess Parker, Richard Deacon, Leonard Nimoy, Dub Taylor and a host of other character actors from that time period.  Clint Eastwood even had an uncredited role as a fighter pilot near the end of the movie.

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I saw Miracle years before I saw Lassie Come Home.

 

And I'm sitting there listening to this guy talk, and the voice is so damn familiar, and I can't place him for nothing.

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Amazing the difference that beard makes.

 

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