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Meet the father of the Yule Log and learn other funs facts about the PIX classic

Fred Thrower

WPIX station president Fred Thrower, the father of "The Yule Log"

What is the Yule Log?

The Yule Log is a special holiday program that was created in 1966 by New York TV station WPIX Channel 11.

It debuted as a 3-hour program, originally consisting of a 17-second 16 millimeter filmed loop of a festively decorated roaring fireplace while traditional Christmas carols played over the video.

The long-lost original footage was rediscovered in 2016 by WPIX’s Rolando Pujol. It had been in the home of the late Bill Cooper, the director of the 1966 and 1970 Yule Logs, who died in 1987. When his widow, Kay Arnold, died in 2014, WPIX was invited to retrieve film and tape from their home in Paramus, New Jersey. The reel turned up in July 2016 among the Cooper collection, now stored at WPIX.

The footage aired for the first time since 1969 at 11 p.m. Dec. 24, 2016, and aired again on Dec. 25 at 7 a.m.

Learn more about the find here.

When did it premiere?

The Yule Log premiered in full-color on Saturday, Dec. 24, 1966, at 9:30 PM on WPIX Channel 11 in New York City.

Where was the Yule Log filmed?

The original one was filmed in 1966 on 16 millimeter film at Gracie Mansion, the home of then Mayor of New York, John Lindsay. Four years later, in 1970, WPIX decided to re-shoot the footage on state-of-the-art 35 millimeter film, as the original 16 millimeter footage had become worn by this time.

Unfortunately, when WPIX shot the original Gracie Mansion footage, to capture the log in all its flaming glory, the crew decided to remove the protective screen and a stray spark damaged a valuable antique rug. Needless to say, the Mayor’s office was not receptive to the idea of letting WPIX come back and re-shoot the footage.

The search was then on for an identical fireplace. One was eventually found in California and a crew of technicians was then dispatched out to complete the re-shoot. This time from the footage they shot, they were able to edit out a perfect 7-minute loop that magnificently captured the fire when it was at its roaring best. It is this iconic fireplace footage that has captured the fascination of millions in the tri-state area and across the nation since 1970.

Here is the complete WPIX Yule Log track list by individual hour.

HOUR 1 (1966 footage in 2016)

1 JOY TO THE WORLD (INSTR) PERCY FAITH
2 A MUSICAL CHRISTMAS CARD FRED WARING AND THE PENNSYLVANIANS
3 SLEIGH RIDE THE RAY CONNIFF SINGERS
4 O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM FRANK SINATRA
5 WHITE CHRISTMAS (INSTR) ANDRE KOSTELANETZ
6 O HOLY NIGHT (INSTR) MANTOVANI
7 THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY THE HARRY SIMEONE CHORALE
8 THE FIRST NOEL NAT KING COLE
9 IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS (MEDLEY) (INSTR) FRANK DEVOL
TOYLAND (MEDLEY) (INSTR)
10 WINTER WONDERLAND (MEDLEY) HENRY MANCINI
SILVER BELLS (MEDLEY)
11 AWAY IN A MANGER ED AMES
12 WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS (MEDLEY) (INSTR) THE LIVING STRINGS
WE THREE KINGS (MEDLEY) (INSTR)
IT CAME UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR (MEDLEY) (INSTR)
13 O CHRISTMAS TREE (INSTR) MANTOVANI
14 CAROL OF THE BELLS (INSTR) HOLLYWOOD BOWL ORCHESTRA
15 MARY’S BOY CHILD THE PETE KING CHORALE
16 SILENT NIGHT (MEDLEY) (INSTR) FRANK DEVOL
O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM (MEDLEY) (INSTR)
17 I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS FRANK SINATRA
18 SLEIGH RIDE (INSTR) ANDRE KOSTELANETZ
19 O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL (INSTR) PERCY FAITH
20 O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL THE ROBERT SHAW CHORALE
21 JINGLE BELLS (INSTR) PAUL MAURIAT
22 CHRISTMAS IS CHRISTMAS ALL OVER THE WORLD THE SINGING ANGELS
23 ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH THE ROBERT SHAW CHORALE
24 HERE WE COME A-CAROLING THE RAY CHARLES SINGERS
25 GESU BAMBINO (INSTR) PERCY FAITH

HOUR 2 (1970 “classic” fireplace)

26 HARK THE HERALD ANGELS SING EUGENE ORMANDY
27 MY FAVORITE THINGS THE PETE KING CHORALE
28 DECK THE HALLS (MEDLEY) (INSTR) THE LIVING STRINGS
IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS (MEDLEY) (INSTR)
29 WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS THE RAY CHARLES SINGERS
30 THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS FRED WARING AND THE PENNSYLVANIANS
31 I SAW THREE SHIPS (INSTR) PERCY FAITH
32 THE CHRISTMAS SONG NAT KING COLE
33 WINTER WONDERLAND (INSTR) ARTHUR FIEDLER
34 AWAY IN A MANGER THE ROBERT SHAW CHORALE
35 SILENT NIGHT EUGENE ORMANDY
36 DECK THE HALLS (INSTR) PERCY FAITH
37 THE CHRISTMAS WALTZ (INSTR) DAVID ROSE
38 SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN THE RAY CONNIFF SINGERS
39 DECK THE HALLS NORMAN LUBOFF
40 GOOD KING WENCESLAS (INSTR) EUGENE ORMANDY
41 FROSTY THE SNOWMAN (MEDLEY) HENRY MANCINI
RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER (MEDLEY)
42 WHAT CHILD IS THIS (MEDLEY) (INSTR) AL HIRT
O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM (MEDLEY) (INSTR)
IT CAME UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR (MEDLEY) (INSTR)
43 JINGLE BELLS THE RAY CONNIFF SINGERS
44 DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR (INSTR) PERCY FAITH
45 DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR ED AMES
46 WHITE CHRISTMAS HENRY MANCINI
47 BRING A TORCH JEANETTE ISABELLA (INSTR) PERCY FAITH
48 THE CHRISTMAS TREE (INSTR) DAVID ROSE

HOUR 3

49 O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL (MEDLEY) (INSTR) THE LIVING STRINGS
O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM (MEDLEY) (INSTR)
COVENTRY CAROL (MEDLEY) (INSTR)
AWAY IN A MANGER (MEDLEY) (INSTR)
50 HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS (INSTR) PERCY FAITH
51 HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS FRANK SINATRA
52 LO HOW A ROSE E’ER BLOOMING (INSTR) PERCY FAITH
53 O CHRISTMAS TREE (INSTR) HOLLYWOOD BOWL ORCHESTRA
54 WHAT CHILD IS THIS THE RAY CONNIFF SINGERS
55 WHILE SHEPHERDS WATCHED THEIR FLOCKS (INSTR) MANTOVANI
56 HARK THE HERALD ANGELS SING (INSTR) ROGER WILLIAMS
57 SILENT NIGHT (INSTR) ROGER WILLIAMS
58 IT CAME UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR (INSTR) HOLLYWOOD BOWL ORCHESTRA
59 GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN NORMAN LUBOFF
60 RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER (INSTR) ARTHUR FIEDLER
61 WE THREE KINGS ANDRE KOSTELANETZ
62 CHRISTMAS BELLS (INSTR) MANTOVANI
63 SILENT NIGHT LENA HORNE
64 WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS EUGENE ORMANDY
65 DECK THE HALLS (MEDLEY) (INSTR) DAVID ROSE
THE FIRST NOEL (MEDLEY) (INSTR)
66 SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN (INSTR) GEORGE MELACHRINO
67 O HOLY NIGHT NAT KING COLE
68 IT CAME UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR (INSTR) EDDIE DUNSTEDTER
69 CAROL FOR ANOTHER CHRISTMAS (INSTR) HENRY MANCINI
70 JOY TO THE WORLD (INSTR) PERCY FAITH

HOUR 4

71 ADESTE FIDELES (INSTR) MANTOVANI
72 DECK THE HALLS THE RAY CONNIFF SINGERS
73 HOLIDAY FOR BELLS (INSTR) BERT KAEMPFERT
74 MUST BE SANTA MITCH MILLER
75 GOOD KING WENCESLAS (INSTR) PERCY FAITH
76 SLEIGH RIDE THE NEW CHRISTY MINSTRLS
77 RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER THE HARRY SIMEONE CHORALE
78 A TIME TO BE JOLLY BING CROSBY
79 AWAY IN A MANGER (INSTR) PERCY FAITH
80 SANTA, SANTA, SANTA CLAUS SAMMY KAYE
81 DECK THE HALLS VIC DAMONE
82 CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS DREAM (INSTR) BERT KAEMPFERT
83 JOLLY OLD ST. NICHOLAS (MEDLEY) THE RAY CONNIFF SINGERS
THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY (MEDLEY)
84 HERE WE COME A-CAROLING THE NEW CHRISTY MINSTRELS
85 ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH (INSTR) PERCY FAITH
86 BE A SANTA THE LIVING VOICES
87 JOY TO THE WORLD THE RAY CONNIFF SINGERS
88 O HOLY NIGHT JOHNNY MATHIS
89 ALL AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE SAMMY KAYE
90 TOUCH HANDS ON CHRISTMAS MORNING MIKE DOUGLAS
91 CHRISTMAS IS THE HARRY SIMEONE CHORALE
92 JINGO JANGO (INSTR) BERT KAEMPFERT
93 HARK THE HERALD ANGELS SING (INSTR) PERCY FAITH

HOUR 5 (Special 50th anniversary hour curated by Lawrence F. “Chip” Arcuri)

94 Al Hirt: “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town”
95 Patti Page: “Santo Natale”
96 Andy Williams: “Kay Thompson’s Jingle Bells”
97 Jim Reeves: “Senor Santa Claus”
98 Johnny Mathis: “The First Noel”
99 Kitty Wells: “Dasher With The Light Upon His Tail”
100 Norman Luboff: “Do You Hear What I Hear”
101 Brenda Lee: “This Time Of The Year”
102 Andre Kostelanetz: “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer/Jingle Bells”
103 Percy Faith: “Silver Bells”
104 Lawrence Welk: “I Wanna Do More Than Whistle”
105 Fred Waring: “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town”
106 Jim Reeves: “Mary’s Little Boy Child”
107 Bing Crosby: “The White World Of Winter”
108 Kitty Wells: “Ole Kris Kringle”
109 Johnny Mathis: “The Christmas Song”
110 Brenda Lee: “Strawberry Snow”
111 Andre Kostelanetz: “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town/Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
112 Perry Como: “Christmas Dream”
113 Al Hirt: “Silver Bells”
114 Lynn Anderson: “Mr. Mistletoe”
115 Percy Faith: “Hallelujah Chorus”

 

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