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WPIX Yule Log

The surprising secret of where the WPIX Yule Log was filmed

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A scene from the Magic Garden Christmas special

NEW YORK – It will be an extra special holiday at New York’s Christmas station.

For the first time in decades, WPIX will present the “Magic Garden Christmas” special. And there’s more good news:  For the first time since the 1980s, viewers will be able to see the original WPIX “Yule Log” on Christmas Eve — online only.

At 6 p.m. Christmas Day, the “Magic Garden Christmas” special will be shown on PIX11 TV and PIX11.com. The special debuted on Dec. 13, 1981 and has not been seen in decades. On the night it premiered, the show was delayed by a football game that ran long. WPIX used a crawl on the screen to inform parents the show would eventually air after the game.

Carole Demas and Paula Janis will introduce the special along with PIX11′s Sukanya Krishnan. The master copy of the special was recently found in a forgotten tape vault in the basement of the WPIX building.

For “Yule Log” fans, WPIX is delivering a wonderful gift. PIX11 will stream the “Yule Log” on PIX11.com starting at 6 p.m. Dec. 24 and continuing through 10 p.m. Viewers can watch it on a computer, phone, tablet or Internet-connected TV. Fans have long requested that WPIX return “The Log” to Christmas Eve, where it aired from 1966 to 1989. Since its comeback in 2001, “The Yule Log” has aired on Christmas morning.

On Christmas morning at 9 a.m., WPIX will show “The Yule Log” the traditional way, on PIX11 TV, as well as on PIX11.com. Then at 1 p.m., WPIX presents the beloved holiday classic “March of the Wooden Soldiers,” only on PIX11 TV.

“The Yule Log” returns at 7 p.m. Christmas night, for a three-hour presentation only on PIX11.com.

Don’t miss the holiday magic on WPIX. And follow our WPIX Archives Twitter RIGHT NOW for updates on holiday programming and more WPIX history: https://twitter.com/wpixarchives

Here’s the complete WPIX holiday schedule:

Monday, December 23

12 midnight    Seinfeld “The Strike” (The Festivus episode)    

Celebrate Festivus with PIX11 as George’s cantankerous father Frank gets the Festivus aluminum pole out of the crawlspace and begins the Costanza traditions of performing feats of strength and the airing of the grievances. 

Tuesday, December 24           

8 – 10pm            THE 12 DOGS OF CHRISTMAS (2005)

In this touching holiday tale set during the Great Depression, irrepressible Emma (Jordan-Claire Green) uses dogs to teach people the true meaning of Christmas. 

12-1:30am       Midnight Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral (LIVE)

Catholic Christmas Mass from Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. Will also be live streamed on PIX11.com

Wednesday, December 25

9am-1pm          The Yule Log

It wouldn’t be a holiday in New York without the PIX11 Yule Log! The Yule Log, the famous film loop of a burning log in a hearth, has warmed the hearts of` viewers since it debuted on PIX in 1966. To celebrate the fabled fire stick’s 47th anniversary, PIX11 will air The Yule Log (available in HD) from 9am-1pm on Christmas morning. 

  • The Log will also be live streamed on PIX11.com 12/24 from 6-10pm and 12/25 from 9a-1p and 7-10pm. 
  • Follow the Yule Log on twitter @PIXYULELOG and become a fan on Facebook (PIXYuleLog)
  • Log merchandise (including “Nice Log!” & “That’s HOT!” boxer shorts) http://www.cafepress.com/wpix/  

1-3pm                March of the Wooden Soldiers (1934)

Laurel and Hardy and classic

3-5pm                Disney’s A Christmas Carol (2009)

From Walt Disney Pictures comes the magical retelling of Charles Dickens’ beloved tale, starring Jim Carrey (Animated)

6-7pm                The “Lost” Magic Garden Christmas Special (1981)

Beloved performers Carole Demas and Paula Janis prepare for Christmas in The Magic Garden in this WPIX holiday retro special, not seen since its original broadcast in 1981. Will also be live streamed on PIX11.com

8-8:30pm          Kung Fu Panda Holiday (Animated)

8:30-9pm          Merry Madagascar (Animated)

Tuesday, 12/31           

11pm                  PIX11 Annual Honeymooners Marathon

From the Gotham Bus Company depot to the Raccoon Lodge, PIX11 is NY’s home for The Honeymooners. New Yorkers have been ringing in the New Year with Ralphie Boy on PIX11 since 1996, when The Honeymooners Marathon (which began airing on the station in 1976) moved to New Year’s Eve.

This year, the PIX11 Honeymooners Marathon of 26 classic episodes begins Tuesday, December 31st at 11pm and runs until 4am – with a break for PIX11 Morning News – then resumes at 9am and runs until 5pm on January 1. (13 total hours)

NEW YORK (PIX 11) Several PIX 11 viewers re-imagined the traditional Yule Log just in time for the holidays.

The project was started by artist Daniel Savage and was built by Wondersauce.

Savage told PIX 11 the idea came about when he and a few friends wanted to watch the Yule Log online.

The videos they were finding on Youtube were all low quality so they decided to create their own.

It’s November 1966 and New York is a “fun city,”  as Mayor John Lindsay says.

WPIX general manager Fred Thrower is tossing around an idea — a televised Christmas Eve Yule Log set to a holiday music soundtrack to warm the living rooms of fireplace-deprived New Yorkers.

A month later, a WPIX crew is at Gracie Mansion,  shooting the first version of the log — a 17-second loop — that will become the first ever televised Yule Log on at 9:30 p.m. Dec. 24, 1966.

So move over roller derby — and so long $4,000 in ad revenue. A holiday tradition was born,  and it’s an instant hit.

Yule-Log-OriginalFor 23 more years, viewers would tune in as presents were opened and friends gathered round.

1989 turned out to be what was intended to be its final airing, and copies of the log became bootleg must-haves.

The 1990s were “the dark ages,” as viewers lamented how Christmas in New York was just not the same.   But one of those viewers, Joe Malzone, decided to do something about it, and founded a Web site in which he encouraged petitions to Channel 11 to “bring back the log.”

Just a few months after Sept. 11, a scarred city would learn the effort was successful.

Christmas was complete again. This year, the log has been expanded to three hours, with the complete 1973 soundtrack assembled with the help of music historian Lawrence “Chip” Arcuri.

The log has spawned many imitators, and now seem to be a permanent part of U.S. holiday culture — available on the Web, in high def, and even on iPods.  Thrower, it seems, did the right thing in pre-empting roller derby that night in another New York.

Note: Repurposed from piece published by this author in amNewYork

Fred Thrower

WPIX station president Fred Thrower, the father of “The Yule Log” Find out his story in this SHORT VIDEO.

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.
When did it premiere?

The Yule Log premiered in full-color on Saturday, December 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.

The Soundtrack

åSeq

Title Artist

Start Time

Original Album Cover Art

1

Joy To The World (Instr) Percy Faith

0:00

Music Of Christmas
Columbia 1954
(Re-recorded in stereo in 1959)

2

A Musical Christmas Card Fred Waring & The Pennsylvanians

1:57

The Meaning Of Christmas
Capitol 1961

3

Sleigh Ride The Ray Conniff Singers

2:55

Christmas With Conniff
Columbia 1959

4

O Little Town Of Bethlehem Frank Sinatra

5:20

A Jolly Christmas
Capitol 1957

5

White Christmas (Instr) Andre Kostelanetz

7:22

Joy To The World:
Music For Christmas

Columbia 1959

6

O Holy Night (Instr) Mantovani

10:38

Christmas Carols
London 1953
(Re-recorded in stereo in 1958)

7

The Little Drummer Boy The Harry Simeone Chorale

13:15

Sing We Now Of Christmas
20th Century Fox 1959

8

The First Noel Nat King Cole

16:14

The Christmas Song
Capitol 1962

9

MEDLEY:  It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas / Toyland (Instr) Frank DeVol

18:08

The Old Sweet Songs Of Christmas
Columbia 1960

10

MEDLEY:  Winter Wonderland / Silver Bells Henry Mancini

20:55

A Merry Mancini Christmas
RCA 1966

11

Away In A Manger Ed Ames

24:40

Christmas With Ed Ames
RCA 1967

12

MEDLEY:  We Wish You A Merry Christmas / We Three Kings / It Came Upon A Midnight Clear (Instr) The Living Strings

26:58

The Spirit Of Christmas
RCA Camden 1963

13

O Tannenbaum (Instr) Mantovani

28:44

Christmas Carols
London 1953
(Re-recorded in stereo in 1958)

14

Carol Of The Bells (Instr) Hollywood Bowl Orchestra

31:55

The Music Of Christmas
Capitol 1958

15

Mary’s Boy Child The Pete King Chorale

33:14

Christmas Time
Kapp 1960

16

MEDLEY:  Silent Night / O Little Town Of Bethlehem (Instr) Frank DeVol

36:09

The Old Sweet Songs Of Christmas
Columbia 1960

17

I’ll Be Home For Christmas Frank Sinatra

38:33

A Jolly Christmas
Capitol 1957

18

Sleigh Ride (Instr) Andre Kostelanetz

41:40

Wonderland Of Christmas
Columbia 1963

19

O Come All Ye Faithful (Instr) Percy Faith

44:07

Music Of Christmas
Columbia 1954
(Re-recorded in stereo in 1959)

20

O Come All Ye Faithful The Robert Shaw Chorale

48:09

Christmas Hymns & Carols
Volume 1

RCA 1954
(Re-recorded in stereo in 1957)

21

Jingle Bells (Instr) Paul Mauriat

50:23

The Christmas Album
Philips 1967

22

Christmas Is Christmas All Over The World The Singing Angels

53:10

Issued as a 45-rpm single only. Click here for full size.

Princess Records 1973

23

Angels We Have Heard On High The Robert Shaw Chorale

55:35

Christmas Hymns & Carols
Volume 1

RCA 1954
(Re-recorded in stereo in 1957)

24

Here We Come A-Caroling The Ray Charles Singers

57:32

Here We Come A-Caroling
MGM 1956

25

Gesu Bambino (Instr) Percy Faith

58:27

Hallelujah!
Columbia 1958

26

Hark The Herald Angels Sing Eugene Ormandy

1:01:28

The Glorious Sound Of Christmas
Columbia 1962

27

My Favorite Things The Pete King Chorale

1:04:34

Christmas Time
Kapp 1960

28

MEDLEY:  Deck The Halls / It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas (Instr) The Living Strings

1:07:16

The Spirit Of Christmas
RCA Camden 1963

29

We Wish You A Merry Christmas The Ray Charles Singers

1:10:00

Here We Come A-Caroling
MGM 1956

30

The Twelve Days Of Christmas Fred Waring & The Pennsylvanians

1:10:30

Now Is The Caroling Season
Capitol 1957

31

I Saw Three Ships (Instr) Percy Faith

1:14:11

Hallelujah!
Columbia 1958

32

The Christmas Song Nat King Cole

1:16:08

The Christmas Song
Capitol 1962

33

Winter Wonderland (Instr) Arthur Fiedler

1:19:13

Pops Christmas Party
RCA 1959

34

Away In A Manger The Robert Shaw Chorale

1:22:06

Christmas Hymns & Carols
Volume 1

RCA 1954
(Re-recorded in stereo in 1957)

35

Silent Night Eugene Ormandy

1:23:49

The Glorious Sound Of Christmas
Columbia 1962

36

Deck The Halls (Instr) Percy Faith

1:27:02

Music Of Christmas
Columbia 1954
(Re-recorded in stereo in 1959)

37

The Christmas Waltz (Instr) David Rose

1:29:50

David Rose Christmas Album
Capitol 1968

38

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town The Ray Conniff Singers

1:33:02

Christmas With Conniff
Columbia 1959

39

Deck The Halls The Norman Luboff Choir

1:35:26

Songs Of Christmas
Columbia 1957

40

Good King Wenceslas (Instr) Eugene Ormandy

1:36:33

A Christmas Festival
Columbia 1968

41

MEDLEY:  Frosty The Snowman / Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Henry Mancini

1:39:46

A Merry Mancini Christmas
RCA 1966

42

MEDLEY:  What Child Is This / O Little Town Of Bethlehem / It Came Upon A Midnight Clear (Instr) Al Hirt

1:42:09

The Sound Of Christmas
RCA 1965

43

Jingle Bells The Ray Conniff Singers

1:46:28

Christmas With Conniff
Columbia 1959

44

Do You Hear What I Hear (Instr) Percy Faith

1:49:09

Christmas Is…
Columbia 1966

45

Do You Hear What I Hear Ed Ames

1:51:53

Christmas With Ed Ames
RCA 1967

46

White Christmas Henry Mancini

1:54:35

A Merry Mancini Christmas
RCA 1966

47

Bring A Torch Jeanette Isabella (Instr) Percy Faith

1:57:12

Hallelujah!
Columbia 1958

48

The Christmas Tree (Instr) David Rose

2:00:18

David Rose Christmas Album
Capitol 1968

49

MEDLEY:  O Come All Ye Faithful / O Little Town Of Bethlehem / Coventry Carol / Away In A Manger (Alternate Version) (Instr) The Living Strings

2:02:36

The Spirit Of Christmas
RCA Camden 1963

50

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Instr) Percy Faith

2:06:58

Christmas Is…
Columbia 1966

51

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas Frank Sinatra

2:09:54

A Jolly Christmas
Capitol 1957

52

Lo How A Rose E’er Blooming (Instr) Percy Faith

2:13:19

Music Of Christmas
Columbia 1954
(Re-recorded in stereo in 1959)

53

O Tannenbaum (Instr) Hollywood Bowl Orchestra

2:15:32

The Music Of Christmas
Capitol 1958

54

What Child Is This The Ray Conniff Singers

2:18:34

Christmas With Conniff
Columbia 1959

55

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks (Instr) Mantovani

2:21:01

Christmas Greetings
London 1963

56

Hark The Herald Angels Sing (Instr) Roger Williams

2:24:18

Christmas Time
Kapp 1959

57

Silent Night (Instr) Roger Williams

2:26:22

Christmas Time
Kapp 1959

58

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear (Instr) Hollywood Bowl Orchestra

2:30:08

The Music Of Christmas
Capitol 1958

59

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen The Norman Luboff Choir

2:33:32

Songs Of Christmas
Columbia 1957

60

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (Instr) Arthur Fiedler

2:34:30

Pops Christmas Party
RCA 1959

61

We Three Kings Andre Kostelanetz

2:36:38

Joy To The World:
Music For Christmas

Columbia 1959

62

Christmas Bells (Instr) Mantovani

2:39:05

Christmas Greetings
London 1963

63

Silent Night Lena Horne

2:41:17

Merry From Lena
United Artists 1966

64

We Wish You A Merry Christmas Eugene Ormandy

2:44:09

A Christmas Festival
Columbia 1968

65

MEDLEY: Deck The Halls / The First Noel (Instr) David Rose

2:46:09

David Rose Christmas Album
Capitol 1968

66

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Instr) George Melachrino

2:48:07

Christmas Joy
RCA 1959

67

O Holy Night Nat King Cole

2:50:25

The Christmas Song
Capitol 1962

68

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear (Instr) Eddie Dunstedter

2:53:17

The Bells Of Christmas
Capitol 1959

69

Carol For Another Christmas (Instr) Henry Mancini

2:54:31

A Merry Mancini Christmas
RCA 1966

70

Joy To The World (Instr) Percy Faith

2:57:03

Music Of Christmas
Columbia 1954
(Re-recorded in stereo in 1959)

Track Listing for New 4th Hour of the Yule Log Soundtrack

(ADDED IN 2009)

1)  Mantovani: “Adeste Fideles”

2)  Ray Conniff: “Deck The Halls”

3)  Bert Kaempfert: “Holiday For Bells”

4)  Mitch Miller: “Must Be Santa”

5)  Percy Faith: “Good King Wenceslas”

6)  The New Christy Minstrels: “Sleigh Ride”

7)  The Harry Simeone Chorale: “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”

8)  Bing Crosby: “A Time To Be Jolly”

9)  Percy Faith: “Away In A Manger”

10) Sammy Kaye: “Santa, Santa, Santa Claus”

11) Vic Damone: “Deck The Halls”

12) Bert Kaempfert: “Children’s Christmas Dream”

13) Ray Conniff: “Jolly Old St. Nicholas”/”The Little Drummer Boy”

14) The New Christy Minstrels: “Here We Come A-Caroling”

15) Percy Faith: “Angels We Have Heard On High”

16) The Living Voices: “Be A Santa”

17) Ray Conniff: “Joy To The World”

18) Johnny Mathis: “O Holy Night”

19) Sammy Kaye: “All Around The Christmas Tree”

20) Mike Douglas: “Touch Hands On Christmas Morning”

21) The Harry Simeone Chorale: “Christmas Is”

22) Bert Kaempfert: “Jingo Jango”

23) Percy Faith: “Hark The Herald Angels Sing”

The introduction to the Yule Log from Christmas 1986, as voiced by beloved announcer Bill Biery, known to 1960s kids as “Beachcomber Bill.”

The world-famous WPIX Yule Log is a yearly tradition and a staple for families celebrating the holiday season.

Created by WPIX Channel 11 in 1966, 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 served as its soundtrack.

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

Although many duplicates and copycats exist, 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.

Yule-Log-Original

The Yule Log is a long-standing Christmas tradition and property of WPIX-TV. .All rights reserved.

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