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Dr. Seuss's Grinch

Updated on February 16, 2012

Origins of the Grinch

While most people immediately think of How the Grinch Stole Christmas when thinking of the Grinch, the Grinch (or at least one of his Grinchy cousins) appeared in the May 1955 edition of Redbook in a short story entitled The Hoobub and the Grinch*... two and half years before his Christmas misadventures.

*Dr. Seuss first uses the word grinch in the 1953 book Scrambled Eggs Super when Peter T. Hooper collects eggs from exotic birds such as the Beagle-Beaked Bald-Headed Grinch.

The Hoobub and the Grinch

In The Hoobub and the Grinch, the Grinch resembles a sleazy used car salesman who tries convincing the Hoobub his life is not complete without owning a piece of green string.

"You ought to have it. You'll find it great fun.

And it's worth a lot more than that old-fashioned sun."

While this version of the Grinch shows he's not a nice character, he's not the villainous thief Dr. Seuss portrays just two years later. Read the full story online....

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

How the Grinch Stole Christmas: A 50th Anniversary Retrospective
How the Grinch Stole Christmas: A 50th Anniversary Retrospective

According to various interviews, Dr. Seuss put a lot of himself into the Grinch. Both were 53 years old when the book was originally published, and they shared similar facial features. Seuss himself illustrated this in his self portrait entitled Seuss looking like a Grinch.


And the more the Grinch thought of Who-Christmas-Sing,

The more the Grinch thought, "I must stop this whole thing!

"Why, for fifty-three years I've put up with it now!

"I MUST stop this Christmas from coming!

...But HOW?"

Redbook magazine and Random House published the book simultaneously in December 1957, and the Grinch became an instant hit. Unlike many Christmas tales of its time, How the Grinch Stole Christmas does not focus on Santa Claus or religious aspects of the holiday. Instead, Seuss focuses on what he feels is the true meaning of Christmas... friends and family.

Seuss joined forces with famed animator Chuck Jones to create the 1966 cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. (Seuss and Jones met while working on the WWII shorts Private Snafu for the U.S. Army.)

Jim Carrey later brought the infamous villain to life in the 2000 live action movie version of the book. Like the cartoon, the movie expands on the story. However as Seuss did not have a hand in the creation, the movie has a completely different feel than its predecessors. A back story showing a young Grinch being bullied by residents of Whoville explains how the Grinch became disillusioned.

Halloween is Grinch Night

The 1977 made-for-tv special Halloween is Grinch Night features a young Who named Euchariah who stalls the Grinch on his way to terrorize Whoville on Grinch Night. While the cartoon did not get great public reviews, it won an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program.

The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat

The Grinch met another of Dr. Seuss's famous character's in the 1982 The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat. The Grinch becomes annoyed with the Cat in the Hat when the Grinch crashes into the Cat's car which was parked in the middle of the road. The cartoon won two Emmys for Outstanding Individual Achievement - Animated Programming and Outstanding Animated Program.

Over the years, the Grinch has gone through several makeovers. When How the Grinch Stole Christmas was published, colored illustrations in children's books were common but were often limited to just a few colors to save money. As a result, the original book featured a black and white Grinch with pink eyes and a red and white Santa Claus costume.

In the 1966 cartoon adaptation, the Grinch gains a little weight, a dark green ruff appears around his neck and his eyes change from pink to yellow. While he remains unclothed while in the cave, he does decide to don green shoes. Later when changing into his Santa Claus costume, he wears red shoes. (They were white in the book.)

The Grinch's facial features become more animalistic in the 1977 Halloween is Grinch Night. The nose no longer looks humanoid but like that of a kitten with a pronounced line connecting the nose and lip and a definite clef in the upper lip. His eyebrows become large and black annimating his facial expressions.

For the 1982 The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat, the Grinch starts to resemble a crotchety old man. His frown lines become more pronounced and his cheeks become fatter which make his facial expressions appear more severe. He also loses the neck ruff.

The Grinch makes an appearance in the second season (1997) of The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss as a puppet designed by the Jim Henson Company and resembles a less hairy and skinny version of Henson's other infamous grouchy puppet... Oscar the Grouch.

Does the Grinch remind you of Oscar the Grouch?

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Residents near Mount Shavano in Colorado claim the Grinch shows up every spring on the mountain. Can you spot the Grinch's jeering face? Look slightly left of center.

Did you find the Grinch?

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What is your favorite version of the Grinch?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Very fun lens about the suess-grinch connections and changes. My children and grandchildren have all had the joy of experiencing these great books! Thanks for sharing.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      I like the animated cartoon, mostly because of the music. It reminds me of my childhood. Great fun with Mount Shavano. I do see a Grinch there. Merry Christmas!

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 6 years ago

      Love the pic of the Grinch in the mountains. I saw him immediately. Fun lens with some very interesting information.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      really enjoyed the history behind this story and the character. earned a 'thumbs up' from this avid reader.

    • profile image

      anilsaini 6 years ago

      nice lens

    • andreaberrios lm profile image

      andreaberrios lm 6 years ago

      Jim Carrey!! no competition.

    • donaldwilson profile image

      Don Wilson 6 years ago from Yakima, WA

      I'm kind of partial to the Jim Carrey version of the Grinch.