Comedy, Animation, Holiday | 9 Mins | Released: 1947
Director: Seymore Kneitel
Starring: Jack Mercer, Mae Questel
Our Rating: 7
In Santa’s Surprise, five children from around the world follow Santa home on Christmas Eve, and decide to give him some extra help around the workshop.
Little Audrey first appeared in the Noveltoon‘ Santa’s Surprise (1947), where she was the most prominent member of a multicultural child cast working to clean Santa’s workshop while he was asleep, and was briefly seen in the January 1948 Popeye cartoon Olive Oyl for President.
Her first starring vehicle was the short Butterscotch and Soda, released on July 16, 1948. In common with many animated shorts of the period, childlike fantasy played an important role in Audrey’s early cartoons, which often used dream sequences as the basis of the storylines. In this way, Audrey could ride the clouds with Mother Goose (Goofy Goofy Gander, 1950), attend a wedding in Cakeland (Tarts and Flowers, also 1950), or face an underwater tribunal of outraged catfish (The Seapreme Court, 1954).
Slapstick humor crept into the series with the release of Surf Bored (1953), which pitted the precocious little girl against a hulking but ultimately brainless life guard. A total of sixteen cartoons starring Audrey were produced for theatrical release, several of which were re-packaged for television from the late 1950s on.
She was the only character in the series to have their own theme song with vocals (“Little Audrey Says“, by Winston Sharples and Buddy Kaye). Some other characters (and certain one-shots) in the series had their own themes, but were entirely instrumental. Two Noveltoons spin-offs, Casper the Friendly Ghost and Herman and Katnip had their own vocal themes, but only after leaving the series.