Christmas Adventures of
Cuddles and Tuckie
"Quick, ring the alarm bell-my reindeer are gone!" Santa Claus shouted. A wolf had attacked the eight reindeer who pull Santas sleigh around the world Christmas eve to deliver gifts to boys and girls. The deer ran away into the icy Northland mountains. Santa Claus believed he might find his missing reindeer if he could find White King of the magic white deer herd which had led his deer away. Santa had saved White King long ago by distracting a big black bear and reared the faun until he joined its herd in the mountains. White King could lead Santa to his reindeer so he can deliver gifts on Christmas eve.
After a long search through the snow-covered mountains, Jo Jo and Boppi, Santas helpers, found White King, who was willing to help Santa find his eight lost reindeer. But who could ride White King? Santas helpers were afraid and besides they were busy getting toys and gifts ready for Santa to deliver if he can get the reindeer back in time to skim over the rooftops of the world on Christmas eve. Santa Claus sent White King to go to Cuddles and Tuckie and see whether they would ride him into the far Northland to hunt for Santas missing reindeer. Where would White King find Cuddles and Tuckie? If White King found Cuddles and Tuckie would they be brave enough to make the dangerous trip into the icy Northland?
Cuddles and Tuckie spent the day Christmas shopping and after they got home they heard on the radio that Santas reindeer were lost. They went to bed wishing they could do something to help, not knowing that White King was soaring through the air toward their home with a note from Santa asking them to ride White King to hunt for Santas eight missing reindeer. When White King appeared suddenly in the yard of Cuddles and Tuckie, they read the note, got on White King, and found themselves sailing into the air and to the north on the magic deers back. Would they find Donder, Blitzen, Comet, Cupid, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen in that land of icicles, snow, and high mountains?
Zooming through the snow and high above the tree and housetops on the back of White King, they whizzed off to the Northland to try to find Santas reindeer. Cuddles and Tuckie went into the glistening icy heart of the Ulda mountain, which opened with a mighty rumble as the little boy and girl stood beside it. There they saw eight tails sticking up out of a snow trench. They found Santas eight reindeer! They got safely out of the mountain, but Donder had a sore foot and had to limp along in one of Tuckies galoshes.
White King, the magic deer, would much rather fly right up into the air with Cuddles and Tuckie, but they held him to the icy ledge so they could lead Santas eight missing reindeer from the terrible Ulda mountain. But things got worse. A band of wolves attacked the reindeer as they got off the ledge and into deep snow in a valley. The wolves snapped and snarled and Cuddles almost fell off White Kings back, but they and Santas eight missing reindeer escaped from the Ulda mountain and were on the way back to Santas workshop.
Cuddles and Tuckie rode White King proudly as they greeted Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. Now they wanted to see Santas workshop and all the toys ready to be delivered Christmas eve. Santa was making preparations for his annual ride over the housetops with Christmas gifts for boys and girls. It was Santas big night and he was on the way from his Northland workshop to the homes of boys and girls all over the world. With him came Cuddles and Tuckie, who found the lost reindeer and made it possible for Santa to deliver toys that Christmas night.
In 1941, the cartoon characters of Cuddles and Tuckie, created in 1932 during the Great Depression, by Frances Royster Williams, a free-lance commercial artist in Kansas City, made their debut on radio in a series of 13 broadcasts called, "The Christmas Adventures of Cuddles and Tuckie." This series became such a favorite, it aired every holiday season for six years over WDAF, while the story was carried in a variety of ways by the Kansas City Star. The thrilling search for the lost reindeer caught the fancy of young radio listeners at once. With childlike imagination, the audience entered into the spirit of the show, believing, or pretending that it was really true. As they followed each new and exciting episode, their letters poured into Station WDAF offering advice to Cuddles and Tuckie and suggesting original ways to help Santa get his reindeer back. Decades later, this Christmas tale is still remembered and available for a new generation of youngsters to enjoy, as many of their parents did before them.
The Junior League of Kansas City presented the original radio show with assistance from the University of Kansas City (now the University of Missouri-Kansas City), the Kansas City Junior College, and WDAF, the radio station of the Kansas City Star. Through the years a number of children played the roles of Cuddles and Tuckie. For the "Christmas Adventures", they were Nancy Talman and Richard Murray, though Nancy Laws and John Klose substituted for three episodes when Richard and Nancy T. became ill in the middle of the series. The noted Kansas City actor, Art Ellison, provided the voice for Santa and directed the series.
Mrs. Williams papers (KC0249), including her drawings, scripts and recordings for the radio shows, and fan mail, now reside in the Western Historical Manuscript Collection-Kansas City, a joint collection of the University of Missouri and the State Historical Society of Missouri. An audio-tape set of "The Christmas Adventures of Cuddles and Tuckie" radio series is available for purchase. For further information call (816) 235-1543 or Email WHMCKC@umkc.edu.
© WHMC-KC, University of Missouri, 1996