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The Essentials - December 2011
Remind Me

Trivia & Fun Facts About MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET

Some of the production schedule on Miracle on 34th Street overlapped with Natalie Wood's work on another film, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947). Natalie would sometimes spend the mornings playing Gene Tierney's daughter in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and the afternoons playing Maureen O'Hara's daughter in Miracle.

It was so cold during the filming of the scene at the end of the film where Natalie Wood spots her dream house on the street and runs inside that the cameras actually froze. While technicians worked on fixing them, a woman who lived in one of the neighboring houses invited the cast inside to stay warm. The Good Samaritan was rewarded when Maureen O'Hara as a thank you took her and her husband to the 21 Club later that night.

The scenes inside Macy's were actually shot at the famous department store at Herald Square. They had to be shot at night so as not to interfere with regular store business.

Miracle on 34th Street was character actress Thelma Ritter's first film. In a memorable uncredited role, she plays the disbelieving mother whom Santa Claus first sends to another store in search of the toy her son wants.

A young Jack Albertson appears in the film in an unbilled role as a postal employee.

When Edmund Gwenn accepted his Best Supporting Actor Oscar®, he said, "Now I know there's a Santa Claus."

On its current website, Macy's says: "The still classic holiday film Miracle on 34th Street opened in 1947 and is set in Macy's Herald Square, proving that Macy's has the one and only true Santa Claus."

Miracle on 34th Street was one of the first films to be colorized in 1985, resulting in some controversy and an uproar from film purists.

When John Hughes' production company wanted to do a theatrical re-make of the film in 1994, they could not get Macy's to participate. "We feel the original stands on its own and could not be improved upon," said a company spokesperson at the time. The re-make instead called its fictional store Cole's.

The rivalry between department stores Macy's and Gimbels depicted in the film was very real. The two stores were just blocks from each other in New York and major competitors for the same business. The rhetorical question "Does Macy's tell Gimbels?" was a popular phrase used throughout the 1930s-1960s which meant that business competitors are not supposed to share trade secrets with one another.

Co-star John Payne, who passed away in 1989, hoped to do a sequel to his dying day, and even took matters into his own hands. "John really believed in and loved Miracle on 34th Street," said Maureen O'Hara, "and always wanted to do a sequel. We talked about it for years, and he eventually even wrote a screenplay sequel. He was going to send it to me, but tragically died before he could get around to it. I never saw it and have often wondered what happened to it."

In her autobiography, Maureen O'Hara nicely summed up what the film had come to mean to her over the years. "Everyone felt the magic on the set and we all knew we were creating something special," she said. "I am very proud to have been part of a film that has been continually shown and loved all over the world for nearly sixty years. Miracle on 34th Street has endured all this time because of the special relationship of the cast and crew, the uplifting story and its message of hope and love, which steals hearts all over the world every year. I don't think I will ever tire of children asking me, 'Are you the lady who knows Santa Claus?' I always answer, 'Yes, I am. What would you like me to tell him?'"

Gimbels Department Store closed its doors permanently in 1986.

Macy's department store founder R.H. Macy is portrayed in the film by actor Harry Antrim even though the real R.H. Macy passed away in 1877.

Memorable Quotes from MIRACLE ON 34th STREET

"Could you be Santa Claus? Have you had any experience?"
"Oh, a little."
"Oh, please. You've got to help me out."
"Madam! I am not in the habit of substituting for spurious Santa Clauses."
-- Doris Walker (Maureen O'Hara) and Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn)

"I see she doesn't believe in Santa Claus, either. No Santa Claus, no fairy tales, no fantasies of any kind. Is that it?"
"That's right. I think we should be realistic and completely truthful with our children and not have them growing up believing in a lot of legends and myths like Santa Claus, for example."
--Fred Gailey (John Payne) and Doris, discussing Doris' daughter Susan

"Imagine, making a child take something it doesn't want just because he bought too many of the wrong toys. That's what I've been fighting against for years, the way they commercialize Christmas." -- Kris Kringle

"Listen, I want to congratulate you and Macy's on this wonderful new stunt you're pulling. Imagine sending people to other stores. I don't get it...Imagine a big outfit like Macy's putting the spirit of Christmas ahead of the commercial. It's wonderful. Well, I'll tell ya. I never done much shopping here before, but I'll tell ya one thing. From now on I'm going to be a regular Macy's customer." -- Peter's Mother (Thelma Ritter), speaking to the store manager after Santa Claus tells her she can find a toy for her son at another store

"I shouldn't have brought Susie to see Santa Claus?"
"Now you're making me feel like the proverbial stepmother."
"I'm sorry, but it's just that I couldn't see any harm in just saying hello to the old fella."
"But I think there is harm. I tell her Santa Claus is a myth, and you bring her down here and she sees hundreds of gullible children, meets a very convincing old man with real whiskers. This sets up a very harmful mental conflict within her. What is she going to think? Who is she going to believe? And by filling them full of fairy tales, they grow up considering life a fantasy instead of a reality. They keep waiting for a Prince Charming to come along. When he does, he turns out to be a--"
"We were talking about Susie, not about you."
--Fred / Doris

"Imagine Macy's Santa Claus sending customers to Gimbels. But gentlemen, you cannot argue with success. Look at this: telegrams, messages, telephone calls -- the governor's wife, the mayor's wife. Over 500 thankful parents expressing undying gratitude to Macy's. Never in my entire career have I seen such a tremendous and immediate response to a merchandising policy...And I'm positive, Frank, that if we expand our policy we'll expand our results as well. Therefore, from now on, not only will our Santa Claus continue in this manner, but I want every salesperson in this store to do precisely the same thing. If we haven't got exactly what the customer wants, we'll send him where he can get it. No high-pressuring and forcing a customer to take something he doesn't really want...We'll be known as 'The Helpful Store.' 'The Friendly Store.' 'The Store With a Heart.' The store that places public service ahead of profits. And consequently we'll make more profits than ever before." -- Mr. Macy (Harry Antrim), addressing his employees in a meeting

"I fired him."
"Santa Claus."
"He's crazy! He thinks he is Santa Claus."
"I don't care if he thinks he's the Easter Bunny. Get him back."
--Doris and her co-worker, Mr. Shellhammer (Philip Tonge)

"Maybe he's only a little painters or composers or some of those men in Washington."

-- Mr. Shellhammer, referring to Kris Kringle

"For the past 50 years or so I've been getting more and more worried about Christmas. It seems we're all so busy trying to beat the other fellow in making things go faster and look shinier and cost less that Christmas and I are sort of getting lost in the shuffle."
"I don't think so. Christmas is still Christmas."
"Oh, Christmas isn't just a day. It's a frame of mind."
--Kris Kringle / Doris

"Now, that's what I want for Christmas."
"You mean a doll's house like this?"
"No, a real house. If you're really Santa Claus, you can get it for me. And if you can't, you're only a nice man with a white beard, like Mother said."
"Now, wait a minute, Susie. Just because every child can't get his wish, that doesn't mean there isn't a Santa Claus."
"That's what I thought you'd say."
--Susan / Kris Kringle

"All my life I've wondered something, and now's my chance to find out. I'm gonna find the answer to a question that's puzzled the world for centuries. Does Santa Claus sleep with his whiskers outside or in?"
"Always sleep with them out. Cold air makes them grow."
--Fred / Kris Kringle

"You don't have any faith in me, do you?"
"It's not a question of faith. It's just common sense."
"Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to."
--Fred / Doris

Compiled by Andrea Passafiume



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