Actors Who Have Filled the Big Boots of Santa Claus

Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
December 7th, 2012

Actors Who Have Filled the Big Boots of Santa Claus

Once Thanksgiving is over, many people turn their attentions to the upcoming Christmas season, with all of its decorations and iconography. Retails stores and businesses put up their Christmas trees and communities proudly host light displays. Of course, no Christmas celebration is complete without a visit from the jolly old man from the North Pole: Santa Claus. Holiday movies are popular each yuletide season, both old and new. Several have prominently featured Santa Claus in a variety of ways over the years.

In some movies, the question of his existence is a nonquestion. He is alive and well, working with his elves and using magic like he was at Hogwarts. Sometimes he is given the opposite treatment, as he is depicted as very human, but the other characters and the audience are not certain if he is the real Santa Claus. Other movies have explored the origin story of Saint Nick. Many different actors have played Santa over the course of film history.

Edmund Gwenn: "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947)
Gwenn offers an Academy Award performance in his role as Kris Kringle, a department store Santa who just might be the real deal. In fact, he claims to be Santa and this brings the threat of institutionalization because clearly he's crazy. Or is he? Richard Attenborough plays the role in the 1997 John Hughes remake of the film for its fiftieth anniversary.

Alec Baldwin: "Rise of the Guardians" (2012)
One of the latest additions to the Christmas movie genre is this whimsical, animated tale about fantasy childhood icons-such as Santa, the Easter bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Jack Frost-who band together to protect the children of the world from the dark advances of The Boogeyman. Saint Nick is voiced with a heavy Russian accent by Alec Baldwin ("Saturday Night Live" and "Rock of Ages).

David Huddleston: "Santa Claus: The Movie" (1985)
Emmy award winner Huddeleston ("Magnum P.I." and "The Fall Guy") brings all the magic of Santa Claus in this huge-budget holiday flick from Alexander and Ilya Salkind, the producers of "Superman." The film explains some of the mythology that surrounds the Santa Claus legend, such as how the reindeer fly and how Santa makes his worldwide trip in one night. Although its release was considered a critical and box office failure, the film is a cult classic that enjoys many broadcasts and sales each holiday season.

Tim Allen: "The Santa Clause" (1994), "The Santa Clause 2" (2002), and "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause" (2006)
Allen's portrayal of Kris Kringle is one of the most recognizable in recent years and is so memorable due to the release of three popular films in the "Santa Clause" franchise. Allen is very endearing as he changes from a reluctant advertising executive to the warm and sincere Claus.

Ferdinard Munier: "Babes in Toyland" (1934)
With his chubby physique and pleasant, rounded face, Ferdinard Munier plays a believable Claus in the Christmas classic starring the hilarious Laurel and Hardy. In fact, he was often selected to play the jolly old elf in many projects.

Ed Asner: "Elf" (2003)
Asner has had a long and varied acting career, but one of his perfect roles has to be as a jolly, festive and energetic Santa. He plays well opposite of Will Farrell's character, a human who discovers that he was adopted by the elves after Santa had accidentally brought him back to the North Pole.

Douglas Seale: "Ernest Saves Christmas" (1988)
Seale is an elder Santa Claus, who at the age of 150 needs to find a replacement. However, the selected man is reluctant to assume the responsibility. Thankfully goofy Ernest P. Worrell is there to help save the day in a comedy film that actually has quite some depth.

Leslie Nielsen: "All I Want For Christmas" (2000)
Nielsen is a time-honored mall Santa, who like in the case of Kris Kringle in "Miracle on 34th Street," just might be the real thing. A desperate brother-and-sister pair enlists his help in bringing their recently divorced parents back together for Christmas.

John Goodman: "The Year without a Santa Claus" (2006)
In this film-which is a live-action film adaptation of a Rankin-Bass classic-Goodman's Santa decides to take some time off from his annual duties due to his disgust with the increasing commercialization of Christmas. However, there is one child that changes his mind.

Of course, this is just a sampling of the many Santa appearances in film. However, these films have some of the most recognizable actors to get you started in your holiday movie magic.