Who Was the Real-Life Inspiration for “the Grinch”?

People of all ages look forward to his arrival every year. No, not Santa Claus. It’s the Grinch, that holiday-hating creation from the whimsical mind of Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. The Grinch has been stealing Christmas since the children's story was published in 1957, followed by the animated TV special in 1966. Asked about the inspiration for the hairy, pear-shaped humanoid who lives on a cliff overlooking Whoville, Geisel admitted in a 1957 interview: “I was brushing my teeth on the morning of the 26th of last December when I noted a very Grinch-ish countenance in the mirror.” Realizing he’d lost the spirit of Christmas, Geisel released his inner Grinch to bring joy to Whos everywhere. He even had a vanity license plate that read "GRINCH."

Dreaming of a green Christmas:

  • Dr. Seuss originally hesitated about approving the TV special, but he eventually agreed when it was helmed by Chuck Jones, whom he had worked with during World War II, making education cartoons for the U.S. Army. It was Jones who gave the Grinch his famous green hue.

  • Seuss always said that How the Grinch Stole Christmas! was “the easiest book of my career to write.” Two highlights of the TV special: the iconic song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” and spot-on narration by Boris Karloff.

  • Lark Dimond-Cates, the author’s stepdaughter, was quoted as saying: “I always thought the Cat (in the Hat) was Ted on his good days, and the Grinch was Ted on his bad days.”

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