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<v Announcer>This special holiday story is a co-production of WTVS Public <v Announcer>Television in Detroit and WDIV, a post Newsweek station. <v Bookstore Employee>Well, I'll put this in the bag for you, it's snowing out there. <v Bookstore Employee>Here you go, Merry Christmas.
<v Bernie Marquis>Hi, do you have any books on Santa Claus or Christmas? <v Bookstore Employee>Yea, those would be all under the Christmas heading and they're on the chart there around <v Bookstore Employee>the corner. Thank you. <v Bernie Marquis>I'm Bernie Marquis. Some people are hooked on jogging. <v Bernie Marquis>Other people are hooked on stamp collecting. <v Bernie Marquis>I'm hooked on anything with Santa Claus. <v Bernie Marquis>Third floor. <v Bernie Marquis>Pile 80. <v Bernie Marquis>I suppose you could call me a devotee of the old guy, an aficinado um-uh <v Bernie Marquis>Santa groupie. I don't know about that, but uh I've always admired him. <v Bernie Marquis>Oh! Miracle on 34th Street. <v Bernie Marquis>That's an old classic. Hmm, let's see here.Oh, <v Bernie Marquis>this is a real gem, "The History of Santa Claus". <v Bernie Marquis>It's a collection of various images of St. Nicholas over the centuries.
<v Bernie Marquis>Here's a man that comes from the frozen north, once a year, delivers <v Bernie Marquis>toys all over the world and goes back again. <v Bernie Marquis>But we know very little about him, and yet he's affected millions upon <v Bernie Marquis>millions of lives. So I guess part of my interest is finding out what <v Bernie Marquis>makes this guy tick and also uh where does he come from? <v Bernie Marquis>What do we really know about Santa Claus? <v Bernie Marquis>Who is this fella? Who is he? <v Bernie Marquis>You know, makes me kind of wonder. <v Santa>Are we ready to go? ?Lets go up this way here? Hi! Hi there. How you doing? Merry Christmas to you. Thank you. <v Bernie Marquis>Being the world's most famous senior citizen isn't easy. <v Bernie Marquis>The world is interested in personalities, people want to have their pictures taken with <v Bernie Marquis>Santa. You know, it's just like any other famous person.
<v Bernie Marquis>With Santa Claus, everything isn't simply gift giving, Christmas Eve, and <v Bernie Marquis>presents. Sometimes there's PR <v Bernie Marquis>and little bit of politics as well. <v Bernie Marquis>Being a world famous figure, I guess that's part and parcel with the job. <v Bernie Marquis>My job here is to do the restoration work, I might uh rebuild a new face. <v Bernie Marquis>So if I want to impress people, I tell them I'm a mannequin doctor M.D. <v Bernie Marquis>It's so you can get a little status that way, but you have to have <v Bernie Marquis>a sense of humor. You know, I think the trouble is a lot of people, they take themselves <v Bernie Marquis>too darn seriously. You know, for their own good, and um little <v Bernie Marquis>sense of humor, I think, goes a long way.
<v Bernie Marquis>Now, here's a little something that I find personally fascinating. <v Bernie Marquis>Be careful, you don't bump into anything now. <v Bernie Marquis>These were heads that appeared in local theater houses in the Detroit Metropolitan Area. <v Bernie Marquis>And compared to the figures you saw downstairs, rather than being made of fiberglass, <v Bernie Marquis>these are all made of wax, way here at the top we have Charlie Chaplin <v Bernie Marquis>and down here. You'll recognize Marie Chevallier. <v Bernie Marquis>This is Joe Lewis, the Brown bomber. <v Bernie Marquis>Dracula, also known as Bela Lugosi. <v Bernie Marquis>W.C. Fields. And oh, down here we have Albert Einstein and of course, <v Bernie Marquis>Santa Claus, probably two of the greatest minds of this century. <v Santa>Well hello everyone! It's Santa!Ho <v Santa>ho. Oh my, oh my. <v Santa>How are-I like your whiskers there. <v Santa>Well, it looks distinguished and everything. <v Santa>Well, hello everyone.
<v Santa>How many-how many Santa's helpers do we have here today? <v Santa>Raise your hand. <v Bernie Marquis>Santa has got quite a workload during the Christmas season and occasionally <v Bernie Marquis>in case of an emergency. I know that he has to be called up. <v Bernie Marquis>So his problem is dilemma is what do I do while I'm gone? <v Santa>You're going to find out this is the most difficult job you ever worked, <v Santa>and at the same time the most rewarding because we don't realize <v Santa>how our lives affect other people. <v Santa>Maybe the way we are, the way we carry ourselves in daily life okay, but it's even <v Santa>worse when you're betraying the spirit of Christmas. <v Santa>And they all know you okay? <v Santa>We all have to represent what's that, the spirit of Christmas, right? <v Santa>All you got to have is a big ticker, a big heart. <v Santa>That's the language they all understand. <v Santa>Just a little bit of caring. <v Santa>And maybe, you know, be yourselves. But don't be ?like me?, you know, I'm a little <v Santa>withdrawn. [laughter]But I mean, don't be afraid to ham it up a little <v Santa>bit. <v Santa>Well, I remember one time this little boy wanted a pet gorilla for Christmas.
<v Santa>You know, what does a 5 year old want with a pet gorilla? I say, he might get hurt. <v Santa>He said, that's not the idea. <v Santa>Tommy's a bully down the street. I want him to get hurt. <v Santa>So I had to give him a little lesson on Christmas spirit. <v Santa>You know, that wasn't easy. <v Santa>Are there any other questions? <v Man>Santa, what do you do when they tell you they just seen you at another mall and that you <v Man>couldn't possibly be the real one? <v Santa>Uh huh.MOK. <v Santa>You know, what's interesting? <v Santa>Love can do a lot of seemingly impossible things can it? <v Santa>It's amazing, I see that a lot in life. <v Santa>People give up hope, things fall apart, and all of a sudden love enters into the picture. <v Santa>And what seemed to be absolutely impossible on a human level all of a sudden became <v Santa>possible, isn't that true? And so, that's my answer, <v Santa>love can do a lot of seemingly impossible things.
<v Bernie Marquis>Probably one of the most difficult breakthroughs in American society <v Bernie Marquis>is the creation of the shopping mall. <v Bernie Marquis>I guess it can only be likened to the cattle stalls in Chicago back in the 1800s. <v Bernie Marquis>You know, you're shoving people in and shoving them out, everybody's tired, everybody's <v Bernie Marquis>irritable. And poor Santa has got to be there with a ready smile and a pleasant word <v Bernie Marquis>for everyone. <v Santa>Merry Christmas to you. Now, remember, keep a stiff upper lip. <v Santa>It ain't all easy, but anything that's worth anything cost you something you know. <v Santa>Merry Christmas to you now. <v Audience>Merry Christmas Santa. [applause] <v Bernie Marquis>I don't know how Santa does it. <v Bernie Marquis>You know, really, when you really think about it, you seem to be burning the Christmas <v Bernie Marquis>candles at both ends sometimes, you know. <v Bernie Marquis>I don't know how he fits this onto his schedule.
<v Bernie Marquis>Uh, I think it's something, it's a resource for us, comes from the inside, like a well, <v Bernie Marquis>like it springs up from within, and that's where he gets that second wind. <v Santa>Who knows how to sing Jingle Bells? Raise your hand. <v Santa>Here we go! Dashing through the snow, in a one horse open <v Santa>sleigh, over the fields we go. <v Santa>Laughing all the way. <v Santa>Everybody clap! Bells on bob-tail ring, making spirits <v Santa>bright, what fun it is to ride and sing a sleighing song tonight [audience sings along]I <v Santa>can't hear you. <v Bernie Marquis>There's no question that Santa works in a shopping facility, it's very grueling <v Bernie Marquis>work, number one, because it's warm, it's a lot warmer than it is up <v Bernie Marquis>at the North Pole where he's used to cold climates in a shopping facility. <v Bernie Marquis>He is dressed with the wool, he's got the fur, and of course, his long beard and his hair <v Bernie Marquis>make things very hot, to say the least. <v Santa>How ya doing? Hello there, how ya doing?Can
<v Santa>you say Merry Christmas Santa? Merry Christmas. <v Santa>Well, merry Christmas, sweetheart, and look what we got here. <v Santa>And that's for you. What do you say? Say thank you, Santa. <v Santa>I'm overwhelmed by your generousity. <v Santa>There you go, sweetheart. Now who <v Santa>we got next now? Come on, lets keep that line moving, you got to keep people happy. <v Bernie Marquis>I think that a lot of people believe that love is always fun <v Bernie Marquis>or enjoyable. <v Santa>Well, no coloring books. <v Bernie Marquis>And I think the true measure of love isn't when everything's going great. <v Bernie Marquis>It's when things are difficult. <v Bernie Marquis>Let me see a few more kids here because I get nervous. <v Bernie Marquis>Get some books in and I'll see that-the next few here. <v Bernie Marquis>OK. Laurie, Laurie. Gotta keep that line moving. <v Bernie Marquis>Get it. Get ?everyone in that line?. Keep the line moving.
<v Bernie Marquis>[Lady talks in the background] <v Bernie Marquis>My personal relationship with Santa began in December of 1952. <v Bernie Marquis>My dad and mom took my twin brother Richard, myself uh to see <v Bernie Marquis>Santa Claus at a local department store. <v Bernie Marquis>And little did we know that the following Christmas dad wouldn't be with us, <v Bernie Marquis>and I would say about him.
<v Bernie Marquis>Well, a month and a half after he was in the hospital, <v Bernie Marquis>we learned that mom was going to have a baby. <v Bernie Marquis>And it wasn't too terribly long after that where she was developing complications and <v Bernie Marquis>she was uh um told <v Bernie Marquis>in no uncertain terms that she would probably die giving birth to the child. <v Bernie Marquis>Christmas Eve of 1953, mom was taken to the hospital. <v Bernie Marquis>She was hemorrhaging badly. <v Bernie Marquis>The next day, got up. Like all good kids do on Christmas morning. <v Bernie Marquis>Looked down the tree and there was one car for myself, <v Bernie Marquis>one car for my brother, and that was it, basically that was all we had. <v Bernie Marquis>And um it's kind of a contrast to the year before when we each had electric train <v Bernie Marquis>and lots of goodies. And uh the question came to mind, what did we <v Bernie Marquis>do wrong? You know um, until later <v Bernie Marquis>on, we got word that my mom had survived.
<v Bernie Marquis>She-She had some serious problems, but she survived and that we had a baby <v Bernie Marquis>brother. <v Bernie Marquis>I've never met any individual that was one dimensional, somewhere heroic in the attempt, <v Bernie Marquis>but I've never met an individual that was simply one dimensional. <v Bernie Marquis>I think everyone is kind of like an onion with several
<v Bernie Marquis>levels in their personality. <v Bernie Marquis>You know, peel one skin off, you have another one ?and another one? <v Man>Get up here Santa. <v Santa> Yes sir! <v Man>Get up here. <v Bernie Marquis>Santa does charity with pizzazz, I must say. <v Bernie Marquis>You know, he turns uh labor into uh a festive occasion. <v Bernie Marquis>I think one of the beautiful characteristics of Santa Claus is the fact that he's
<v Bernie Marquis>childlike, not childish, which is very easy for many adults to <v Bernie Marquis>slip into being childish, but he's childlike. <v Bernie Marquis>He comes to you with open hands, with no angles <v Bernie Marquis>to be played. Some people give as a way of manipulating people. <v Bernie Marquis>You know, there's always a kind of a little angle to the gift you <v Bernie Marquis>see down the road that this person ends. Some people express that fear that, well, maybe <v Bernie Marquis>down the road they're going to want something from me. <v Bernie Marquis>And his is unconditional. He gives for the sake of giving. <v Bernie Marquis>You know, Santa, that's just the way things you know. <v Bernie Marquis>Santa's idea of uh giving is without any strings attached. <v Speaker>[Singing "Silent Night"]. <v Santa>?You have a Merry Christmas? Got a lot of work to do ya know. How ya doing? Hi.
<v Santa>Merry Christmas to you. We're raising money for the poor kids, can you spare any change? <v Santa>?That's good.? Can you spare some change Mr. Bus Driver? <v Santa>Oh yeah. <v Santa>All right sir, God bless you. Merry Christmas to you. <v Santa>?inaudible? You're fine, that's your role. <v Santa>Now put yourself over so you're not behind that tree ?inaudible conversation?. <v Santa>How many kiddies do we have today? <v Santa>You're feeling a little puny, ?inaudible conversation? <v Speaker>Santa always shows up where he's needed. <v Speaker>And uh hospitals, a lot of people like to avoid them, they avoid them like the plague.
<v Speaker>Contrary to the way, ya know many of us, we tend to avoid things like, "Yech! <v Speaker>Hospitals, get me out of here. I don't even want to be around them." Santa just seems to <v Speaker>transcend all that. <v Santa>Oh ho! James? <v Santa>Do we have the-hello James! <v Man>Look who came to see you? <v Santa>How you doing ol' buddy, how old are you now? <v Santa>You're 4 years old already? <v Santa>Are you shaving yet? Let's see if you got any ?nubs?. No, I guess you're gonna have to <v Santa>pass on the Norelco this year. [Conversation goes into the background]. <v Bernie Marquis>Santa believes that this is really a beautiful world we've been given. <v Bernie Marquis>The whole notion of naughty and nice that if you're bad, you're <v Bernie Marquis>not going to get any gifts. Well, I know from my experience as a child, that doesn't <v Bernie Marquis>happen that way. <v Bernie Marquis>Everyone is important in their own way, and-and he sees that. <v Bernie Marquis>And he-he sees it like a Christmas package. <v Bernie Marquis>I think we're all Christmas packages, really. <v Bernie Marquis>And he-he sees something beautiful inside each person, it's just <v Bernie Marquis>gotta be brought out somehow. <v Santa>[inaudible conversation] Hello children! Oh look at that, I think I'll wear my dark glasses you're blinding me here. [laughter] Merry Christmas everyone.How
<v Santa>are you today? ?Are you always in the Christmas spirit?. <v Santa>?What is the christmas spirit here? [Conversation fades to the background] <v Parade Announcement>Just another reminder, if you are not wearing a paper-mache head, you <v Parade Announcement>will need makeup for the parade. <v Parade Announcement>If you are not wearing a paper-mache head, you will need makeup for the parade, so please <v Parade Announcement>report to the makeup area behind the stage.
<v Santa>Hello there, good morning. <v Parade Goers>Hey man, he arrives in style. <v Parade Goers>You're gonna have to get out of the way, Santa Claus is trying to come through. Make room! Make room! ?Get out of the road, make room? Come on, move! <v Bernie Marquis>I remember when I was a kid, we had the Lone Ranger and Superman and somehow the <v Bernie Marquis>children today. I think uh there's a loss of real heroes. <v Bernie Marquis>We learn about baseball stars or basketball or football, maybe they're involved <v Bernie Marquis>in drugs or other things and uh we get jaded. <v Bernie Marquis>And yet here's an image that's given us of someone <v Bernie Marquis>who represents an ideal. <v Santa>OK. Here we go. Here we go. Watch your step, right this way. <v Santa>Right this way. I know, watch the tow bar. Yep, watch it. <v Santa>Watch the everything. The icicles are murder. <v Santa>All right. <v Bernie Marquis>For many people, Santa represents the earliest joys <v Bernie Marquis>of their [Santa talks in the background] childhood. <v Santa>Merry Christmas to
<v Santa>ya now! <v Bernie Marquis>A hero that somehow never really became tarnished. <v Santa>Where's the TV this year, by the way? <v Parade official>Uh it's downtown, I'll let you know. I'll wave at you to let you know. <v Santa>OK Bill, I was wondering you said the media may be down there because it got that island <v Santa>ya know?
City Tales
Santa Claus is Alive & Well and Living in Detroit
Producing Organization
WDIV-TV (Television station : Detroit, Mich.)
WTVS-TV (Television station : Detroit, Mich.)
Contributing Organization
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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Episode Description
"Being Santa Claus in today's consumer-and celebrity-conscious society means a grueling schedule of personal appearances long before Christmas Eve. But, for the Michigan Thanksgiving Day Parade Santa Claus, it's also a struggle to cope with the demands of the job while still holding on to the dignity and true meaning of the Holiday season. His true story is told in 'Santa Claus' is Alive and Well and Living in Detroit,' a co-production of WDIV/Channel 4, a Post-Newsweek station, and WTVS/Channel 56, a public television station. "The program isn't just about Santa and his schedule, which rivals that of any media superstar; it's also the story of Bernie Marquis, a Detroit artist who paints and repairs mannequins. He narrates the story and gives the audience an appreciation for just what kind of person Santa really is. "We see Santa as he holds a workshop for Santa's helpers at Children's hospital, helps sell newspapers on the streets [of] with the Goodfellows, is mobbed at an especially grueling mall appearance, visits sick children at an area hospital and finally appears in the Michigan Thanksgiving Day Parade. "Marquis, who describes himself as a Santa 'devotee' and 'aficionado,' reminds us that, despite the commercialization of the season, 'Santa has his priorities straight. Unconditional love is Santa's greatest gift. That's all that really matters,' "'Santa Claus is Alive and Well and living in Detroit' is a pilot program for 'City Tales,' an anthology series of true urban stories co-produced by WTVS and WDIV. (Telling both Santa's and Bernie Marquis' stories was complicated by the fact that both men are the same person, a point left to the imagination of adult viewers and, hopefully, over the heads of children.)"--1987 Peabody Awards entry form.
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Producing Organization: WDIV-TV (Television station : Detroit, Mich.)
Producing Organization: WTVS-TV (Television station : Detroit, Mich.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
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Duration: 0:24:00
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Chicago: “City Tales; Santa Claus is Alive & Well and Living in Detroit,” 1987-12-24, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 26, 2022,
MLA: “City Tales; Santa Claus is Alive & Well and Living in Detroit.” 1987-12-24. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 26, 2022. <>.
APA: City Tales; Santa Claus is Alive & Well and Living in Detroit. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from