7 Stars Who Played Santa and Shaped How We Picture Christmas

by Zach Seemayer 11:40 AM PST, December 12, 2015
Playing 7 Stars Who Played Santa and Shaped How We Picture Christmas

When you think of Santa Claus you think of his big beard, his bright red suit, his jolly laugh and the fact that he brings presents -- which is really the whole point of Christmas.

Our image of jolly old St. Nick is almost entirely shaped by the stars who've played him on screen , so in celebration of the holiday season, let's take a look at the celebs who shaped our idea of Christmas with their portrayals of Santa.

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7. Richard Attenborough in Miracle on 34th Street (1994)


While this Christmas classic might have been a remake, Attenborough's charming, cheerful performance warmed out tiny little hearts. Attenborough plays a man who must prove his sanity in court after claiming to be the real Kris Kringle. It's a heartwarming story of faith, happiness and Christmas spirit, and Attenborough's kindness had us all believing in the magic Santa.

6. Tim Allen in The Santa Clause (1994)


In this family friendly classic, things start off dark when Allen's character -- and uptight, divorced businessman, accidentally killing Santa. Allen is then obligated to become Santa Claus, and things get wacky when he puts on tons of weight and grows a beard practically overnight. While the film's multiple sequels did everything they could to sour us on the concept, the original Santa Clause managed to remain fun and unique.

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5. Ed Asner in Elf (2004)


You wouldn't think cranky old Lou Grant from The Mary Tyler Moore Show could pull off playing the loveable St. Nick, but one look at him in Will Ferrell's instant holiday classic Elf and you immediately felt like you were looking at the real-life Santa.

4. Jim Carey in Drunk History Christmas (2012)

Before Drunk History made it's way to Comedy Central, it was a feature on Funny or Die, and it was every bit as amazing. While it's a stretch to say Carey's portrayal of Santa, in this hilariously inebriated reenactment of The Night Before Christmas, changed the way anyone visualized St. Nick, this brief bit of brilliance is brimming with the kind of fun and happiness this holiday season is supposed to instill in all of us.

Also, Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes are in it, and it's just amazing. Honestly, you can watch it over and over and never get bored.

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3. Stan Francis in Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)


In the iconic stop-motion Rankin Bass Christmas special, Santa looks a little different than in most portrays (and he's kind of a jerk), but actor Stan Francis' cartoonish, wholesome, hearty voice is inseparable from many people's memories of the jolly North Pole-dweller.

2. John Moore from Coca Cola's Famous Christmas Advertising


Moore's giant beard, big friendly eyes and long white hair were immortalized time and again by Coca Cola in their series of wildly famous holiday advertisements over the last 20 years. He appeared as St. Nick in scores of commercials, and served as the model for the soda company's many illustrations of Kris Kringle used in billboards and even on cans of Coca Cola. Sadly, Moore passed away in October 2014, but his image and legacy will live on for generations.

1. Edmund Gwenn in Miracle on 34th Street (1947)


The original Miracle on 34th Street is the definitive Santa Claus film, and Gwenn's happy, hopefully and lovable performance is also the definitive portrayal of St. Nick. With his kind eyes, his grandfatherly demeanor and with superb talent, Gwenn solidified the image of Kris Kringle for time immemorial. In fact, Gwenn was so good in the movie he even went on to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor at the 20th Annual Academy Awards.

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