|“||Hah! Will you listen to that applause! Ah, Magoo, you've done it again! By George, I've brought down the house!||”|
— Our nearsighted hero, joyfully unaware he's done this figuratively and literally
Quincy Magoo (better known as simply Mr. Magoo) is a cartoon character created at the UPA animation studio in 1949. Voiced by Jim Backus, he is a wealthy, short-statured retiree who gets into a series of comical situations as a result of his nearsightedness, compounded by his stubborn refusal to admit the problem. However, through uncanny streaks of luck, the situation always seems to work itself out for him, leaving him no worse than before, though the same cannot always be said for those trying to rescue him from various mishaps. In addition to numerous cartoon shorts, both theatrical and on TV, Backus as Magoo starred in the animated feature 1001 Arabian Knights, a retelling of Aladdin. Magoo also headlined a cartoon series wherein he filled in for various characters in literature and legend, such as Merlin, Friar Tuck, Doctor Watson and Gunga Din, and even once infiltrated a criminal gang on behalf of Dick Tracy (whose own cartoon was made by the same studio).
To date, Mr. Magoo's only appearance in a Christmas special was in the very first animated Christmas television special ever made, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. In this adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Magoo portrays the role of Ebenezer Scrooge. The framing device had Magoo as an actor in a play portraying Scrooge, doing competently in his performance, despite making a disastrous entrance and final curtain call (those scenes are cut in modern broadcasts). At one point, the Ghost of Christmas Present mocks the character of Scrooge for being too cheap to buy a pair of spectacles, a likely allusion to Magoo's nearsightedness and stubbornness. Magoo's Scrooge does not have certain elements in his backstory, like his enmity with his father and nephew Fred, emphasizing instead his innate loneliness, situational and self-created. His signature songs as Scrooge are "Alone in the World" and "Ringle, Ringle", both reprised near the end of the play.