The Grinch: I did it! I'm the Grinch that stole Christmas! And I'm sorry.
Write What You Know: The Grinch is said to have been Dr. Seuss's most autobiographical character. In addition to being something of a recluse himself, Seuss's home and studio were on a hill overlooking La Jolla, California, and every Christmas, he'd scoff at the chintzy lights and decorations adorning all of the houses below. He was 53 years old when he wrote the book, hence The Grinch's line about putting up with Christmas "for 53 years."
Originally run on CBS for over 30 years, ABC got the special during the Turn of the Millennium and would often run it in double-features with the 2000 film. In 2015 the rights went to NBC, making it possibly the first Christmas special to have been on all of the original Big Three networks at some point or other. It has also aired on both The WB and The CW, and on cable it has aired on Cartoon Network, Boomerang, WGN America, TNT, and TBS.
Distribution-wise, the special originally belonged to MGM Television, but was a part of the library Ted Turner purchased along with MGM in 1986 (having only kept MGM itself for 74 days, but kept the library afterwards). As a result, it fell under Turner's in-house distribution firm until 1996, when the Turner-Time Warner merger occurred and Turner Entertainment was absorbed into Warner Bros., who have since held the rights; since 1986, TBS, TNT and later Cartoon Network have broadcast the special on cable.
Disowned Adaptation: Dr. Seuss himself did not like the end result of the cartoon much, citing it as having too much of Chuck Jones' own art style. He much preferred the later Grinch (and other Seuss-inspired) specials that were created by Friz Freleng.
For many years US network broadcasts deleted one of the "You're a Mean One" verses ("You're a rotter, Mr. Grinch...") as well as a genuinely disturbing moment in which the Grinch does his Slasher Smile while leering at several young Whos in their bed. Later ABC broadcasts, and 2015 and 2017-onward NBC airings, cut the special down to the bare minimum to make room for more ads, keeping the important story parts, deleting many of the visual gags, as well as a shot of the Grinch cracking his whip while Max pulls the sleigh up Mt. Crumpet. Averted with broadcasts on the Turner networks such as TBS and Cartoon Network, which show the special uncut, probably due to being cable networks that can make revenue off cable subscriptions in addition to ads (plus owning the special helps); in return, though, TBS speeds up the special slightly to squeeze more commercials in. NBC also restored The Grinch to its original runtime in 2016, in honor of its 50th anniversary, but then started editing it in 2019 (cutting some verses from "You're a Mean One") to make room for showing How to Train Your Dragon: Homecoming uncut.
The original 1966 broadcast of the special was sponsored by The Foundation for Full Service Banks and contained sponsor plugs at the beginning and end of the special. However, just like the Coca Cola plugs from A Charlie Brown Christmas, they were removed after the first airing (due to the specials message contradicting the sponsors services) and are notoriously difficult to find nowadays.
Uncredited Role: Allegedly for no better reason than the people doing the credits simply forgot to add his name, Thurl Ravenscroft never received screen credit for singing "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch." Dr. Seuss himself caught this after the special aired and personally wrote to every major news publication he could asking them to mention Ravenscroft to make up for the mistake.
According to Chuck Jones' daughter Linda, the original idea was to have Boris Karloff narrate, voice the Grinch, and perform the song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch", that is until Karloff informed Jones he couldn't actually sing, thus paving the way for Thurl Ravenscroft. Stage productions, and the live-action film would keep the idea of the Grinch's actor singing it though.
Adored by the Network: And how. Freeform (as ABC Family) loved playing this movie during the 25 Days of Christmas event. For 2016, the cable rights were reclaimed by HBO, but their Grinch obsession came back when they got the rights back the following year.
In the Japanese dub, the narrator is voiced by film and television actor Masanobu Takashima.
The Latin American Spanish dub features TV presenter and actor Juan Ramón Huerta as the narrator.
Creator Backlash: Jim Carrey was not happy about the studio interference forcing raunchier jokes into the film, especially since he'd gone out of his way to ensure that all of his ad libs would be family-friendly, and admitted that he should have fought harder to prevent it.
Dyeing for Your Art: Jim Carrey found the mask to be horrifyingly claustrophobic and the yak hair used in the suit was constantly itching his skin. The contact lenses used to make his eyes yellow-and-red were apparently even worse, resulting in some shots which were simply digitally altered in post. It got to the point where an interrogation expert who specialized in training special forces to endure torture had to be brought in to help Carrey cope. The expert's suggestion was for Carrey to distract himself from the discomfort was to smoke constantly, to eat everything in sight, and occasionally punch himself in the thigh to give him something else to focus on, which Carrey did throughout production. Carrey also said that during the makeup process he would concentrate on spinning a smooth stone in his wrong hand.
Executive Meddling: According to Ron Howard, the studio heavily edited most of the raunchier ad libs out, then forced a few more of their own in.
Fake Irish: The Irish officer Wholihan is played by the American Jim Meskimen.
In Memoriam: At the end of the film, there is a dedication to Ron Howard's mother Jean Speegle Howard ("...who loved Christmas the most."), who died three months before the film's release from heart and respiratory illness.
The Other Marty: Musically, Faith Hill is this to Mariah Carey, who also co-wrote "Where Are You, Christmas?" James Horner and Will Jennings. Mariah did record it for the movie but due to Executive Meddling from Sony and interference from her ex-husband Tommy Mottola (chairman and CEO of Sony Music at the time), which she and he were in an ongoing legal battle after they divorced, her version has never been released.
Taylor Momsen's sister Sloane plays a uncredited role as a "Little Girl Dreaming of Sugarplums".
Saved from Development Hell: Dr. Seuss had been approached about a live-action version of The Grinch several times in his twilight years, always turning it down because he didn't want a repeat of The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T. His widow Audrey Geisel, who founded Dr. Seuss Enterprises shortly after his death, only relented when she saw a stage production at The Old Globe Theater in San Diego in the mid-90s.
One afternoon during shooting, Jim Carrey stole Ron Howard's hat and started riffing and impression of him. Howard was so amused that he added the scene of the Grinch "directing" Max on how to be a reindeer, all of which was ad-libbed.
The Grinch reading his schedule out loud was similarly improvised.
In the script, the Tablecloth Yank was supposed to fail. Carrey actually pulled it off, so he improvised the new punchline where he just knocks all the stuff off the table anyway.
Underage Casting: The older Grinch is played by then 37-year-old Jim Carrey despite the character being over 50 years old. Mario Castañeda was also the same age as Carrey when the former dubbed the Grinch in the Latin American Spanish dub.
Tim Burton was offered a chance to direct the Live-Action Adaptation, but could not due to a conflict with another project (presumed to be what would become, many years later and without his involvement, Goosebumps) he was working on at the time.
The Grinch was originally going to have white fur like in the book, but Ron Howard also wanted it to be an adaptation of the 1966 cartoon.
A lot more CGI post-production work was planned, including a completely "digital backlot" where actors would perform entirely in front of green screens. Max was originally conceived as an all CGI character.