15 How The Grinch Stole Christmas Details You Never Noticed Before

Get ready to win at holiday trivia.

by Tolly Wright and Mackenzie Sylvester
Originally Published: 
Jim Carrey in 'How The Grinch Stole Christmas'
Getty Images/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

He might be as cuddly as a cactus and as charming as an eel, but Christmas wouldn't be the same without the Grinch. No matter how many times you've seen the animated special or the live-action movie or even read the book, you probably didn't notice some How The Grinch Stole Christmas details as a kid. It took a lot of effort to put the two classic Grinch films together, though some people will still grumble that the book is better.

The original 1957 Dr. Seuss book has definitely withstood the test of time. Save "A Visit From St. Nicholas," the 1823 poem by Clement Clark Moore that starts "'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house....", you'd be hard pressed to find a more beloved rhyming story that everyone knows the words to. Watching the animated and live-action versions of Mr. Grinch’s tale has become a tradition for many families — and, OK, single adults who are just feeling nostalgic.

When you gather your buddies for your annual Whobilation celebration, in which you chow down on roast beast while watching either version of the iconic story (or gather around a stocking-clad fireplace to read the book), have these facts in your back pocket. You'll be more knowledgeable about Whoville than even Cindy Lou Who herself.

1. The Grinch Wasn’t Always That Signature Green

In the original children’s picture book, the Grinch was drawn in black and white with pink eyes. Yet, in both the animated and live-action versions, he is green with yellow (or sometimes blue) eyes. When Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Suess, started work on the television adaptation, the special was set to release in time for Christmas 1966. The problem was that most major networks planned to switch over to full color TV by 1966, and he had a black and white character. The animator he worked with, Chuck Jones, suggested making the Grinch green, inspired by the unsightly rental cars he often passed while commuting from Los Angeles to Geisel’s home in La Jolla.

2. The Person Singing "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" Was Also The Voice Of Tony The Tiger

His name is Thurl Ravenscroft, and he was gr-r-r-eat! Other than his Tony bit, one of his most recognizable performances is his song in the animated television version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Sadly, Ravenscroft passed away in 2005 at the age of 91.

3. The Lyrics "Fahoo Fores" Are Definitely Not Latin

And yet you were probably convinced they were as a kid. As soon as you start to type “Fahoo Fores” into Google, the search suggestion "Fahoo Fores meaning” comes up, with many fans admitting to assuming that the phrase was Latin. The song "Welcome Christmas" might remind you of "Angels We Have Heard On High," a song with English lyrics and a Latin chorus, but that's just part of the magic — really, it's all nonsense.

4. Actually, All The Songs In The Original Movie Have Lyrics Written By Dr. Seuss

Only Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel could create the fun wordplay like the kind found in the special. And all of his works, really. The music was composed by Albert Hague, who played the music teacher in the '80s TV series Fame. But perhaps an even more fun fact: “Where Are You Christmas” from the live-action movie was co-written by Mariah Carey.

5. The Grinch’s Heart Condition Sounds Dangerous

You don’t have to be a scientist to conclude that a heart “two sizes too small” would definitely not circulate the amount of blood necessary to keep a grown creature alive. Then, suddenly, it “grows three sizes” in one day? Organs should not do that. Yes, it was metaphorical, but, as a child, did you realize that?

6. Little Cindy Lou Who Is A Future Gossip Girl

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The actress playing the live-action role is none other than Taylor Momsen. Imagine her a few years older with some heavy eyeliner and a bit of an attitude, and you’ve got Jenny Humphrey from the original Gossip Girl. Yes, grown-up Cindy Lou Who is indeed none other than “Little J” from Brooklyn, trying to navigate the scandalous lives of Manhattan's elite. XOXO.

7. The Grinch’s Makeup & Costume Is More Awful Than You Realized

You’ve probably heard by now that it took a lot of makeup to transform Jim Carrey into the Grinch. But did you also know that, in order to deal with it, he received training from the same person who trains C.I.A. operatives to withstand torture? No, really. He learned tactics to distract himself from the discomfort that included punching himself in the leg, smoking as much as possible, and asking people to slap him.

8. There Are Hidden Dr. Seuss References Throughout The 2000 Movie

Keep your eyes peeled for an elephant Horton Hears a Who statue and a special helping of green eggs and ham. And if you’re a diehard Dr. Suess fan, you might even notice a second statue in Whoville that was inspired by another of his creations, albeit not quite as famous as Horton. This strange animal has antlers that twist in a circle and is straight out of the Dr. Suess classic Oh, The Thinks You Can Think.

9. The Grinch's Acrobatics Are The Work Of Stunt Doubles From Cirque Du Soleil

While Jim Carrey’s face might have plenty of elasticity, his whole body isn’t quite as flexible. In order to achieve those whimsical, cartoon-like moments when it seemed like the Grinch and the Whos in Whoville have rubber bodies, the production called on stunt doubles with Cirque Du Soleil experience, including stunt coordinator Terry Notary. In fact, many of the Who extras were Cirque Du Soleil performers, cast for their abilities to move about in strange and unique ways and balance things like an enormous stack of gifts with virtually no visible effort.

10. Christine Baranski Almost Got To Use Her Real Nose

Since the actress who played the town beauty queen, Martha May Whovier, already had an upturned nose, the makeup artist considered skipping the prosthetics. “But it was a little too real — I looked like a Who with a nose job. A Beverly Hills Who,” Baranski told SouthJersey.com in 2000. “So we went back to the prosthetic, which required three hours of makeup every day.” Although, a “Beverly Hills Who” wouldn’t have been too off-brand for the glamorous character.

11. Six Different Dogs Played Max

Robin Platzer/Twin Images/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Six different shelter rescue dogs of mixed breeds took turns playing the Grinch’s iconic four-legged sidekick. Kelly, Chip, Topsy, Stella, Zelda, and Bo teamed up to bring Max’s character to life on the big screen. But the main one, the pooch that appears in all the close-ups shots, is the female pup Kelly.

12. Bryce Dallas Howard Was An Extra

Director Ron Howard, father of Bryce Dallas Howard, cast his daughter as an extra in How The Grinch Stole Christmas. The actress, best known for her roles in the Jurassic World films, The Help, and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, recalled being a Who as her very first paid gig in a 2016 interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Ron Howard also cast his brother, Clint, to play the mayor’s groveling companion, Whobris.

13. Whos Were Supposed To Have New York Accents

According to Jeremy Howard, aka Dru Lou Who and Cindy Lou Who’s brother, the Whos were originally supposed to speak with upstate New York accents. After practicing the “Who dialect” and a special Who walk for quite some time, Howard (no relation to Ron Howard), told IGN in 2000 that both ideas were scrapped. It’s hard not to wonder what the movie would have looked like had they kept these characteristics.

14. Local Second-Graders Helped Decorate Costumes

If it looks like some of the macaroni- and glitter-adorned decor was made by elementary-school children, it’s because it was. Costume designer Rita Ryack told the Los Angeles Times in 2000 that she figured the ornate outfits should look homemade. “I thought since the Whos spend their whole year preparing for Christmas, everything would be made by hand,” she said. So, she recruited the assistance of second-graders from Ventura County’s Brookside Elementary School.

15. Some Actors Pushed Straws Up Their Noses To Breathe

Since Jim Carrey literally had to go through torture training to withstand all the prosthetics, it’s not hard to believe the rest of the cast would be pretty uncomfortable, too. Jeremy Howard recalled turning to straws up the prosthetic nose as a means of alleviation. “Well drip, drip, my nose starts running, and I have a soggy prosthetic the rest of the day,” he told IGN. “Once that puppy's put on your face, that's it. You can maybe shove a straw through the nostrils of your piece and blow…”

Well, now you know the secrets of Whoville, which means you're ready to bring Christmas joy to your fellow watchers. Unless, of course, you feel like being a greedy Grinch about it.

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