Jimmy Boyd, who as a skinny, red-headed kid of 12 recorded
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, then reprised it dozens of times
on television variety shows in the 1950s and went on to an acting career
in movies and television, died on Saturday in Santa Monica, Calif. He was
70 and lived on a sailboat moored in Santa Monica Bay.
The cause was cancer, said Eleanor Pillsbury, a longtime friend.
The song begins:
I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus,
underneath the mistletoe last night.
She didnt see me creep
down the stairs to have a peep;
She thought that I was tucked up in my bedroom fast asleep.
Written by Tommie Connor, it was an immediate hit in 1952, selling 2.5 million
copies within weeks of its release. It has been covered through the years by,
among many others, the Jackson Five, John Mellencamp and Twisted Sister.
It was not popular with everyone back in 1952. Initially until it was made
clear that Santa was really Daddy in costume the Roman Catholic Archdiocese
of Boston condemned it as mixing sex with Christmas.
For Jimmy, the song was the ticket to appearances on television shows hosted
by Ed Sullivan, Perry Como, Doris Day, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, among others.
His boyish charm and a comedic touch led to an acting career.
Born on Jan. 9, 1939, on a small farm in McComb, Miss., Mr. Boyd was one of
two sons of Leslie and Winnie Boyd. Struggling in the Depression, the family
resettled in Riverside, Calif.
When Jimmy was 4, his father started giving him guitar and harmonica lessons.
At 7, he was playing and singing at barn dances. Texas Jim Lewis, a country-western
bandleader, heard Jimmy sing and signed him up for his Saturday night radio
show. That led to a winning performance in a radio talent show in Los Angeles
and the contract to sing I Saw Mommy...
Mr. Boyd was married from 1960 to 1962 to Yvonne Craig, an actress, and
from 1980 to 1984 to the former Anne Forrey. Both marriages ended in
divorce. He is survived by a son, Devon, from his second marriage.
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