Written by Bernard Slade
Produced by Larry Rosen
Directed by Richard Kinon
Original Air Date; December 17, 1971
As the Partridge Family is driving home from Las Vegas on Christmas eve, the bus breaks down. To their dismay, they discover they are in a ghost town in the middle of the desert.
Charlie, and old prospector, comes up to them leading his burro. He tells them there is a garage 12 miles away, but it is closed. Keith and Reuben stay to try and fix the bus and the rest of the family go to Charlie's cabin.
When Chris and Tracy complain that they will miss Christmas, Charlie tells them a story about the ghost town 100 years ago.
In the fantasy, the town is now clean and new and there are many people. Charlie explains that the town had a beautiful, shiny silver bell which people came for miles to see and which brought Santa Claus to the town each year.
Keith becomes the singing Sheriff Swell, Laurie is the school marm and Shirley is saloon mistress Belle. Everything is fine and happy one year until the day before Christmas when Mean Sidney (Reuben) comes to town and steals the bell so that Santa can't find the townspeople.
Everyone tries to get the bell away from Mean, but no one can outsmart him. Then, Little the Kid (Danny) rides in on his white horse and the people are hopeful again. Little and Mean have a card game right up to the stroke of midnight -- and Little can't conquer Mean either. However, the people discover that Santa Claus hasn't forgotten them after all -- and it was the spirit of Christmas rather than the bell that brought him each year.
When Charlie finished, the Partridges said they loved the story and felt much better. Keith came in to say that he was able to fix the bus and the family took off. Meanwhile, Charlie was left behind feeling very lonely -- but not for long. The family returned with silver paint to make the bell look like new. They also brought a tree and presents to share their happiness with Charlie.
"Winter Wonderland," music and lyrics by Felix Bernard and Dick Smith (on A Partridge Family Christmas Card)
"Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," music and lyrics by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane (on A Partridge Family Christmas Card)
Charlie -------------------------------------------- Dean Jagger
Jess ----------------------------------------------- Britt Leach
- Dean Jagger won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for "Twelve O'Clock High" (1950). Among his numerous motion pictures are "Betrayed" (1940), "Rawhide" (1951) "White Christmas" (1954), and "Elmer Gantry" with Shirley Jones (1960).
- When polled, the cast voted this episode as their all-time favorite.
- While sometimes credited to Susan Silver, this episode was actually penned by series creator Bernard Slade. To read our exclusive interview with Bernard Slade, click here!
- This episode was repeated at Christmas time the following season (1972).
- This episode was filmed in the Partridge Family's back yard -- literally! The Old West town was a stone's throw from the facade used as their home in San Pueblo. Sadly, it is now a parking lot for the WB Network.
- TV Guide featured "The Partridge Family" on it's cover for the second time, the week after this episode aired. (A repeat of "Dora, Dora, Dora" aired on December 24th.) To read their cover story on funny man Dave Madden, click here!