Who Shea was, was a retired child actor who passed away a few months ago at the age of 52 near his home in Northern California. And though you may or may not have ever seen his face (as a guest star in shows like The Odd Couple, Bonanza and Green Acres), you have no doubt heard his voice — or at least the unmistakable and unforgettable voice Chris Shea possessed as a little boy.
For it was seven-year old Chris Shea’s voice — and his stunningly poignant reading of a Biblical passage from the Book of Luke — that helped transform a few hundred animation cels into, without question, the most poignant 90 seconds in the history of Christmas TV specials.
As an adult, Chris Shea was by all accounts the freest of free spirits, an impish prankster and a wonderful and loving family man who died of what the authorities called “natural causes.” His obit in the Eureka Times-Standard read in part:
“Christopher was a colorful person with a playful spirit and a big heart. His smile was contagious and his family enjoyed his wonderfully sincere hugs. Christopher influenced many who crossed his path in a positive and creative way: he frequently lent a hand to others when they were in need. He had a generous nature and took genuine pleasure in other people’s good fortune. He loved communing with nature, listening to music, and he had a lifelong passion for literature.”
There’s not much to add to that.
And may your spirit shine for as long as someone, somewhere is out there taking the time to reflect at this time of year — if only for 90 seconds or so — on something a precocious, thumb-sucking little boy with a tattered blue blanket once tried to impart upon all mankind: the true meaning of Christmas.