Who Chris Shea is — or I should say was — was a former child actor who passed away a few months ago at the age of 52 at his home in Northern California. And though you may or may not have ever seen his face (he did guest turns on shows like The Odd Couple, Bonanza and Green Acres in the mid-to-late 60’s), you have no doubt heard his voice — or at least the unforgettable voice he possessed as a child.
For it was seven-year old Chris Shea’s voice — and his poignant reading of a Biblical passage from the Book of Luke — that helped take a few hundred animation cels and transform them into what they eventually became: the most moving 90 seconds in the history of Christmas television.
As an adult, Chris Shea was by all accounts the freest of free spirits, an impish and joyful prankster and a wonderful and loving family man who died of what the authorities later 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.”
I suppose there’s not much to add to that. Except maybe, thank you, Chris Shea.
May God be with you. 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 waif with a tattered blue blanket once tried to impart to his best friend: the true meaning of Christmas.