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'Miracle' Santa chosen top in pop culture

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Published:   |   Updated: March 22, 2013 at 05:38 AM

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Let's just say it was a runaway sleigh.

Edmund Gwenn, who portrayed Kris Kringle in 1947's "Miracle on 34th Street," was overwhelmingly chosen "Best Pop Culture Santa" in our TBO Extra vote.

His competition, Tim Allen, who played the jolly icon in "The Santa Clause," must feel a lot like the Grandma who got run over by a reindeer.

More than two weeks ago we gave you an Elite Eight list of Santa portrayals in movies and TV so you could pick the best of the best.

We even threw in some coal-smudged performances (Billy Bob Thornton as "Bad Santa," "The Grinch"), but you didn't take the bait.

It really wasn't much of a contest, considering Gwenn/Kringle was the frontrunner after each subsequent round of voting. In the final tally, more than 1,000 votes were cast and Gwenn beat Allen 73 percent to 27 percent. (See the final bracket here.)

And we agree. Sure, some might say "Miracle on 34th Street" is old-fashioned and it's time to "modern up" our vision of Santa. But Gwenn's performance is a classic.

In the movie, he sparkles as Kringle, who replaces a drunken Santa in the Macy's Parade and says he is indeed the one and only Santa Claus. He charms a skeptical little girl and her mother (Natalie Wood and Maureen O'Hara, respectively), speaks Dutch to a girl sitting on his knee at Macy's and sends parents to competing stores for a bargain.

When his sanity his questioned, a good lawyer (John Payne) and the U.S. Postal Service help prove he's the real deal.

One startling message: They were questioning the commercialization of the holiday in 1947. "For the past 50 years or so I've been getting more and more worried about Christmas. Seems we're all so busy trying to beat the other fellow in making things go faster and look shinier and cost less that Christmas and I are sort of getting lost in the shuffle," Kringle says.

Resonates, doesn't it?

In the end, the spirit of Christmas endures and skeptical Susan gets what she wants: a family and a house with a swing in the backyard.

"Oh, Christmas isn't just a day, it's a frame of mind," Kringle says.

Yes. Yes, it is.

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