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Here Comes Peter Cottontail is a 1971 Easter television special made by Rankin-Bass, based on a 1957 novel by Priscilla and Otto Friedrich entitled The Easter Bunny That Overslept and featuring the title song "Here Comes Peter Cottontail"; it was originally broadcast on ABC-TV, and in later years, appeared on CBS. In 2006, it was followed by a direct to video sequel, Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Movie. The name "Peter Cottontail" comes from a series of books by Thornton W. Burgess, who co-wrote the special, although it is not based directly on the books. It is a story on how Peter Cottontail became the Easter Bunny.


Seymour S. Sassafrass, an eccentric yet friendly peddler, inventor, host, and narrator tells the tale of Peter Cottontail, a young Easter Bunny who lives in April Valley. April Valley is where all that is Easter (colored eggs, chocolate candy, etc.) comes from, all of it overseen by the Chief Easter Bunny.

Colonel Wellington B. Bunny, the retiring Chief Easter Bunny, names young Peter his successor despite Peter's propensity for boasting and telling fibs, which is exemplified when his left ear droops. Peter, who has dreamed of being the Chief Easter Bunny almost his entire life, gladly accepts. But not everyone in April Valley is happy with the Colonel's decision. January Q. Irontail, an evil, reclusive rabbit who lives in a craggy old tree, alone except for his assistant Montresor, who is a bat, wants to be the Chief Easter Bunny... but only so he can ruin it for children everywhere, as revenge for the loss of his tail, which was ran over by a smallchild who roller skated over his fluffy tail (we are told), and replaced with an iron prosthetic. Irontail wants to become Chief Easter Bunny for revenged for no more children will bother them ever again.

Because the constitution of April Valley says only the rabbit who delivers the most eggs on Easter morning can be Chief Easter Bunny, Irontail proposes that Colonel Bunny hold a contest between himself and Peter to see who wins. Peter, eager to prove his worth, accepts Irontail's challenge even as Colonel Bunny is preparing to turn the evil rabbit down. Although Peter promises the Colonel that he won't fail, he stays up late partying with his friends. Though he sets his rooster to wake him up at 5:00, Irontail sabotages his friend by giving it magical bubble-gum. The magic gum causes the rooster's crows to float so far away that Peter can't hear them, resulting in Peter sleeping through and losing the contest.

Even though the unfriendly Irontail manages to deliver only one egg, it's still one more egg than Peter delivers and so Irontail is named the new Chief Easter Bunny, as per the constitution. Immediately, Irontail begins to wreck Easter by passing ridiculous new laws that will doubtless make the entire holiday a complete disaster. Meanwhile, Peter, ashamed that his overconfidence and irresponsibility led to this tragedy, leaves April Valley in shame.

He happens upon Seymour S. Sassafrass, who in addition to being the narrator in the present is also the friendly man who supplies April Valley with the dyes it uses to color its Easter eggs. He gets them from his Garden of Surprises, which includes striped tomatoes, red string beans and blue watermelons. Proving to be a very compassionate and understanding man (if a somewhat offbeat one), Sassafrass offers to let Peter use his latest invention, the Yestmorrowmobile, a time machine. With the help of its pilot, a Frenchmarker caterpillar named Antoine, Peter will be able to go back to Easter and retake the contest.

Unfortunately, Irontail finds out about Peter's plan and sends a spider to sabotage the Yestemorrowmobile's controls, thereby allowing Peter and Antoine to go to any holiday but Easter! The rules of the contest don't specifically say the eggs must be delivered on Easter, so Peter begins trying to give his eggs away at other holidays, without success. Along the way he rescues a talking bonnet, and meets Donna, a lovely girl bunny (with whom he briefly celebrates Valentine's Day). But Peter continues to attempt to persevere in his quest, even though no one seems to want eggs on any holiday except Easter. Antoine also disappears, (he is left behind accidentally in Christmas World). But Peter's biggest problem is still Irontail and Montresor the bat; who are always trying to steal the eggs, or otherwise sabotage Peter's efforts (at one point, with help from Madame Esmerelda, a Halloween Witch), eventually succeeding in turning the eggs a mottled green color.

After many failed efforts, including a salesperson attempt to pitch the eggs as "explosive" torpedoes on the 4th of July, he finally manages to give the green eggs away on St. Patrick's Day, a holiday themed by the appropriate color. As a result, Peter is crowned Chief Easter Bunny, and Antoine returns as a butterfly.


Actor/Actress Role
Casey Kasem Peter Cottontail
Danny Kaye Seymour S. Sassafrass / Colonel Wellington B. Bunny / Antoine
Vincent Price January Q. Irontail
Joan Gardner Bonnie Bonnet / Madame Esmerelda
Iris Rainer Donna

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