During the holiday season of 1969, NBC presented a wonderful special program called The Littlest Angel. I actually remember watching this program and being enchanted by it and the tale it told.
The story features Johnny Whitaker, best known as Jody on Family Affair, as a child named Michael who dies in an accident and goes to Heaven where he becomes an angel. However, Michael doesn’t really understand that he died or what it means to be an angel. It takes a special friend, fellow angel Patience (Fred Gwynne of The Munsters fame), to help Michael get a grip on angel-hood.
The program is a musical and includes many songs sung by Whitaker, Gwynne, Connie Stevens, Cab Calloway, and others in the cast. They are very sweet and harmonious. It’s been so long since I’ve seen Stevens in anything like this that I was actually captivated by her performance, brief as it was.
The staging and special effects are pale by today’s standards, but in 1969, viewers were entranced by the ambitious production. Still, what is seen today is delightful, especially the twinkling star moments and Michael’s running about Heaven.
The big conflict actually becomes what new angel Michael will give in celebration of Baby Jesus who is to be born that night. This is the heart and soul of the story, as Michael ultimately gives the greatest gift of all the angels.
Whitaker was very good in the role, and Gwynne is outstanding. E.G. Marshall plays God, which is a tough act for any performer.