‘Tis the season to curl up on the couch and watch Christmas movies while the fire glows and crackles in the background. He’s one of the season’s brightest stars, so it’s no surprise that many holiday films are best described as Santa Claus movies.
In some cases, the person playing Santa can be hard to identify. However, the truth is many of the most well-known — and wealthiest — men in show business have suited up and taken on the role. Click through to find out which Santa movies feature some of the richest actors.
13. Mickey Rooney Net Worth: $20,000
Mickey Rooney appeared as the famed man in red in a number of Santa movies, including “A Miser Brothers’ Christmas,” “Wreck the Halls,” “The Happy Elf,” “Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July,” “The Year Without a Santa Claus” and “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town.”
The late Rooney excelled at playing Santa in both live-action and animated flicks. In the animated “A Miser Brothers’ Christmas,” Santa gets into an accident caused by the feuding Miser Brothers, who are then forced to save the holiday for everyone. A live-action Christmas classic, “Wreck the Halls” reveals what happens when an adopt-a-grandparent program pairs seniors with members of a children’s choir to make sure everyone has a merry Christmas.
The “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” actor even played a Santa who considers skipping Christmas in “The Year Without a Santa Claus” and a St. Nick who strives to save Frosty from melting in “Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July.” With such an impressive resume, it’s no wonder that Rooney was a 2012 inductee into the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame.
12. Richard Griffiths Net Worth: $5 Million
You might recognize him as mean-spirited Uncle Vernon from the Harry Potter franchises, but Richard Griffiths once played the jolly man in “A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa.” In the TV movie, the Muppet gang comes across three letters to Santa en route to a North Pole vacation. They put their own plans on hold to find Santa and return the letters to him before Christmas.
Along with your favorite felt-covered friends, a number of famous faces guest-star in the movie, including Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Krakowski and Nathan Lane.
11. Fred Astaire Net Worth: $10 Million
Fred Astaire played eight different roles in “The Man in the Santa Claus Suit,” including, of course, Santa himself. As a mysterious coffee shop owner, his character rents out a Santa suit to three different men, who need it for very different reasons.
The multi-talented Astaire also sang multiple songs on the movie’s soundtrack. Additionally, he served as the narrator in “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town,” which featured Mickey Rooney as St. Nick.
10. Ed Asner Net Worth: $10 Million
His most high-profile Santa gig was in “Elf,” a movie about a man raised as an elf in the North Pole who is sent to the U.S. to find his family. But Ed Asner has suited up for the role many times.
The star of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” would later reprise his famed “Elf” role in the made-for-television musical, “Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas.” He also voiced Santa in the TV movie, “Olive, the Other Reindeer,” about the plight of a sweet dog named Olive who is trying to save Christmas after Santa cancels the holiday due to an injured reindeer.
Asner was also the voice of Santa in the animated TV musical, “The Story of Santa Claus,” which explains how Nicholas Claus began the annual tradition of delivering toys on Christmas. Additionally, he guest-starred as Santa on various television shows, including “Regular Show in Space” and “The Ellen Show.” Next up, he’ll play Santa in the 2017 film, “A Doggone Christmas!”
9. Steve Guttenberg Net Worth: $15 Million
Steve Guttenberg has been Santa twice — first in “Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus” and again in the sequel, “Meet the Santas.” In the former film, Nick is in a rush to find a wife before he takes over as Santa for his father on Dec. 26. Similarly, Nick and his fiancée plan to get married on Christmas Eve in “Meet the Santas” but face plenty of obstacles along the way. The couple rushes to make it to the altar before Nick’s first Christmas on the job; otherwise, the holiday will be cancelled.
8. Beau Bridges Net Worth: $16 Million
“Masters of Sex” star Beau Bridges was once a Santa Claus. In 2000, he starred in the TV movie, “The Christmas Secret,” in which a respected scientist sets out on a mission to prove reindeer can fly. The scientist encounters the real Santa Claus — played by Bridges — and the plight helps him discover the true meaning of Christmas.
7. Leslie Nielsen Net Worth: $20 Million
Legendary actor Leslie Nielsen played the jolly man in the red suit in the movies “All I Want for Christmas” and “Santa Who?”
In “All I Want for Christmas,” a little girl asks Santa (Nielsen) to reunite her divorced parents before her mother remarries. In “Santa Who?” Nielsen is a Santa suffering from a case of amnesia during the busy holiday season. Nielsen also lent his voice to Santa Claus in an episode of the animated television series “Chilly Beach.”
6. Richard Attenborough Net Worth: $20 Million
Previous versions of “Miracle on 34th Street” were so successful that the film was remade into a silver screen blockbuster in 1994 — with Richard Attenborough in the role of Santa. Set in the ’90s, this film follows the same basic theme as the original but with a few changes.
In both versions, Attenborough’s Santa is hired by Macy’s only to have his sanity questioned when he staunchly defends his belief that he’s the real deal. A young lawyer then defends his case in court. The new film features more skepticism and the presence of evil corporate villains.
5. Bryan Cranston Net Worth: $30 Million
He’s best known as Walter White on “Breaking Bad,” but Bryan Cranston has starred in two Christmas movies. He voiced Santa in the animated film, “The Santa Claus Brothers,” in which he’s forced to choose one of his sons to replace him. While all three sons are excellent toy makers, Santa vows to pass his job on to the first son to embrace the true meaning of Christmas.
In “’Twas the Night,” Cranston is irresponsible Uncle Nick, who steals Santa’s new sled to take his nephew out for a joyride and nearly ruins Christmas.
4. Billy Bob Thornton Net Worth: $35 Million
Most Christmas movies feature a pleasantly plump, warm-hearted Santa, but Billy Bob Thornton defies this stereotype. In “Bad Santa” and “Bad Santa 2,” Thornton is Willie, a vulgar, alcoholic con man posing as a department store Santa Claus.
“Bad Santa” chronicles Willie’s plan to scam his holiday employer, along with his unlikely friendship with a frequently bullied boy named Thurman Merman. Its sequel, “Bad Santa 2,” focuses on Willie’s plan to rob a charity on Christmas Eve and reunites him with the now-grown Thurman.
3. John Goodman Net Worth: $65 Million
You probably know him best as Dan Conner from the classic television series “Roseanne,” but John Goodman also has plenty of experience starring in Santa Claus movies.
He voiced Santa in the 1998 animated film, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie,” which highlights Rudolph’s rise from the reindeer everyone laughs at to the one who saves Christmas. In “The Year Without a Santa Claus,” he played an unhappy Santa planning to take a year off, until he rediscovers the meaning of Christmas. Goodman also voiced Santa on “SpongeBob SquarePants” and played Robot Santa in “Futurama.”
2. Tim Allen Net Worth: $80 Million
One of the richest actors ever to play Santa, Tim Allen stars as St. Nick in “The Santa Clause” franchise, which consists of three films — “The Santa Clause,” “The Santa Clause 2” and “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause.” These films are some of the highest-grossing holiday movies of all time.
The first film tells the story of Scott Calvin (Allen), a man who accidentally kills Santa and subsequently inherits his job due to something called “the Santa clause.” In the second film, Allen grows to enjoy his Santa Claus role, but learns he must find a wife to retain his magical powers. The final film in the series follows Santa’s quest to prevent Jack Frost from taking his job, while simultaneously trying to keep his true identity from his visiting in-laws.
1. Kevin James Net Worth: $80 Million
Kevin James is best known as “The King of Queens,” but he’s also a movie Santa — one of the richest actors ever to take on the role.
The comedian played Santa Claus in “Elmo’s Christmas Countdown,” a “Sesame Street” TV special. The movie tells the story of the year Christmas is almost cancelled, because Oscar the Grouch throws away the official Christmas-Counter-Downer. Christmas can’t happen without this device, and it is up to Elmo to save the day. The star-studded cast also includes Ben Stiller, Jamie Foxx and Sheryl Crow.
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Net worth information is taken from CelebrityNetWorth.com.