Fact Check

The Story of Disney Deleting 1-800-SPANK-ME from 'The Santa Clause'

"Ho ho ho," said Santa.

Published Dec 23, 2022

 (Walt Disney Pictures)
Image Via Walt Disney Pictures
Claim:
After its theatrical release and initial home video run, Disney deleted a scene from "The Santa Clause" movie that mentioned the phone number 1-800-SPANK-ME.

On Dec. 30, 1994, The Associated Press published a story about the then-recent release of the Walt Disney Pictures movie, "The Santa Clause," which starred Tim Allen. However, the article was not a review of the Christmas film. Rather, the story was all about one of Allen's joke lines that mentioned the phone number 1-800-SPANK-ME, which in real life just so happened to be a sex hotline, and still is to this day.

The scene in question appeared in the original theatrical release of the film and even in the initial VHS and LaserDisc runs. However, the line was removed from subsequent videocassette runs and future airings on Disney Channel, and apparently was never included on DVD or Blu-ray discs, nor is it available on streaming with Disney+.

The Deleted Scene

Allen's deleted line has been posted online before, most recently to TikTok on Dec. 12, 2022.

'The Fun Ended'

The AP article from 1994 read as follows:

PAINESVILLE, Ohio (AP) – A woman who took her grandchildren to see the movie "The Santa Clause" was out for some good family fun. The fun ended when the children called an 800 number mentioned in the movie and were connected to a sex line.

"I don't think children need to be exposed to that," said Shirley Dearth of Concord Township, about 25 miles east of Cleveland.

Dearth took her 7-year-old granddaughter and 9-year-old grandson on Monday to see the PG-rated Walt Disney film starring Tim Allen. In the movie, Allen's ex-wife wants to give him her phone number. He quips, "What is it? 1-800-SPANK ME?"

When Dearth's grandchildren wanted to call the toll-free number, she let them, thinking it probably didn't exist. The children put it on the phone's speaker so she could hear. "Hi sexy! You've just connected to the hottest phone line in America, brought to you by American TelNet," said a recording of a sultry woman's voice. "Our one-of-a-kind service lets you choose your own phone fantasy."

The phone message first tells callers under 18 to hang up. It provided suggestive options with 900 phone numbers, lines that charge fees.

The article went on to quote Howard Green, a spokesman for Disney. He told The AP that Allen's comment was just a gag in the script, and that, "If a real number like that exists, it's coincidence."

Disney Removes the Scene

On Aug. 29, 1997, Orlando Sentinel columnist Leslie Doolittle reported that Disney had yanked the scene from future home video releases. In fact, Disney even tried to buy the phone number to disconnect it:

Shortly after the film was released in 1994, complaints started rolling in. The problem: Kids who call that number are connected to a message that promises "hot, wild phone fun" for $2.50 to $4.99 a minute.

Disney decided against recalling the film – which earned $144.8 million in U.S. theaters alone – fearing it "would actually do more harm than good" by calling "more attention to the matter."

We've learned, however, through an irate parent whose 10-year-old daughter racked up $250 in calls to the line that Disney has removed that scene from new videocassette copies of the movie. It has also been deleted from the broadcast on The Disney Channel, said Howard Green, a spokesman for Disney Productions in Burbank, Calif. And according to a letter from Richard Schlesinger, vice-president of legal affairs for Disney Motion Pictures Group, to the New York father, Disney also tried to buy 1-800-SPANK-ME – to disconnect it.

1-800-SPANK-ME Today

Nearly 30 years after the release of "The Santa Clause," we tried calling the 1-800-SPANK-ME sex hotline to see if it still existed. We were greeted with a sexually explicit message for adults.

We previously reported on other rumors involving Disney films and sex, including a topless woman who was visible in "The Rescuers," a phallus that was purportedly included on the VHS cover of "The Little Mermaid," and the word "sex" supposedly being written in the sky in "The Lion King."

Sources

@big_z_studios. TikTok, 12 Dec. 2022, https://www.tiktok.com/@big_z_studios/video/7176251311594278187.

"Christmas Movie Refers to Sex Line." The Orlando Sentinel via The Associated Press via Newspapers.com, 30 Dec. 1994, p. A-3, https://www.newspapers.com/image/231701522/.

Doolittle, Leslie. "Joke in 'Santa Clause' Too Hot to Handle." The Orlando Sentinel via Newspapers.com, 29 Aug. 1997, p. A-2, https://www.newspapers.com/image/234402337/.

WuchinaTwinAdventures. "The Santa Clause (1994) Rare Deleted Scene." YouTube, 9 Dec. 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u81XdSpE0zw.

Jordan Liles is a Snopes reporter with expertise in investigating misinformation, inauthentic social media activity, and scams.

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