CLEVELAND — A beloved Christmas character, Mr. Jingeling was a household name in Cleveland for decades, known as the keeper of Santa’s keys. Every holiday season, those who grew up during the time of this iconic elf remembers a jolly time in downtown Cleveland, and now, his legacy and appearance continue to bring joy to so many.
Mr. Jingeling could be found as Santa’s helper on the seventh floor of the downtown Halle's department store on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland.
The original actor to play Mr. Jingeling was Max Ellis for about a decade before being taken over by Earl Keyes, an original employee of WEWS when the station went on air in December 1947. Beginning in 1965, he made TV appearance as Mr. Jingeling and in personal appearances until his death in 2000.
Take a trip down memory lanes as News 5 interviews Earl Keyes as Mr. Jingeling in 1995.
An advertising agency had come up with the character of Mr. Jingeling to promote Christmas shopping at the Halle Brothers Department store. Mr. Jingeling was the important fictional elf who created a new set of keys to open Santa Claus's toy treasure house after he misplaced the keys. He became a hero to children and also the gateway to get a message to Santa about the ultimate toy gift.
His presence lives on in memories of those who looked forward to his appearance every Christmas. Pictures of his time at the Halle's department store hang on the Christmas tree at the Allen Theatre.
Over the years, Mr. Jingeling has been personified by many different people, including Tom Moviel, Karl Mackey, Jonathan Willhelm, Greg Benedetto and Max Ellis. Families can still see him at numerous appearances throughout Northeast Ohio during the holiday season.
More info on his appearance this Christmas season here.