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1985 HBO Christmas Present

A secret Ghostbusters surprise!

Opinion page by Duane Alan Hahn.

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Page last updated on: 2021y_11m_28d_1330t [Page created on 2014y_12m_25d]

Once in a while, my family would talk about the HBO Christmas Present that we saw in a motel in 1985. Until my mother looked it up online in December of 2014, we didn't know that anyone thought it was a myth. Below is a link to a related page stored at since it no longer exists:

TV/Movies: Urban Myth or Fact – Ghostbusters on HBO Christmas of 1985

If you don't feel like reading that page, the important thing is that he found a Los Angeles Times article by Dennis Hunt from January 10, 1986 that mentions the HBO Ghostbusters Christmas present. Here's a snippet from that L.A. Times article:


Image courtesy of had all of the official HBO guides online, but that web site is gone now. The good news is that I have a cropped image of the section I needed courtesy of that web site and it shows “HBO Christmas Present” listed at 11:30 p.m. Any skeptical nonbelievers can look at the image and see that something special was shown on Christmas Eve. Mentioning Ghostbusters in the guide would have spoiled the surprise, don't you think?

Image courtesy of


There are also a bunch of newspapers at that have “HBO Christmas Present” listed at 11:30 p.m. on that day. The cropped image displayed here is from the Burlington Daily Times News, Burlington, North Carolina (December 22, 1985). It shows the important part of the listing for Tuesday, December 24, 1985.





Motel Christmas

My family was in the middle of a move to a new city and we had to stay in a motel for a couple of weeks during the 1985 Christmas season. I was looking through the generic cable guide that was in the motel room and it had tba (to be announced) in the listing at 11:30 p.m. for HBO. I thought it was odd, so I told everyone that I was going to turn on HBO a little before 11:30 in case it was something good. Holy crap! It was Ghostbusters! We hadn't seen the movie, so it was a great Christmas present from HBO.


I hoped surprises like that would be repeated by HBO and copied by other cable channels, but I must have missed them if they happened. Seemed like there were no more cool TV surprises after that. I could be forgetting something. Maybe someone will refresh my memory.






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