The touching story behind Miracle on 34th Street’s sign language scene

17 December 2021, 16:11 | Updated: 16 November 2022, 15:18

There's a sweet story behind the deaf girl in Miracle on 34th Street
There's a sweet story behind the deaf girl in Miracle on 34th Street. Picture: YouTube/20th Century Fox

By Naomi Bartram

There is a heartwarming scene in Miracle on 34th Street which sees a young deaf girl brought in to sit on Santa’s knee.

You know it’s Christmas when Miracle on 34th Street comes on the TV.

The wonderful festive film tells the story of a little girl and a lawyer who must prove a man claiming to be Santa is the real deal.

Originally released in 1947, a remake was released in 1994 starring Richard Attenborough as Kris Kringle himself.

Sami met Santa in Miracle on 34th Street
Sami met Santa in Miracle on 34th Street. Picture: YouTube/20th Century Fox

But while we love the heartwarming plot, there is one particular scene which makes us tear up every time.

The sweet moment happens when a young deaf girl is brought to sit on the lap of Kris Kringle at Cole’s department store.

When Kris asks what she wants for Christmas, her mum tells him that her little girl Sami is deaf, and she just wanted to sit on Santa’s knee.

Father Christmas then begins communicating with her with sign-language, signing: “You are a very beautiful young lady”.

He then asks what her name is, before the pair go on to sign the lyrics to Jingle Bells.

The little girl is delighted as her mum - and the rest of us - starts to cry.

Miracle on 34th Street was released in 1994
Miracle on 34th Street was released in 1994. Picture: Alamy

But it turns out there is something even more special about the scene, as it is acted by Samantha Krieger.

Sami, who was five-years-old at the time, is the second of three deaf children born to Jay and Linda Krieger, both of whom are also deaf.

The casting department found Sami through a Chicago audition, which was sponsored in part by a local centre for the deaf.

Opening up about her experience on the set of the film, Sami previously told the Los Angeles Times: “It was really fun being in the movie.

“Being with Santa and seeing all those toys was the best part.”

Sami’s dad Jay said of making the film: “The experience was wonderful, really great. The (John) Hughes (production) people treated Sami like royalty, giving her a trailer with a star that had her name on it, which made her feel special.

Richard Attenborough starred as Santa in Miracle on 34th Street
Richard Attenborough starred as Santa in Miracle on 34th Street. Picture: Alamy

“My wife had mixed feelings about it, and so did I at first, but if she decides to do something like this again, I think that would be fine with us.”

In the original film, a Dutch war orphan sat on Santa’s knee and he started speaking in her language.

Director of the film Les Mayfield also said the scene ‘tore my heart out’, while Richard Attenborough was also moved.

He recalled not rehearsing with little Sami so her surprise in the scene was real.

“When I signed ‘What is your name?’ the surprise on her face was genuine,” he told the Los Angeles Times.

The star added: “And after the scene, she signed ‘Thank you’ to me. Well, I was gone, I can tell you. That got me.”