13 Facts about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
1. The TV special was first aired on December 6, 1964. (exactly 43 years ago today!)
2. The puppets were small: Santa was 8" tall, and Rudolf was only 4" tall.
3. Back then, animators used the "stop-motion" method -- starting and stopping a camera while arms and other parts are moved in tiny increments that appear as fluid movement in the final film (well, sort of fluid movement, by today's standards).
4. This version was re-broadcast annually many times over the years, even after it was finally released on video and then DVD. It still airs annually, but now on CBS rather than NBC, making it the longest-running TV special with regards to consecutive years.
5. In 1976, a sequel to the Rankin-Bass original special was produced, entitled Rudolph's Shiny New Year and then a third in 1979 entitled Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July. Then in 2001, a a fourth in the series was released titled Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys. (but let's be frank, none of them is as memorable as the original)
6. The story of Rudolph was created by an employee of Montgomery Ward; Robert L. May in 1939.
7. As a child, May was rather sickly, shy and introverted. So, he based the story on his childhood feelings of alienation from his peers. As to the name, May considered and rejected Rollo (too cheerful) and Reginald (too British) before deciding on Rudolph. (Reginald the red-nosed reindeer just doesn't make it--he was right.)
8. Rudolph's story was used as a promotion for the store, to be given to children by the Montgomery Ward Santa Claus.
9. Approximately 2.4 million Rudolph, the Red-Nosed reindeer poems were given away in the first year of its publication.
10. May's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks composed the song from the poem.
11. Gene Autry recorded the song in 1949 (way before our time!).
12. Autry's version sold two million copies that year and went on to become one of the best-selling songs of all time, second only to "White Christmas."
13. In the U.S. and Canada, the song is sometimes performed (usually by children) in a humorous manner with additional lyrics. These lyrics are recited as a response at the end of most of the lines in the song. You can see them here. (I was introduced to these by my twin nephews, about 10 years ago, and now can't hear the song without thinking of them!)
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