I don’t know what it is about my affinity for Rudolph, but I have always taken a liking to the character, classic song, and the 1964 movie by Rankin/Bass. I remember being utterly attached to a Rudolph figure my teacher gave me, and have very fond memories of a young child’s imagination mistaking radio towers for Rudolph’s mythical beacon. Perhaps it’s also the overall acceptance message I appreciate as an adult, which is echoed even more-so in the famous claymation film where there is an elf that prefers dentistry over toy-making. Come on!
While attending college in 2003 I had the privilege of hearing one of the creators, Author Rankin Jr. speak at an event at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York City. Quite possibly the climax of a long-standing obsession with Rankin/Bass movies, I had the opportunity to see the original Animagic Santa puppet from the film as well as meet the voice actors from the 1976 cult classic The Year Without A Santa Claus. If you didn’t recognize the name before, Author Rankin Jr. of Rankin/Bass created well-known Christmas classics like Frosty The Snowman, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, The Little Drummer Boy, Jack Frost, and so on. One of the most interesting things discussed was that the elves from Rudolph were first used to advertise General Electric products. Who knew? He played a clip from the reel below which shows how far we have come in regards to gifts we give to women. You will see what I mean.
The audience had quite a laugh at the iron.
Have I mentioned how amazing the music from the special is? I have always loved the American folk singer Burl Ives (see Wayfaring Stranger) who narrates as Sam the Snowman and sings the title track along with ‘Silver & Gold’ and ‘Have a Holly Jolly Christmas’. One of my personal favorites from the movie is ‘There’s Always Tomorrow’ which is a charming exchange between Rudolph and his love interest Clarice.
You don’t see that kind of stuff in Christmas specials today.
Unfortunately Rankin/Bass lost the rights to the movie at some point and a ton of terrible computer animated specials were created as a result. Regardless, I am anxious to pass the Rankin/Bass classics onto my future children and share the magic originally created in the tale of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.
“You’ll go down in history!”
THE CHRISTMAS OWL