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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is a popular Christmas story owned by St. Nicholas Music Inc. that has been sold in numerous forms including a popular song, a television special (done in stop motion animation), and a feature film. Rudolph was created by Robert L. May in 1939 as part of his employment with Montgomery Ward.

DVD cover for the famous 1964 Christmas special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
DVD cover for the famous 1964 Christmas special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

The song

Johnny Marks, May's brother-in-law, decided to adapt May's story into a song, which through the years has been recorded by many artists (most notably by Gene Autry in 1949), and has since filtered into the popular consciousness.

The popular song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" in its Finnish translation, Petteri Punakuono, has led to Rudolph's general acceptance in the mythology as Joulupukki's, the Finnish Santa's, lead reindeer. However, Santa's reindeer in the Finnish version do not fly. Mike Eheman made the newest version of the song with the actual flying reindeer so Santa can land on roof tops.

The Canadian Brass version refers to the title character (in a downright Runyonesque manner) as "Rudolph the Nose."

Rudolph in the media

Theatrical cartoon short

Rudolph's first screen appearance came in 1944, in the form of a cartoon short, produced by Max Fleischer for the Jam Handy Corporation, that was more faithful to May's original story than Marks's eventual song.

Animated TV special

Main article: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (TV special)

The reindeer debuted on NBC in 1964, when Rankin/Bass produced a stop motion animated TV special of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer that became a popular hit in itself. This version was re-broadcast many times over the years, even after it was finally released on video and then DVD. CBS now airs it each year, making it the longest running TV special with regards to consecutive years. The TV special, though based on May's story and Mark's song, contains many additions and alterations to the original story.

It is narrated by Sam the Snowman (Burl Ives), who tells that when Rudolph was first born, he had a red light-up nose. Donner, Rudolph's father, wants to hide it, and does so by covering it with mud so that it's black like any other reindeer's nose. While playing reindeer games with other young reindeer, he befriends a young doe named Clarice. He seems rather popular amongst the other reindeer, until his nose's disguise falls clean off, revealing his red glow. All of the other reindeer — aside from Clarice — ridicule and shun Rudolph. Clarice tries to comfort him, but to no avail. Luckily, Rudolph's not the only one who's different. One elf, Hermey, wants to be a dentist instead of a toy-making elf, and is similarly unaccepted by his peers. Hermey and Rudolph take off together to find where they belong, and meet Yukon Cornelius, an unsuccessful prospector who is seeking silver and gold. They have to beware of the Abominable Snow-monster (whom Yukon refers to as the Bumble), and stumble upon the Island of Misfit Toys, populated with toys such as a "Charlie-in-the-box", a train with square wheels, and a cowboy who rides an ostrich. They want to stay on the island, but King Moon Racer, ruler of the island, says it is for toys only. Hermey and Yukon say the three of them will leave the island in the morning, but Rudolph, figuring his nose will get them in trouble by attracting the snow-monster, decides to set out alone. He arrives at home, but Rudolph's family and Clarice are gone, looking for him. He discovers that they are being held captive by the Bumble, and rejoins his friends to help defeat the frosty fiend. Hermey, with his dentistry skills, helps Rudolph rescue the others by pulling out all the Bumble's teeth. The Bumble still tries to attack — toothless or not — and Yukon tackles the beast...right over the edge of a cliff. When they get back to the North Pole, Rudolph and Hermey are hailed as heroes and apologized to. However, Yukon is sorely missed. That is, until he shows up at Santa's doorstep with the Bumble in tow! Rudolph asks how the two of them survived the fall, and Yukon simply repies, "Didn't I ever tell you about Bumbles? Bumbles bounce!" The toothless Bumble, now reformed puts the star on top of the tree at the Christmas Eve party, in which Rudolph and friends are very welcome. When there is a strong fog, Santa relies on Rudolph as a beacon, and Rudolph gets them to the Island of Misfit Toys and at the end, the toys are given homes (they are dropped out of the sleigh behind the credits via umbrellas).

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, produced entirely with computer animation, as opposed to traditional stop motion animation; however, care was taken to make the computer-generated characters resemble their stop-motion counterparts from the original special as much as possible.

Animated feature-length film

An animated feature film remake of the story of the legendary Rudolph was produced in 1998, entitled Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie, but many believe this version of the story paled in comparison with the Rankin-Bass classic, both in terms of quality and box-office revenue. It only saw a limited theatrical release before quickly being sent to home video.


Two BBC animations carry on the legend by introducing Rudolph's son, Robbie the Reindeer. However, Rudolph is never directly mentioned by name (references are replaced by a character interrupting with the phrase "Don't say that name!" or something similar, presumably for copyright reasons[citation needed]).

See also

  • Olive, the Other Reindeer
  • Christmas reindeer

External links

  • Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer at Keyframe - the Animation Resource
  • History of Rudolph at Urban Legends Reference Pages
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Radio
  • The Legendary Role of Reindeer in Christmas
  • Why is the Doll a Misfit on the Island of Misfit Toys?
  • Classic Rudolph Christmas Songs, Trivia, Cast
  • Youtube Spoof of the Rankin & Bass Rudolph specials
  • Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (1948)
  • Creator of Raging Rudolph
  • Origin of Ruldoph
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