Wednesday 7 December 2016

Rudolph: As Beloved as Caroling and Putting out Cookies for Santa

"Fifty years later, the tradition seems to be as beloved as caroling and putting out cookies for Santa."

Christmas just wasn't Christmas without watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on TV.  The childhood images come flooding back to me:  Rudolph flying in the sky and then plummeting to the earth, all to impress the does...Clarisse batting her long curly eyelashes at Rudolph...the narrator snowman gliding across the snow in his plaid vest and top hat...the misfit toys that nobody wanted...the Abominable Snow Monster who scared me as a youngster...the elf explaining that he really wanted to be a dentist...Yukon Cornelius chopping away at the block of ice...Mrs. Claus pleading with her husband:  "Eat, Santa, Eat!"

Although Rudolph first appeared in a booklet in 1939 published by the Montgomery Ward Department Store, and although the song debuted in 1949, the character did not take off (literally) until the TV show premiered in 1964.


Here are some interesting facts about the production:

  • More than 200 puppets were carved for the TV show.
  • Rudolph stood only 4 inches tall.
  • The special took 18 months to complete.
  • Twenty-two room-size sets were used in the production.
  • Animators spent two days observing deer to create Rudolph.
  • The original narrator, Larry Mann (Yukon Cornelius), adopted a New York accent for the role.
  • The elf who wanted to be a dentist was named Hermey, not Herbie.
  • It took 24 frames to create one second of filmed animation.
  • Silver & Gold was originally recorded by Yukon Cornelius.
  • No one was allowed to touch the puppets except the puppet maker and the animator in order to preserve them.  

Burl Ives with the puppets courtesy 

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