Johnny Marks (November 10, 1909 – September 3, 1985) was an American songwriter. Although he was Jewish, he specialized in Christmas songs and wrote many holiday standards, including "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (a hit for Gene Autry and others), "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" (a hit for Brenda Lee), "A Holly Jolly Christmas" (recorded by the Quinto Sisters and later by Burl Ives), "Silver and Gold" (for Burl Ives), and "Run Rudolph Run" (recorded by Chuck Berry).
Marks was born in Mount Vernon, New York. A graduate of McBurney School in New York, NY, and Colgate and Columbia Universities, Marks later studied in Paris. He earned a Bronze Star and four Battle Stars as a Captain in the 26th Special Service Company during World War II. Marks had three children: Michael, Laura and David. He is a great-uncle of economist Steven Levitt.
Marks was the nephew of Marcus M. Marks (1858–1937), an important business figure who served as Borough President of Manhattan. Johnny Marks’ father, Louis B. Marks, was a leading lighting engineer. His wife, Margaret May Marks, was the sister of Robert L. May.
Among Marks's many works is "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer", which was based on a poem of the same name, written by Marks’s brother-in-law, Robert L. May, Rudolph's creator. A television film based on the story and song first aired in 1964, with Marks himself composing the score.
Works (incomplete list)
- Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer – 1949 (inspired by a poem by Robert L. May, Marks' brother-in-law)
- When Santa Claus Gets Your Letter – 1952
- The Night Before Christmas Song – 1952
- An Old-Fashioned Christmas – 1952
- Everyone's a Child at Christmas – 1956
- I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day – 1956 (words by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, adapted by Marks)
- Run Rudolph Run - 1958
- Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree – 1958
- A Merry, Merry Christmas to You – 1959
- The Santa Claus Parade – 1959
- A Caroling We Go - 1966
- Joyous Christmas - 1969
- From the 1964 NBC/Rankin-Bass TV Production Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer
- A Holly Jolly Christmas – 1965 (separate single release), 1964-65**
- Jingle, Jingle, Jingle – 1964
- The Most Wonderful Day of the Year – 1964
- Silver and Gold – 1964-65**
- We Are Santa's Elves – 1964
- There's Always Tomorrow - 1964
- The Island of Misfit Toys - 1964
- We're a Couple of Misfits - 1964
** Burl Ives released "A Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Silver and Gold," two songs he sang as his character Sam the Snowman, as singles for the 1965 holiday season, the year after the TV production.
- Happy New Year Darling – 1946 (with J. Carmen Lombardo)
- Address Unknown
- Chicken Today and Feathers Tomorrow
- Don't Cross Your Fingers, Cross Your Heart
- How Long Is Forever?
- I Guess There's an End to Everything
- She'll Always Remember
- Summer Holiday
- There's Always Tomorrow
- We Speak of You Often
- What've You Got to Lose But Your Heart
- Who Calls?
- Bloom, Nate (2006-12-19). "The Jews Who Wrote Christmas Songs". InterfaithFamily. Retrieved 2006-12-19.
- Barbara Ellen (9 December 2001). "Why a sad song says so much". The Guardian.
- Bloom, Nate (2011-12-20). "Shining a Light on the Largely Untold Story of the Origins of Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer". InterfaithFamily.com. Retrieved 2011-12-22.
- The Probability that a Real-Estate Agent is Cheating You (and other riddles of modern life): Inside the curious mind of the heralded young economist Steven Levitt by Stephen J. Dubner, New York Times Magazine, August 3, 2003
- Johnny Marks at the Songwriters Hall of Fame