Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
|Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer|
Cover of one of the books of the Robert L. May story by Maxton Publishers, Inc.
|Last appearance||2001 (films and series)|
|Created by||Robert L. May|
|Voiced by||Billie Mae Richards (TV series)
Kathleen Barr (movie)
|Title||The Red Nosed Reindeer|
|Family||Mr. Donner (father in TV series)
Mrs. Donner (mother in TV series)
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a fictional reindeer. A male Reindeer with a glowing red nose he is popularly known as "Santa's 9th Reindeer" and, when depicted, is the lead reindeer pulling Santa's sleigh on Christmas Eve. The luminosity of his nose is so great that it illuminates the team's path through inclement winter weather.
The story is owned by The Rudolph Company, L.P. and has been adapted in numerous forms including a popular song, a television special and sequels, and a feature film and sequel. Character Arts, LLC manages the licensing for the Rudolph Company, L.P. In many countries, Rudolph has become a figure of Christmas folklore.
Publication history 
Robert L. May created Rudolph in 1939 as an assignment for Montgomery Ward. The retailer had been buying and giving away coloring books for Christmas every year and it was decided that creating their own book would save money. May considered naming the reindeer "Rollo" and "Reginald" before deciding upon using the name "Rudolph". In its first year of publication, 2.5 million copies of Rudolph's story were distributed by Montgomery Ward. The story is written as a poem in the meter of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas". Publication and reprint rights for the book Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer are controlled by Pearson Plc.
Of note is the change in the cultural significance of a red nose. In popular culture, a bright red nose was then closely associated with chronic alcoholism and drunkards, and so the story idea was initially rejected. May asked his illustrator friend at Wards, Denver Gillen, to draw "cute reindeer", using zoo deer as models. The alert, bouncy character Gillen developed convinced management to support the idea.
Maxton Books published the first mass-market edition of Rudolph and also published a sequel, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Shines Again in 1954. In 1991 Applewood Books published Rudolph's Second Christmas, an unpublished sequel that Robert May wrote in 1947. In 2003, Penguin Books issued a reprint version of the original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with new artwork by Lisa Papp. Penguin also reprinted May's sequels Rudolph Shines Again and Rudolph's Second Christmas (now retitled Rudolph to the Rescue).
The story 
The story chronicles the experiences of Rudolph, a youthful reindeer buck (male) who possesses an unusual luminous red nose. Harassed mercilessly and excluded by his peers because of this trait, Rudolph manages to prove himself one Christmas Eve after Santa Claus catches sight of his nose and asks him to lead his sleigh for the evening. Rudolph agrees, and is finally treated better by his fellow reindeer for his heroism. A criticism of the song, and even more so, the TV special, is that it encourages racism, superficiality, opportunism, and general cruelty
Rudolph in the media 
The song 
May's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, adapted the story of Rudolph into a song. Gene Autry's recording of the song hit No. 1 on the Billboard pop singles chart the week of Christmas 1949. Autry's recording sold 2.5 million copies the first year, eventually selling a total of 25 million, and it remained the second best-selling record of all time until the 1980s.
Theatrical cartoon short 
Rudolph's first screen appearance came in 1944, in the form of a cartoon short produced by Dave Fleischer for the Jam Handy Corporation, that was more faithful to May's original story than Marks' song (which had not then yet been written). It was reissued in 1948 with the song added.
Comic books 
DC Comics, then known as National Periodical Publications, published a series of 13 annuals titled Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer from 1950 to 1962. Most of the 1950s stories were drawn by Rube Grossman. In 1972, DC published a 14th edition in an extra-large format. Subsequently, they published six more in that format: Limited Collectors' Edition C-24, C-33, C-42, C-50 and All-New Collectors' Edition C-53, C-60. Additionally, one digest format edition was published as The Best of DC #4 (March–April 1980). The 1970s Rudolph stories were written and drawn by Sheldon Mayer
Children's book 
In 1958, Golden Books published an illustrated storybook, adapted by Barbara Shook Hazen and illustrated by Richard Scarry. The book is similar in story to the Max Fleischer cartoon short. It is apparently no longer in print. However, a revised Golden Books version of the storybook has since been issued.
Stop-motion animation TV special 
In 1964, the tale was adapted into a classic stop-motion Christmas special by Rankin/Bass. Filmed entirely in Japan with all sound recordings done in Toronto, Canada, the classic show premiered on NBC, altering the original telling of the story drastically. This re-telling chronicles Rudolph's social rejection among his peers and his decision to run away from home accompanied by a similarly outcast elf named Hermey, whose dreams of becoming a dentist are shunned by the other elves, along with a loud, boisterous, eager prospector named Yukon Cornelius who was in search of wealth. Original additional characters include Rudolph's love interest, Clarice and the antagonist of the Abominable Snowman, along with the narrator, the anthropomorphic Sam the Snowman, voiced famously by Burl Ives. After the initial broadcast, the closing credits were revised to change images of wrapped presents being dropped from Santa's sleigh to "Misfit" Toys being dropped to the homes of children below. The changes were solely based on viewer feedback that had pleaded for a happy ending for each toy with each finally finding placement with a child. The special now airs annually on CBS rather than NBC, and is hailed as a classic by many, its original assortment of trademarked characters acquiring a famous and iconic status and alterations of the true storyline frequently parodied in other works. The sequel Rudolph's Shiny New Year continues the journey of the reindeer himself and his only song is titled "Have A Little Faith In Me" when he tries to cheer up his new friends from the past times.
Animated feature-length films 
An animated feature film of the story was produced in 1998, titled Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie. It received only a limited theatrical release before debuting on home video. Its inclusion of a villain character, Stormella, and a love interest, Zoey, for Rudolph as well as a small sidekick, an artic fox named Slyly, and a strong protector character, a polar bear named Leonard, are very derivative of the Rankin-Bass adaptation of the story as opposed to the original tale and song (the characters of Stormella, Zoey, Arrow, Slyly and Leonard closely parallel the Rankin-Bass characters of The Bumble, Clarice, Fireball, Hermey the Dentist, and Yukon Cornelius respectively). The movie amplifies the early back-story of Rudolph's harassment by his schoolmates (primarily his cousin Arrow) during his formative years.
GoodTimes Entertainment, the producers of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie, brought back most of the same production team for a CGI animated sequel, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys in 2001. Unlike the previous film, the sequel licensed the original characters from the Rankin-Bass special.
Homages to Rudolph in other media 
In the 2007 film Fred Claus, Rudolph is mentioned, but not seen. Fred (Vince Vaughn) is filling in for his injured brother Nick (Paul Giamatti) delivering the toys on Christmas Eve. While en route, he crashes the sleigh through a billboard advertisement for Pepsi Cola featuring Santa Claus. He then tells Rudolph to "shake it off".
In the Doctor Who promotional mini-webisode, "Songtaran Carols", the Sontaran warrior-nurse-detective, Strax, stated: "Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, had a very shiny nose. It proved to be a tactical disadvantage, because it enabled me to punch him in the dark."
Rudolph was mentioned in the video game Army of Two during a tutorial video about the use of the game's Aggro feature.
Relatives in different adaptations 
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 the character Blitzen interrupting with the phrase "Don't say that name!" or something similar, presumably for copyright reasons.)
Rudolph is also given a brother, Rusty Reindeer, in the 2006 American special, Holidaze: The Christmas That Almost Didn't Happen. Unlike in the "Robbie the Reindeer" cartoons, Rudolph's name is mentioned freely in the film.
Michael Fry and T. Lewis have given Rudolph another brother in a series of Over the Hedge comic strips; an overweight, emotionally damaged reindeer named "Ralph, the Infra-Red nosed Reindeer", who has a red nose just like Rudolph's, but his is good for defrosting Santa's sleigh and warming up toast and waffles. He appeared before R.J., Verne, and Hammy, enviously complaining about his brother's publicity and his own anonymity.
In the animated specials produced by both Rankin-Bass and GoodTimes Entertainment, Rudolph has been given different sets of parents. In Rankin-Bass's holiday special, he is Donner's son and his mother is an unnamed tan doe with long eyelashes who is simply called "Mrs. Donner". In GoodTimes's retelling, Rudolph's father is Blitzen, possibly to avoid plagiarism charges, and his mother, played by Debbie Reynolds, is named Mitzi.
Robert L. May's original book does not name Rudolph's parents.
See also 
- Mikkelson, Barbara; Mikkelson, David P. (December 19, 2010). "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer". Urban Legends Reference Pages. Snopes.com. Archived from the original on December 2, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
- Ramer, Holly; Talbot, Toby (Photo) (23 December 2011). "Scrapbook tells how Rudolph went down in history". Hanover, N.H.: Associated Press. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
- Wook Kim (Dec. 17, 2012). "Yule Laugh, Yule Cry: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Beloved Holiday Songs (With holiday cheer in the air, TIME takes a closer look at some of the weird stories behind our favorite seasonal tunes)". TIME. - "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (p. 3)
- "Old Fashioned Christmas". University Place/Wisconsin Historical Society. December 12, 2010. 0:28 minutes in. Wisconsin Public Broadcasting Station. Wisconsin Channel.
- Burnaby Now(2010.Dec.24), Jennifer Moreau, "Rudolph's Burnaby roots", p. A11, , archive available
- Burnaby NewsLeader(2010.Dec.24), Wanda Chow, "How Rudolph the reindeer came to be", p. A3, , no archive found
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- Kenneth T. Jackson, Karen Markoe, Arnie Markoe, The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives. Simon and Schuster, 1998, p.28
- "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer". www.bcdb.com, April 13, 2012
- Irvine, Alex; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1950s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. "DC began an annual tradition of producing a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas special. Following the success of the famous song (released in 1949), DC licensed the character and put Rudolph at the center of a series of lighthearted adventures...The Christmas Special would continue until 1962, and then return from 1972-1977."
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Annual at the Grand Comics Database
- Markstein, Don. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on December 4, 2011. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
- Limited Collectors' Edition #C-20, #C-24, #C-33, #C-42, and #C-50 at the Grand Comics Database
- All-New Collectors' Edition #C-53 and #C-60 at the Grand Comics Database
- The Best of DC #4 at the Grand Comics Database
- Markstein, Don. "Sheldon Mayer". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on December 3, 2011. Retrieved December 3, 2011. "[Mayer] also worked on several tabloid-formatted comic books for DC in the mid-1970s, including the company's first use of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer since the early '60s."
- Arnold, Mark (December 2012). "You Know Dasher and Dancer: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer". Back Issue (TwoMorrows Publishing) (61): 7–10.
- Official Licensor for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
- Official CBS website for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
- Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (1948)
- Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (1948) Full Film (public domain footage)
- Lyrics to Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at the Internet Movie Database
- Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (Jam Handy) at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (Rankin/Bass) at the Big Cartoon DataBase
"Mule Train" by Frankie Laine
|U.S. Billboard Best Sellers in Stores number-one single
January 7, 1950 (Gene Autry)
"I Can Dream, Can't I" by The Andrews Sisters