Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (TV special)
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|Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer|
Promotional advertisement for the original NBC airing.
|Based on||"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"
by Johnny Marks
|Written by||Romeo Muller|
|Narrated by||Burl Ives|
|Country of origin||
|Running time||55 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Rankin/Bass Productions|
|Followed by||Rudolph's Shiny New Year|
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer is a 1964 Christmas stop motion animated television special produced by Rankin/Bass Productions and currently distributed by Universal Television. It first aired Sunday, December 6, 1964, on the NBC television network in the United States, and was sponsored by General Electric under the umbrella title of The General Electric Fantasy Hour. The special was based on the Johnny Marks song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" which was itself based on the poem of the same name written in 1939 by Marks' brother-in-law, Robert L. May. Since 1972, the special has aired on CBS, with the network unveiling a high-definition, digitally remastered version of the program in 2005. As with A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph no longer airs just once annually, but several times during the Christmas and holiday season on CBS. Unlike other holiday specials that also air on several cable channels (including Freeform), Rudolph only airs on CBS. It has been telecast every year since 1964, making it the longest running Christmas TV special in history. 2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the television special and a series of postage stamps featuring Rudolph was issued by the United States Postal Service on November 6, 2014.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Production
- 3 Different versions
- 4 Home media
- 5 Soundtrack
- 6 Merchandise
- 7 Sequels
- 8 Parodies of, and homages to, Rudolph
- 9 Copyright issues
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Sam the Snowman welcomes the viewers to Christmastown at the North Pole and introduces Santa and Mrs. Claus who live in a castle located left of the Christmas Tree Forest. Later, he recalls the year Christmas was almost cancelled due to a big snowstorm and tells the story of how a very special reindeer saved the day.
Donner, Santa's lead reindeer, and his wife have given birth to a new baby fawn, whom they name Rudolph and are later surprised that he is born with a glowing red nose. Santa arrives to meet him, but tells Donner that he won't make the sleigh team after seeing his nose. So Donner covers Rudolph's nose with dirt to hide it.
A year later, Rudolph goes to the reindeer games where all of the other fawns try their best to be inspected by Santa to pull the sleigh when they grow up. During flying lessons, Rudolph gets acquainted with a beautiful doe named Clarice. She whispers to Rudolph that he's cute, exciting him and he flies. However, while engaging in celebratory play with the other bucks, Rudolph's false nose pops off, revealing his red nose and the other reindeer tease him about it, thus not letting him join in any more reindeer games. Clarice follows him and tells him that his nose makes him special. However, Clarice's father arrives and tells Rudolph that his daughter can't be with him. After they leave, Rudolph meets Hermey, an elf who wants to be a dentist instead of making toys in Santa's workshop. They become independant together and run away from the North Pole.
Later, they meet a prospector named Yukon Cornelius who is trying to find silver and gold, but fails. After escaping from the Abominable Snow Monster of the North, they crashland on the Island of Misfit Toys full of toys who are unloved and unwanted. After meeting the toys, they ask King Moonracer, a winged lion, if they can stay on the island. The king lets them stay for one night until they tell Santa about the toys and ask him if he can find homes for them and children who will love them when they return to Christmastown. However, Rudolph leaves on his own, still worrying that his nose will endanger his friends.
Years pass and Rudolph grows into a proud young stag. When he returns home, Santa informs him that his parents and Clarice have been looking for him for months. Rudolph then finds his family and Clarice being held captive by the Abominable Snow Monster. Hermey and Yukon Cornelius arrive at the monster's cave where they lure him outside and leave him unconcious long enough for Hermey to remove his teeth. Yukon drives the monster back, but goes over the cliff. over a cliff. Assuming he is dead, Rudolph, Hermey, Clarice, and the Donners sadly return home where everyone apologizes to them. After hearing all about their adventure, Santa promises Rudolph that he will find homes for the Misfit Toys, Hermey gets to open his own dentist's office a week after Christmas, and Donner apologizes for being so critical about Rudolph's nose. They are just about to celebrate when Yukon returns with a reformed Abominable Snow Monster, whom they hire as their tree decorator.
While the others are celebrating, Santa fears the snowstorm won't stop, which means he'll have to cancel Christmas until he is fascinated by Rudolph's nose and asks him to guide his sleigh. Rudolph agrees and they fly off to the Island of Misfit Toys where the toys are still sad about being unloved until Santa comes to pick them up and bring them to their homes. The special ends with Santa wishing the viewers a merry Christmas as he and Rudolph fly off into the night.
- Billie Mae Richards voices Rudolph.
- Stan Francis voices Santa Claus.
- Paul Kligman voices Donner, Coach Comet, and Clarice's unnamed father.
- Burl Ives voices Sam the Snowman.
- Paul Soles voices Hermey.
- Janis Orenstein voices Clarice.
- Larry D. Mann voices Yukon Cornelius.
- Peg Dixon voices Mrs. Claus.
- Carl Banas voices the Head Elf.
- Alfie Scopp voices Fireball and the other young bucks.
Island of Misfit Toys
- Stan Francis voices King Moonracer, a winged lion who rules the entire Island of Misfit Toys.
- Alfie Scopp voices Charlie-In-The-Box, the island's sentry.
- Carl Banas voices the Spotted Elephant, King Moonracer's footman.
- Corinne Conley voices Dolly, a seemingly normal girl rag doll. Her misfit problem is never explained on the special; many decades later, on NPR's Wait Wait… Don't Tell Me! news quiz show (broadcast December 8, 2007), Rudolph's producer, Arthur Rankin Jr., noted that Dolly's problem was psychological, caused by being abandoned by her owner (named as Sue in the special) and suffering depression from feeling uncared-for.
- Carl Banas voices the other toys which includes: a bird that swims, a cowboy who rides an ostrich, a train with square wheels on his caboose, two teddy bears (one on a bicycle and one with wings), a boat that doesn't float, a set of clown nesting dolls with a wind-up mouse as the last one, a water pistol that shoots jelly, a plane that can't fly, and a scooter with two wheels in front and one in back.
The TV special, with the teleplay by Romeo Muller, introduced several new characters inspired by the song's lyrics. Muller told an interviewer shortly before his death that he would have preferred to base the teleplay on May's original book, but could not find a copy. Other than Burl Ives, all characters were portrayed by Canadian actors recorded at RCA studios in Toronto under the supervision of Bernard Cowan.
After the script, concept designs and storyboards for Rudolph were done by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and his staff of artists at Rankin/Bass in New York City, the company's trademark stop motion animation process, known as "Animagic", was filmed at MOM Productions in Tokyo with supervision by Tadahito Mochinaga and associate direction by Kizo Nagashima. Besides Rudolph, Mochinaga and the rest of the Japanese puppet animation staff are also known for their partnership with Rankin/Bass on their other "Animagic" productions almost throughout the 1960s, from The New Adventures of Pinocchio, to Willy McBean and his Magic Machine, to The Daydreamer and Mad Monster Party?.
Since those involved with the production had no idea of the future value of the stop-motion puppet figures used in the production, many were not preserved. Rankin claimed in 2007 to be in possession of an original Rudolph figure. Nine other puppets—including Santa and young Rudolph—were given to a secretary, who gave them to family members. Eventually seven were discarded. In 2005, the remaining two puppets of Rudolph and Santa were appraised on Antiques Roadshow; the episode aired in 2006 on PBS. At that time, their appraised value was between $8,000 and $10,000. The puppets had been damaged through years of rough handling by children and storage in an attic. Toy aficionado Kevin Kriess bought Santa and Rudolph in 2005; in 2007, he had both puppets restored by Screen Novelties, a Los Angeles-based collective of film directors specializing in stop motion animation with puppet fabricator Robin Walsh leading the project. The figures have been shown at conventions since then.
- Directed by Larry Roemer
- Produced by Arthur Rankin, Jr.
- Co-Producer: Jules Bass
- Written by Romeo Muller
- Adapted from the Story by Robert L. May
- Adapted from the Song by Johnny Marks
- Music and Lyrics by Johnny Marks
- Associate Director: Kizo Nagashima
- Recording Engineers: Bill Giles, Alan Mirchin, Ralph Friedman
- Sound Effects: Walter Gustafson
- Recording Supervisor: Bernard Cowan
- "Animagic" Supervisor: Tadahito Mochinaga (aka Tad Mochinaga)
- Continuity Design: Anthony Peters
- Orchestrations by Maury Laws
Original 1964 NBC broadcast edit
This version has the NBC "living color" peacock at the introduction. It includes the original end credits, where an elf drops presents which list all the technical credits. It also includes commercials which were exclusively for GE small appliances with some of the same animated elves from the main program introducing each of the products, and closing NBC network bumpers, including promos for the following week's episodes of GE College Bowl and Meet the Press, which were presumably pre-empted that Sunday for the inaugural 5:30 PM (EST) telecast. The College Bowl quiz show was also sponsored by GE. The original does not include Santa traveling to the Island of Misfit Toys, but does include a scene near the end of the special in which Yukon Cornelius discovers a peppermint mine near Santa's workshop. He can be seen throughout the special tossing his pickax into the air, sniffing, then licking the end that contacts the snow or ice. Discarded in 1965 to make room for Santa traveling to the Island of Misfit toys, the audience was left to assume that Cornelius was attempting to find either silver or gold by taste alone.
The 1965 broadcast also included a new duet between Rudolph and Hermey called "Fame and Fortune", which replaced a scene in which the same characters sang "We're a Couple of Misfits". Viewers of the 1964 special complained that Santa was not shown fulfilling his promise to the Misfit Toys (to include them in his annual toy delivery). In reaction, a new scene for subsequent rebroadcasts was produced with Santa making his first stop at the Island to pick up the toys. This is the ending that has been shown on all telecasts and video releases ever since. Until sometime in the 1970s the special aired without additional cuts, but eventually more commercial time was required by the network. In 1978, several sequences were deleted to make room for more advertising: the instrumental bridge from "We Are Santa's Elves" featuring the elf orchestra, additional dialogue by Burl Ives, and the "Peppermint Mine" scene resolving the fate of Yukon Cornelius. The special's 1993 restoration saw "Misfits" returned to its original film context, and the 2004 DVD release showcases "Fame and Fortune" as a separate musical number.
1998–2007 CBS telecasts
Most of the 1965 deletions were restored in 1998, and "Fame and Fortune" was replaced with the original "We're a Couple of Misfits" reprise. The "Peppermint Mine" scene was not restored; it has not aired on CBS since the mid 70s.
Starting in 2005, CBS aired the video of the "Fame and Fortune" scene with the soundtrack replaced by an edited version of "We're a Couple of Misfits". The special has been edited to make more time for commercial advertising by shortening some musical numbers.
CBS telecasts since 2008
"Fame and Fortune" has once again been replaced with "We're a Couple of Misfits". Additional cuts have been made for more commercial time.
When Rudolph was first issued on VHS and LaserDisc by Family Home Entertainment and Broadway Video from 1989 to 1997 under the Christmas Classics Series label, the 1965 rebroadcast print described above was used. All current video prints of Rudolph by Classic Media are a compendium of the two previous telecast versions of the special. All the footage in the current versions follow the original NBC airing (without the original GE commercials) up until the "Peppermint Mine" scene, followed by the final act of the 1965 edit (with the Island of Misfit Toys finale and the 1965 alternate credits in place of the original end credit sequence).
In 1998, the special was released by Sony Wonder on VHS. In 2000, it was released on DVD, and on Blu-ray Disc in 2010 (although the Blu-ray does not contain the bonus features from the previous DVD release.) This edit has been made available in original color form by former rights holders Classic Media, (which in 2012 became the DreamWorks Classics division of DreamWorks Animation, and finally in 2016, part of Universal Pictures) As previously mentioned, this is also the version currently airing on CBS, albeit in edited form to accommodate more commercial time. In November 2014, Classic Media released a 50th anniversary edition of the special on Blu-ray. Walmart released an exclusive 50th anniversary Blu-ray edition with a storybook.
The songs and incidental music were all written by Johnny Marks, with Maury Laws supervising. In addition to the songs previously mentioned, the score also includes the film's love theme "There's Always Tomorrow", sung by Clarice after Rudolph is kicked out of the reindeer games. Marks' holiday standard "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" appears as instrumental background music when Rudolph first arrives at the Reindeer Games. Also included in the soundtrack is an instrumental version of Marks' setting of the Christmas hymn "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."
In 1964, an LP record of the soundtrack was released on Decca Records. It contained all the original songs performed as they are in the special, with the exception of Burl Ives' material, which has been re-recorded. MCA Special Products released the soundtrack on CD in June 1995. It is an exact duplication of the original LP released in 1964. Tracks 1-9 are the original soundtrack selections while tracks 10-19 are the same songs performed by the Decca Concert Orchestra. The song "Fame and Fortune" is not contained on either release. On November 30, 2004 the soundtrack was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling over 500,000 copies.
Books and other items related to the show have in some cases misspelled "Hermey" as "Herbie". Rich Goldschmidt, who wrote Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Making of the Rankin/Bass Holiday Classic, says the scripts by Romeo Muller show the spelling to be "Hermey".
A Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer video game was released on November 9, 2010. The adaptation was published by Red Wagon Games for the Wii and Nintendo DS, and was developed by High Voltage Software and Glyphic Entertainment respectively. The Wii version was received poorly, and garnered extremely negative reviews from sites such as IGN giving it a 1.5/10.
- Rudolph's Shiny New Year (1976), a special that first aired on ABC and is still aired annually on both ABC and Freeform.
- Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July (1979), a feature-length special that paired Rudolph with the song-inspired character Frosty the Snowman.
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys (2001), a direct-to-video computer-animated film that is considered[by whom?] an unofficial sequel to the 1964 film.
- "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - 4D Attraction" (2016), A faithful, 10-minute stop motion story adaptation in the form of a 4D film for SimEx-Iwerks; produced by Bent Image Lab and directed by Chel White.
Parodies of, and homages to, Rudolph
The television special's familiarity to American audiences through its annual rebroadcasts, along with its primitive stop-motion animation that is easy to recreate with modern technology and the special's ambiguous copyright status, has lent itself to numerous parodies and homages over the years.
Films by Corky Quakenbush
Animator Corky Quakenbush has produced parodies of Rudolph for several American television shows:
- In its December 16, 1995 episode, the Fox Network's comedy series MADtv aired "Raging Rudolph", which also parodied Martin Scorsese's films. In it, Sam The Snowman narrates in a Joe Pesci-like voice how Rudolph and Hermey got violent Mafia-style revenge on their tormentors. This was followed by two sequels: "The Reinfather", spoofing The Godfather trilogy and "A Pack of Gifts Now", spoofing Apocalypse Now.
- A 2001 episode of That '70s Show, titled "An Eric Forman Christmas", featured a subplot where Kelso was taunted by his friends for still watching "kiddie shows" like Rudolph even though he was in high school. A dream sequence produced and directed by Quakenbush, Kelso himself appears in stop-motion form with Rudolph and Santa who encourage him to continue watching their show.
- In December 2005, the George Lopez Show featured an animated segment in which Lopez sees a stop-motion version of himself on television in a Rudolph-style special mirroring the theme of the holiday episode.
Other parodies of Rudolph
- In the stop-motion animated film The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Jack looks through a book version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to find a logical answer to explain Christmas to the other citizens of Halloween Town. Later, Zero, the ghost dog, has a magnificently glowing pumpkin nose, which is bright enough to break through the fog that Sally has conjured up. Jack lets Zero go to the head of his skeleton reindeer team and light the way for him.
- Chel White, of Bent Image Lab, directed two parodies that played on Saturday Night Live', on Robert Smigel's TV Funhouse:
- In a 2001 TV Funhouse episode, Sam the Snowman refuses to narrate the story because of the September 11, 2001 attacks. He then takes two children to Ground Zero at New York City, but Santa Claus convinces him to narrate the story, because people need comforting stories like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Sam decided to narrate the tale, but was immediately interrupted by a special news report.
- In 2004, TV Funhouse referenced the Red state-blue state divide. In the segment, Santa hangs out with liberal celebrities Natalie Merchant, Margaret Cho, Al Franken, and Moby while skipping over the Red states ("screw the red states, voting for that dumbass president just because of that moral values crap. I don't want any part of them!"). Rudolph's red nose turns blue.
- In 2004, for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer's 40th anniversary, CBS produced stop motion promos for their programming line-up, done in the style of Rankin/Bass animation. Appearing as elves in the CBS promos were puppet versions of CBS stars Jeff Probst from Survivor, Ray Romano and Doris Roberts from Everybody Loves Raymond, William Petersen and Marg Helgenberger from CSI, Charlie Sheen from Two and a Half Men, Phil Simms and Greg Gumbel from The NFL on CBS, and late-night talk show host David Letterman. A new stop-motion animation featuring Rudolph and Santa meeting even more CBS network stars was also aired in 2005.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 made numerous references to the special in their movie hecklings, such as Rudolph's line "I'm cute!! I'm cuute!! She said I'm cuuuuuutte!!!!". In episode 321, which screened Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, the MST3K cast had their own ideas for potential residents on the Island of Misfit Toys including Toaster Dolls, Patrick Swayze's Roadhouse board game, the EZ Bake Foundry, and Mr. Mashed Potato Head.
Uses in advertising
- In 1964, Rankin & Bass produced several commercials for the General Electric-sponsored broadcast.
- In November 2007, the Aflac insurance company released a commercial that featured Rudolph, who has a cold but does not want to miss work. All his friends say he will be unable to pay for his expenses. Santa then tells them about Aflac. Charlie wonders what will happen if Rudolph is not better by Christmas, but Rudolph thinks the Aflac duck can do the work. Rudolph gets better in a week, but Blitzen is sick, so the Aflac duck fills in for him.
- In 2009, Verizon began showing a commercial of the Misfit Toys with an AT&T phone. The characters wonder why it is there with all of its features but soon discover why, when the phone shows a map of where it has 3G coverage. (Verizon's ad campaign touts its much wider 3G coverage compared to AT&T's.) The toy airplane replies: "You're gonna fit right in here!" and falls on the ground laughing.
- Starting in 2011, there have been several Bing.com commercials, filmed to look like the same stop-motion style as the special, which feature several characters including Rudolph, Yukon Cornelius, Hermey, the Bumble, and the Misfit Toys.
- A 2012 commercial for Windows phone features Bumble the Abominable Snowman (with his full set of teeth), speed-dating and getting advice from friends through Live Tiles. A follow-up features Bumble at Santa's North Pole pool party, and Santa using Live Tiles on his new Windows Phone to help him give his elves the holiday-season toy production directives.
- A 2013 commercial for Nissan shows a woman in a dealership briefly entering a fantasy, wherein Santa's Elves, including Boss Elf and Hermey, have expanded their manufacturing line to include Nissan cars. Furthermore, the Bumble makes an appearance test driving one to his obvious approval.
- CBS celebrated the special's 50th anniversary in 2014 with Rudolph and Sam the Snowman celebrating with cast members from The Big Bang Theory and NCIS while passing by their studio lots.
- In 2014, the United States Postal Service used four characters (Rudolph, Hermey, Yukon Cornelius, and Bumble) for the year's "Contemporary Christmas" stamp issue.
- In 2015, the Rudolph characters began appearing in commercials for AT&T with a stop-motion version of spokes-character Lily Adams.
The copyright of the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special lies in a gray area of federal copyright law. When the recording was originally published, the date of copyright (published in Roman numerals) was accidentally listed as 1164 (MCLXIV), omitting an M that should have been present (1964 in Roman numerals is MCMLXIV); this mistake was not corrected with subsequent edits and remains on televised prints to this day. The songs were validly and separately copyrighted, and the original character on which the special was based also remains under copyright and trademark protection, extending some indirect copyright protection to the special as a derivative work. (A number of films, such as It's a Wonderful Life and His Girl Friday, fall under similar circumstances: a public domain film loosely based on a copyrighted work.)
Assuming the error in the copyright is considered substantial enough to invalidate it (U.S. copyright law before 1988 required works to have a valid date on a copyright notice, while providing some leeway in regard to non-substantial errors), the error puts large portions of the special not directly tied to the songs or original story into the public domain. (Some of the characters, particularly Santa Claus and the adult reindeer, relied on material that was already public domain anyway; all of the characters except Rudolph, most of the images, and large portions of the spoken soundtrack would thus be public domain in this interpretation.) Because of the indirect copyright protections and uncertainty over their extent, permission is still required to show the program as a whole. The extensive derivative works seen in popular culture are likely a byproduct of this uncertain copyright status.
- List of animated feature films
- List of Christmas television specials
- List of stop-motion films
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Wii Game)
- "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer celebrates 50th anniversary". CBS News. December 9, 2014. Archived from the original on December 10, 2014.
- "Rudolph all red-nosed over stamp of approval". United States Postal Service. November 6, 2014. Archived from the original on December 24, 2014.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the nation’s longest-running and highest-rated Christmas television special 'went down in history' to receive its stamp of approval today. The set of four Limited Edition Forever stamps depicting Rudolph, Hermey, Santa and Bumble were created from still television frames from the special which premiered 50 years ago in 1964.
- Young, John (September 14, 2010). "Billie Mae Richards, voice of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, dies at 88". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on December 2, 2011.
- Ford, Don (November 19, 2010). "'Rudolph' remembered". My View. Halton, Ontario: InsideHalton.com. Archived from the original on December 2, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
- "Not My Job". Wait Wait… Don't Tell Me!. NPR. 2007-12-08.
- Braithwaite, Dennis, "Canadian voices", The Globe and Mail, December 8, 1964, p. 31.
- Togneri, Chris (December 12, 2007). ""Zelienople man saves Santa, Rudolph"". triblive.com. Retrieved February 8, 2017.
- "Rudolph & Santa Characters from 'Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer'". Antiques Roadshow. PBS. May 15, 2006. Archived from the original on December 2, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
- Goodman, Brenda (2006-12-23). "Rudolph and Santa, as Good as New". The New York Times.
- YouTube video of original bumpers and commercials from the 1964 NBC telecast of Rudolph
- TV Party.com: Rudolph--Behind The Scenes, Part II, by Rick Goldschmidt
- Lieberman, David (July 23, 2012). "DreamWorks Animation Agrees To Pay $155M For Classic Media". Deadline.com. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
- "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: 50th Anniversary Collector's Edition Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. August 19, 2014. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
- Torreano, Bradley. "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas - Burl Ives". AllMusic. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
- "Ask SAM: 'It's a Wonderful Life' pre-empted by 'Sound of Music Live'". Winston-Salem Journal. 20 December 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
- Steimer, Kristine (December 15, 2010). "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Review". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
- "Raging Rudolph". Video.
- "The Reinfather". Video.
- "A Pack of Gifts Now". Video.
- "General Electric Rankin Bass Rudolph Commercials (1964)". YouTube. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
- Aflac - Rudolph.
- "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer". United States Postal Service. November 6, 2014. Archived from the original on December 4, 2014.
Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps. The Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer stamps are being issued as Forever® stamps.
- Heldenfels, Rich (19 December 2013). "Mailbag: 'Rudolph' numerals wrong in opening credits". Akron Beacon-Journal.
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