Monday, November 11, 2019

The Story of Rudolph 1939

Gene Autry's beloved song  asked ,“. . . but do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?” (Written in 1949 by Johnny Marks)

Generations of children have grown up watching the classic 1964 stop motion movie Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The story is narrated by Burle Ive as the voice of Sam the Snow Man. As with many holiday traditions, Rudolph was created as part of a marketing campaign.

The eight “tiny” reindeer were introduced in Clement Clarke Moore‘s famous poem, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”. So when did Rudolph come on the scene? The answer is in 1939, as part of a Montgomery Ward Department Store advertising campaign. 

That year Robert L. May, a copywriter for Montgomery Ward, created the character and wrote the story about the reindeer born in Santa’s barn, with the bright red proboscis that actually glowed. As the song goes, ‘They [the other reindeer] wouldn’t let poor Rudolph play in any reindeer games’. But that foggy eve came along and the rest is history. Everyone likes an underdog who saves the day.
Fun fact - Rudolph was born over a hundred years after his eight flying counterparts. For Montgomery Ward’s purpose, the publication of the story was to bring traffic to the store. And it did. The first year it sold a whopping 2.5 million copies, followed by over 3 million when it was reissued 7 years later.
Image result for cover of rudolph the red nosed reindeer
The 1964 movie was based on May’s story but added a few more characters, Hermey the Elf - who wanted to be a dentist,  Yukon Cornelius, and the Spotted Elephant, to name a few. There was a great soundtrack for the movie including Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, We are Santa’s Elves, There’s Always Tomorrow, The Most Wonderful Day of the Year, We’re a Couple of Misfits, Jingle, Jingle, Jingle, and Silver and Gold. 
RudolphTheRedNosedReindeer Soundtrack LP.jpg
There are several fun facts about the movie. The title song is second only to Big Crosby’s White Christmas in Christmas song sales. Gene Autry wasn’t impressed with the song and originally put it on the “B” side of another record he was recording at the time. After it became such a hit, it was responsible for the success of his Easter song, “Here Comes Peter Cottontail.” Also, the stopmation production of the movie was made in Japan.

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