Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer is a character created in a story and song by the same name. The story was created by Robert L. May in 1939 as part of his employment with Montgomery Ward.

The story is owned by The Rudolph Company, L.P. and has been sold in numerous forms including a popular song, a television special (done in stop-motion animation), and a feature film. Character Arts, LLC [1] manages the licensing for the Rudolph Company, L.P. Although the story and song are not public domain, Rudolph has become a figure of Christmas folklore.

The song tells the tale of Santa Claus's ninth and lead reindeer who possesses an unusually red-colored nose that gives off its own light (bioluminescence), powerful enough to illuminate the team's path through inclement winter weather.


The story

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. In its first year of publication, 2.4 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."

The song

Johnny Marks decided to adapt May's story into a song, which through the years has been recorded by many artists. It was first sung commercially by crooner Harry Brannon on New York city radio in the latter part of 1948 before Gene Autry recorded it formally in 1949, and has since filtered into the popular consciousness.

The lyric "All of the other reindeer" can be misheard in dialects with the cot-caught merger as the mondegreen "Olive, the other reindeer", and has given rise to another character featured in her own Christmas television special, Olive, the Other Reindeer.

The song in its Finnish translation, Petteri Punakuono, has led to Rudolph's general acceptance in the mythology as Joulupukki, the Finnish Santa's lead reindeer. However, in Finland, Santa's reindeer do not fly.

Autry's version of the song also holds the distinction of being the only number one hit to fall completely off the chart after hitting #1 the week of Christmas 1949.[1]. Nonetheless, it 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.[2]

Rudolph in the media

Theatrical cartoon short

Rudolph's first screen appearance came in 1944, in the form of a cartoon short produced by Max Fleischer for the Jam Handy Corporation, that was more faithful to May's original story than Marks's song (which had not yet been written).[3] It was reissued in 1948 with the song added.

On December 16, 2009, Mike Nelson featured this version in a live Rifftrax Christmas show in San Diego which was broadcast to select theaters in the United States.

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. Although it is one of the more memorable versions of the story in book form, it is apparently no longer in print. However, a revised Golden Books version of the storybook has since been issued.

Animated TV special

The reindeer made his television debut on NBC in 1964, when Rankin/Bass produced a stop-motion animated TV special.

In 1975, a sequel to the Rankin-Bass original special was produced, titled Rudolph's Shiny New Year, and then a third in 1979 titled Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July. The 2001 film Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys, while it used the same characters, was produced by a different company, and it's unclear whether or not it should be considered as part of this particular canon (see the next section).

Animated feature-length film

An animated feature film remake 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. Despite this it has garnered a base of dedicated fans as well as criticisms of many of the songs. Its inclusion of a villain character, Stormella, and a love interest, Zoey, for Rudolph as well as a small sidekick, Slyly, and a strong protector character 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 an older fawn named Arrow) during his formative years.

GoodTimes Entertainment, the producers of this film, 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 film, the sequel licensed the original characters from the Rankin-Bass special.

Comic books

National Periodical Publications, also known as DC Comics, published a series of 13 annuals titled Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer from 1950 to 1962. 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 (Mar/Apr 1980).


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 a character 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 with Robbie, Rudolph's name is mentioned freely in the film.

Michael Fry and T. Lewis have recently 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!!", adds Hammy). He appeared before R.J., Verne, and Hammy, enviously complaining about his brother's publicity and his anonymity.

Rudolph has a cousin, Leroy, in Joe Diffie's 1995 song "Leroy the Redneck Reindeer".

Also, 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 was Donner's son and his mother was a tan unnamed doe with long eyelashes who was simply called "Mrs. Donner." In GoodTimes's retelling, Rudolph's father was Blitzen, moving the reindeer up just a notch to probably avoid plagiarism, and Blitzen seemed to be somewhat younger than Donner telling by the sound of his voice. Also, Blitzen was married to a doe named Mitzi played by Debbie Reynolds. In this film, Rudolph's three uncles were the three reindeer Dasher, Comet, and Cupid. Arrow, Rudolph's rival, is Cupid's son, making the two cousins. Robert L. May's original book does not name Rudolph's parents.

See also


  1. ^ Casey Kasem American Top 40 8/4/1979
  2. ^ Kenneth T. Jackson, Karen Markoe, Arnie Markoe, The Scribner encyclopedia of American lives. Simon and Schuster, 1998, p.28
  3. ^ - Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer - Christmas Video Download Special - Classic Cartoon

External links

Preceded by
"Mule Train" by Frankie Laine
U.S. Billboard Best Sellers in Stores number-one single
January 7, 1950 (Gene Autry)
Succeeded by
"I Can Dream, Can't I" by The Andrews Sisters


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Proper noun

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

  1. A legendary reindeer with a nose that glows red light.
  2. A Christmas song about the reindeer.


External links

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