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Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer TV Special
RUDOLPH: Behind the Scenes


Rudolph TV Special castIt's now been a few years since I wrote the first two parts of my TVparty articles and I thought it was time for an update. In fact, the TVparty features prompted the release of my book THE MAKING OF THE RANKIN/BASS HOLIDAY CLASSIC: RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (MISER BROS PRESS) in 2001 and this article is an update to that book.

In the last few years there have been photos that have been found, ANIMAGIC figures discovered and RUDOLPH even celebrated his 40th TV birthday. There have been many bad things related to the classic RANKIN/BASS RUDOLPH TV special and many good things as well; let's start with the bad things and end with the good!

In 1998, Classic Media's then President Alexander Drosin asked Arthur Rankin, Jr. to do an introduction for the DVD release of both RUDOLPH and FROSTY THE SNOWMAN. Mr. Rankin graciously agreed to participate in exchange for the RANKIN/BASS name to be carried on the DVD front cover (which it was).

Arthur could be seen in the filmed introduction holding my book, THE ENCHANTED WORLD OF RANKIN/BASS: A PORTFOLIO, discussing the story of RUDOLPH complete with behind-the-scenes photos provided by myself - at no charge - to make sure this type of extra reached the DVD for the many fans of RANKIN/BASS and RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER. I also provided the front cover image for that DVD release (for little cost and a photo credit).

While the 1998 release of the DVD was not completely loaded with extras, it did have the re-mastered song FAME & FORTUNE, an NBC promo from 1966 and the Arthur Rankin introduction - which made for a nice package.

In 2003, Arthur Rankin was graced with a night in his honor at the NEW YORK MUSEUM OF TELEVISION & RADIO. Mr. Rankin graciously had me fly out and participate in this great event in RANKIN/BASS history.

After I arrived in New York, we both learned that the newest DVDs no longer featured the RANKIN/BASS name on the front cover. It seemed odd but Mr. Rankin was told it was a mistake that would be corrected the following year.

It seems that Alexander Drosin left the company and new people moved in... none of which showed up to the MUSEUM OF TELEVISION & RADIO tribute.

Christmas Special : RudolphIn 2004, not only was the mistake on the DVD front cover not corrected but a DESTINY'S CHILD DVD and CD were added to the RUDOLPH package and the special even aired a second time on CBS - with the DESTINY'S CHILD video over the ending!?!?

I will never forget (the show's composer) Maury Laws' reaction of disbelief to this mess.

Needless to say, the 2007 release of the RANKIN/BASS RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER DVD no longer has the Arthur Rankin, Jr. introduction on the single DVD or the box set (which has a book-type packaging). This is a shame for RANKIN/BASS collector's that didn't already own the earlier DVD and makes no sense whatsoever as an attempt to get people to re-purchase the DVD.

Some fans are telling me that scenes have been deleted from the 2005 DVDs and from the broadcast on CBS that year (in so-called "HIGH DEFINITION" which is a joke).

Rudolph Christmas SpecialThe soundtrack to the song 'WE'RE A COUPLE OF MISFITS' was placed over the animated sequence for 'FAME & FORTUNE' and it didn't match up. The musical section of 'WE ARE SANTA'S ELVES' was missing again as well. Obviously, this restoration was done by people who didn't care and had no knowledge of the classic special. It doesn't even sound like they had a copy of my book.

The PEPPERMINT MINE sequence has still never aired on CBS; it hasn't been seen on the networks since 1964 and I am not even sure if it is on the 2007 release of the DVD.

There is also a back story to this. In 2001, I heard from Bernard Cowan's son Elliot. Bernard Cowan was the voice actor supervisor for the early RANKIN/BASS specials and series. He assembled the staff of these great actors in Canada for RUDOLPH. Ellie is a film maker and has many rare photos that his dad took at the RUDOLPH sessions and even unused dialogue and demos of the songs. For instance, the SAM THE SNOWMAN songs were originally recorded by Larry D. Mann (Yukon Cornelius) and he also provided the dialogue for Sam.

Elliot made a valiant effort at trying to get Classic Media to do a 'MAKING OF' special for the DVD release and even, possibly, for CBS. He is based in Canada and can interview the surviving actors and assemble the whole thing. As you know, this never happened. It fell on deaf ears at Classic Media. They and Sony felt the Destiny's Child thing served this classic special much better than a documentary featuring the original creators and cast that made RUDOLPH successful for 40+ years!

Now on to some of the good news!

Rudolph TV SpecialBillie Mae Richards and I became great friends shortly after the 'MAKING OF RUDOLPH' book was released. She loved the book and even tried to get her neighbor Paul Soles (Hermey the elf) to come around to enjoying his RUDOLPH fame. Billie Mae and I appeared on many radio shows together in 2002-2004 and she could still do the voice. She was also featured in the Chicago Tribune and TV Guide.

In late 2005, Billie Mae suffered a stroke and is in the process of rehabilitation at age 85. Our prayers are with her. I am hopeful we will be talking about RUDOLPH again in 2007 together!

Burl Ives RecordingMany of the photos you see on this page are new and recently discovered shots that did not make my book. A few even came from an old NBC TV executive who sold his slides on Ebay. We also found an extremely rare 45 single release of Burl Ives' 'Holly Jolly Christmas' from Decca Records. This cover is even better than the LP cover.

The biggest piece of good news comes in the form of the discovery and purchase of the original ANIMAGIC figures of RUDOLPH and SANTA in November, 2005 by timeandspacetoys.com. Owner Kevin Kreiss purchased the original figures from a private seller who had an aunt that worked as Arthur Rankin's secretary for some years. She had brought home the cast of characters from the office during one of the moves they made in New York.

Rudolph Christmas merchandiseOver the years, the figures were put out at Christmastime around the family tree and even played with by the children. They were also stored in an attic where the other characters (like Sam the Snowman and Yukon Cornelius) were melted together and discarded. At least Rudolph and Santa survived and have been restored. I contacted some of the original ANIMAGIC technicians to try to get parts made for these weathered guys to get them back to 1964 shape. (You'll see the amazing results on page 6 of this feature!)

There is a possibility that they may be used for replications that could be sold at some point. They will also be traveling around to various shows at the TIMEANDSPACETOYS.COM booth for all you RANKIN/BASS fans to enjoy, such as WIZARD WORLD in Chicago. They made their debut at a convention in PA in late-2005.

Rankin-Bass photoThe future of RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER is not exactly guided by a red lit nose these days but I will make sure that people don't forget about the creators ARTHUR RANKIN, JR. and JULES BASS and all the GREAT people that made the special last like: ROMEO MULLER, MAURY LAWS, JOHNNY MARKS, TONY PETERS, BILLIE MAE RICHARDS, PAUL SOLES, LARRY D. MANN, BILL GILES, KYOKO KITA, BARNARD COWAN, ALFIE SCOPP, PAUL KLIGMAN, HOROSHI TABATA, TAD MOCHINAGA, ICHIRO KOMURO, ROBERT MAY, JANIS ORENSTEIN, CARL BANAS, PEG DIXON, CORRINE CONLEY, LARRY ROEMER and the many Japanese animators at MOM Studios.

These are the people responsible for the longest-running, highest-rated TV special of all-time! I did about 100 radio and TV interviews for the holidays and these people are the ones I talk about.

The heart and the warmth that makes this show a part of many families' lives, generation after generation, comes from this group of people and no one can take that away from them! No one!


Rick Goldschmidt
RANKIN/BASS Historian/Biographer

Visit: rankinbass.com


Rudolph the red nosed reindeer TV Special

Rick Goldschmidt answers reader's questions
about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

PLUS: see the restored Rudolph and Santa models that debuted in 2006!

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Rudolph: Behind the Scenes
More Rudolph Mysteries Solved

Your Questions Answered

Rudolph Rarities

Rudolph and Santa Restored

Rudolph Merchandise

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