You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, you know Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen, but do you recall, the MOST famous reindeer of all?! It’s our favorite Rudolph! This year, the classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer stop motion animated special by Rankin/Bass turned 50 years old! Before you tune-in tonight, here are some more fun facts about the longest running Christmas special in TV history!
1. Rudolph first appeared on television on December 6, 1964, but Rudolph and his glowing nose were known well before that, as he starred in a department store coloring book in 1939. Writer Robert L. May considered calling him Reginald or Rollo before he settled on Rudolph. We’re happy that he stuck with Rudolph. We wouldn’t want it any other way.
2. Although Rudolph is a boy reindeer, in the special he’s voiced by female actress, Billie Mae Richards, who was also the voice of Tenderheart Bear in the first two Care Bear Movies. Her Rudolph co-star, Paul Soles, who plays Hermey, was also the voice of Spiderman in the 1967 animated series. Mind blown!
3. In honor of the TV Special’s 50th Anniversary, the United States Post Office released festive Rudolph stamps. There are four designs: Rudolph, Hermey with Rudolph, Santa and The Abominable Snowman/Bumble. You can make your holiday cards extra festive this year with these designs.
4. The famous Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer song was inspired by Robert L. Mays children’s story and came before the TV special. Mays brother-in-law, Johnny Marks wrote the song. Nice to keep it in the family! It was recorded by singer Gene Autry and was a number one song on the Billboard charts in 1949, selling almost 2 million copies. Since then many singers have recorded the song including Harry Connick Jr., Jack Johnson, Jewel and even Alvin & the Chipmunks.
5. This special is not the only one that Rudolph stars in. There is a sequel called Rudolph’s Shiny New Year, the feature-length Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys that was released on DVD. Rudolph is everywhere!
6. Throughout the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special you will see many animals. There are actually 43 that are featured: 18 reindeer, 5 dogs, 3 baby birds, 3 seals, 3 polar bears, 2 rabbits, 2 squirrels, 2 birds, 2 raccoons, 2 owls and 1 fish! (But no partridge in a pear tree?)
7. Here’s a reindeer game for you (And this isn’t a fact, but it could be fun)…Every time Rudolph’s nose lights up, eat a piece of candy! (Get your parents’ permission first!)
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer shines tonight (Tuesday, December 9) at 8/7c PM on CBS.
By Dema Hanna