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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Trivia

Updated on December 26, 2013

Fun Facts About Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is the longest-running holiday special in television history, but Rudolph has a lot of other history behind him, too. Originally created in 1939 as a promotion for Montgomery Ward, Rudolph has been the star of his own comic book, was drawn by the popular kids' author and illustrator Richard Scarry, and appeared in another (now mostly forgotten) animated film directed by legendary producer Max Fleischer. What don't you know about Rudolph? Read on to learn more.

(Image of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer DVD cover provided by amazon. See link below.)

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Montgomery Ward
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Montgomery Ward

Rudolph was Created as an Advertising Giveaway

Invented for Montgomery Ward

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created in 1939 by Robert May, who was an advertising copywriter for Montgomery Ward. The company had been buying and giving away coloring books each year and decided they could save money by creating their own book. So May wrote Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and it was illustrated by Denver Gillen, who also worked in Montgomery Ward's advertising department. The back cover of the book said, "Montgomery Ward wishes you a Merry Christmas."

(Image of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer book cover provided by amazon)

Was Rudolph a Drunk?

According to Toonopedia, Montgomery Ward execs didn't like the idea of a red-nosed reindeer because they thought it implied drunkenness.

Rudolph was a Film Star Before 1964 - His first animated movie

The well-known 1964 TV special created by Rankin/Bass was not the first animated movie starring the famous reindeer. An earlier version, released in 1944, was the last cartoon directed by Max Fleischer, the producer behind the Popeye and Betty Boop cartoons that were popular from the 1910s until the 1940s. In this version, Santa's sleigh nearly collides with a plane and Santa's reindeer get stuck in a tree before Santa visits Rudolph's home and invites the young deer to guide this sleigh. Rudolph leaves a note for his parents and takes off in the middle of the night with Santa to save Christmas.

Rudolph Was Drawn by Richard Scarry - The popular author is best known for Richard Scarry's Busytown

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.

DC Comics may best be known for its superhero comic books starring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and others. But they also made Rudolph a star. From 1950 to 1962, they published a new Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer comic book every December. They released another issue in 1972.

Today the comics are quite collectible and can often be found on eBay.

(Image of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer comic book #1 provided by DC Comics database)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is the longest-running Christmas special.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer DVD - The classic 1964 animated special on DVD

This animated TV special is a classic. Starring Burl Ives as Sam the Snowman narrator, this story of a misfit reindeer who saves Christmas is great for the whole family and features wonderful songs like "Holly Jolly Christmas."

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

Amazon review: This classic 1964 television special featuring Rudolph and his misfit buddies set the standard for stop-motion animation for an entire generation before Tim Burton darkly reinvented it in the early 1990s. Burl Ives narrates as Sam the Snowman, telling and singing the story of a rejected reindeer who overcomes prejudice and saves Christmas one particularly blustery year. Along the way, he meets an abundance of unforgettable characters: his dentally obsessed elf pal Hermey; the affable miner Yukon Cornelius and his motley crew of puppies; the scary/adorable Abominable Snow Monster; a legion of abandoned, but still chatty, toys; and a rather grouchy Santa. In addition to the title song that inspired it, this 53-minute tape is crammed with catchy tunes such as "Silver and Gold" and "Holly Jolly Christmas." Those who grew up looking forward to watching Rudolph every Christmas season will undoubtedly be able to recite the quotable quotes ("I'm cuuuute. She said I'm cuuuute." "Herbie doesn't like to make toys.") as well as any Casablanca cult audience. --Kimberly Heinrichs


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Trailer

The trailer from the 1964 Rankin/Bass TV special.

According to IMDB, Sam the Snowman, who was voiced by Burl Ives in the animated TV special, was deliberately designed to resemble screenwriter Romeo Muller.

Muller wrote the teleplay for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, as well as other holiday classics such as The Little Drummer Boy, Frosty the Snowman, and Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town.

Rudolph Was a Woman

Rudolph was voiced by a woman, Billie Mae Richards. In the credits, she was listed as Billie Richards to disguise the fact she was female.

Hermey Doesn't Have Pointed Ears - Hermey was the misfit elf

Hermey the Elf, the misfit who wanted to be a dentist rather than work in Santa' s workshop, is the only elf without pointed ears. He's also the only male elf in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with hair on top of his head.

Rudolph Was an Inspiration for Olive the Other Reindeer - A dog who wants to fly with Santa

There is a well-known line in the song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer that starts, "All of the other reindeer..." This line was used in the book Olive the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh. In the book, a dog named Olive mishears the phrase as "Olive the other reindeer," and then sets out on a quest to become Santa's next flying reindeer. The book was later made into an animated special starring Drew Barrymore as the voice of Olive.

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Did You Learn Some New Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Trivia?

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I certainly never heard the issue of Rudolph possibly ever being perceived as drunk....everyone 'nose' he lighted up the night!