|Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer|
Promotional advertisement for the original NBC airing.
|Directed by||Larry Roemer, Kizo Nagashima|
|Written by||Romeo Muller, Robert May|
|Narrated by||Burl Ives
(as Sam The Snowman)
|Music by||Johnny Marks|
|Production company||Rankin/Bass Productions|
|Original channel||NBC (1964–1971)|
|Release date||December 6, 1964|
|Running time||55 minutes|
|Followed by||Rudolph's Shiny New Year|
|Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer|
| Cover of one of the books of the Robert L. May story by Maxton Publishers, Inc.|
|Last appearance||2001 (films and series)|
|Created by||Robert L. May|
|Nickname(s)||<u>Rudolph In Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie: Red, Rudy, Rudy the Red nosed Reject.|
|Title||The Red Nosed Reindeer|
|Family||Donner (father in 1964 film)|
Mrs. Donner (mother in 1964 film)
Blitzen (father in 1998 film)
Mitzi (mother in 1998 film)
Rusty (brother in Holidaze: The Christmas That Almost Didn't Happen)
Arrow (cousin in 1998 film)
|Spouse(s)||Clarice(1964 T.V Special & 2001 Animated Film) / Zoey in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie|
|Children||Robbie (son in the Robbie the Reindeer films|
- Santa Claus is voiced by Jim Cummings aka Stan Francis
- Santa's reindeer are all seen and mentioned by name. Donner and Comet (both voiced by Paul Kligman) have speaking roles:
- Donner is Rudolph's father
- Comet is the coach of the Reindeer Games
- Dasher is mentioned as a father of one of the yearling bucks at the games
The TV special, with the teleplay by Romeo Muller, introduced several new characters inspired by the song's lyrics. Muller told an interviewer shortly before his death that he would have preferred to base the teleplay on May's original book, but could not find a copy.
- Sam the Snowman - The narrator, voiced by and closely resembling folk singer Burl Ives, who contributes several tunes throughout the program. Among the more well-known songs from the special is Johnny Marks' "A Holly Jolly Christmas," which became a Christmas standard in its own right.
- Hermey (Voiced by Paul Soles) Hermey is a shy, meek elf who dreams of becoming a dentist instead of making toys. In the end, his supervisor agrees to let him open a dentist's office after Christmas.
- Clarice is voiced and sung by Janis Orenstein. Although real reindeer of both sexes grow antlers, neither Clarice nor any other doe in the special has antlers. Also setting them apart, the female reindeer have much lighter fur than their male counterparts.
- Yukon Cornelius (Voiced by Larry D. Mann) Yukon is portrayed as a boisterous prospector whose goal is to find silver and gold to get rich quick. A running gag throughout the special involves him throwing his pickaxe in the air, pulling it out of the ice, sniffing it, licking it to see if he struck rich, and stating, "Nothing." In the end, he becomes the proud owner of a new peppermint mine near Santa's workshop. (The peppermint mine scene was cut out in the special throughout the years since its premiere.)
- Mrs. Santa (voiced by Peg Dixon) is Santa's devoted wife, concerned with his moodiness and lack of appetite. Santa calls her by the nickname "Mamma."
- Mrs. Donner is Rudolph's mother and Donner's wife. The character is voiced by Corinne Conley.
- Elf Foreman (voiced by Carl Banas) is a portly and ill-tempered foreman and songleader of Santa's workshop. He wears a green hat and coat and a goatee styled to resemble popular songleader Mitch Miller and uses Lawrence Welk's famous introduction, "And a one-a, and a two-a, and a three-a!" before conducting the elves in the song "We Are Santa's Elves" for Santa.
- Fireball is voiced by Alfie Scopp (who also voices the other young bucks)
- The Abominable Snow Monster of the North (a.k.a. The Bumble)
- Tall Elf is a minor character who appears in the "We Are Santa's Elves" and "Holly Jolly Christmas" scenes. Tall, thin and bespectacled, this character was an integral part of the stop-motion commercial and subsequent print ads produced for General Electric for the inaugural broadcast. In Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys, he is renamed Hank.
The "Island of Misfit Toys", another addition to the original story, is an island sanctuary where defective and unwanted toys are sent. It is during the initial scene on the Island that Johnny Marks standard, "The Most Wonderful Day of the Year" is performed by the inhabitants. Toy versions of nearly every character from this show were produced in the 1990s. Among its inhabitants are:
- King Moonracer is voiced by Stan Francis. A winged lion who rules the entire Island of Misfit Toys. His appearance is similar to the mystical being, the griffin, a creature who is part lion and part bird.
- Charlie-In-The-Box is voiced by Alfie Scopp and is a misnamed, but otherwise seemingly normal jack-in-the-box who is the island's sentry.
- Spotted Elephant is a polka dotted elephant who also works as King Moonracer's footman in his castle.
- Dolly is voiced by Corinne Conley and is a seemingly normal girl rag doll with red hair and a red gingham dress. Her misfit problem is never explained on the special; many decades later, on NPR's Wait Wait… Don't Tell Me! news quiz show (broadcast December 8, 2007), Rudolph's producer, Arthur Rankin Jr., noted that Dolly's problem was psychological, caused by being abandoned by her owner (named as Sue in the special) and suffering depression from feeling unloved.
- Other toys (all voiced by Carl Banas) include a bird who swims instead of flies, a cowboy who rides an ostrich, a train with square wheels on its caboose, a bear on a bicycle, a boat that cannot stay afloat, a set of clown nesting dolls with a wind-up mouse as the last one, a water pistol that shoots jelly, an airplane that cannot fly, and a scooter with two wheels in front and one in back.
This version has the NBC "living color" peacock at the introduction. It includes the original end credits, where elves are seen delivering boxes which list all the technical credits. It also includes commercials which were exclusively for GE small appliances with some of the same animated elves from the main program introducing each of the products, and closing NBC network bumpers, including promos for the following week's episodes of GE College Bowl and Meet the Press, which were presumably pre-empted that Sunday for the inaugural 5:30 PM (EST) telecast. The College Bowl quiz show was also sponsored by GE. The original does not include Santa traveling to the Island of Misfit Toys, but does include a scene near the end of the special in which Yukon Cornelius discovers a peppermint mine near Santa's workshop. He can be seen throughout the special tossing his pickax into the air, sniffing, then licking the end that contacts the snow or ice. Discarded in 1965 to make room for Santa traveling to the Island of Misfit toys, the audience was left to assume that Cornelius was attempting to find either silver or gold by taste alone.
Viewers were so taken by the forlorn Misfit Toys that many complained Santa was not seen fulfilling his promise to include them in his annual delivery. In reaction, a new scene for subsequent rebroadcasts was produced with Santa making his first stop at the Island to pick up the toys. This is the ending that has been shown on all telecasts and video releases ever since. However, to make room, several sequences were deleted: the instrumental bridge from "We Are Santa's Elves" featuring the elf orchestra, Rudolph & Hermey's duet reprise of "We're a Couple of Misfits," additional dialogue by Burl Ives, and the "Peppermint Mine" scene resolving the fate of Yukon Cornelius. A new duet, "Fame and Fortune," was shot for the revised version and put in place of "We're a Couple of Misfits." The special's 1998 restoration saw "Misfits" returned to its original film context, while the 2004 DVD release showcases "Fame and Fortune" as a separate number.
The above 1965 deletions were returned to the film, but "Fame and Fortune" was not included and was replaced with the original "We're a Couple of Misfits" reprise. The "Peppermint Mine" scene has still not been restored; to date, it has never aired on CBS.
Starting sometime in the 2000s, CBS aired the video for "Fame and Fortune" synced with an edited version of "We're a Couple of Misfits." Beyond that, the special has been edited further due to more commercial time by being time-compressed with some musical numbers shortened.
"Fame and Fortune" has once again been replaced with "We're a Couple of Misfits," with the special itself undergoing further cuts for more commercial time.
50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray coverWhen Rudolph was first issued on video by previous owner Broadway Video, the 1965 rebroadcast print was used with the changes listed above under 1965-1997 telecasts. All current video prints of Rudolph by Classic Media are a compendium of the two previous telecast versions of the special. All the footage in the current versions follow the original NBC airing (without the original GE commercials) up until the "Peppermint Mine" scene, followed by the final act of the 1965 edit (with the Island of Misfit Toys finale and the 1965 alternate credits in place of the original end credit sequence).
In 1998, the special was released by Sony Wonder on VHS. In 2000, it was released on DVD, and on Blu-ray Disc in 2010 (although the Blu-ray does not contain the bonus features from the previous DVD release.) This edit has been made available in original color form by former rights holders Classic Media, which in 2012 became the DreamWorks Classics division of DreamWorks Animation. As previously mentioned, this is also the version currently airing on CBS, albeit in edited form to accommodate more commercial time. In November of 2014, Classic Media released a 50th anniversary edition of the special on Blu-ray. Walmart released an exclusive 50th anniversary Blu-ray edition with a storybook.
Main article: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (soundtrack)1995 CD cover*The songs and incidental music were all written by Johnny Marks, with Maury Laws supervising. In addition to the songs previously mentioned, the score also includes the film's love theme "There's Always Tomorrow", sung by Clarice after Rudolph is kicked out of the reindeer games. Marks' holiday standard "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" appears as instrumental background music when Rudolph first arrives at the Reindeer Games. Also included in the soundtrack is an instrumental version of Marks' setting of the Christmas hymn "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." In 1964, an LP record of the soundtrack was released on Decca Records. It contained all the original songs performed as they are in the special, with the exception of Burl Ives' material, which has been re-recorded. MCA Special Products released the soundtrack on CD in June 1995. It is an exact duplication of the original LP released in 1964. Tracks 1-9 are the original soundtrack selections while tracks 10-19 are the same songs performed by the Decca Concert Orchestra. The song "Fame and Fortune" is not contained on either release. On November 30, 2004 the soundtrack was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling over 500,000 copies.
Ives re-recorded "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "A Holly Jolly Christmas", with different arrangements, for his own album Have a Holly Jolly Christmas in 1965.
Since those involved with the production had no idea of the value of the figures used in the production, they were not preserved. Santa and Rudolph were given to a secretary, who gave them to family members. Kevin Kriess bought Santa and Rudolph in 2005 and, because they were in such bad shape, had them restored by Screen Novelties International. The figures have been shown at conventions since then.
The Rankin/Bass special, which currently airs on CBS, inspired numerous television sequels made by the same studio:
- The best-known Rudolph sequel is Rudolph's Shiny New Year from 1976 which first aired on ABC and is still aired annually on ABC Family.
- The feature-length Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July paired Rudolph with another famous creation inspired by a song - Frosty the Snowman, and was released in the summer of 1979.
- The Direct-to-DVD film Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys that came out in 2001 was considered an unofficial sequel to the film.
Books and other items related to the show have in some cases misspelled "Hermey" as "Herbie". Rich Goldschmidt, who wrote Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Making of the Rankin/Bass Holiday Classic, says the scripts by Romeo Muller show the spelling to be "Hermey".
Based on this special, a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer video game was released on November 9, 2010. The adaptation was published by Red Wagon Games for the Wii and Nintendo DS systems, and was developed by High Voltage Software and Glyphic Entertainment, respectively. The Wii version was received poorly, and garnered extremely negative reviews from sites such as IGN giving it a 1.5/10.
The television special's familiarity to American audiences through its annual rebroadcasts, coupled with its primitive stop-motion animation that is easy to recreate with modern technology, has lent itself to numerous parodies and homages over the years.
Animator Corky Quakenbush has produced parodies of Rudolph for several American television shows:
- In its December 16, 1995 episode, the Fox Network's comedy series MADtv aired "Raging Rudolph", which also parodied Martin Scorsese's films. In it, Sam The Snowman narrates in a Joe Pesci-like voice how Rudolph and Hermey got violent Mafia-style revenge on their tormentors. This was followed by two sequels: "The Reinfather", spoofing The Godfather trilogy and "A Pack of Gifts Now", spoofing Apocalypse Now.
- A 2001 episode of That '70s Show, titled "An Eric Forman Christmas", featured a subplot where Kelso was taunted by his friends for still watching "kiddie shows" like Rudolph even though he was in high school. A dream sequence produced and directed by Quakenbush, Kelso himself appears in stop-motion form with Rudolph and Santa who encourage him to continue watching their show.
- In December 2005, the George Lopez Show featured an animated segment in which Lopez sees a stop-motion version of himself on television in a Rudolph-style special mirroring the theme of the holiday episode.
- In the 1993 stop-motion animated film, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack looks through a book version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to find a logical answer to explain Christmas to the other citizens of Halloween Town. Later, Zero the ghost dog, has a magnificently glowing pumpkin nose, which is bright enough to break through the fog that Sally has conjured up. Jack lets Zero go to the head of his skeleton reindeer team and light the way for him.
- On Saturday Night Live in 2001, Robert Smigel's TV Funhouse shows Sam the Snowman refusing to narrate the story because of the September 11, 2001 attacks. He then takes two children to Ground Zero at New York City, but Santa Claus convinces him to narrate the story because people need comforting stories like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Sam decided to narrate the tale, but was immediately interrupted by a special news report. Three years later, TV Funhouse would again parody Rudolph, this time referencing the Red state-blue state divide. In the segment, Santa hangs out with liberal celebrities Natalie Merchant, Margaret Cho, Al Franken, and Moby while skipping over the Red states ("screw the red states, voting for that dumbass president just because of that moral values crap. I don't want any part of them!"). Rudolph's red nose turns blue. Both episodes were directed by Chel White of Bent Image Lab.
- In 2004 for the show's 40th anniversary, CBS produced stop motion promos for their programming line-up, done in the style of Rankin/Bass animation. Appearing as elves in the CBS promos were puppet versions of CBS stars Jeff Probst from Survivor, Ray Romano and Doris Roberts from Everybody Loves Raymond, William Petersen and Marg Helgenberger from CSI, Charlie Sheen from Two and a Half Men, Phil Simms and Greg Gumbel from The NFL on CBS, and late-night talk show host David Letterman. A new stop-motion animation featuring Rudolph and Santa meeting even more CBS network stars was also aired in 2005.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 made numerous references to the special in their movie hecklings such as Rudolph's line "I'm cute!! I'm cuute!! She said I'm cuuuuuutte!!!!". In episode 321, which screened Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, the MST3K cast had their own ideas for potential residents on the Island of Misfit Toys including Toaster Dolls, Patrick Swayze's Roadhouse board game, the EZ Bake Foundry, and Mr. Mashed Potato Head.
- In 1964, Rankin & Bass produced several commercials for General Electric for the original GE-sponsored broadcast.
- In November 2007, the Aflac insurance company released a commercial that featured Rudolph with a cold who does not want to miss work. All his friends say that he will not be able to pay for his expenses. Santa then tells them about Aflac. Charlie wonders what will happen if he is not better by Christmas, but Rudolph thinks the Aflac duck can do the work. Rudolph gets better in a week, but Blitzen is sick, so the Aflac duck fills in for him.
- In 2009, Verizon began showing a commercial of the Misfit Toys with an AT&T phone. The characters wonder why it is there with all of its features but soon discover why when the phone shows a map of where it has 3G coverage (Verizon's ad campaign touts its much wider 3G coverage compared to AT&T), to which the toy airplane replies "You're gonna fit right in here!" and falls on the ground laughing.
- Starting in 2011, there have been several Bing.com commecials, filmed to look like the same stop-motion style as the special, which feature several characters including Rudolph, Yukon Cornelius, Hermey, the Bumble, and the Misfit Toys.
- A 2012 commercial for Windows phone again features Bumble the Abominable Snowman (with his full set of teeth), speed-dating, getting advise from friends through Live Tiles. A follow-up features Bumble at Santa's North Pole pool party, and Santa using Live Tiles on his new Windows Phone to help him give his elves the holiday-season toy production directives.
- A 2013 commercial for Nissan has a woman in a dealership briefly entering a fantasy where Santa's Elves, including Boss Elf and Hermey, have expanded their manufacturing line to include Nissan cars. Furthermore, the Bumble makes an appearance test driving one to his obvious approval.
- In 2014, the United States Post Office used four characters (Rudolph, Hermey, Yukon Cornelius and Bumble) for the year's "Contemporary Christmas" stamp issue.
- CBS celebrated the special's 50th anniversary in 2014 with Rudolph and Sam the Snowman celebrating with cast members from The Big Bang Theory and NCIS while passing by their studio lots.
- The copyright year in Roman numerals was mismarked as MCLXIV (1164) instead of the correct MCMLXIV (1964). This invalidates the copyright under U.S. law at the time, which required a valid date of copyright to be affixed to the production; this means that still images from the special and all of the characters unique to the special are, as a result, in the public domain. However, because the original story and song are still copyrighted and the soundtrack was validly copyrighted separately, for all practical purposes, permission is still required to air the special.
- In 2006, the puppets of Rudolph and Santa used in the filming of this famous television special were appraised on PBS Television's Antiques Roadshow. The puppets had been damaged through years of rough handling by children and storage in an attic. In 2007, both the puppets were restored to original condition by Screen Novelties, a Los Angeles based collective of film directors specializing in stop motion animation with puppet fabricator Robin Walsh leading the project.
- historyRobert L. May created Rudolph in 1939 as an assignment for Chicago based 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. May considered naming the reindeer "Rollo" and "Reginald" before deciding upon using the name "Rudolph". In its first year of publication, 2.5 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". Publication and reprint rights for the book Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer are controlled by Pearson Plc.
Of note is the change in the cultural significance of a red nose. In popular culture, a bright red nose was then closely associated with chronic alcoholism and drunkards, and so the story idea was initially rejected. May asked his illustrator friend at Wards, Denver Gillen, to draw "cute reindeer", using zoo deer as models. The alert, bouncy character Gillen developed convinced management to support the idea.
Maxton Books published the first mass-market edition of Rudolph and also published a sequel, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Shines Again in 1954. In 1991 Applewood Books published Rudolph's Second Christmas, an unpublished sequel that Robert May wrote in 1947. In 2003, Penguin Books issued a reprint version of the original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with new artwork by Lisa Papp. Penguin also reprinted May's sequels Rudolph Shines Again and Rudolph's Second Christmas (now retitled Rudolph to the Rescue).
The story chronicles the experiences of Rudolph, a youthful reindeer buck (male) who possesses an unusual luminous red nose. Harassed mercilessly and excluded by his peers because of this trait, Rudolph manages to prove himself one Christmas Eve after Santa Claus catches sight of Rudolph's nose and asks Rudolph to lead his sleigh for the evening. Rudolph agrees, and is finally treated better by his fellow reindeer for his heroism.
Main article: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (song)May's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, adapted the story of Rudolph into a song. Gene Autry's recording of the song hit No. 1 on the Billboard pop singles chart the week of Christmas 1949. Autry's recording 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.
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' song (which had not then yet been written). It was reissued in 1951 with the song added.
DC Comics, then known as National Periodical Publications, published a series of 13 annuals titled Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer from 1950 to 1962. Most of the 1950s stories were drawn by Rube Grossman. 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 (March–April 1980). The 1970s Rudolph stories were written and drawn by Sheldon Mayer.
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. It is no longer in print but a revised Golden Books version of the storybook has since been issued.
Main article: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (TV special)In 1964, the tale was adapted into a stop-motion Christmas special by Rankin/Bass. Filmed entirely in Japan with all sound recordings done in Toronto, Canada, the show premiered on NBC, drastically altering the original telling of the story. This re-telling chronicles Rudolph's social rejection among his peers and his decision to run away from home. Rudolph is accompanied by a similarly-outcast elf named Hermey, whose dreams of becoming a dentist are shunned by the other elves, along with a loud, boisterous, eager prospector named Yukon Cornelius who was in search of wealth. Additional original characters include Rudolph's love interest, Clarice; the antagonistic Abominable Snowman; and, as narrator, the anthropomorphic Sam the Snowman, voiced by Burl Ives.
After the story's initial broadcast, its closing credits were revised. Images of wrapped presents being dropped from Santa's sleigh were replaced by "Misfit" Toys being dropped to the homes of children below, where they were found by children who loved them. The changes were prompted by viewer feedback pleading for a happy ending for each toy. The special now airs annually on CBS, rather than NBC, and is hailed as a classic by many. The special's original assortment of trademarked characters have acquired iconic status, and its alterations of the true storyline are frequently parodied in other works. The sequel Rudolph's Shiny New Year continued the reindeer's journeys.
Main article: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The MovieAn animated feature film 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. Its inclusion of a villain, a love interest, a sidekick, and a strong protector are more derivative of the Rankin-Bass adaptation of the story than the original tale and song (the characters of Stormella, Zoey, Arrow, Slyly and Leonard parallel the Rankin-Bass characters of the Abominable Snowman, Clarice, Fireball, Hermey the Dentist, and Yukon Cornelius respectively). The movie amplifies the early back-story of Rudolph's harassment by his schoolmates (primarily his cousin Arrow) during his formative years. Main article: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit ToysGoodTimes Entertainment, the producers of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie, 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 previous film, the sequel licensed the original characters from the Rankin-Bass special.
In the 2000 film remake of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Grinch disguises his dog, Max, as Rudolph for his plan to disguise himself as Santa Claus and steal everything in each house in Whoville to stop Christmas from coming. He also changes Rudolph's story saying, he hates Christmas and is gonna steal it. He than yells "Action!" through a megaphone. But Max takes off the fake red nose that the Grinch put on him.
In the 2007 film Fred Claus, Rudolph is mentioned and briefly seen, although his red nose is not glowing. Fred (Vince Vaughn) is filling in for his injured brother Nick (Paul Giamatti) delivering the toys on Christmas Eve. While en route, he crashes the sleigh through a billboard advertisement for Pepsi Cola featuring Santa Claus. He then tells Rudolph to "shake it off". There are quick edits of Fred flying through the night making his deliveries. Willie the elf says "Fred, I have a bad feeling about this." followed by a shot of the full moon. The sleigh zips by and turns to go head on into the camera. Here, you can see Rudolph leading the pack. in slow motion, you can clearly count 9 reindeer.
In the Doctor Who promotional mini-webisode, "Songtaran Carols", the Sontaran warrior-nurse-detective, Strax, stated: "Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, had a very shiny nose. It proved to be a tactical disadvantage, because it enabled me to punch him in the dark."
Rudolph was mentioned in the video game Army of Two during a tutorial video about the use of the game's Aggro feature.
"Run Rudolph Run" is a Christmas song popularized by Chuck Berry and written by Johnny Marks and Marvin Brodie and published by St. Nicholas Music (ASCAP). The song was first recorded by Berry in 1958 and released as a single on Chess Records (label no. 1714). It has since been covered by numerous other artists, sometimes under the title "Run, Run, Rudolph". The song is a 12-bar blues, and has a clear musical parallel to Chuck Berry's very popular and recognizable song "Johnny B. Goode", and is also melodically identical to Berry's "Little Queenie", released in 1959.
Main article: Santa Claus's reindeer § Additional reindeerTwo 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 the character Blitzen 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 in the "Robbie the Reindeer" cartoons, Rudolph's name is mentioned in the film.
Michael Fry and T. Lewis have 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. Ralph has a red nose, but his is good for defrosting Santa's sleigh and warming up toast and waffles. He enviously complained about his brother's publicity and his own anonymity.
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 is Donner's son, and his mother is a tan doe who is called Mrs. Donner. In GoodTimes's retelling, Rudolph's father is Blitzen and his mother is named Mitzi, 3 of Santa's reindeer (Dasher, Comet and Cupid) were his uncles and he has a cousin Arrow (who is Cupid's son) who also serves as his rival.
Roert L. May's original book does not name Rudolph's parents.b
|Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer"|
| Picture sleeve of children's series 10" single released by Columbia Records (MJV-56)|
|Single by Gene Autry & The Pinafores|
|B-side||"If It Doesn't Snow on Christmas"|
"Here Comes Santa"
"Here Comes Santa Claus"
|Released||1 September 1949|
|Recorded||27 June 1949|
Columbia 33165 Challenge 1010
In 1939 Marks' brother-in-law, Robert L. May, created Rudolph as an assignment for Montgomery Ward and Marks decided to adapt the story of Rudolph into a song. Marks (1909–1985), was a radio producer who also wrote several other popular Christmas songs.
The song had an added introduction, stating the names of the eight reindeer which went:
"You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,
Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen,
But do you recall
The most famous reindeer of all?"
The song was sung commercially by crooner Harry Brannon on New York City radio in early November 1949, before Gene Autry's recording hit No. 1 in the U.S. charts the week of Christmas 1949. Autry's version of the song also holds the distinction of being the only chart-topping hit to fall completely off the chart after reaching No. 1. The official date of its No. 1 status was for the week ending January 7, 1950, making it the first No. 1 song of the 1950s.
The song was also performed on the December 6, 1949, Fibber McGee and Molly radio broadcast by Teeny (Marion Jordan's little girl character) and The Kingsmen vocal group. The lyrics varied greatly from the Autry version.
Autry's recording sold 1.75 million copies its first Christmas season, eventually selling a total of 12.5 million. Cover versions included, sales exceed 150 million copies, second only to Bing Crosby's "White Christmas".
- 1964: Burl Ives recorded the song for the soundtrack of the holiday TV special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The soundtrack album containing Ives' version reached No. 142 on the Billboard 200 albums sales chart. He would re-record the song the following year for his holiday album Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.
- 1968: The Temptations released a version of the song that peaked at No. 12 on Billboard magazine's special, year-end, weekly Christmas Singles chart (this same version later got as high as No. 3 on the same chart in December 1971). Their version of the song was also included on the group's 1970 Christmas album, The Temptations Christmas Card.
- 1977: Filipino singer Rico J. Puno covered the song for his holiday album, Christmas.
- 1985: Ray Charles recorded the song for his holiday album The Spirit of Christmas.
- 2002: Jack Johnson recorded the song for a various artists holiday album released by Nettwerk Records and titled Maybe This Christmas (this same version was also released on the 2008 various artists holiday album, This Warm December: Brushfire Holiday Volume 1, which was released on Johnson's record label Brushfire Records).
- 2007: 1910 Fruitgum Company recorded the song for their Christmas album, Bubblegum Christmas.
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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. (Coincidentally, she mentions Rudolph by name to one of the reindeer, and the reindeer tells her Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer doesn't exist; it's all an urban legend.)
On the December 23, 2011, edition of WWE SmackDown, Booker T sang a capella the parody of the song, "Cody the Red-Nosed Reindeer", with a reference to Cody Rhodes, in order to cost Rhodes the match against Zack Ryder.