Read them here!
1. Rudolph was the creation of a man named Robert L. May. In 1939, May, who worked for Montgomery Ward as one of their copywriters, was asked to create a tale the stores could give to shoppers as a “promotional gimmick.” Voila, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was born.
2. In 1964, Burl Ives narrated the stop motion Rudolph TV special that remains a seasonal favorite even now.
3. Rudolph almost didn’t have a red nose! Because red noses were generally associated with drinking and drunkards, May’s boss initially felt such a symbol wouldn’t be appropriate for a Christmas story.
4. May wanted his reindeer to have an alliterative name. Other choices he contemplated were Rollo and Reginald before deciding on Rudolph. (He felt Rollo was too upbeat of a name for a misfit character and Reginald was too British.)
5. In 1949, Gene Autry recorded the song. It sold two million copies that year, and ended up being one of the best-selling Christmas songs ever. (Only “White Christmas” tops it. Also, it was Gene Autry’s most popular hit.)
6. The TV special changed May’s original Rudolph story slightly by making Donner Rudolph’s father and Comet the coach of the reindeer team.
7. At first, May did not hold the copyright to Rudolph since he had created it during his employment with Montgomery Ward. Therefore, he received no royalties from the licensing; the company did. But in 1947, still trying to pay bills incurred from his wife’s terminal illness (which had killed her around the time he’d created Rudolph), May convinced Sewell Avery, Montgomery Ward’s corporate president, to give him the copyright.
8. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer may have started out as an enticement for shoppers, but that little reindeer endeared himself to everyone who heard his tale.
9. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was first printed commercially in 1947, but what really made Rudy a hit was when Johnny Marks, May’s brother-in-law and a songwriter, created melody and lyrics.
10. Japan has long been known for its love of animation (anime anyone?). But did you know that ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ was actually filmed in Japan? Yep! In fact, many of the Rankin/Bass stop-motion “Animagic” specials were produced in Japan.