Remember when Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer first showed on TV in 1964? Everyone knew the Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer song, but the TV special stole our hearts.
One of my fondest childhood memories is my mother playing her Gene Autry Christmas album (yep, a vinyl record!), which included the Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer song.
I fell in love with the song way back then and it’s still my favorite today. This beloved kids Christmas song brings back wonderful family Christmas memories for me. How I’d love to have even just the album cover to look at now.
Rudolph, our dear red-nosed reindeer friend, does have a very sweet history as it turns out. Anyone as important as Rudolph is to Santa Claus, would have to have quite a history, right?
May I present to you, the honorable, the wise, the adorable…Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer!
Featured Image: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: 50th Anniversary [DVD]
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, This is YOUR Life!
In 1939, Robert L. May, created the story of Rudolph as part of an advertising promotion for Montgomery Ward stores. Montgomery Ward turned the copyright over to May and he went on to publish Rudolph’s story in book form. He even wrote two more Rudolph stories that were published much later!
May’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks created lyrics and a tune for the story and arranged for Gene Autry to record the song, which was a huge hit by the end of 1949.
Gene Autry was a big cowboy movie star and a popular country singer of the time back then. Autry had already written and recorded his own very successful Christmas song, “Here Comes Santa Claus.”
I was so surprised to learn that this strapping cowboy wrote “Here Comes Santa Claus!”
Autry’s recording of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer was even more successful. In fact, the only Twentieth Century Christmas song more successful than Rudolph is “White Christmas.” Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer is the second most successful Christmas song behind it, too!
Autry’s recording alone has sold more than 12 million copies since he introduced it in 1949. The Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer song has been performed by more than 500 artists and sold well over 160 million recordings (including Autry’s).
Just a few years ago, there were rumors floating around the internet that Robert May wrote Rudolph to make his daughter feel better because her mother was dying of cancer. She actually was dying of cancer, but the part about him writing the song for his daughter wasn’t true. He wrote it for that job I mentioned above when he was a copywriter at Montgomery Ward.
An enormous variety of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer holiday merchandise such as toys, watches and clothing has been sold since he was “born.”
True to the history of Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, but certainly creative. There are games, stuffed animals, and Christmas decorations.
Why…Rudolph even has a Funko Pop! That’s when you know how popular a character is ~ there’s a Funko Pop for them!
More Awesome History Of Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer
In 1964, the animated Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, with “Snowman” Burl Ives narrating and singing, was first telecast. It has become an annual favorite of millions. I still watch it myself every year! lol
In 1976, a sequel to Rudolph’s story was televised for the first time.
Then, in 1988 an animated motion picture was released.
Want to know the awful truth? I’ve never seen the motion picture version and I barely remember the 1976 sequel. But I still never miss watching the 1964 version on TV every year!
I think it’s safe to say that Rudolf, the little reindeer with a shiny red nose, has truly earned a place in hearts and in history.
“Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, you’ll go down in history!”
It completely surprised me to learn something about the 1964 animated version of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. Did you know that the televised version was not at all like the version Robert L. Mays wrote?
Where did I find that out? Of all places, I found it on Snopes. Can you believe it? Here’s what Snopes has to say about the history of Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer:
Rudolph was neither one of Santa’s reindeer nor the offspring of one of Santa’s reindeer, and he did not live at the North Pole. Rudolph dwelled in an “ordinary” reindeer village elsewhere, and although he was taunted and laughed at for having a shiny red nose, he was not regarded by his parents as a shameful embarrassment; Rudolph was brought up in a loving household and was a responsible reindeer with a good self-image and sense of worth. Moreover, Rudolph also did not rise to fame when Santa picked him out from a reindeer herd because of his shiny nose; instead, Santa discovered the red-nosed reindeer quite by accident, when he noticed the glow emanating from Rudolph’s room while he was delivering presents to Rudolph’s house. Worried that the thickening fog that night (already the cause of several accidents and delays) would keep him from completing his Christmas Eve rounds, Santa tapped Rudolph to lead his team, which the young reindeer agreed to do, after first stopping to complete one last task: leaving behind a note for his mother and father.
Read more at Snopes
Well, I hope you don’t mind me saying, but I was totally blind sided. Maybe we were supposed to learn the history of Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer the way we did and the way our kids do now, as a lesson about bullying and taunting anyone who is different from ourselves.
The history of Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer still touches hearts and encourages us to accept one another as we are. I kind of like it that way.