Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer Wednesday!

Tonight, CBS television will re-broadcast a television classic. Rankin-Bass' 1964 production of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" will air for the 46th consecutive year.

As cheesy as Rankin-Bass productions eventually got, "Rudolph" is actually really good. An elf that wants to be a dentist instead of make toys? Pretty sophisticated stuff. And who doesn't have a spot in their heart for misfit toys? PLUS there's a singing snowman that looks like ME!

But, you know, this wasn't the first incarnation of "Rudolph", though there are 2 generations of folks who know this version best.

Rudolph was actually originally created as a cost saving measure for Montgomery Ward department stores in the depression years.

For years, Montgomery (or Monkey Wards, as we called it) Ward gave away children's coloring books every year at Christmas as a promotion, to get families in the door. In 1939, to save on costs, they had an employee in their in-house advertising department, Robert L. May write an original story to be handed out to shoppers.

At first executives didn't care for the story, citing such objections as "'Rudolph's' red-nose denotes drunkenness connotations and isn't suitable to a family audience.".

I always like stories of people with business training trying to get into a creative field and being shown what idiots they are.

May got fellow advertising department co-worker Denver Gillen, to illustrate the story, and it was approved. Monkey Wards handed the little color comic out that Christmas.

They handed out 2.4 million copies.

Rudolph went down in history.

Here's that original story done in 1939 and millions more over the next several years. I'm sorry I don't have the inside front and back covers or the back cover, the inside back was apparently the last line of the story (it abruptly ends at the last page with a comma) but I'm sure you'll enjoy it anyway, knowing it all comes out OK.

Here's an article from "Family Weekly" from December 1963, containing an interview with Robert L. May himself about creating the little reindeer that could. If you save this to your computer, you can actually enlarge the jpeg enough to read it.
More Rudolph next Wednesday. See you then!

No comments:

Search This Blog