Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Absolutely the Top Christmas Special
|"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."|
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" remains one of only four of the classic 1960s Christmas specials still regularly shown on network television (the others are "Frosty the Snowman," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas").
|Arthur Rankin Jr., producer of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."|
|Young Rudolph showing that his nose glows when he gets excited.|
|Burl Ives with his character Sam the Snowman.|
|The misfit toys chatting with Rudolph.|
|GE was so happy with "Rudolph," it wound up buying the entire network. Okay, maybe the two events were unrelated.|
|Rudolph is crafted in an innocent, boyish fashion.|
|Yukon Cornelius waving his pike.|
Fortunately, Hermey and Cornelius intervene and, after some problems, chase the Abominable Snowman over a cliff, Cornelius falling with him.
|The Abominable Snowman.|
|The Abominable Snowman showing his toothy grin.|
|Animator Kyoko Kita with the Animagic reindeer Rudolph.|
|The Abominable Snowman putting the star on the Christmas Tree.|
|The single from Decca Records.|
Everything about "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was an out-of-the-ballpark hit - as a television special, like songs sung by Burl Ives, as a Christmas perennial, as a giant leap forward in animation, as a soundtrack album that reached No. 142 on the Billboard 200 albums sales chart. All of that success has settled "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" firmly into the Zeitgeist of our lives, and it would be difficult to find anyone familiar with American culture who doesn't know the story of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."
The show is dated in some of its attitudes despite repeated tweaking, and one can quibble that several of the characters act poorly. Santa engages in some grumbling about the elves singing, and Donner is a bit quick to claim he knew all along that Rudolph would be a hero. The special references its times, not just in the prologue about a recent snowstorm, but when, for instance, Santa says "everything's grounded" - as in airplanes, presumably. However, that also is how people act in real life, and Santa and the others come to understand their own errors in judgment about Rudolph. "Maybe misfits have a place, too," Sam the Snowman wistfully observes.
|A Japanese animator working on the Animagic sled.|
|Rudolph in mid-flight.|
|Santa and his sleigh riding above the clouds.|
Below, Burl Ives sings "Holly Jolly Christmas" in the single version recorded the year after the Christmas special. Ives owns "Holly Jolly Christmas" to this day, and it inhabits the upper reaches of the Billboard Holiday 100 songs charts every season.
Below, Santa gives Rudolf the good news that he will be leading the pack on the sled.
Below is the full, original Rankin/Bass broadcast version. Hopefully, it will still be up, but if not, our apologies, online versions come and go. Last checked 18 February 2020.