SLOAN COLUMN Recalling the most famous reindeer of all
The Christmas holidays glitter and glisten with all sorts of traditions. One of them is the telling, reading, singing, and watching a television program about a certain reindeer with an extraordinarily shiny nose.
Everybody, young and old, loves the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Try hearing it for the first time or the twentieth time and see if you can keep from humming or singing along.
Here’s a quick test: Name all of Santa’s reindeer without thinking about or following the song’s lyrics. Couldn’t do it, could you?
The animated retelling of the Rudolph story, which debuted in 1964, was broadcast on CBS Tuesday night. If you missed it, don’t fret. The network will air it again on Dec. 14.
Here are some interesting facts about Rudolph you may or may not already know.
The Book: The story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer began in 1939 when a Jewish Chicago copywriter named Robert May created a free Christmas coloring book for the Montgomery Ward department store chain. It was an instant hit. Montgomery Ward gave out 2.4 million copies, and only stopped issuing it afterwards because of wartime restrictions on paper. When they resumed in 1946, it was even more popular.
The Song: The song was written by a songwriter named Johnny Marks who was married to Robert May’s sister. It was first recorded by movie star and recording artist Gene Autry in 1949 and quickly rose to the top of the charts. Autry did not like the song at first, but his wife persuaded him to put it out as a “B” side. The “B” side became the second-biggest selling Christmas song of all time, behind only White Christmas.
The Animated Show: In 1964, the popular holiday hit inspired the cartoon classic. With the exception of Burl Ives, all of the voices for the film were recorded by Canadian actors at RCA Studio in Toronto. It has been broadcast every year since 1964, making it the longest-running Christmas TV special in history.
Rudolph, you certainly have gone down in his-tor-eeeee!!!