Local Rankin-Bass Expert: '5 Things You Didn't Know About Rudolph'
Oak Lawn-resident Rick Goldschmidt, the official historian of the famed 'animagic' studio, knows everything there is to know about the TV holiday classic 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.'
You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, but did you know that the official Rankin-Bass historian lives in Oak Lawn?
Rick Goldschmidt has penned three lavish coffee-table books on the famed animators Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass, best known for the TV holiday classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Struck by Goldschmidt’s sincerity, the animators, whose “animagic’ stop-action style of animation has influenced a generation of Pixar animators, gave Goldschmidt full access to the Rankin-Bass studio archives.
Rankin-Bass churned out 16 holiday-themed, animagic specials between 1964 and 1972 based on American pop standards.
The Enchanted World of Rankin-Bass, The Making of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Goldschmidt's latest book Mad Monster Party can be purchased from Miser Bros. Press.
Goldschmidt spends much of December giving media interviews about Rudolph, which continues to endure 47 years later.
"I always loved the shows. My parents made a point of turning them on for us during the holidays," Goldschmidt said. "It was something our family could watch together. They get you into the holiday spirit."
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Rankin-Bass’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer:
- Rudolph debuted on the General Electric Fantasy Hour on Dec. 6, 1964. The special was showcased around the latest GE electrical appliances, many of which no longer exist in society. Most Americans watched the premiere on black-and-white televisions, despite the special airing on NBC’s “in living color” network.
- Most of the sets for the North Pole covered a tabletop. The wood and latex models with bendable limbs were similarly small; Santa was the largest figure, standing about 16 inches tall; Rudolph stood at 9 inches.
- ‘Rudolph’ was a global production and cost $500,000 to make. A bulk of the work was done by the leading Japanese stop-action animator Tadahito Mochinaga and was produced at Mochinaga’s Top Craft Studio in Japan.
- The voice of Sam the Snowman—the narrator of Rudolph—was originally voiced by a Canadian radio actor named Larry Mann. GE wanted a star and brought in actor Burl Ives, who re-recorded Sam’s narration weeks before the special's debut.
- The final scene where Santa flies back to the Island of Misfit Toys wasn’t added until 1965, because viewers wanted some closure on the fate of the defective toys. The end credits were switched with the toys being flung off Santa’s sleigh with umbrellas. As a result, Billie Mae Richards’—the actress who voiced Rudolph—has been misspelled as “Billy” for the last 46 years.