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Encyclopedia > Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is a popular Christmas story that has been told in numerous forms including songs and theatrical and television films.

Contents

Rudolph's origins

Rudolph's story was originally written in verse by Robert L. May for the Montgomery Ward chain of department stores in 1939 and published as a book to be given to children in the store at Christmas time.


Rudolph is depicted as an ordinary reindeer with a large, red nose, often grinning and always leading the team pulling Santa's sleigh, which usually comprises of the eight reindeer mentioned in Twas the Night Before Christmas in pairs. (Rudolph is not depicted with a partner, thus reinforcing his status.)


The song

Johnny Marks, May's brother-in-law, decided to adapt May's story into a song, which through the years has been recorded by many artists (most notably by Gene Autry), and has since filtered into the popular consciousness.


The song contains these lyrics:

You know Dasher and Dancer
And Prancer and Vixen,
Comet and Cupid
And Donner and Blitzen,
But do you recall
The most famous reindeer of all?
 
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Had a very shiny nose
And if you ever saw him
You would even say it glows
 
All of the other reindeer
Used to laugh and call him names
They never let poor Rudolph
Join in any reindeer games
 
Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say
Rudolph, with your nose so bright,
Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?
 
Then all the reindeer loved him
As they shouted out with glee:
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,
You'll go down in history!

In the U.S. the song is sometimes performed (usually by children) in a humorous manner with additional lyrics. These lyrics are to be recited as a sort of response at the end of most of the lines in the song. Sample lyrics follow (responses in bold):

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (reindeer)
Had a very shiny nose (like a light bulb)
And if you ever saw him (saw him)
You would even say it glows (like a light bulb)
 
All of the other reindeer (reindeer)
Used to laugh and call him names (like Pinocchio)
They never let poor Rudolph (Rudolph)
Join in any reindeer games (like Monopoly)
 
Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say (Ho-ho-ho!), or (in his underwear!) or, in recent years, (on the Internet!)
Rudolph, with your nose so bright,
Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?
 
Then all the reindeer loved him (loved him)
As they shouted out with glee: (Yippee!)
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, (reindeer)
You'll go down in history! (like the Presidents) or, more commonly, (like Columbus), or (like George Washington)

Or, as the Simpsons sing it, like Attilla the Hun - before Homer cuts off Bart's singing by choking him.


Rudolph in the media

Theatrical cartoon short

Rudolph's first screen appearance came in 1944, in the form of a Paramount/Max Fleischer theatrical cartoon short that was more faithful to May's original story than Marks' eventual song.


Animated TV special

Main article: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (television special)


The most famous incarnation of the reindeer debuted on NBC in 1964, when the Rankin-Bass animation studio produced a stop motion animated TV special of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer that became a popular hit in itself. This version was re-broadcast many times over the years, even after it was finally released on video.


Animated film

An animated feature film remake of the fictional story of Rudolph was produced in 1998, entitled Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie, but this version of the story paled in comparison with the Rankin-Bass classic, both in terms of quality and box-office revenue. It only saw a limited theatrical release before quickly being sent to home video.


Computer animation movie

And in 2001, yet another Rudolph movie was produced, this one another sequel to the Rankin-Bass original special called Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys, produced entirely with digital computerized animation (as oppposed to traditional stop-motion animation).


External links

  • History of Rudolph (http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/rudolph.asp)
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Radio (http://www.radiorudolph.com/)

 
 

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