You all know the beloved Christmas character Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. But do you know where his story began? The young shiny-nosed deer has quite a tale, from his delightful first story for a promotional gift to his debut on TV and his own famous song. Here is the story and some fun facts behind Santa’s favorite little helper at Christmas.
THE STORY BEHIND RUDOLPH
Rudolph the Coloring Book
Back in 1939, the Montgomery Ward department store, who had always given away coloring books to children at Christmas, wanted to make their own book.
Robert May, an aspiring writer, was working for the store. He was always writing poems and lyrics, so they knew he was just the man to write a magical story. And he chose to write about Rudolph, the misfit little Reindeer, just like he was when he was a boy.
Rudolph’s Original Story
May’s original version of the story is written in a similar rhyme like The Night Before Christmas, and is a little bit different from his modern tale.
In his story, Rudolph doesn’t live in the North Pole with Santa. He lives in a reindeer village, and it is there he has been teased about his nose. Santa is delivering presents there on Christmas Eve, but is struggling in the fog and dark. When he visits Rudolph’s house and sees his glowing nose, he asks him to lead his sleigh to help deliver the rest of his presents.
Rudolph Becomes A Cartoon And A Song
In 1948, a short cartoon was made, based on Robert’s story. But it wasn’t until a year later that Rudolph became a sensation with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer song.
It became a big hit, selling 2 million copies that year and is the second best-selling Christmas song ever.
Stop Motion Rudolph
15 years later in 1964, a Rudolph TV special was made based on the song. It was made by Japanese stop motion animators with a process called Animagic.
It took 18 months to make the 30-minute special. And it has been shown on TV every year at Christmas time since, making it the longest running Christmas special.
FUN FACTS ABOUT RUDOLPH
Robert May thought of giving Rudolph bright shining eyes like headlights on a car for his story, instead of a shining red nose. Can you imagine that?
Rollo the Reindeer?
For his story, May also thought about calling him Rollo or Reginald and even Romeo or Rodney. But of course, he can only be Rudolph.
More recently, in 2014, the US Postal Service made a range of stamps to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Rudolph’s first story and his 50th TV anniversary.
The Finnish Rudolph
In Finland, they have their own legend of Santa and his reindeer. Because of Rudolph’s fame around the world and the song that made him a star, the Finnish accepted Rudolph as the lead reindeer in their story. But they call him Petteri Punakuono.
With such an amazing journey this odd little Rudolph has had, no wonder he has gone down in history as a favorite Christmas character, bringing joy and wonder to children everywhere.