Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is the hero of an American Christmas story which is the basis for a popular song and a very popular annual TV special. Rudolph, a reindeer with a glowing red nose, starts out as an ostracized freak and ends up as the fog-cutting hero at the front of Santa Claus's sleigh team. The character was invented in 1939 by Chicago copywriter Robert L. May for a booklet given away to customers by his employer, the Montgomery Ward department stores. May received rights to the story in 1947 and asked his brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, to put the story to music and lyrics. The result was "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," which was a radio hit for cowboy singer Gene Autry in 1949. The song has been recorded by dozens of other performers since then and remains a Christmas pop classic. The one-hour, animated TV special -- also titled Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer -- debuted on NBC on 6 December 1964. A charming story of reindeer, elves, and an abominable snowman at the North Pole, it has aired every year since.
The TV version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer differs slightly from May’s original 1939 story, in which Rudolph grows up not at the North Pole but in a reindeer-populated village elsewhere and is discovered by Santa during (not before) his annual gift-delivery run… The TV show’s other songs, including “A Holly, Jolly Christmas,” “Silver and Gold,” and “The Most Wonderful Day of the Year,” were also composed by Johnny Marks… Though created for a U.S. network, the animated show was filmed in Japan and its soundtrack was recorded in Canada… Folk singer Burl Ives provided the voice of the TV show’s narrator, Sam the Snowman.
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