Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Gotta Love Ol' "Rudolf"...!
What would Christmas time be without Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer?
Seems like he's been around for a long, long time...and he almost has! Do you want to know exactly where Rudolf actually came from? Pretty interesting story in it's own right!
Here is a little history about the little critter that has become an integral part of our Christmas celebration right up to the modern times!
The Chicago based Montgomery Ward company had a tradition of handing out children's coloring books as Christmas gifts for their customer. In 1939, the company decided that creating a coloring book of their own would be cheaper. They asked Robert L. May, one of their copywriters, to write a Christmas story that they could give away to their customers.
May wrote the story, drawing in part from his own childhood experiences and in part on the story of the ugly duckling. He settled on the idea of a misfit reindeer who was picked on by the other reindeers because of his glowing red nose. He finally decided on Rudolph as his reindeer's name after discarding names such as Rollo and Reginald. He wrote the story as a series of rhyming couplets and tested it out on his four year old daughter Barbara, who loved the story.
Montgomery Ward handed out 2.4 million copies of the Rudolph booklet that first year and by the end of 1946 a total of six million copies had been distributed. Mays wife had died around the time he was creating the Rudolph story, leaving him deeply in debt from medical bills. Since he had created the story as an employee of Montgomery Ward, they held the copyright and May received no royalties. He was able to persuade Sewell Avery, Montgomery Ward's corporate president, to turn the copyright over to him in January 1947. With the rights to his creation in hand, May's had his financial security assured.
In 1947, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" was printed commercially for the first time. There was also a short cartoon shown in theaters the following year. The story didn't really take off until May's brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, adapted the lyrics and wrote the melody for the song "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer".
The song was turned down by many artists before, at the urging of his wife, Gene Autry recorded it in 1949. Two million copies were sold that first year and it went on to become one of the best selling Christmas songs, second only to Bing Crosby's "White Christmas". In 1964 a television special about Rudolph was produced with Burl Ives as the narrator. Rudolph has become a much loved Christmas icon and the popular TV special remains a holiday favorite to this day.
Don't you just love a good under-dog story? Any story where the good guys manage to win one in spite of all the odds is a memorable one! And the good guys do win from time to time! That's the story behind the story, so to speak.
Now, my friends, let's get some fresh coffee and sit outside before it turns cold again! We'll raise a toast to the little guys of the world winning one from time to time!