Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer

Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer

Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer was created by Robert L. May in 1939. May was a 35 year old advertising copy writer for the Montgomery Ward department store in Chicago and was instructed to create an original Christmas story in booklet form. The store wanted to give it away as a free gift to shoppers during the Christmas season. May ended up writing about Rudolph. Originally, the reindeer was to be named Rollo and then Reginald, but both were rejected as not appropriate names. After consideration, Rudolph became the final selection. There was also some hesitancy by May’s Rudolph superiors regarding the red nose because it was associated with drinking too much. However, when an illustrator, Denver Gillen, finished the drawings, they were approved. May wrote the story in rhyme and it was distributed in booklet form with illustrations to department store shoppers. Millions of copies were given away, however, in the following years, printing was curtailed and then stopped during the war due to paper shortages. After the war, the story became a nine minute cartoon in 1947 and was shown in theaters. Then song writer, Johnny Marks, wrote lyrics and music, about Rudolph, but changed the story from the original version May had written. After listening to the song, many established singers turned down the opportunity to record the song as being too "schmaltzy" to be a successful recording. After some hesitancy Gene Autry decided to record it in 1949. Autry had little confidence the song would be a success, but his recording ended up selling four million copies that year and the song went on to become the best selling song of all time, second only to White Christmas.

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