Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph the ReindeerRudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer is a very popular story and song of Christmas that has remained a favorite since it was introduced to the public more than 50 years ago. Rudolf caught the public attention because people like the feeling of championing the underdog. Rudolf with his glowing red nose fits the role of a misfit like a glove and has become a significant part of Christmas tradition. Even though steeped in culture and tradition, Rudolf is a twentieth century modern and his birth can be tracked down to a specific person and time.


The story of Rudolf was born in 1939 under the penmanship of Robert May, a copywriter with Montgomery Ward Company, a chain of departmental stores. The owners wanted May to come up with a Christmas story which they could give away to their customers (in form of a booklet) as a promotional gimmick. May came up with Rudolf, an old family favorite, which he had concocted as a bedtime story for his four year old daughter, Barbara.

The background

The Robert May story of Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer was based on experiences he himself had while growing up. He was a shy and an introverted boy who was bullied and made fun of by other children. This he tried to portray in the rhyme that he created. The story of the ostracized deer who overcame many odds to become a hero by the end of the story appealed to people’s imagination and Rudolf became an instant hit. The rest, as they say, is history.

Public appearances

Rudolf first appeared on the screen in 1944, in a short theatrical cartoon. Then in 1964 he starred in NBC as Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, and the series became extremely popular. He has appeared in several different Rudolf versions, since then, in various channels and various countries but the 1964 version remains the most well known.

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