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A Very Rankin Bass Christmas!

Believe it or not, these two guys had one of the biggest impacts on our childhood holiday memories.

Meet Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass, the mastermind behind some of your favorite Christmas moments in front of the TV. These two gents bought us such delightful characters as:

I loves me some Yukon Cornelius!  My friend Jen and I joked that he was the uber cartoon dream husband.  Knew the importance of gold/silver for jewelry and was kind to animals. I loved his little team of mismatched doggies too!

And don’t forget about the most dapper snowman around!

Remember skinny Santa? EAT, PAPA, EAT!

I don’t know about you, but I was really frightened of the Abominable Snowman as a kid! That was some scary stuff to a five year old!

I so would have taken every toy on that island! A dolly for Suzy just broke my heart every time I saw her!

Oh, Hermie!  You made me actually want to go to the dentist! And of course RUDOLF!

I know not everyone is into letting their kids watch TV, but personally, I don’t consider Rankin Bass Christmas specials to be TV as much as an irresistible holiday memory in the making. Right up there with watching the Nutcracker or making Christmas cookies.

Arthur Rankin and his buddy Jules Bass came up with this wonderful animation technique they called “animagic” which included stop animation with these sassy dolls combined with cel animation for special backdrops like snowflakes.  He optimistically called his new animation technique “Animagic”. And it was more than enough to turn a Christmas novelty song and a felt-covered, lightbulb-nosed reindeer puppet into the most amazing hour on TV in December.

“Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”, the flagship Rankin/Bass production, remains the longest-running, highest-rated special ever aired on US network television. The special has appeared on one of the broadcast networks every year since its debut on NBC’s “General Electric Fantasy Hour” in 1964, routinely landing near the top of the Nielsen Ratings Top 10 — a feat unparalleled in television history.

Oh, I forgot one other thing that made “animagic” so, well, magical! Not pixie dust. Just hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours of work slowly shifting the dolls around to make them move. Oof!

But the Rankin/Bass production team loved it and did it again and again to bring us such holiday characters as:

Seriously, have you watched this recently? Get ready to cry…

Clearly, they needed to get more use out of those desert backgrounds and came up with Nestor.  I love this little guy! what pluck. Again, sad at the beginning, but still so good!

I loved this little big eared and big hearted little baby! One of my favorites.

You already saw skinny Santa, but what about young Santa?

And of course these two brothers…

Of course Rank Bass Productions holiday specials are just the tippy tip tip of their wonderful work (hello Mad Monster Party…) but if you’d like more information, I highly suggest you check out Rick Goldschmidt’s amazing blog. He has a wonderful collection of images and literally wrote the book on Rankin Bass. And if you still want to see more Christmas specials inspired by Rankin Bass, check out this cool site dedicated to the best holiday specials out there.

Did you watch any Rankin Bass Christmas specials this year?


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Posted in Best of Dottie, Holiday Kiddo.

6 Responses

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  1. Eartha Kitsch says

    Animagic – absolutely amazing…and wow, yes..time consuming! I think that these should be a must-see for all children. They’re burned onto my brain. They are so incredible and stand the test of time even after all of these years. I watched one the other night and actually felt sad when the abominable snowman had his teeth pulled. I felt so badly for him! : )

    • Alix says

      They are burned into mine too. I still remember pretty much every song! And Heat Meiser and Snow Meiser are still my favorites!!

  2. Alice says

    Those shows freak me out. They were so time consuming to make the imaginary worlds were really sparsely populated which I found disturbing as a child. Isn’t that weird? Where are all the people?!

    • Dottie says

      Alice, I think that is totally understandable that you would be slightly freaked out by that! I remember being really scared by the snowman.

    • Alix says

      hahaha you are so cute. I have to say I never found it disturbing… you mean that there weren’t many people at the North Pole? hee. I guess I bought it because I thought “Oh its so cold, only santa and his elves live up there.” haha.

      The abominable made me nervous and some of the specials did make me really sad!!

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Vintage Video: Mad Monster Party? – Modern Kiddo linked to this post on October 16, 2012

    […] you remember the post I did in December on Rankin & Bass and their amazing animagic that was behind sooo many great […]

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