Rudolph is a character created for the story Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The story was written by Robert L. May in 1939 as part of his employment with Montgomery Ward; it is owned by The Rudolph Company, L.P. and has been sold in numerous forms, most notably a song written by Johnny Marks. Although the story and the song are not public domain, Rudolph himself has become a figure of Christmas folklore, notably appearing in a few holiday specials produced by Rankin/Bass.
Appearances in Rankin/Bass productionsEdit
Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerEdit
In the original special, just as the song suggests, Rudolph is born with an unusually shiny red nose. His father Donner, ashamed of this unusual trait, places a fake nose on Rudolph's nose, but it later falls off. When Rudolph's nose is revealed at the reindeer games, the other reindeer laugh at him and call him names, and the coach, Comet, bans him from the games. His girlfriend, Clarice, is the only other reindeer who does not laugh at his nose, but her father forbids her from being seen with Rudolph.
Feeling ashamed about his nose, Rudolph decides to run away from his home. He later befriends Hermey, an elf outcast who wants to be a dentist, and a miner named Yukon Cornelius. After narrowly avoiding being caught by the Abominable Snowmonster of the North, they arrive at the Island of Misfit Toys, a place where all unwanted toys go. While spending the night there, Rudolph decides he does not want his nose to endanger his friends anymore and runs away.
A few months later, Rudolph, now a fully-grown reindeer, finally decides to return to his home, despite still being ridiculed by his fellow bucks, and finds out that his parents and Clarice have been looking for him. He searches for them, eventually saving them from the Abominable Snowmonster. After they return to Santa's workshop, Rudolph learns that Santa Claus's annual Christmas Eve flight will have to be canceled because of the terrible weather conditions. However, Santa asks Rudolph to use his nose to light the way and lead his team. Thus, Christmas is saved and Rudolph is praised as a hero instead of a misfit. Rudolph was voiced by the late Billie Mae Richards who would reprise her role of the character in the sequels.
Rudolph makes a brief cameo in Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, immediately following the introduction of the original eight reindeer. As a continuity nod, S. D. Kluger points out to his audience that Rudolph does not have a role in the story he's telling, since his backstory is another story altogether. Rudolph had another cameo in Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey.
Rudolph returned in two sequels, Rudolph's Shiny New Year and Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July. In Rudolph's Shiny New Year, Rudolph is told by Father Time that the Baby New Year, Happy, has gone missing because everyone laughed at the sight of his oversized ears. Having put up with similar teasing about his nose in the first special, Rudolph says that he knows how Happy felt. Accompanied by Big Ben, Rudolph ventures to the Archipelago of Last Years, since Happy has presumably gone to one of those islands. In his travels, he is eventually joined by One Million B.C., 1023, and 1776. After Happy is captured by a giant vulture named Aeon the Terrible and brought to the Island of No Name, Rudolph finds Happy and shares his own story with him, encouraging the Baby New Year to overcome his problem.
By the time of Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July, Rudolph has become great friends with Frosty the Snowman and his family, so much that Frosty and Crystal's twin children, Chilly and Milly, look up to him as their adoptive uncle. The film notably also provides a more detailed backstory for Rudolph's nose, explaining that the Lady Borealis made it shine as a defense against the evil Winterbolt, and that its power lasts only as long as Rudolph uses his gift for good. During the events of the film, Rudolph, along with Frosty and his family (who are wearing amulets that prevent them from melting in the hot weather, provided by Winterbolt pretending to be a nice person), appear as guest stars at the Sea Side Circus at the Beach's Fourth of July show, in order to save the circus from being shut down. However, Winterbolt employs an evil reindeer named Scratcher, taking advantage of Rudolph's kindness, to steal the circus's money. Upon finding out, Rudolph agrees to take the blame after making a deal with Winterbolt, to extend the powers of the amulets Frosty's family is wearing. Because of this evil act, Rudolph's nose stops glowing. However, after Rudolph manages to retrieve Frosty's magic hat from Winterbolt, his nose regains its glow. In the end, after Winterbolt is vanquished and Jack Frost arrives to save the melted Frosty family, Rudolph decides to temporarily stay with the circus until they've gotten out of their debt.