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Reginald the Red-Nosed Reindeer?

Santa's Reindeer

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,
Comet and Cupid and Donder and Blitzen,
But do you recall
The most famous reindeer of all?
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer!

Notice that the commonly thought name for Donder is Donner. That is in error.

The eight reindeer first appeared in American literature in 1822 in the famous poem by Clement Clarke Moore, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," popularly known as, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." To quote the original poem: Rudolph

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder, and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

Originally, the "Donner" goof began after publication of the 1949 song Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, written by Johnny Marks and sung by Gene Autry, in which they mistakenly misnamed poor ol' Donder in the opening stanza.

Did you know that the first names considered for Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer were Reginald and Rollo? Can you imagine singing, "Reginald the Red-Nosed Reindeer?"

The idea behind the song came from a poem written in 1939 as a handout to department-store shoppers. The Montgomery Ward store in Chicago designed the illustrated poem for its Santa to give to customers. They distributed 2.4 million copies of the Rudolph booklet, and although wartime paper shortages curtailed printing for the next several years, a total of 6 million copies had been given by the end of 1946.

Robert May was the artist who sketched the shiny-nosed reindeer. May, rather sickly, shy and introverted as a child, based the story on his childhood feelings of alienation from children of his own age. As to the name, May considered and rejected Rollo (too cheerful) and Reginald (too British) before deciding on Rudolph (the preference of his 4 year-old daughter). Rudolph & Santa

May's boss was worried that a story featuring a red nose -- an image associated with drinking and drunkards -- wasn't exactly suitable for a Christmas tale. May responded by taking Denver Gillen, a friend from Montgomery Ward's art department, to the Lincoln Park Zoo to sketch some deer. Gillen's illustrations of a red-nosed reindeer overcame the hesitancy of May's bosses, and the Rudolph story was approved.

The post-war demand for licensing the Rudolph character was tremendous, but since May had created the story as an employee of Montgomery Ward, they held the copyright and he received no royalties.

Deeply in debt from the medical bills resulting from his wife's terminal illness (she died about the time May created Rudolph), May persuaded Montgomery Ward's corporate president, Sewell Avery, to turn the copyright over to him in January 1947. With the rights in hand, May's financial security was assured.

May quit his copywriting job in 1951 and spent seven years managing his creation before returning to Montgomery Ward, where he worked until his retirement in 1971. May died in 1976, comfortable in the life his reindeer creation had provided for him.

The poem was reprinted in 1947, when Johnny Marks (May's brother-in-law) put it to music. In 1949, Gene Autry recorded the song, and it was an instant success. Since then, 300 versions have been recorded and Rudolph has become an international symbol of Christmas.

Compiled in part from the book, " Panati's Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things," by Charles Panati.

Tiny Snowman  Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer  Tiny Snowman

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,
Comet and Cupid and Donder and Blitzen,
But do you recall
The most famous reindeer of all?
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Had a very shiny nose,
And if you ever saw it,
You could even say it glows.
All of the other reindeer
Used to laugh and call him names;
They never let poor Rudolph
Join in any reindeer games.
Then one foggy Christmas Eve,
Santa came to say:
Rudolph with your nose so bright,
Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"
Then how the reindeer loved him
As they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,
You'll go down in history."

Panati's Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things - Charles Panati - For lovers of facts, students of popular culture, history buffs, and science enthusiasts, the fascinating stories behind 500 everyday items, expressions, and customs -- from Kleenex to steak sauce, Barbie Dolls to honeymoons. Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - CD - Gene Autry - Purchase the CD by the artist who made "Rudolph" famous. There are ten Christmas tracks, including Jingle Bells/Silver Bells, Here Comes Santa Claus/Up On The Housetop, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer/Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Sleigh Ride, Silent Night/Joy To The World, Frosty The Snowman, Buon Natale, 32 Feet And Eighty Little Tails and Story Of The Nativity/Silent Night.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - The Movie - VHS - John Goodman - The story line is a bit more complex than the original 1964 version, with the abominable snowman's antagonist role played by the Whoopi Goldberg-voiced Ice Queen, Stormella, and Rudolph's running buddies depicted as a polar bear (excellently voiced by Bob Newhart) and, not surprisingly, a cutesy doe, Zoey. The animation is first-rate and completely convincing, making this new Rudolph ideal for the discriminating 3- to 7-year-old viewer. Voices: Sarah Jessica Parker, Richard Simmons, Debbie Reynolds, Eric Idle, Bob Newhart and Whoopi Goldberg.  DVD Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - The Movie

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