Rudolf: the beginnings

Kellie Gleeson

When most people think of Rudolf the red nosed reindeer, they think of the following tale:
One day eight reindeer where making fun of one lonely little one with a bright red nose. They mocked him, made fun of him and wouldn’t let him play with them.
But on Christmas Eve, Santa couldn’t get out of the North Pole because the weather was so bad. Then, in the distance, he saw a red light. It was the gawky reindeer that the other eight always made fun of.
Santa begged this reindeer to guide his sleigh. From then on this reindeer was always included in activities.This reindeer was Rudolf.
Did you ever wonder who came up with the concept of Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer?
In June of 1939, Bob May, a worker at the Montgomery Ward Catalog Company, was told that he had to come up with a new Christmas icon.
This icon would be used to write a new Children’s book that could be given away at Christmas time. May came up with the idea of Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. He thought the character would be a shy, awkward, little reindeer with a big heart and a red nose.
At first, his idea was rejected. The company never thought a nerdy reindeer would be a best seller and a Christmas icon.
May went on to develop a story line for the book and an exact picture of how Rudolf would look like.
In August of 1939, May presented his idea again to the owners of Montgomery Ward. This time they loved the idea and gave May the final go ahead.
During Christmas, hundreds of thousands of Rudolf books and figures were sold across America.
When World War II came along, Rudolf was put on hold, but when the war ended Montgomery Ward made May enhance the book even further. This time Rudolf soared and became a culture Christmas icon of the company.
In 1946, a publishing agency wanted to make a Rudolf movie and song. May couldn’t authorize this because he didn’t own the rights to the Character. Montgomery Ward did.
Later on that year, the company decided to give the rights to May as an early Christmas present.
The two made a deal that Montgomery Ward would also get credit for the start of the character and the company would hold the originals.
Soon after, a movie and more figures came out. Rudolf entered into the homes of people throughout the country.
The red nosed reindeer was further immortalized by country singer Gene Autry.
In 1946, Autry wrote and preformed “Rudolf, the Red Nosed Reindeer” song that we are all use to hearing today. Millions of copies were sold all over the world and the legend of Rudolf was immortalized.