Jules Bass, who introduced ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ to TV, dies at 87



CNN
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What sort of Christmas would it not be with out the resourceful Rudolph or Hermey the aspiring dentist, with out pleasant Frosty or the dastardly Warmth and Snow Misers?

Jules Bass introduced all of them to vivid, animated life on TV. And together with his producing and directing companion Arthur Rankin Jr., he didn’t simply contribute indelible classics to the canon of Christmas specials – he helped popularize the style.

Bass, who helmed beloved animated Christmas specials like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman,” died this week, publicist Jennifer Ruff advised CNN. He was 87.

Born Julius Bass, the Philadelphia native attended school in New York Metropolis, the place he met Rankin. The pair, then employed at an promoting company, teamed up first to create commercials however yearned to maneuver into artistic programming.

After Rankin toured a Tokyo animation studio, he and Bass determined to create a collection in stop-motion animation, a way they’d name “Animagic.” Their first effort was the youngsters’s present “The New Adventures of Pinocchio,” additionally the primary collection produced by the corporate that may change into Rankin/Bass Animated Leisure.

However the duo left a everlasting mark on TV with the 1964 debut of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” a stop-motion particular based mostly on the Christmas story and well-liked tune. The 55-minute particular expanded the story to incorporate a crew of misfit toys, a snowman narrator voiced by Burl Ives, a too-skinny Santa and a weird mustachioed prospector named Yukon Cornelius.

“Rudolph’s” distinctive animation model and lovable solid made it a success amongst critics – the New York Instances referred to as it a “charming and tuneful hour of fantasy” – and audiences. It’s since change into one of many longest-running Christmas specials in historical past, airing on TV almost yearly since its first run.

The pair went on to create extra Christmas specials in stop-motion, like “The Year Without a Santa Claus” and “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” in addition to historically animated hits like “Frosty the Snowman.” Lots of these specials nonetheless air yearly between Thanksgiving and New Yr’s Day.

Bass and Rankin labored collectively for many years, crafting stop-motion characteristic movies like “Mad Monster Party” and animated diversifications of “The Hobbit” and “The Return of the King.” The duo additionally produced the cult-classic TV collection “Thundercats.” They continued working collectively till Rankin/Bass shut down for good in 1987, although they’d reunite as soon as extra for a 2001 particular referred to as “Santa, Baby!”

“A partnership comes from two people who support each other and complement each other,” Rankin stated in an interview about his work with Bass. Rankin died in 2014 at age 89.

Bass’ inventive companion was the extra vocal of the 2, and he commonly dealt with interviews and press for his or her initiatives, stated Rick Goldschmidt, a former colleague of the pair who wrote “The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass.” Bass was content material to remain out of the limelight and proceed his work, which included writing the youngsters’s image e-book “Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon” and the romantic novel “Headhunters,” which grew to become a 2011 movie referred to as “Monte Carlo” starring Selena Gomez. An “incredible chef,” based on Ruff, Bass additionally created a kids’s cookbook of vegetarian recipes that includes, naturally, Herb the dragon.

Within the 2010s, he tried to mount a musical about composer Oliver Messiaen, who composed music whereas imprisoned at a German POW camp. The present by no means made it to Broadway, however Bass’ personal affinity for music shone by way of in his numerous initiatives. He penned lyrics to beloved songs in lots of the movies he co-directed, together with the themes for each Warmth and Snow Misers in “The Year Without a Santa Claus” and “The Greatest Adventure” from “The Hobbit.”

The latter tune was a easy however stirring story that encapsulated Bilbo Baggins’ life-changing determination in just some strains, and stays certainly one of Bass’ most touching creations: “The greatest adventure is what lies ahead; today and tomorrow are yet to be said. The chances, the changes are all yours to make. The mold of your life is in your hands to break.”