On January 7, 1950, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was the #1 song on the U.S. pop charts. While Santa may have had eleven other reindeer guiding his sleigh, no other reindeer is as popular or well-loved as Rudolph. Here are 5 things you didn't know about this famous reindeer known for his bright red nose.
Rudolph Was Created For The Montgomery Ward Department Store Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer may be a classic Christmas tune and an annual TV special, but its roots didn't start on radio or television. The Montogomery Ward department store handed out free coloring books to children who visited Santa Claus, and in 1939, store executives decided to include a character in these freebies. Rudolph was created to be part of these coloring books and became an instant hit among the children. The story was written by Robert May, a copywriter in Montgomery Ward's catalog division. The store would end up handing out 2.4 million copies of the Rudolph coloring book in just the first year.
Rudolph Was Almost Rollo Or Reginald
While it may be hard to imagine the lovable red-nosed reindeer being named anything but Rudolph, there were other names on the table for consideration, including Rollo, Reginald, Romeo, and Rodney. Eventually, Rudolph was chosen.
Rudolph's Eyes Almost Led the Way for Santa's Sleigh Everyone knows that Rudolph's red, glowing nose lit the way to guide Santa's sleigh as he delivered presents to children all over the world on Christmas Eve. But at one point, Robert May considered giving Rudolph another way to light the way: with bright eyes that would shine through the night like headlights. However, May eventually settled on a red nose, as he felt that type of characteristic would be easier to make fun of among the mean kids, which is a key part of the story.
The Song Was Created A Decade After Rudolph Was Created
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer may have been an immediate hit among children who visited Montgomery Ward's Santa Claus, but they would have to wait another decade before the classic "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer'' song would come out. Robert May's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, wrote the lyrics for the song, and singer/songwriter Gene Autry recorded it. Autry nearly passed on the tune, but his wife urged him to give it a shot. Since then, the song has gone on to sell over 150 million copies.
Johnny Marks Went On To Write Other Christmas Classics
Johnny Marks's contribution to the classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer song started him on the journey to create other classic Christmas songs. After Rudolph, Marks went on to write "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," "Silver and Gold," "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," and "A Holly Jolly Christmas." The fact that Marks was Jewish makes the story even more interesting.