One of the favourite holiday traditions for many families, mine included, is to watch the classic Rankin and Bass produced “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” stop motion animated special. It first aired Sunday, December 6, 1964, on the NBC in the United States, and was sponsored by General Electric as part of the The General Electric Fantasy Hour. It is the longest continuously running Christmas TV special.
Rankin and Bass chose Canadian voice actors because radio dramas were still being produced in Canada at the time, which gave producers a large talent pool to choose from. Rankin and Bass were also financially stretched and knew there were lower labour costs in Canada if they used Canadian voice talent.
In 1964, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer had all its voice recording done in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at CBC studios.
Now, Hermie, the elf that wants to be a dentist, was voiced by Paul Soles. He currently lives in Toronto.
And the mean head elf, was voiced by fellow Canadian voice actor, Carl Banas.
But what I didn’t know was that BOTH THESE VOICE ACTORS ALSO DID VOICES FOR THE OLD SPIDER-MAN CARTOON. Paul Soles voiced Spider-Man/Peter Parker & Carl Banas voiced Scorpion!
Now here is where my mind is blown: SPIDER-MAN AND SCORPION YELL AT EACH OTHER IN THE SPIDERMAN CARTOON AND HEAD ELF AND HERMIE ALSO YELL AT EACH OTHER IN RUDOLPH. This mashup and revelation may just be too much for my nostalgic mind to handle. So let’s just switch gears, what ever happened to all those little stop motion puppets from the film? The crew involved with the production had no clue of the future value of the stop-motion puppet figures used in the production, so many were not preserved. It is claimed that Rankin was in possession of an original Rudolph figure.
The remaining nine other puppets—including Santa and young Rudolph—were given to a secretary at the studio, who gave them away to family members. Seven were discarded, leaving only two in existence.
In 2005, those surviving two puppets magically appeared on the Antiques Roadshow episode that aired in 2006 on PBS. At that time, their appraised value was between $8,000 and $10,000. The original puppets had been damaged through years of rough handling by children and storage in an attic. Toy aficionado Kevin Kriess bought Santa and Rudolph in 2005 and in 2007, he had both puppets restored by Screen Novelties a Los Angeles-based collective of film directors specializing in stop-motion animation.
The figurines were recently sold at auction on November 13, 2020, netting a $368,000 sale price, doubling the expected return.
You could now legitimately say that “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer….You’ll go down in history..”
Andrew King, December 2020