Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Turns 50 -Where Are They Now?


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Tomorrow, we’ll celebrate one of Christmas’ all-time great’s birthday – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer turns the big five-oh! The legendary deer first graced our television sets December 6th, 1964. As we gear up for the annual airing, ever wonder where the stars of the show are today?  A few of the voice-over artists are alive and well, and so are the actual claymation pieces – despite spending a few decades sitting in a candy bowl! Yes, a candy bowl. Check out the casts’ whereabouts!

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a staple on my TV at Christmas time.  If you’re like me, you watch the longest-running special in television history, re-living your childhood each holiday season.  It is hard to believe that this year, Rudolph turns 50-years old! As I ready myself to do my best Yukon Cornelius impression (nuttin’!) during this year’s airing, I can’t help to wonder – where is Yukon after a half century?  What happened to the voices or characters that I grew up watching over these last fifty years?

Billie Mae Richards (Rudolph) -Passed away in 2010 at the age of 88.  Appearing in over 30 films, including voicing 50+ episodes of The Care Bears, oddly – Billie had a role as Mrs. Butterman in a movie titled Shadow Builder in 1998, in which she was attacked by an axe-wielding Paul Soles, whom played Mr. Butterman.  Who is Soles you ask? He voiced Hermey the Elf in Rudolph.  Did Hermey hack Rudolph?!

Paul Soles (Hermey the Elf) – At the age of 84, Soles is still active in Hollywood, doing voice-over work most recently in 2013 for a TV show called Scaredy Squirell.  Something you have seen?  He was in 2008’s Incredible Hulk.

Larry D Mann (Yukon Cornelius) -Passed away earlier this year at 91.  Mann’s last on-screen role came in 1991’s Homefront. He appeared on many big TV shows later in his career, including MacGyver, Hill Street Blues and the Dukes of Hazzard.

Stan Francis (Santa Claus and King Moonracer) -I can find little to no current information on Stan Francis.  It appears that he only has four credits on his acting resume and has not been in a film since Rudolph!

Burl Ives (Sam the Snowman) -Burl Ives has an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, number-one songs on the charts and served in the armed forces.  Growing up, I never knew these things and sadly only recognized his voice, singing Holly Jolly Christmas.  His resume is quite impressive. Ives passed away in 1994 at 85.

Surviving voices include Peg Dixon (Mrs. Donner),  Carl Banas (the head elf) and Alfie Scopp, who voiced Charlie-in-the-Box.  Banas has the most recent work, lending his voice to The Busy World of Richard Scarry in 1997.

While it is easy to look up where the actors are now, what about the actual pieces from Rudolph?  The clay characters – did they survive a half century of life?  The story of the original toys is phenomenal.

One of the producers, Arthur Rankin, states the Rudolph and Santa figures were going to be thrown out.  A Japanese puppet-making company manufactured roughly six or so figures of each character for Rankin.  Not realizing what Rudolph would become back in 1964, he intended on tossing everything until his secretary took what is believed to be the only two surviving figures home.

Over the next few decades, Rudolph and Santa sat around the house.  At one point, Rudolph sat in a candy dish at Christmas time.  Check out photos of each over the years, randomly hanging around the home.  Hiding from the public, the pair popped up on PBS’ Antiques Road Show in 2005 after the secretary’s nephew found each sitting in an attic.

Kevin A. Kriess bought the pair and had each restored for roughly $4,000 a few years ago. Declining how much he purchased the originals for, Kriess now owns our childhood in his hands.  You can’t really put a price on Rudolph, can you?

The special will air this Tuesday night at 8:00 PM on CBS.  Happy birthday!  – Wait, that’s Frosty…

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About Monte

I love sports, fantasy sports, fantasizing about sports and sporting fantasies. Currently host the afternoon show on 88.3 http://www.wvcr.com/Programming.asp - check out my Facebook https://www.facebook.com/monte.jennings.5#!/pages/Monte/220290668108028 or twitter @MonteJenningsJr I pay people handsomely to update my status for me. I'm far too popular and important to handle my own updates.

Posted on December 5, 2014, in Entertainment, Television and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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