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Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 12/24/2010

The history of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

By Valerie Strauss

There is something quintessentially American about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: He began life as a cost-savings promotional gimmick for shoppers.


The Smithsonian Institution''s National Museum of American History houses the original 1939 book entitled "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," written when Montgomery Ward department store asked one of its copywriters, 34-year-old, Robert L. May, to create a Christmas story that shoppers would like.

According to the Smithsonian:
The retailer had been buying and giving away coloring books for Christmas every year; and it was decided that creating its own book would save money. In the first year of publication, 2.4 million copies of Rudolph’s story were distributed by Montgomery Ward.

May’s brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, decided to adapt the story of Rudolph into song. Marks’ musical version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was recorded by Gene Autry in 1949.

The book, not currently on display, is one of 137 million artifacts, works of art and specimens in the Smithsonian’s collection.

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By Valerie Strauss  | December 24, 2010; 10:00 PM ET
Categories:  Laugh and cry  | Tags:  christmas, reindeer, rudolph, rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, smithsonian institution  
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Interesting article! I just now got Coupons of my Favorite Brands for free from "Printapons" you should search for them online

Posted by: carolairvin | December 22, 2010 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Rudolph is a classic for many reasons, not least of which is its chronicling of bullying.

Think about it. Rudolph, with his red nose, was the quintessential story of someone/thing being bullied because he was different.

"All of the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names. They never let poor Rudolph play in any reindeer games."

As soon as his mentor (Santa) accepted him, the other reindeer took him into the fold.

"Then one foggy Christmas eve, Santa came to say, "Rudolph with your nose so bright, won't you guide my sleigh tonight? Then all the other reindeer laughed and shouted out with glee, "Rudolph the red nose reindeer, you'll go down in history."

I used this story often in teaching about bullying and its primary source, someone being different.

Questioned occasionally by an administrator for potential separation of church and state violations I insisted the principal in question come in to observe. The situation immediately resolved itself when the interests and level of discussion it prompted were exhibited.

Posted by: phoss1 | December 22, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

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