The history of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
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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| 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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