The navigational prowess of “the most famous reindeer of all” will again illuminate Santa Claus' way into the Christmas season, on a rebroadcast of RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER, Tuesday, Dec. 9 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. This year marks the 50th anniversary of this holiday favorite, which was originally broadcast on CBS 12/8/72, after an eight-year run on another network.
The special, narrated by Burl Ives, who is also heard as the voice of Sam the Snowman, is a musical story based on the popular song of the same title by Johnny Marks. It recounts the tale of a shy reindeer whose Christmas spirit is dampened because his shiny nose has made him the laughing stock of all Christmasville.
Pursued by an Abominable Snow Monster, inhabitants of Christmasville flee to the island of Misfit Toys in the Arctic wilderness where Yukon Cornelius, a prospector they meet along the way, comes to their rescue. Returning to Christmasville, they learn that bad weather may cause Christmas to be canceled. But Rudolph's headlight — his illuminated nose — saves the “foggy Christmas Eve” by serving as a beacon to guide Santa's sleigh.
Marks composed seven additional songs for the special: “Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Silver and Gold,” “We Are Santa's Elves,” “We're a Couple of Misfits,” “Jingle Jingle Jingle,” “There's Always Tomorrow” and “The Most Wonderful Day of the Year.” Two musical numbers in the beloved classic were restored to their original form in the remastered version. Now included is the full-length rendition of the song “We Are Santa's Elves.” The second enhanced number is “We're a Couple of Misfits,” a duet between Rudolph and his newfound friend, Hermey the Elf.
Over the years, fading and degeneration of the print had caused it to take on a reddish hue that differs significantly from the bluer tones and starker contrasts of the original. This color-corrected version from 1998 allows a new generation of television viewers to appreciate the special's original visual texture and rich palette of colors. Santa's elves have their blue suits back after years of wearing faded green.
The scene restorations and color correction process for RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER were completed by Golden Books. The special was produced by “Animagic” pioneers Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass and directed by Larry Roemer. Romeo Muller wrote the television adaptation from a story by Robert L. May.