The Original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Did you know that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer originated from the department store Montgomery Ward? Rudolph made his first screen appearance in 1948 as a holiday greeting from the department store. The 1948 version was called, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer With Christmas Greetings From Montgomery Ward.”

Rudolph made his first screen appearance in 1948, in a cartoon short produced by Max Fleischer for the Jam Handy Corporation that was more faithful to May’s original story than Marks’ song, which had not yet been written.

It was reissued in 1951 with the song added. Rudolph first appeared in a 1939 booklet written by Robert L. May and published by Montgomery Ward, the department store. Robert L. May created Rudolph in 1939 as an assignment for Chicago-based Montgomery Ward.

The retailer was buying and giving away coloring books for Christmas every year. To save money, it decided to create their own book. Robert May considered naming the reindeer “Rollo” or “Reginald” before deciding upon using the name “Rudolph.” May said his daughter liked reindeer, and he said he was treated similar to Rudolph as a child. In its first year of publication, Montgomery Ward distributed 2.4 million copies of Rudolph’s story. The story is written as a poem. Publication and reprint rights for the book Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer are controlled by Pearson PLC.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer With Christmas Greetings From Montgomery Ward.

Created / Published: 1948
Credits: Narration: Paul Wing. Animation: Fletcher Smith, William Sturm, Robinson McKee, Howard Kakudo.

In Public Domain. The Library of Congress is not aware of any U.S. copyright or other restrictions in the vast majority of motion pictures in these collections. Absent any such restrictions, these materials are free to use and reuse.

Smith, Fletcher, Robinson McKee, Howard Kakudo, Montgomery Ward, Max Fleischer, and William Sturm. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: With Christmas Greetings From Montgomery Ward. 1948. Video.