December 12th 2007 00:05
Drawing on his own experiences as a child and drawing on the line of thought from Hans Christian Anderson's "The Ugly Duckling", Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was composed, published and handed out to a total of 2.4 million children.
By 1946, over 6 million copies were in circulation, May having tested the story out on his own 4 year old daughter at the time of writing.
May's wife sadly passed away at the time of writing also, and due to the resulting financial difficulties, went to the stores corporate president. In 1947, the corporate president agreed to turn the copyright back over to May.
By 1947 "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was printed commercially and a year later a short cartoon of the story was shown in theatres. When May's brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, wrote the lyrics and melody for the song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", the Rudolph phenomenon was born.
The song was then recorded by Gene Autry in 1949 and sold two million copies during that first year. It is now one of the best-selling Christmas songs of all time, second only to Bing Crosby's "White Christmas".
Following on from the huge Rudolph sensation, a television special involving claymation-style characters was produced, to tell the story of Rudolph. Narrated by the popular Burl Ives, it has since been shown many a time on television, much to the delight of young children, and parents like myself who grew up with the tale.