Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The True Rudolph

I received an email regarding the "true story of the origin of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  It was a story of a man, Bob May, who created the story as a comfort to his young daughter, who was dying of cancer.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! 

There's a term fans of use for this type of tearjerker, "glurge".  This email is an example of glurge.  I won't copy the email here; you can find it on

Along with the story, is Snope's explanation of the real story of Rudolph.  When you read it, you will agree that the real story is better than the "glurge" version.  So I ask, why do people have to do that?

Do you remember back when many towns had a Montgomery Ward in the Mall and every year they would sell Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer books?  I bought one for my son when he was a baby.  And, I still have a Rudolph sweatshirt I bought at Monky Wards probably the last Christmas they were open.

For what it's worth, my memory of the book (I no longer have it) is that the story was a bit different than the story in the TV show that most of us remember.  As for the origins of Rudolph....

According to Snopes, Rudolph was created as part of a Montgomery Wards advertising campaign in the 1930's.  It is true a man by the name of Bob May created the character.  But there was no daughter dying of cancer.   The real story is actually a "better" one than the story someone made up, and I invite you to read it on their website.

Bob May's brother in law wrote the Rudolph song that Gene Autry recorded.

As a point of trivia, if Wikipedia is correct about the author of the song, he was Jewish.  So was Irving Berlin, who wrote the song "White Christmas". But that is a story for another day.

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