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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

  • Premiered: 
    December 6, 1964
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: NBC
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Special, Annual
  • Type: Animated
  • Concept: 
    Based on the story (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) by Robert L. May 
  • Subject Matter: Holiday
  • Tags: Christmas

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Plot Synopsis

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER 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, but is later accepted by other reindeer for being a hero and then uses his red nose to save Christmas. When the other reindeer ostracize Rudolph because of his red nose, he feels like an outcast and runs away from Christmasville. As he's leaving town, Rudolph finds kindred soul Hermey, a misfit elf who is also running away because he wants to be a dentist instead of working in Santa's workshop. On their trek to "Fame and Fortune" together, they escape the Abominable Snow Monster and then team up with Yukon Cornelius to find the Island of Misfit Toys in the Arctic. When the island's king denies their request to stay, Rudolph runs off once again, realizing that his bright nose will always be a danger to his friends. After a few months, Rudolph returns home as a young stag, only to find that this family has left to find him. When Rudolph searches for his parents, he learns that the Abominable Snow Monster is holding them captive, and he tries to rescue them. Fortunately, Yukon and Hermey find them and help Rudolph save his family and tame the Snow Monster. Now back at Christmasville, Rudolph and Hermey are hailed as heroes, and the residents accept the two for who they really are. During Santa's party for the two misfits, he learns 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. Johnny Marks, who wrote the song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" based on the original story, 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."
In 2014, CBS celebrated the 50th anniversary of RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER, airing the Christmas special on Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 8pm ET/PT and by broadcasting holiday spots from Thanksgiving through the end of December. In these spots -- the first-ever mix of Animagic animation and live-action footage in a TV promotion -- an array of CBS stars congratulate everyone's four-legged friend on his impressive milestone, as he and Sam the Snowman make their way backstage at CBS-Land.


Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Rankin/Bass Productions

Firsts, Lasts & Notable Notes

  • December 3, 1964: Highest rated TV special in history (at time of airing).