Jules Bass, who helped bring Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman to living rooms across the country at Christmastime, died Tuesday at the age of 87.
Bass pioneered stop-motion animation with Arthur Rankin Jr. under Rankin/Bass Productions, which was founded in 1960. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and 1969 Frosty the Snowmanwe become the creators of other characters who have the image as the narrator of RudolphSam the Snowman (voiced by Burl Ives), and the Abominable Snowman.
Rankin/Bass Productions’ animation style, called Animagic, used wire puppets and captured their movements one frame at a time, Rankin/Bass historian Rick Goldschmidt told NPR in 2004. for a movie that lasted less than an hour it takes more than a year to make a play, he said.
47 minutes Rudolph The TV special, based on the Johnny Marks song, was the result of more than a year of shooting, Rankin said. In the Washington Post in 2004.
“It’s not just skill,” he said. “The story, the characters, the music. We knew what we needed: warmth.”
The first two dolls were used in the Rudolpheach costing about $5,000 to make back in 1964, it sold for $368,000 at the Icons and Legends of Hollywood Auction in 2020, a nod to the nostalgia of these holiday films.
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Rankin/Bass Productions became the go-to stop motion after the release of Rudolph. Bass helped write music in the 1970s Santa Claus Goes to Town and 1974 A Year Without Santa Claus.
“We had no problem filling our production schedules, our personal lives and our company’s ability to produce,” Rankin, who died in 2014, told Archives Television. “We couldn’t produce all the things they wanted to buy from us.”
Bass and Rankin not only worked on holiday specials but also produced other animated series The ThunderCats and Jackson 5ive. They have also created adaptations of novels such as JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbitwhere they received the Peabody Award in 1977, and The Return of the King in 1980.
Bass retired to France where she wrote vegetarian cookbooks for children and died in an assisted living facility in Rye, NY.
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