This week’s podcast: why Rudolph resonates

CHML’s Scott Thompson wants to know why the holy trinity of animated Christmas specials–Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer (1964), A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) and Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)–continue to draw big ratings 45 years after they premiered.
Last week’s re-broadcast of Rudolph on CBS (it originally aired on NBC) drew an overnight audience of 12.67 million U.S. viewers, up 8% over the year before and the biggest audience for the Rankin-Bass special since 2007. The show won the night among adults 25-54, children 2-11 and 6-11. Pretty amazing considering the special has long been available on home video, DVD and now Blu-ray.
If you missed it, the hour-long special will be repeated Saturday at 8 p.m. on CBS. Why is it still such a big draw? I give my usual reasons and you can listen to them here.
Burl Lives, who narrated and played Sam the Snowman, was the most famous member of Rudolph‘s talented voice cast, but there were several performers well known to Canadians in on the act. Toronto’s Paul Soles (This is the Law; Canada After Dark) voiced Hermey the Elf; Larry Mann, also from Toronto and for years a judge on Hill Street Blues, was Yukon Cornelius; Carl Banas, long a fixture on Toronto radio, was the voice of the head elf as well as some of the misfit toys. Toronto actress Billie Mae Richards, who voiced Rudolph, died last year at 88.
Except for Ives, all signed contracts paying them only for the first three years the special aired. Who knew they’d all go down in history?

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