1. Rudolph was created in 1939 when Montgomery Ward asked one of their writers to come up with a character they could base coloring books around so they would have freebies to give out to the kids who came to visit Santa. Obviously, it was a huge hit. They gave out 2.4 million coloring books the first year and then Rudolph ended up going commercial.
2. Rollo and Reginald were two of the potential names before Rudolph was chosen. Rollo was rejected for sounding too sunny and happy; Reginald sounded too British. And Rudolph sounds.....?
3. Petteri Punakuono is Rudolph’s Finnish alter-ego. Say what?! Apparently the Finnish Santa Claus, Joulupukki or Yule Goat, doesn’t name his reindeer the same way we do – Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixon...(can you name them all?) – so the beginning of the song doesn’t start out the same way. Instead, the Finnish version is something like, "You remember Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood and the grey wolf, but this reindeer is often forgotten." Gosh, I can't understand why anyone would forget a simple name like Petteripunakuonosaywhat?!?
4. Although the story came out in 1939, the song wasn’t recorded until ten years later by Gene Autry. He almost passed on the opportunity, but his wife talked him into it (smart woman behind the scenes, of course). The song hit #1 on the charts during the week of Christmas and then nada. It’s the only song in history to ever hit #1 and then just disappear.
5. In addition to barely escaping the Rollo or Reggie moniker, Rudolph almost guided Santa’s sleigh with huge headlight eyes instead of a glowing red nose. Which sounds better? "Rollo, the bug-eyed reindeer, had very large protruding eyes" OR "Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, had a very shiny nose." You decide.
6. The puppets used for the TV special disappeared until Santa and Rudolph resurfaced on the Antiques Roadshow in 2006. Some lady who worked for the show had them stored in her attic after her kids outgrew playing with them. Now they're fully restored and they were on display at the Center for Puppetry Arts, but now some dude from Time & Space Toys has them. BTW, the TV special is the longest-running Christmas TV special of all time.
7. Apparently Rudolph hooked up with Clarice at some point because they have a son named Robbie, according to the BBC. They made some shows about Robbie, but never actually mentioned Baby-Daddy. Supposedly the villain is Blitzen and he can’t stand to hear Rudolph’s name. The truth is, it’s because the BBC couldn’t get permission to use it. Fox Family ran the show for a few years in the early ’00s with redubbed voices: Ben Stiller as Robbie, Hugh Grant as Blitzen, Britney Spears as Donner, Leah Remini as Vixen, and Brad Garrett as Prancer.
So there you have it. Happy Birthday, Dear/Deer Rudolph, Happy Birthday to you! And many more!