Saturday, December 25, 2010


Everybody knows the story of Rudolph, the reindeer with the red nose, so I am not going to tell you that story.  But I hope you will not be shocked if I tell you that Rudolph is not a real reindeer.  He is what you call a fictional reindeer, which means that somebody dreamed him up.  And the person who dreamed him up was named Robert L. May.

The reason Mr. May dreamed up Rudolph, which he did in 1939, was because a company called Montgomery Ward wanted to make a coloring book to give to kids at Christmas.  Actually, they had been giving away coloring books for several years already, but they used to always have to buy the books from somebody else.  And they decided it would be cheaper to make their own books.

So they asked Mr. May to write the book, which he did.  First he thought he would call the reindeer "Rollo" or maybe "Reginald," but then he decided to name him "Rudolph."  The book was written as a poem in the same meter as 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.  In the first year of this book, Montgomery Ward gave out 2.4 million copies.

Later on, Mr. May's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, decided that the story of Rudolph should be a song, so he wrote some music for it.  Mr. Marks was a radio producer, and he had studied music in Paris, so he knew how to do this kind of thing.  The first person to sing the song on the radio was Harry Brannon, in 1948.

Then in 1949, Gene Autry recorded the song, and that's when it got to be really popular.  During the week of Christmas in 1949, the Rudolph song was #1 on the charts, and then the very next week it fell off the charts completely.  But it sold 2.5 million copies the first year, and eventually it sold 25 million copies, which made it the second-best-selling record of all time until the 1980s.

Bing Crosby recorded the song in 1950, and after that a whole bunch of other people recorded it, including Spike Jones, Red Foley, Dean Martin, The Chipmunks, Paul Anka, The Supremes, The Temptations, and The Jackson 5.

Meanwhile, Rudolph was starting to be famous on film and in books.  He first appeared in a theatrical cartoon short in 1947 and in a children's book in 1958.  In 1964, he got to be in a TV stop-motion animation special, and in 1998, he starred in an animated feature-length film.  Also he was in a bunch of comic books between 1950 and 1962.

Besides that, Rudolph has been on a whole bunch of products, but if you are making something you're planning to sell that has Rudolph on it, you have to pay for the right to use his picture.  This is called a royalty.  When Mom used to work at Hallmark Cards, they could never show a reindeer with a red nose on a card because then they would have to pay a royalty, so they used reindeer with black noses.  Which, when you think about it, is more natural anyway.  But if you look around at Christmastime, you will often see stuff that has a reindeer with a red nose on it, and you have to wonder if all these people paid for the right to use this picture.

And anyway, it's pretty silly to think of a reindeer with a red nose at the front of a sleigh because the law says that red lights go on the back of vehicles, not the front.  So Rudolph really should have had a white light, like a headlight, on his nose.  Otherwise, people would be confused about whether they were looking at the front of the sleigh or the back of the sleigh.

Sometimes people dress their dogs up to look like Rudolph, which is just nuts.  But you already know how I feel about dogs wearing costumes.

A much better idea I found online is a Rudolph dog toy.  Now, that's something I could really have fun with!

Or cookies made to look like Rudolph.  Yum!

And this might be the very best of all.  It's a place in Alaska.  I wonder if they ship.  I'll have to ask Mom to check into it.

Anyway, have a merry Christmas, everybody!  Or enjoy whatever holiday you celebrate!


  1. Dear Piper,
    I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. I did, I was very good this year. I got a new crate pad, a new food toy, an antler (!!! you have ***got*** to get one of those) and a new puzzle bone. And then I stole my sister's puzzle bone and antler. So it pays to be good AND smart. ;-)

    And then because the weather was so nice here in Colorado, mom and I got to go play 'gility in my 'gility yard for an hour. Mom said I was brilliant. See, starting to be good for next year.

    Your friend,
    Zest, superstar in training

  2. Dear Zest,

    You really did have a good Christmas! I was not such a good girl because I peed on the hearth rug last night. But I was not as naughty as Gabe, who bit Mom this morning when she tried to pick him up and carry him downstairs, and then he peed on two rugs upstairs because he could not get downstairs to go outside and pee.

    Mom bought us an antler one time, and we all loved it, but she only bought one because it was really, really expensive. So we had to take turns chewing on it, and then we started getting into fights over it, so Mom finally threw the rest of it away.

    Mostly, it was just cold and gloomy here today, so we stayed inside all day and took naps, which is a fine way to spend the day, if you ask me!

    Your friend, Piper

  3. I've missed a couple days of your blog - my daughter was in town for just a couple days! The exciting news is that she also wants to read your blog, she thought the idea of a dog having it's/her own blog is GREAT!! I just e-mailed the website to her. So...if you receive a comment from a "Nikki Myers" that is my daughter OR she might have her cat, Georgie, write the comments. Hope you had a great Christmas....and will have a great New Year.
    Love, AP

  4. Dear Aunt Patty,
    I am very happy that your daughter wants to read my blog! I hope she will like it, even if she is mostly a cat person. I also hope you and Dodi and Di and Nikki and Georgie and your mom all had a happy, yummy Christmas!

    Love, Piper