Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer originally aired on NBC on December 6, 1964 during the General Electric Fantasy Hour. The stop-motion animation cartoon was inspired by Johnny Marks's bestselling song of the same name.
Rudolph is tormented by the other reindeer when they discover he's different: His nose glows red. Only a doe, Clarice, is sympathetic. Because his father, Donner, is ashamed of him, Rudolph runs away. On his long and cold journey he's joined by Hermy, an elf who wants to be a dentist, and Yukon Cornelius, a brave prospector who takes them under his wing. Together they defeat the Abominable Snowman and return to Christmasville as heroes. After Santa realizes he can use Rudolph to guide him through the storm, they rescue friends from Island of Misfit Toys.
Singer Burl Ives narrates the story and is the voice of Sam the Snowman. Marks 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."
Other actors in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer are Billie Richards as Rudolph, Paul Soles as Hermy the Elf, Larry D. Mann as Yukon Cornelius, Stan Francis as Santa Claus and Janet Orenstein as Clarice, singing my favorite song from the show, "There's Always Tomorrow."
Over the years, fading and degeneration of the print had caused it to take on a reddish hue that differs significantly from the bluer tones and starker contrasts of the original. CBS aired a re-mastered version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in 1998. In this version, two musical numbers in the beloved classic were restored to their original form. Now included is the full-length rendition of the song "We Are Santa's Elves." The second enhanced number is "We're a Couple of Misfits," a duet between Rudolph and his newfound friend, Hermy the Elf.
The scene restorations and color correction process for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer were completed by Golden Books. The special was produced by Animagic pioneers Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass and directed by Larry Roemer. Romeo Muller wrote the television adaptation from a story by Robert L. May.