Animation Legend Arthur Rankin Jr. ‘Frosty The Snowman’ ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’ Has Died At The Age Of 89, Highlight Hollywood News
Arthur Rankin Jr., the animator, producer and director behind the whimsical holiday stop-motion TV specials Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, has died. He was 89. Rankin died Thursday at his home by Harrington Sound in Bermuda, The Royal Gazette newspaper reported.
In the early 1960s, Rankin and Jules Bass founded the film production company Videocraft International (now called Rankin/Bass Productions). Their stop-motion, cel-animated features were painstaking to make and known for their doll-like characters.
Their first production was the syndicated TV series The New Adventures of Pinocchio, which debuted in 1960. A total of 130 five-minute chapters were produced, making for a series of five-chapter, 25-minute episodes.
Their other TV projects included The Ballad of Smokey the Bear (1966), The Wacky Word of Mother Goose (1967), Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (1970), The Little Drummer Boy (1968), The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974) and the 1980s animated series Thundercats.
Their holiday specials air every year and always draw a crowd. In December, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which debuted in 1964, and Frosty the Snowman, which premiered in 1969, were broadcast by CBS and were the two highest-rated programs of the night.
Rankin also produced and directed episodes of the animated series Jackson 5ive in the early 1970s and directed an animated version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1973).
A native of New York City, Rankin was the son of actors Arthur Rankin and Marian Manfield, and his grandfather was actor Harry Davenport, who played Dr. Meade in Gone With the Wind (1939).
He started out in the entertainment business as an art director at ABC in the late 1940s.
Survivors include his wife Olga and sons Todd and Gardner.