Jules Bass Dead at 87: Rankin Bass, ‘Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer’


Jules Bass, who produced and directed a number of classic animated holiday specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, has died at the age of 87, his publicist confirms to our sister site Variety.

Bass is most famous for his collaborations with Arthur Rankin Jr., including the 1964 stop-motion animated special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which Bass co-produced. The retelling of the famous Christmas carol narrated by Burl Ives became a beloved annual tradition for TV viewers and still runs each year on CBS. Rankin/Bass followed up that success with 1968’s The Little Drummer Boy, 1970’s Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town and 1974’s The Year Without a Santa Claus (which Bass also directed), all animated using stop-motion techniques in the style of Rudolph. In addition to producing, Bass served as a composer, lyricist and uncredited writer on several of the Rankin/Bass specials.

Bass and Rankin also produced the 1969 special Frosty the Snowman, a traditionally animated special about the fabled snowman that was narrated by Jimmy Durante and also went on to become a holiday favorite. Apart from their Christmas specials, Bass collaborated with Rankin on a 1977 animated adaptation of The Hobbit, the 1982 animated film The Last Unicorn and the popular 1985-89 kids’ cartoon ThunderCats.


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