I was surprised to learn that Rankin-Bass was not the first company to make a Rudolph cartoon that wasn’t what we would call a “music video” today. Sure enough, Fleischer Studios (more famous to me for the early Superman cartoon and the only watchable Popeye cartoons of the past–I really need to get into that Olive Oil rant once Christmas is over) made their own Rudolph cartoon. I also learned someone made a brand new one recently that most likely ignores the Rankin-Bass Rudolph, which is a classic and produced a few spin-off, including a CGI direct sequel and two RB produced sequels (Rudolph’s Shiny New Year and a Frosty team-up, both of which can be seen on ABC Family this year). Not bad for a mutant reindeer.
The most interesting part about it is the big red nose light, which I assume had to have been official by 1948, the year Matinee at the Bijou (hoster of this video on You Tube) says the cartoon was made. Since this whole Christmas Spotlight thing was a last-minute decision of mine, I didn’t look as far back as I should have. Hopefully I’ll be more useful next Christmas.
[EDIT on 12/18/08: An article at Brooklyn Daily Eagle about Max Fleischer. Link posted today at Toon Zone.]