The legacy of Rankin/Bass on the Christmas season: Creator of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” leaves impact on American households

Jules Bass, co-founder of Rankin/Bass Animated Entertainment, died on Oct. 25, 2022, at the age of 87.

The animation company is renowned for its Christmas TV specials, most notably “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman.” Bass co-directed the latter with Arthur Rankin Jr., the company’s other co-founder who died previously in 2014.

In addition to directing and producing, he was also a songwriter and contributed to many of the songs that defined the company’s work. Some of his most famous songs include the “Snow Miser” and “Heat Miser” songs, which he wrote the lyrics for in their film, “The Year Without Santa Claus.”

While the company shut down in 1987, their works have been welcomed into Americans’ homes for decades. Even as streaming services continue to grow in prominence, these films have managed to keep their cultural foothold. According to Nielsen Media Research as of November 2021, “Rudolph the RedNosed Reindeer” stood alongside “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” in driving ratings, with both being “perennial overperformers” for the holiday season.

Beyond their continued viewership, their distinct animation style has left an imprint on other holiday classics, including “Elf,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and numerous parodies. Even with the loss of the company’s founders, Rankin/Bass Animated Entertainment’s footprint on the Christmas season has gone on to inspire generations of artists.