Listen—Thanksgiving is next weekend! To celebrate this almost-December time of year, we’re bringing you 10 facts about our favorite classic holiday reindeer with the most colorful of monikers. Rudolph, of course! This red-nosed reindeer will also be here, live on stage to sing and dance with Hermey and his Misfit pals Thanksgiving weekend. Have you made your family plans yet?
1. The elves and Buddy from Elf (“smiling’s my favorite!”) were modeled after the elves in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the TV special.
2. While “A Holly Jolly Christmas” may be a holiday classic now, it was actually written specifically for Rudolph.
3. Sam the Snowman, voiced by Burl Ives, sang all the songs in Rudolph. The animators actually made Sam look like Burl for the special. (Can’t you tell by the moustache?)
4. Rudolph was originally created to be a coloring book character by a man named Robert May, and his name was almost Rollo, Reginald, Romeo, or Rodney. (Okay, we kind of like Reginald.)
5. Since red noses had a negative image, Rudolph almost had glowing eyes like headlights, but his creator fought for the glowing red nose instead.
6. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was an international effort; the stop motion was created in Japan using 22 room-size sets over 18 months, voiced in Canada primarily by Canadian actors, and released in the United States.
7. The Ugly Duckling was an original inspiration for Rudolph, and the creator Robert May identified a lot with Rudolph’s underdog (one might say his ‘under-deer’?) story).
8. Many of the voice actors in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, including the voices of Rudolph, Hermey the Elf, Donner, and Mrs. Claus went on to voice characters in the original Spider-Man television show.
9. Rudolph is the longest-running holiday special ever. Starting in 1964 on NBC, then on CBS from 1972, the special has run for 53 consecutive years.
10. Originally, Yukon Cornelius was searching for peppermint mines, but in later broadcasts his discovery was cut in favor of an alternate ending where Santa travels to the island of Misfit Toys.