Jules Bass, co-creator of ‘Rudolph’ & other holiday specials, dead at 87
Jules Bass, the television and film producer, composer and lyricist who co-created some of the most well-known holiday specials of the '60s and '70s, died on Tuesday in Rye, New York of age-related illnesses. He was 87.
Born in Philadelphia in 1935, Bass attended NYU and worked in advertising before forming Videocraft International, Ltd with Arthur Rankin Jr, a company that specialized in stop-motion animation, a technique they called "Animagic." After a number of television projects in the early '60s, they created Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, which turned Johnny Horton's classic Christmas song into an hour-long holiday special that is still shown to this day. Renaming the company Rankin/Bass, they'd go on to produce dozens of other holiday specials in the '60s, '70s and '80s -- most of which were "Animagic" but some with traditional hand-drawn cell animation -- including Frosty the Snowman, The Year Without a Santa Claus, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Twas the Night Before Christmas, Rudolph's Shiny New Year, The Little Drummer Boy, and more. Bass wrote lyrics for some of the songs from those specials, and worked on the scores with their regular composer Murray Laws.
Bass also directed two Rankin/Bass features, Mad Monster Party (1967) and The Daydreamer (1966), and pair also made the animated TV movie adaptations of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and Return of the King, and '80s animated film The Last Unicorn, among their many other credits.
After retiring from filmmaking in 1987 (Thundercats was one of his final projects), Bass went on to write children’s books, including the Herb the Vegetarian Dragon series.
Rest in peace Jules. Watch some classic Rankin/Bass clips below.
Arthur Rankin Jr died in 2014.