Even if you don’t know the name Rankin Bass, you’re certainly familiar with the stop motion puppets they pioneered, and how they told delightful holiday stories that generations of kids have grown to love. In addition, Rankin Bass made one of the coolest Halloween movies for kids, Mad Monster Party, not to mention they also produced the Jackson Five cartoon, an animated version of The Hobbit, as well as the Thundercats series.
Rankin Bass was a shorthand name for the company founded by Arthur Rankin Jr., and Jules Bass, and their names became synonymous with great stop motion animation for the whole family. The news has just hit that Rankin has passed away at the age of 89, and it’s a sad passing for many of us who grew up with these great specials.
As The Hollywood Reporter tells us, the team first did the TV series The New Adventures of Pinocchio, and their first big holiday fable hit was Rudolph the Red Noses Reindeer, which debuted in 1964. Then came Frosty the Snowman, The Wacky Word of Mother Goose, Santa Claus is Comin To Town, The Little Drummer Boy, The Year Without a Santa Claus, and more.
While Rankin has passed on, his legacy will continue every holiday season with their wonderful specials. (In fact, the most recent airing of Rudolph actually beat out The Voice and SHIELD in the ratings last Thanksgiving eve.)