Arthur Rankin Jr. passed away at the age of 89; he was the animator, producer and director behind TV specials Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Rankin passed away in his home in Bermuda.
He, along with Jules Bass, founded film production company Videocraft International (now Rankin/Bass Productions) in the 1960s. The company’s first production was syndicated TV series The New Adventures of Pinocchio. The series totaled 130 five-minute chapters, equaling five 25 minute episodes. The company produced stop-motion, cell animated features that took quite a bit of time to create and produce the doll like characters.
Their TV credits include The Ballad of Smokey the Bear (1966), The Wacky Word of Mother Goose (1967), Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (1970), The Little Drummer Boy (1968), The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974) and Thundercats (1980).
First airing in 1964, the holiday special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has become a classic Christmas tradition along with 1969’s Frosty the Snowman. The two were CBS’s highest-rated programs of the night.
Rankin and Bass co-directed The Last Unicorn (1982) staring the voices of Jeff Bridges, Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury, Alan Arkin and Robert Klein. Jimmy Webb composed the musical score and songs, America performed the music. Others to star or contribute to the Rankin/Bass productions include Danny Kaye, James Cagney, Fred Astaire, Boris Karloff, Tallulah Bankhead, George Burns, John Huston, Burl Ives, James Earl Jones, Christopher Lee, Walter Matthau, Vincent Price and Flip Wilson.
Rankin’s other credits include animated series Jackson 5ive (1970s) and an animated version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1973). Rankin’s parents were Arthur Rankin and Marian Manfield. His grandfather was Harry Davenport, Dr. Meade from Gone With the Wind (1939).
Rankin started as an art director for ABC in the late 1940s.