Monday, December 05, 2011

This Week in Television History: December 2011 Part I

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As always, the further we go back in Hollywood history, the more that fact and legend become intertwined. It's hard to say where the truth really lies.

December 6, 1964
Rudolph the Red–Nosed Reindeer the long-running Christmas television special produced in stop motion animation by Rankin/Bass first aired on the NBC television network.

The show was sponsored by General Electric under the umbrella title of The General Electric Fantasy Hour.
The special is based on the song by Johnny Marks, which was in turn taken from the 1939 poem of the same title written by Marks' brother-in-law, Robert L. May. Since 1972, the special has aired over CBS, which unveiled a high-definition, digitally remastered version in 2005. As with A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph no longer airs just once annually, but several times during the Christmas season. It has been telecast every year since 1964, making it the longest running Christmas TV special, and one of only four 1960s Christmas specials still being telecast (the others being A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Frosty the Snowman). And again, as with the Charlie Brown special, Rudolph has now been shown more than thirty-one times on CBS, although in this case, CBS was not Rudolph 's original network.

December 9, 1965
A Charlie Brown Christmas aired for the first time.

It was produced and directed by former Warner Bros. and UPA animator Bill Meléndez, who also supplied the voice for the character of Snoopy. Initially sponsored by Coca-Cola, the special aired on CBS from its debut in 1965 through 2000, and has aired on ABC since 2001. For many years it aired only annually, but is now telecast at least twice during the Christmas season. The special has been honored with both an Emmy and Peabody award.

To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was". 

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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