Saturday, February 01, 2014

Arthur Rankin, Jr.

I'm always pleased by success, and I'm always surprised by it.  Why has 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' been on the air for 42 years? The longest-running, highest-rated film in the history of the medium?  I don't know the answer to that. But over the last few years, I've become very honored by that... I guess that is my legacy. Longevity is the answer for art. - Arthur Rankin, Jr.


Arthur Rankin, Jr. died Thursday at his home by Harrington Sound in Bermuda.

Rankin was born in New York City, the son of actors Arthur Rankin and Marian Mansfield. His paternal grandfather was actor Harry Davenport who played Dr. Meade in the film Gone with the Wind.

Rankin began his career as an art director for the ABC in the 1940s. In the early 1960s he founded the film production company Videocraft International (now called Rankin/Bass Productions) with Jules Bass. The two worked closely together for many years, co-directing and producing a wide array of stop motion animated features and cartoons, perhaps most famously the holiday-themed TV specials, such as Willy Mcbean and his Magic Machine, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, Rudolph's Shiny New Year, The Year Without a Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, Twas the Night Before Christmas, and Jack Frost. He is also credited with devising the story for many Rankin/Bass productions, including the feature films The Daydreamer and Mad Monster Party?

In 1977, Rankin and Bass produced a version of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, for which they were awarded the Peabody Award. The pair also teamed on a wide variety of animated TV series, including ThunderCats and Silverhawks. The pair last teamed on the 1987 TV special based on The Wind in the Willows. Rankin's last producing credit was on the 1999 animated version of The King and I.

Rankin met his to-be wife, Olga Karlatos, after he cast her in a 1983 television adaption of The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Sins of Dorian Gray. They settled in Bermuda, with Rankin looking to continue to produce stage shows; he noted "I could go up to Broadway and run up and down the street and scream, 'I want to write and direct a play!' They'd put me in the nuthouse. If I say that [in Bermuda], everyone springs into action, 'Oh, please, please.'" In addition to this, Rankin also taught courses on film and entertainment at Bermuda College.
Rankin died after a brief illness on January 30, 2014, aged 89, in his home in Bermuda. He is survived by Olga and his sons Gardner and Todd.
Calling him an "animation legend", the Hollywood Reporter noted that during his career, Rankin worked with actors such as Jeff Bridges, Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury, Alan Arkin, 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.

 Good Night Mr. Rankin and thanks for the Christmas memories.

Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa


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