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Welcome to Stuff You Missed in History Class A production of I Heart Radio. Hello and welcome to the podcast. I'm Holly Fry. And I'm Tracey V Wilson. I think it's safe to say that Rudolph is a beloved holiday character for a lot of folk, for sure.


Yeah, I don't think I'm really, like, overset first stepping, you know, common opinion at that point. Most of us at this point grew up with the story of this sweet little reindeer that was picked on by his peers, only to be the triumphant hero who saves Christmas. But Rudolph is kind of unique in that he became part of Christmas tradition almost the moment he was introduced in 1939. And there are a lot of variations in the story of Rudolph's origins.


This is largely because the author of the Rudolph story gave a lot of interviews throughout his life, like over the course of 40 years, and sometimes his narrative shifted a little bit, occasionally contradicting other versions that he told. There's also another related collaborator in the Rudolph phenomenon who also gave conflicting accounts. And because Rudolph's intense popularity was not exactly anticipated, at least not at the level it achieved, it wasn't as though this project was being documented and notated as the initial story was being created.


So all of this, you know, kind of narrative shifting and conflicting accounts is really pretty normal.


And today we're going to talk about Robert Elmaleh and how he created Rudolph, how his reindeer character became a phenomenon. We'll also talk about his collaboration with his brother in law and how this story became an instant classic. And we just want to offer a quick disclaimer here. If you are maybe a parent listening with a younger history fan, this isn't really so much like a fun Christmas story about, you know, the fictional characters. It's very much a real world story stuff going on.


Some of it is definitely sad. And we don't, you know, want to want to make anybody have an unhappy association with Mr Downer. So if you do like to listen with younger listeners, I would encourage maybe give it a listen for see if it's at a level that you're comfortable sharing with them and then you're off to the races. But we're going to jump right into the story.


The early life of Robert Elmaleh is just not particularly well documented. We know he was born in 1955 and also grew up in New Rochelle, New York, which is the suburb made famous by The Dick Van Dyke Show.


Weirdly, I've just never associated it with associated it with the the Amtrak train that goes from here to New York City.


Well, you may I mean, you're you're a little bit too young, right, for when The Dick Van Dyke Show was super popular.


Yeah, I saw it in syndication. It was always on in reruns somewhere. Anyway, not important. His parents were well off. His father, Milton, was from Georgia and owned a lumber business. And while the family was Jewish, they were also secular. Robert attended college at Dartmouth, but a few years after he completed school in 1926, the stock market crash of 1929 happened, followed, of course, by the Great Depression.


And in the course of all of this, the main family lost a lot of their money.


His younger siblings were not able to attend college because of the family's financial situation and his early career.


May worked in copy and advertising jobs for a series of department stores, including Macy's and Rich's. He got married to a woman named Evelyn Hayman on November 29th of 1928. The two of them had a daughter named Barbara in 1935. By that point, they had moved to Chicago so Robert could take a new job working as a copywriter for Montgomery Ward. And to be very clear, Bob May was really good at this job. There was a profile that came out about him as his work started to gain pretty wide recognition later on.


And it included this description, quote, Words are my stock in trade and people who work with him will tell you only too willingly how clever he is in the use of words, not only in a humorous use, but in making them expressed sympathy, pathos, admiration, as well as darned good advertising. In early January 1939, Robert L. May was headed into work. He was not feeling particularly festive, not looking forward to the New Year. Later on, he recalled being thankful as he went into his job.


The holiday decorations in the streets of Chicago had all been taken down because he was not in the mood for them.


And May's lack of enthusiasm at this point was not because he was returning to work after the holidays. His family was going through an incredibly difficult time. His wife, Evelyn, was going through a long series of cancer treatments after having been diagnosed in 1937 and over the two years since her diagnosis, the cost of her care had really put him in a financially precarious state.


Additionally, he heard. Two young men in the elevator who were talking about their plans for the year and May was struck with this sense of just being a middle aged underachiever. He had gotten into writing to become a novelist, and now he found himself, quote, at age 35, still grinding out catalog copy. Instead of writing the great American novel, as I once hoped, I was describing men's white shirts.


Robert, who went by Bob, got a call from an admin assistant saying that he needed to report to his boss's office. And at this point, Bob just thought this was some other dull and uninspiring work assignment. But the assignment he was about to receive was anything but his standard copy requests. The story, as I'm told it went this way, his department head. McDonald said, quote, Bob, I've got an idea. For years, our stores have been buying those little Christmas giveaway coloring books from local peddlers.


I think we can save a lot of money if we create one ourselves. Could you come up with a better booklet we could use? My supervisor went on to tell him that it should have an animal as the main character and mentioned that it should be something like Ferdinand the Bull.


For context, just in case you're not familiar with that story, the story of Ferdinand written by Monroe Leaf had come out three years earlier and it was a huge hit in this tells the story of a young bull named Ferdinand, who has no interest in bullfights. He doesn't want to fight with other bulls. He doesn't want to butt heads with them to prove who's stronger. And he cannot be provoked by matadors. Instead, he just loves to smell flowers.


And by the time he got his assignment, Ferdinand was one of the most popular books in the United States. So it's really not surprising that his boss would reference the pacifist bovine as a model.


This is definitely still something that people were reading when I was a kid. Yeah, same the reason. But a catalog copywriter was tapped for this project was apparently because they had performed some comedic songs at the company holiday party a couple of years earlier, and they'd become popular enough that he was asked to write similar songs for other company events. So his bosses knew that he could write in verse using clever wordplay.


As Bob May ruminated on this assignment later that evening, he started thinking both about Christmas appropriate animals and the kinds of animals that his daughter Barbara liked. Barbara, who was four at this point, loved the deer at the zoo, so he quickly decided that a reindeer was going to be the best protagonist. The reindeer were definitely strongly associated with Christmas already by this point. So this was a logical step. And the next step in Maine's development of the idea was to try to think of a way to make the story didactic.


He tried to come up with a lesson that this reindeer could teach to kids. He knew he wanted it to be an underdog story. According to his account, he thought about the fact that the ultimate dream for a reindeer would be to pull Santa's sleigh. And in some versions of the story, May would also mention that he was inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen story, The Ugly Duckling.


A glance out the window as he was having all of these thoughts gave me the inspiration for the key trait that would become forever associated with the name Rudolph. In pop culture, he had noticed that fog had rolled into the city from Lake Michigan and his mind wandered to the story he had been working on. And when he started wondering exactly how Santa might manage traveling via flying sleigh in low visibility fog, the idea, he always said, kind of came to him like a flash.


Rudolph would have a glowing nose that could act as a floodlight and lead Santa through fog.


Bob May was excited about this idea of somebody who writes, Sometimes I know what that feels like. His boss was not as receptive as he hoped, though. When he pitched this at work the next morning, the reaction was lukewarm at best. May would later say that the exact reaction was, For gosh sakes, Bob, can't you do better than that? Years later, MacDonald's wife, Berniece, said that the reason he was initially put off was because of the association between red noses and drunkenness.


I can see that logic. Yes, sure. But this is also a good moment to think about. Like for anybody that does creative things. I've written stuff. I make various things. And there are times when you think you've put silly together in someone else's, it goes, huh? But doesn't always mean it's not great. So of course, we know that that is not the end of Rudolph. And after we take a quick sponsor break, we're going to see how Robert May continued to champion his project and his little reindeer even after his boss told him to come up with something else.


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You already know that the challenge is the most heart pounding competition show on television, but do you ever wonder how challenged competitors are selected or which challenges were too dangerous for TV? Well, you can learn all that and so much more on MTV's Official Challenge podcast hosted by your girl Tourie and me. Ainissa, we're giving you the inside scoop on the brand new season of the challenge. Let's go, baby.


Listen to MTV's Official Challenge podcast on the I Heart radio app, Apple podcast, or wherever you get your podcast. So we mentioned before the break that Bob May's boss was not into the Rudolph story, but thankfully May, who may or may not have already settled on that name Rudolph accounts vary about it, was already attached, though, to both the character and the story. So next he turned his creative thinking to how he could convince his boss that this was really something they should do.


And May decided that if he could just show him a visual of what he was thinking of, it might convince him to approve the project to move forward.


To help with this plan, May approached Denver Guillen, who was a friend of his from the company's art department. He explained to Denver what the Rudolph story was and that he needed help convincing higher ups that this is a good idea. So we asked him, Denver, could you draw a deer with a big red nose and still make him look appealing? They struck up a plan to work on a visual pitch over the weekend. So that Saturday morning May Gilan and Mays daughter Barbara, we're all at the Lincoln Park Zoo looking at the deer in Denver, made several sketches as they observed the animals.


And then he kind of reworked those into sketches of characters. And by the time the day ended, May and Guillain felt like they had something good enough to bring to work on Monday and ask the bosses to revisit the Rudolph idea. We got to give credit to the boss. He reversed his previous decision after he saw this and understood the story more fully, saying, quote, Bob, forget what I said.


Put the story into finished form. Yes. Not all bosses are willing to shift their their stance on things. So I kind of love that. He was like, no, I get it now. This is great. I was wrong. Cool. Over the next several months, May and Guilin worked on the project, and this was something that was like they were still having to do their day jobs. It wasn't like their plates had been cleared to to only work on this.


So it was a little bit of an evenings and weekends situation. But as this really pretty exciting opportunity to do something more than write about men's shirts offered me the creative outlet he had been longing for. His personal life at this time was not so joyous. So Bob was working on Rudolph in the evenings and in his spare time at work. But his wife, Evelyn's condition was growing more and more grave. And in July she died. And that left Bob, a widower with a small child.


When they return to work. After the loss of his wife, his boss made it clear that he did not have to keep working on this Rudolph project, saying, quote, I can understand your not wanting to go on with the kid's book. Give me what you've got and I'll let someone else finish it. But me did not want to leave this project.


And almost four decades later, when recounting the story, he wrote, quote, But I needed Rudolph now more than ever. Gratefully, I buried myself in the writing.


May wrote through what must have been just the height of his grief. And he finished the story a month after Evelyn died. That was in August of nineteen thirty nine. He shared the story with his in-laws who were staying with him at the time and with his daughter, and their reaction told him that he had created something really special. He had run some of his work by Barbara as he worked. And she mentioned in an interview with NPR in 2013 that she had responded negatively to the word stomach at one point because she thought that was icky, that got switched to tummy when it came to describing Santurce shaking belly.


I can only imagine like a four year old copyeditor. That's gross. Changed that word there. So blood's a quick note here is that there is actually a vastly different version of this origin story, which, like the one we just recounted, kind of comes from Robert Elmaleh himself. It was in an issue of Coronet magazine from 1948. In in that article, May told the journalist writing the piece that he wrote Rudolph to comfort his daughter because of Evelyn's illness and that his boss at Montgomery Ward heard about the story and decided to use it for the promotional book.


So whether this was a matter of misinterpretation on the interviewer's part or May just punching up the story, we don't 100 percent know. But that's not the only aspect of this different tale.


There was also a friend of Mays in the mix, Stanley Frankel, who had pitched the story to coronate and who might have been the source of some of this mismatching information and law.


May himself referred back to the article at various times, though, so he knew about that version and he didn't really make any effort to denounce it. As a consequence, both of these origin stories persist, although the job assignment version is actually corroborated.


This is one of those things where I wonder if he just had no sense of the fact that people would want to look at this as a part of history. And he's like, Miss Fine. Yeah, seems pretty.


Know what? No one probably thinks they're like their story of writing a book is going to become an important story to people later on. So he probably was fairly unconcerned about an article in a magazine. Means Rudolph book, which is written in rhyming couplets, starts with a nod to a visit from St. Nicholas, which was already more than a century old when they started his Rudolph project. So, of course, that starts, you know, twas the night before Christmas.


Rudolph story begins, twas the day before Christmas, and all through the hills, the reindeer were playing, enjoying their spills.


So if your recollection of the Rudolph story comes mostly from the song, which we will get to you or the rank and holiday special, which we will also get to, you might be surprised at some of the differences in May's story. From what you remember and the Montgomery Ward version. Rudolph does not live at the North Pole with Santa. He's one of the many creatures who hangs a stocking and waits excitedly for Santa's visit.


And in this version, Santa does take to the skies with his standard team of eight reindeer, and he gets in some trouble in that foggy climate, getting, quote, tangled in tree tops again and again. And he even narrowly misses a collision with a plane. It's pretty exciting. Santa starts getting pretty stressed, quote, through dark streets and houses. Old Santa did poorly. He now picked the presents more slowly, less surely. He really was worried for what would he do if folks started waking before he was through?


And this original version of the story, Santa discovers Rudolph and his magnificent glowing nose when he stops the Reynders house as he gets into Rudolph's room to put gifts in the stocking, he finds his job much easier. Quote, The lamp wasn't burning. The light came instead from something that lay at the head of the bed and there lay. But wait now what would you suppose the glowing you've guessed it was Rudolph's red nose. So this room was easy. This one little light.


Let Santa pick quickly the gifts that were right. So, of course, you know what happens next. Santa gets the great idea to bring Rudolph onto the team, wakes him up and asked him if he'll do some work. And the little reindeer that had been bullied and mocked becomes a hero.


And Rudolph's parents feel about this. It's interesting. I was reading an interesting piece that kind of breaks down, you know, some of the Rudolph stuff. People love to analyze it of how very different this is from previous versions of Christmas stories like The Reindeer, very anthropomorphized in this version. I mean, Rudolph, like, writes notes, he talks. He's you know, they sit at picnic tables at one point, like, it's very much like that.


Where is Santa, who is in a lot of instances portrayed as almost supernaturally powerful, is really much more human in this version.


So presumably Rudolph's parents were like, all right, I'm sure go with this strange dude. I mean, we theoretically know him, but that seems fine.


So May's thirty two page book was printed by Montgomery Ward in bulk for the 1939 Christmas season. There were two point four million copies made to give away to shoppers across the United States. This was advertised with a big poster that read, quote, Get ready for Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, the rollicking este rip roaring este riot provoking yest Christmas give away your town has ever seen why they would think that provoking a riot was like a good way to draw customers?


I'm not 100 percent sure, but the store had a hit and they plan to reprint May's book on subsequent years because it brought in a lot of shoppers. And this is at a time, remember, right? We're at the end of the Great Depression. So the fact that a lot of people flocked to stores and we're buying things was a big deal. A 1940 memo to store managers read, quote, Everyone we have checked with shares our belief that Rudolph in 1940 will play a far bigger, more important role than in 1939.


But the start of World War Two caused paper to be in high demand and short supply and very expensive. That meant that Rudolph was not printed again until 1946. Although the character remained the central figure of the store's holiday campaigns. In 1946, Montgomery Ward printed three point six million copies and distributed them to eager customers.


And in those years, between 1939 and 1946, Robert May had been busy. He actually published another children's book. Benny the Bunny liked beans, which did OK, but not gangbusters. It was not another Rudolph. And he had remarried, this time to a woman named Virginia Newton, who also worked for Montgomery Ward. The couple had five children together, so Barbara got a whole bunch of younger siblings.


We mentioned earlier that man was brought up in a secular Jewish family. But an interesting note is that his own kids didn't know that he was Jewish until much later in life.


He converted to Catholicism for Virginia. And there's some speculation that he may have purposely downplayed being Jewish out of concern that it might have been problematic for people to know that a secular Jewish man had written a beloved Christmas story. I will say he's definitely not the only Jewish person to have written beloved Christmas stuff.


No, there's an entire list find of Jewish creators who contributed significantly to the lure of Christmas. May had, in that interim, also been given an honorary membership in 1941 to the National Association of Authors and Journalists for his contribution to contemporary literature. So while he may have not written the great American novel as he had hoped, the writing community definitely considered him appear.


There is a moment in the Rudolph story that really changes Robert May's life, and we are going to tell you about that after a word from the sponsors who keep stuff you missed in history class going. Hi, this is Boin Yang here, and if you're as excited as I am about the upcoming fourth season of Search Party on Biomax, then you'll want to tune in to Search Party the podcast.


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Sewell Avery was CEO of Montgomery Ward in 1947, and he turned the rights to Rudolph over to Robert Mae free and clear.


So even though they had created it, he was working for Montgomery Ward at the time. So prior to this, he had no claims to that story. The exact logic of why this handover happened isn't entirely known. One theory is that the executives at the company just did not see Rudolph as having any financial potential. They had already given away millions of copies. So they thought that if they did bother to, for example, go to print with a new edition and try to sell it, no one was going to buy it and that they would have wasted their money on a production run.


Another version of the story goes that Bob May was still struggling under the debt he had accrued during his first wife's illness. And when he went to his boss to ask about a possible bonus because of Rudolph's popularity, he ended up getting the rights instead. The first version sounds a little bit more realistic, although May was, to be clear, financially strapped four years after Evelyn's death and the Rudolph writes, got him out from under those debts.


The medical debt part of this story sounds incredibly familiar. Mm hmm. Montgomery Ward, giving him the rights free and clear is like literally the opposite of what we hear about with creators all the time.


It's really mind blowing like that. They were just like, that's cool. It's yours. What?


So there's also yet another version of this whole story that may himself once told that he had been offered a deal to record his Rudolph poem as a spoken word wrecker in 1946, but that he didn't own the rights. So he had to turn that down. And colleagues at the company helped make the case that Mae should be allowed to take the project because he hadn't gotten any kind of bonus or renumeration for writing a promotional book that drew huge crowds during the holiday shopping season.


And in this version, this is what led Seawell Avery to turn over the rights to the author. Whether that was through a moment of kindness or just like poor business strategy, we don't really know. A recording of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was released in 1947 to great success.


Just as another shading to this story, Sewell Avery was considered to be really astute as a businessman, like he had gotten Montgomery Ward past the Depression and, you know, was making a profit. So he wasn't a fool. So that adds a whole other like factor in the how exactly did he come to this decision? And though Sewel, Avery, might have thought that Rudolph was kind of played out, Mae thought his little reindeer still had some magic and he was absolutely right.


Although publishers were initially reluctant to try to sell the poem as a hardcover book since, as we just mentioned, the market was full of free copies already at that point, like six million copies were out there and they were like, there's not enough more people that want this book that we will ever be able to do this.


But one publishing executive named Harry Elbaum, who claimed that he liked Rudolph because he, too, was teased about his nose, which was allegedly large, decided that May's story was worth the risk. His publishing house put out a 100000 copy run of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer in 1947, which sold out very quickly and left consumers clamoring for more. By 1950, they were putting out one million copies to meet demand for the holiday season.


But Rudolph story also took another turn in the late 1940s, and that was one that would help catapult May's character to an even greater fame and talk about what happens next. We have to switch gears really quick to talk about another man, Johnny Marks. So Johnny Marx was born in Mount Vernon, New York, on November 9th, 1989.


And as a child, Johnny attended New York's Ethical Culture Society School that was a school popular with secular Jewish families. He went on to Colgate University, where he majored in English, and then he studied music after his undergrad, even traveling to Paris to do so. Although he didn't get any advanced degrees, he was just kind of traveling and learning about music. He had wanted to be a songwriter since he was just a kid.


By his mid 20s, Marx had carved out a life for himself in music. He was writing songs, although not making enough at it to support himself.


So he also gave voice lessons and worked as a producer on radio shows in 1947, after serving four years in the Army as part of the 26 Special Services Company, which was largely made up of entertainers, Marx got married. His bride was Margaret Mae and Margaret was Robert May's sister and with a songwriter in the family, Robert. Had another idea for Rudolph set the story to music, Johnny got to work reworking the poem into the lyrics that we know today.


According to Johnny's account, later in life, he had already started making notes about Rudolph as a possible song long before he ever joined the May family all the way back in 1939 when the story first came out.


Yeah, Johnny told a lot of different versions of Rudolph story through the years and has kind of clouded the record in terms of what is and is not the case regarding it. But just one aspect of why it's a little bit tricky. But as Johnny developed this song throughout 1948, he was really confident in it. There is no doubt about that. Rudolph story was already a classic at this point, and he believed that this song was just naturally going to be a hit.


And so Mark spent twenty five thousand dollars setting up a music publishing company so that he could publish the musical version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer himself and have complete control and ownership of it.


Then he needed to find a performer to sing it and marks again certain that the song would be big, was just not shy at all about reaching out to some really big names. He pitched it to Gene Autry, who did not like it. And the story goes that fortunately Gene Autry, his wife, loved it. She could hold him into recording it and releasing it as a B side to the song. If it doesn't snow on Christmas. That account's been disputed as a really good story, but maybe not the truth.


But in any case, this recording of Rudolph sold two million copies in 1949 and eventually 15 million copies were sold. Yeah, the the Gene Autry part of this story could be a whole other episode on its own about whether, you know, that becomes even more of like a strange, legendary tale where all of the different musicians that worked on it have a different version of it. And like executives, record label executives at Columbia have a different version of it.


Like there are there's no pattern recognition. There's there's no this one and this one are both pretty similar. It's all everybody's got their own, their own take on it. And while Johnny Marks have been working on that Rudolph song, an animated version of the story had also gone into production at the Jam Handey organization. Famed animation director Max Fleisher directed this, and the original version included a title card that read Seasons Greetings from Montgomery Ward. Although May owned the copyright at this point, Montgomery Ward had financed the project so it could still get the benefit of advertising with Rudolph.


Subsequent issues of this eight and a half minutes short had that card removed and the Johnny Marx song included at the beginning and the end of the cartoon.


Also, this is part of one of the funniest riff tracks, live events of all time. I don't think I was at this one. Oh, my goodness, I literally I laughed so hard that I reached that point where my brain could not process my brain and body could not process laughter. And I was just silently crying in a joyous way, but like nothing was actually coming out of me.


Sounds like it's in a December 1950 article in the Chicago Sun Tribune, there was a piece about Rudolph and the focus of it was how many kids were kind of a bit tired of Rudolph. They were so tired of of me talking about Rudolph all the time that talking about it was forbidden at the dinner table, even though it was that very character who it enabled their father to support their family in a pretty nice way at that point. They were at the time especially irked the kids when someone called Bob May Rudolph's father, because that implied that they had an animal for a sibling, although later in life, Barbara would in fact describe Rudolph as her brother in interviews.


And by this point, probably another point of contention for the kids. Robert May had started putting an eight foot tall Rudolph on the family lawn during the holidays each year so everyone would know where the Rudolph people lived.


In 1951, managing Rudolph had become a full time job for Robert May, and he left Montgomery Ward to oversee the licensing of toys, art, lamps, schoolbags salt and pepper shakers and really any novelties that featured his famous creation. He also wrote several additional books featuring Rudolph, including Rudolph to the Rescue, released in 1951. Rudolph Shines Again, first published in 1954 and Rudolph Second Christmas, which was first released in 1970. Those titles have all been published in various editions, sometimes bundled together.


They were also comic book adaptations, storybook versions and many, many reprints of the original story.


By 1958, that kind of deluge level revenue stream from Rudolph was slowing to a bit of a trickle. So Bob May went back to Montgomery Ward as a copywriter and he actually stayed in that job until he retired in 1970.


In 1964, the Rankin Bass holiday special version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer debuted that was bankrolled by General Electric. This stop motion special was based on the Johnny Marx song. The production team at Rankin Bass didn't actually have a copy of the original poem. There's also a lot of creative license taken with the story development. There's Hermès, the Elf and UCAN, Cornelius and the Bumble and Clarice and the Island of Misfit Toys. They are all unique to this special.


They have nothing to do with the original poem or the song, but I love them desperately as a person who has a full size King Moonraker costume, part of the reason that all of these additional characters and plot lines were made was because the source material was simply not long enough to make a special.


I think I read a stat where if someone had just read the poem and it had been animated too, it would only have lasted about 13 minutes. And like that, this was an hour long block of programming. So if they had not embellished the story, they would not have had enough material for an hour long special. Even when you factor in commercials.


And of course, this is for people our age, I think Tracey the Rudolph, they know best. That special continues to air regularly. It has its own huge fan base. It has generated its own line of merchandise and collectibles. I feel like we should also mention that like this came out before, the concept of a holiday special was really a thing. So it's one of the the projects that actually launched that idea.


Like now we have, you know, a cagily and there are a lot more Renkin best holiday shows. There were the the Peanuts holiday specials. There are now holiday specials associated with every big brand. That wasn't happening yet, though, in this in the early 60s, they kind of were the forerunners in that space.


Meanwhile, I'm sitting here like, was that really an entire hour? I know I've watched it 10000 times and I'm still like, it's a whole hour with commercials.


Yes. Anyway, in 1971, Robert's wife, Virginia, died. He got remarried to her sister not long after this.


In 1975, Robert Elmaleh wrote the story of his creation of Rudolph for the Gettysburg Times. This actually was syndicated and ran in a lot of papers. I read it in the Gettysburg Times edition and he subtitled it Rudolph and I Wear Something Alike. And at the end of his account, he wrote that children get to read a story about, quote, a little deer who started out in life as a loser, just as I did. But then he goes on to explain that the.


Things that held Rudolph back became the exact things that gave him happiness once he gave himself for others, May concluded this by writing, quote, My reward is knowing that every year when Christmas rolls around, Rudolph still brings that message to millions, both young and old.


A year after he wrote that account, Robert Mae died. That was on August 11th, 1976. That eight foot reindeer that had graced his lawn every year was given to Dartmouth, where it is still kept. Yeah, they have an entire Robert Mae archive there.


You can also find scans of the original hand lettered handwritten manuscript for the book that Main Guillain produced in 1939. Those are pretty easily locatable. Online in the sketches will strike you if you've never seen it before is pretty simple. They look, you know, kind of like advanced crayon drawings, not something a kid would do, but also not super refined. But they're very evocative. The illustration depicting Rudolph crying because the other reindeer are cruel to him is to me, at least oddly affecting.


It takes up the top half of the page and the text fills the lower half. But the way that the art is drawn, Rudolf's tears fall all the way down the page through the text section on the subject of Montgomery Ward.


They actually filed for Chapter 11 in 1997 and they closed in 2000 in a quote given to the Chicago Sun Tribune for that 1950 article that we referenced earlier, Robert Mays summed up why he thought that Rudolph had caught on with kids so instantly, quote, Children are the little people, the underdogs of the world.


No matter how well-adjusted they are, they just can't help feeling pretty small and helpless alongside the adults, the tower around them. That's why children even more quickly than adults identify themselves with the underdog in a story with Cinderella, the ugly duckling Rudolph when Rudolph eventually rides to glory with Santa. Each child rides with him and loves it. Oh, Rudolph. Yeah, I will say that Refracts Tracks was the first time that I ever saw the original version of the Rudolph story.


And I was so confused initially. I'm like, did they take a lot of liberties with this? No, that's the original version. Fool around.


I'm not actually sure I've ever seen it. You can also find it online. Library of Congress has the only to the best of anyone's knowledge version of that original cut with the Montgomery Ward greeting card.


In it, you can also find the version that came out later because this song had gotten so popular where they cut the song in at the front in the back. But yeah, it's very easy to find and it's a really, really beautiful digitization of it.


It's not like a big sometimes when you see old animation that's been digitized, it's a little like Quincy because you can tell how much the film to go for someone did it. This is actually quite pristine, huh?


Rudolph Rudolph.


I have listener mail that is about Marema Taat or Maryanna Mozart. This is from our listener Angie, who writes, Hello. I was so happy to listen to your recent episode about Maria on a Mozart. I'm a children's librarian. OK, I just had to shout you out because I love that. Thank you. And was especially excited for this episode because one of America's most beloved young adult authors, Marilu, just wrote a historical fiction novel about Maria Mozart in her brother's fantasy world entitled The Kingdom of Back.


She spoke at the San Diego Library this spring right before the covid shutdown. And I was so impressed with the amount of research she did for her book, I bet you both would get along with her so well. Strong research by Women Unite. Thank you so much for your delightful podcast. Here are some bonus pictures of my rescue cat, Allie. She takes naps next to me while I listen to your podcast as I so and as a bonus pic of the plumeri by my house that is still blooming in November.


This is a blatant attempt to entice you to come to a show here after covid times and enjoy San Diego's beachside paradise. Warm regards. Happy Thanksgiving. We are recording this actually Thanksgiving week. Angie, thank you so much. Your cat is adorable and I love that you listen. And so at the same time, are you mean I don't need any cajoling to get to San Diego?


I'll go at the drop of a hat once this business is over because I love that town. And I actually had read Marie Lee's book. I didn't include it as a source since it is fiction, but it is really, really good. And the kingdom of back is the secret kingdom. We referenced in that that episode that Maria ONA and Wolfgang kind of invented together, that there was their little getaway fantasy play world.


So thank you so much for writing about that. And I think people should check that out. I love a fiction story based on historical people. Maybe you will too.


If you would like to write to us. You can do so at history podcast it I heart radio dot com. You can. Also, find us on social media as missed in history, and if you would like to subscribe to the podcast and haven't yet, you can do that so easily on the I Heart radio app at Apple podcast or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.


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