Jules Bass, producer and director of iconic holiday TV shows ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and ‘Frosty the Snowman’, died Tuesday at the age of 87, his publicist Jennifer Fisherman-Ruff told Entertainment Weekly. No cause of death has been disclosed.
Bass, also an animator and composer, was best known for creating stop motion and animated television programs in the 60s and 70s with his partner and ABC art director Arthur Rankin Jr. Under the company Rankin/Bass Animated Entertainment fka Rankin /Bass Productions, Inc., the two have developed successful holiday programs featuring the talents of Mickey Rooney, Fred Astaire and Burl Ives.
The couple’s first production, a television series called “The New Adventures of Pinocchio”, was released in 1960. They also produced adaptations of “The Hobbit” and “The Return of the King”, “The King Kong Show” and the original series. “Thunder Cats”.
But their most famous projects have become holiday classics, including:
- “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
- “Frosty the Snowman”
- “The Year Without Santa”
- “Rudolph’s Shining New Year’s Eve”
- “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”
These television programs were often based on Christmas songs and featured cel animation that caused a visual effect as if snow was falling on the scenes.
The couple’s 1976 sequel to ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ would earn them an Emmy nomination while their work on ‘The Hobbit’ led to a Peabody Award.
“We kind of complimented each other” Rankin said in a 2004 interview. “He had some talents that I didn’t have, and I had some talents that he didn’t have. I was basically an artist and a creator; he was a creator and a writer and a lyricist.
Rankin died in 2014 at the age of 89.
Born in Philadelphia, Bass attended New York University and worked in advertising before establishing his partnership with Rankin.
His years of producing and directing ended in 1987. However, his creativity continued in the world of literature.
Bass has written a number of children’s books featuring the character of Herb, the vegetarian dragon. And the 2011 film “Monte Carlo”, starring actress Selena Gomez, was loosely based on his novel Headhuntersabout Texas women seeking husbands while traveling in Europe.