Because Rudolph wasn't paying the bills anymore...
65 years ago, country balladeer Gene Autry was looking for a follow-up to his Christmas hit about a certain red-nosed reindeer. Writers Jack Rollins and Steve Nelson brought this little ditty to the table, and Autry's Christmas career was secured.
Fast forward to 1969. Rankin-Bass, stop motion animation studio extraordinaire, was running behind on their latest holiday masterpiece, and to make a contractual deadline, turned to cel animation. Arthur Rankin wanted the art to look like a Christmas card, so Jules Bass turned to Mad Magazine illustrator Paul Coker to do production design, and Jimmy "hot-cha-cha-cha" Durante to narrate the tale, his last work before his death. Since then...well, there must've been some magic in that old silk hat, because TV Frosty hasn't missed a Christmas since.
P.S. my favorite performance of the song is the one by the Ronettes, produced by Phil Spector in 1963.
So, Happy Christmas to everyone. From all of us here at Thoughtballoons, Season's Greetings!
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