It was in 1964 when a snowman named Sam, resembling Burl Ives (and sounding like Burl Ives!) floated along on the North Pole snow to tell the story about a deer born with a shiny, red, light-up nose.
Created in 1939 by Robert May as an assignment for Montgomery Ward, the company had been giving away coloring books every year for Christmas, and decided to save a few dollars by having their own book produced rather than buying. The story was written as a poem, in the same manner as “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
A mass-market edition was published by Maxton Books and a sequel, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Shines Again, was published in 1954. In 2003, Penguin Books released two sequels that were written by May in 1947 called Rudolph Shines Again and Rudolph’s Second Christmas(now retitled Rudolph to the Rescue).
Now for the song, it was Robert May’s brother-in-law who adapted the story into a song. Gene Autry’s 1949 recording was a No.1 Billboard hit. It was the second-best selling record of all time until the 1980s.