We all know the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and how he helped to guide Santa’s sleigh and save Christmas. But do you know the real story of how Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer came to exist?

It’s okay if you don’t know, I didn’t either.

To get the full story we have to go back to 1939. There was a department store called Montogomery Ward, which was based out of Chicago. A copywriter named Robert L. May worked for the company that year and set out to create holiday coloring books that the department store could distribute to children.

Author Ronald D. Lankford, Jr. was assigned to write verses for the coloring book. It was Lankford that developed a story about a fictional reindeer with a bright, shiny, red nose. He pulled this story from his childhood, which was filled with bullying. The year 1939 was also an incredibly hard year for Robert as his wife had passed away earlier in the year from Cancer. The widower found himself in incredible debt while trying to raise his young daughter. However, he was able to finish his assignment and created a poem for the department stores booklets.

That holiday season 2.4 million free copies of the story starring Rudolph were given away. It also brought in $3.6 million in revenue to the Montgomery Ward Department Store.

In 1946 the Company’s president Sewell Avery signed over the poem’s rights to May so that the copywriter could be compensated for his work. A decade later May’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks wrote a tune to go along with the poem. Then in 1964 is when the famous movie came out about the red-nosed reindeer.

And as they say, the rest is history!



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