Jules Bass, Producer And Director Of Iconic Holiday TV Specials, Dead At 87

Jules Bass, a producer and director of the iconic holiday TV specials “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 was released.

Bass, also an animator and composer, was best known for creating stop-motion and animated TV 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 developed hit holiday programs featuring the talents of Mickey Rooney, Fred Astaire and Burl Ives.

The pair’s first production, a TV series titled “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 “ThunderCats.”

But their most famous projects became holiday classics, including:

  • “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
  • “Frosty the Snowman”
  • “The Year Without a Santa Claus”
  • “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year”
  • “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town”

These TV programs were frequently based on Christmas songs and featured cel animation that caused a visual effect to appear as if snow was falling on scenes.

The pair’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 sort of complimented each other,” Rankin said in a 2004 interview. “He had certain talents that I didn’t have, and I had certain 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 prior to establishing his partnership with Rankin.

His years of producing and directing ended in 1987. However, his creativity carried over into the world of literature.

Bass penned a number of children’s books featuring the character of Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon. And the 2011 movie “Monte Carlo,” starring actor Selena Gomez, was loosely based on his novel Headhuntersabout Texas women seeking husbands on a trip to Europe.

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