Farewell, Arthur Rankin, Jr.

Image: Wikimedia Commons. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Arthur Rankin, Jr., July 19, 1924 – January 30, 2014. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

On Thursday, January 30, Arthur Rankin, Jr., half of the legendary Rankin/Bass animation production team, died at age 89 at his home in Bermuda.

The stop-motion television special that put Rankin/Bass on the map, of course, is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – which will see its 50th Christmas this year. In the subsequent decades, Rankin and his production partner, Jules Bass, created dozens of a stop-motion and traditionally-animated features and TV specials, including several notable science fiction and fantasy productions.

Among these were the 1977 animated version of The Hobbit and its 1980 follow-up, The Return of the King; 1982’s adaptation of Peter S. Beagle’s classic, The Last Unicorn, the ThunderCats and SilverHawks 1980s cartoon series, and the 1977 made-for-TV B-movie The Last Dinosaur.

Bilbo Baggins meets Gollum. Image copyright 1977 Rankin/Bass Productions, Inc. and Warner Home Video.

Bilbo Baggins meets Gollum. Image copyright 1977 Rankin/Bass Productions, Inc. and Warner Home Video.

Rankin/Bass was probably the first TV and movie production company I recognized by name, and I quickly came to associate it with special, fun shows that often meant getting to watch a little extra television or stay up late on a school night. And thanks to Rankin and Bass’ success, I eventually got to share those experiences with my own child.

I have little doubt that Arthur Rankin’s life’s work has a few more generations to go.

John Booth

About John Booth

Writer John Booth lives in northeast Ohio with his wife and daughter. He is the author of the book "Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek – The First 30 Years."

John Booth

About John Booth

Writer John Booth lives in northeast Ohio with his wife and daughter. He is the author of the book "Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek – The First 30 Years."

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