Is it Herman? Is it Sherman? Is it Eddie, is it Freddie? Oh no! It’s Bing Crosby and Judy Garland with a rather amusing version of Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer complete with what would now be considered wildly inappropriate references to smoking and alcohol consumption. Those were the golden days, no?
The text for the Rudolph song was created in 1939 by a Robert L. May. It was originally conceived as a the text for the annual colouring book Ward’s gave away each Christmas. That year the kids ate it up and the store succeeded in distributing 2.5 million copies of the book.
May succeeded in publishing the story as a children’s book in 1946, and distributed 6 million copies in the first year alone.
The song, written by May’s brother-in-law Johnny Marks, was recorded by Gene Autry in 1949 and has since worked its way into the public consciousness. Its popularity is no doubt due in large part to the fact that it is permissible to shout extra parts after each line. Miss Mussel seems to remember that in primary school assemblies, the “IN HIS UNDERWEAR!” response to the line “Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say,” was the most eagerly anticipated and enthusiastically shouted of the bunch.
Incidentally, I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day; Rocking Around The Christmas Tree; The Most Wonderful Day Of The Year and Have A Holly Jolly Christmas are also Marks songs.