Arthur Rankin Passes Away

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Arthur_RankinArthur Gard­ner Rankin, Jr. has passed away at 89. He was an Amer­i­can direc­tor, pro­ducer and writer, who mostly worked in ani­ma­tion. A found­ing part­ner of Rankin/Bass Pro­duc­tions- with Jules Bass– he gained fame with such stop-action ani­ma­tion fea­tures as Rudolph the Red Nosed Rein­deer and the 1977 car­toon ani­ma­tion of The Hob­bit.

He is cred­ited on over 1,000 tele­vi­sion pro­grams. He spent most of his pro­fes­sional life involved in ani­ma­tion in addi­tion to numer­ous live-action pro­duc­tions. He started out in the enter­tain­ment busi­ness as an art direc­tor at ABC in the late 1940s. In the early 1960s, Rankin part­nered with Jules Bass to found the film pro­duc­tion com­pany Videocraft Inter­na­tional– later called Rankin/Bass Pro­duc­tions. Their first pro­duc­tion was the syn­di­cated TV series The New Adven­tures of Pinoc­chio, which ran 130 episodes in 1960.

Rankin/Bass Pro­duc­tions became known for their stop-motion ani­mated spe­cials, such as the peren­nial Christ­mas­time favorite Rudolph The Red-Nosed Rein­deer and the fol­low ups Frosty The Snow­man and Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town. To keep Hal­loween in the mix, the com­pany also pro­duced Mad, Mad, Mad Mon­sters and Mad Mon­ster Party.

The 1970’s saw a slew of ani­mated series such as The Osmonds and Jack­son 5ive. While con­ceived and writ­ten in the U.S., Rankin/Bass pro­duc­tions were made in Japan; stop-motion by Japan­ese ani­ma­tor Tadahito Mochi­naga and cel ani­ma­tion vary­ing between Craw­ley Films, Tôei Com­pany and Mushi Pro­duc­tions.

Rankin/Bass Pro­duc­tions also made a few fea­ture films, includ­ing 1982’s The Last Uni­corn and The King And I in 1999, which was his last pro­duc­ing credit.

A native of New York City, Rankin was the son of actors Arthur Rankin and Mar­ian Man­field, and his grand­fa­ther was Harry Dav­en­port, who played Dr. Meade in Gone With the Wind. Rankin died Thurs­day at his home by Har­ring­ton Sound in Bermuda. He is sur­vived by his wife Olga and sons Todd and Gardner.

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