Our Favorite Bass Rankin Christmas Special Characters – we created a Top 12 list of our favorite stop animation Christmas (& New Year’s specials) from producers Arthur Rankin Jr & Jules Bass. I grew up with these Christmas specials and these were appointment viewing – literally because they predated VCRs & cable TV. You had one chance all year to see them, and you blocked time to do so. Now, I watch them with my kids :)
Purists might be upset we didn’t include characters from the Easter special (“The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town”) or “Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July”. We dismissed “Easter” for obvious reasons and felt “Christmas in July” was a train wreck that didn’t warrant any Top 12 entries (although it was an extremely trippy & creative train wreck). Frankly, we think the inclusion of Baby New Year on this list is even a bit of a reach.
Our Favorite Bass Rankin Christmas Special Characters RANKED
#1 – Burgermeister Meisterburger (Santa Claus is Coming to Town) – “Toys are hereby declared illegal, immoral, unlawful AND anyone found with a toy in his possession will be placed under arrest and thrown in THE DUNGEON!”. The booming voice Paul Frees used for Burgermeister made the character almost scary for 5 year-old-me but his comic buffoonery made the scare scenes palatable and light-hearted. Brilliant character!
#2 – Yukon Cornelius (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) – He’s a helpful, pistol-packing goofball that created my first television jumpscare when he went over that cliff with Abominable AKA Bumble. I read much later the original version of Rudolph included Yukon Cornelius hunting for a giant peppermint mine and that the reason he’s licking his pickaxe in the special is that he’s tasting for peppermint and not silver & gold. I wish they would have kept the peppermint mine storyline & not edited out. I’ve only seen the shortened version without that subplot.
#3 – Heat Miser (Year Without A Santa Claus) – “He’s Mister Green Christmas. He’s Mister Sun. He’s Mister Heat Blister. He’s Mister Hundred-and-One.” He’s high on this list for one reason – the song! The plot in Year Without A Santa Claus was thin at best. Heat Miser (and to a lesser extent Snow Miser) saves an otherwise shoddy effort.
#4 – Clarice (Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer) – This flirty little reindeer was tough when she had to be and had the biggest heart. Plus, THAT VOICE! Clarice singing “There’s Always Tomorrow” always pulled at my heartstrings.
#5 – Santa Claus / Kris Kringle (Santa Claus is Coming to Town) – I love what Mickey Rooney did here as a young Santa Claus. He made a very believable bridge for youngsters to see how a young Kris Kringle slowly grew into the version of the older Santa Claus we all came to love. This Santa Claus from “Coming to Town” beats the heck out of the “Rudolph” Santa where Santa is basically a scrawny bully.
#6 – Rudolph (Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer) – The bullied Rudolph shows a lot of guts in his quest for acceptance and independence. He transformed himself with the help of his friends to become all he could be and save Christmas for his jackass boss.
#7 – Hermey the Elf (Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer) – Part of the charm of “Rudolph” was the cast of characters that made this special the best of the bunch. Like Rudolph, Hermey was troubled but his determination won the day in his quest to become a dentist and finally fit in.
#8 – Bumble The Abominable Snow Monster (Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer) – Rudolph’s antagonist. A true beast that showed his usefulness once humbled. Somehow hilarious & scary at the same time, I still feel bad that Hermey plucked all of his teeth out.
#9 – Winter Warlock (Santa Claus is Coming To Town) – The fearsome Warlock undergoes a transformation for evil to good only after he loses his magic powers. His transformation is heartwarming as his heart melts upon receive a toy.
#10 – Snow Miser (Santa Claus is Coming To Town) – The bitter enemy of Heat Miser, but his song isn’t nearly as enjoyable as Heat Miser’s tune.
#11 – Miss Jessica / Mrs Claus (Santa Claus is Coming To Town) – Where Kris Kringle’s growth into Santa is very believable, the stuffy Jessica school teacher who eventually becomes Mrs Claus isn’t nearly as convincing. This character could never seemingly transform into the lovable Mrs Claus we saw in Rudolph or even Year Without a Santa Claus. Miss Jessica just never made sense in that regard.
#12 – Baby New Year (Rudolph’s Shiny New Year) – This weird big-eared baby was somehow the least strange character of a special that included a Prince Charming, a vulture, and Ben Franklin(?!?!). Not even Rudolph could save this turd of a confusing storyline.
Thanks to IMDB for some of the info!
Who are your favorite Bass Rankin Christmas special characters?