Jules Bass, director behind ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and ‘Frosty the Snowman,’ dead at 87

You might not immediately recognize the name Jules Bass, but he was likely a huge part of your Christmas traditions: the co-founder and co-namesake of Rankin/Bass Productions, Bass was a director, producer and composer behind holiday classics like Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

Sadly, Bass died today at the age of of 87. The news was confirmed by his publicist Jennifer Fisherman-Ruff and reported by Variety.

Bass originally worked in advertising before teaming up with art director Arthur Rankin Jr. to form a production company known as Videocraft International, later renamed Rankin/Bass.

The duo first produced the 1960 animated series The New Adventures of Pinocchio. But it was a 1964 project that made them famous and synonymous with holiday TV specials: the stop-motion classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Bass was a co-producer on the special, which continues to air on TV every Christmas season.

Bass later directed many of their successful follow-ups which also became holiday staples, most famously 1969’s Frosty the Snowman, along with The Little Drummer Boy and Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

He also ventured into other holidays, directing Mad Monster Party and the Easter special Here Comes Peter Cottontail.

Rankin and Bass were also behind TV cartoons including Thundercats and Jackson 5ive.

They also co-directed and produced an animated version of The Hobbit, for which they received an Emmy Award nomination, and the 1982 animated feature The Last Unicorn, whose cast included Alan Arkin, Jeff Bridges, Angela Lansbury and Christopher Lee.

Bass also served as a songwriter and composer on many of the specials he worked on: one of his most memorable contributions was writing the lyrics to the “Heat Miser” and “Snow Miser” numbers from The Year Without a Santa Claus.

Bass’ collaborator Rankin died in 2014, at the age of 89.

According to Deadline, Bass retired from directing and producing in 1987, focusing on writing children’s books about the character “Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon.”

His daughter Jean Nicole Bass died at the age of 61 in January, and Bass reportedly leaves no surviving family.

Rest in peace to the great Jules Bass, who played such a big part in making our Christmases so special every year.

We’ll be sure to watch Rudolph and Frosty this year in his honor.

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