Arthur Rankin, Jr., one-half of the iconic animation duo Rankin/Bass, died on January 30th at his Harrington Sound, Bermuda home. He was 89. The news was first reported by his local paper The Royal Gazette.
Rankin’s studio may be best known for its beloved Christmas specials such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), Frosty the Snowman (1969), and Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (1970), but they also produced dozens of other holiday specials, TV series like The Jackson 5ive (1971) and ThunderCats (1985), and feature-length projects that include Mad Monster Party (1967), The Hobbit (1977), and The Last Unicorn (1982). This online filmography gives an overview of the vast amounts of content the studio produced throughout its existence.
Rankin Jr. was born in 1924 in New York City to actors Arthur Rankin and Marian Mansfield. He started his entertainment career working in the distribution department of RKO, before becoming an art director at ABC in the late-1940s. “These were days when no one knew anything about television,” he told a newspaper reporter in 1996. “I painted sets and did graphic design.”