Photo by Kelly White
Rick Goldschmidt, the official Rankin/Bass historian and biographer, presented “Rankin/Bass – ‘Frosty the Snowman's’ 50th Anniversary” on Dec. 5 at Oak Lawn Public Library.
By Kelly White
It’s the time of year when the weather is chilly, Christmas music fills the air, and one magical snowman comes to life.
“ Frosty the Snowman” debuted on television screens 50 years ago, during the month of December 1969. The animated Christmas television special produced by Rankin/Bass Productions and currently distributed by Universal Television was the first television special featuring the character Frosty the Snowman.
The special's story follows a group of schoolchildren who build a snowman called Frosty and place a magic hat on his head, which makes him come to life with enchanted power.
Celebrating its anniversary just in time for the holidays was the staff at the Oak Lawn Public Library with a program called, “Rankin/Bass – ‘Frosty the Snowman's’ 50th Anniversary” on Dec. 5 at the library, 9427 S. Raymond Ave.
“ The Rankin/Bass movies like Frosty and Rudolph take me right back to childhood and remind me of the magic of the holiday season,” said Melissa Apple, adult programming librarian at the Oak Lawn Public Library.
The free program was presented by Rick Goldschmidt, the official Rankin/Bass historian and biographer.
“ When we think of Frosty, we all know who he is,” Goldschmidt said.
Goldschmidt praised the unique script of “Frosty the Snowman” by writer Romeo Muller, a script that gave Frosty such a memorable personality.
“ He wrote appealing characters that were usually underdogs and the villains were reformed by the end,” said Goldschmidt, of Oak Lawn. “Muller wrote for the entire family, not for one particular audience. There is always a heartwarming quality and that is missing from today's entertainment. Today's world is on their cellphones constantly, has very short attention spans, and is always looking for shocking things in entertainment and the news. Rankin/Bass TV specials were exactly the opposite. This is why I am still talking about Frosty 50 years later.”
Rankin/Bass Productions producers Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass wanted to give the show and its characters the look of a Christmas card, so Paul Coker, Jr., who was a Hallmark greeting card designer and MAD Magazine artist, was hired to create the main character and background drawings.
Goldschmidt, who has a degree in art/illustration from Columbia College in Chicago, became involved with Rankin/Bass Productions through Coker and Davies, both of whom became the artists behind all of all the Rankin/Bass television specials and films.
“My favorite part of Rankin/Bass Frosty the Snowman TV special is first of all the look of it by Paul Coker Jr.,” Goldschmidt said. “Paul designed the lettering in the credits and on the buildings and signs and all of the characters in the special. They don't look like Disney characters. They have a very distinct Rankin/Bass look. As an artist, I am drawn in by this beautiful design. I think it makes something like the character of Olaf look like a 3-year-old designed him.”
Goldschmidt’s love for the television special is shown throughout his newly released book, "Rankin/Bass' Frosty the Snowman's 50th Anniversary Scrapbook." He is also the author of numerous other Rankin/Bass-related books including "The Making of Santa Claus is Comin' To Town and The Daydreamer" and "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Making Of The Rankin/Bass Holiday Classic."
Rankin/Bass’ Frosty the Snowman’s 50th Anniversary Scrapbook is a reflection of the holiday perennial classic showcasing a visual explosion of images of the character, designed by Coker and array of information on the special not represented anywhere else, Goldschmidt said.
Some of the material came directly from Rankin but most of it came from memorabilia shows and movie conventions, Goldschmidt said.
“ I have never given up searching for more material on Rankin/Bass,” Goldschmidt said. “For me, the last 30 years have been about rounding up the history of Rankin/Bass Productions. I enjoy that and love the visuals. My books are very visual and people respond to that. Some call them lavishly illustrated. As an artist, I want my books to be full of great art and photos. I enjoy everything about it.”