HobbitArthur Rankin Jr. passed away January 30, 2014. He was one half of the animation company Rankin/Bass Productions. The company was very prominent in 1960s and 1970s. They specialized in stop-motion animation and were responsible for many of the yearly traditional X-mas specials that you see on TV every year.

Arthur Rankin Jr. started out in the film industry as an art director but in the 1960’s he formed a studio with Jules Bass and the two of them started turning out a variety of animated films and TV specials. One of the first shows they ever made was an independent and weird TV show based on Pinocchio. Back when prairie dog used to have a Saturday Morning Cartoon web post in the early days of our blog editor Steve had spotlighted the show.

But it was the X-Mas specials that everyone is going to remember Arthur Rankin Jr. for. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town and many more. But they didn’t just do X-Mas specials and stop-motion animation. The studio also produced standard drawn animation and a large variety of movies and TV shows, specials and series. The King Kong Show, Mad Monster Party?, the first feature length version of The Hobbit, along with Return of the King. A short lived Jackson 5ive animated show and of course Thundercats. In the ’70s they worked with a Japanese animation studio that eventual evolved into animation giant Studio Ghibli.

Rankin/Bass Productions stopped all production in the late 1980’s. They still turned out the odd production here and there like the dismal failure feature length film The King and I in 1999. Now that Arthur Rankin Jr. has passed away an era is gone.