It is with the heaviest of hearts – that I bring this news. One of the greatest animation producers, Arthur Rankin, Jr – passes at his home in Bermuda. He was 89.
The Grandson Of Henry Davenport – Mr. Rankin got his start in as part of the early years of the ABC network, as graphic designer and set designer. He and Jules Bass created Videocraft International (which later became Rankin Bass Productions), and did work on “The New Adventures of Pinocchio” which was animated in Japan, and another series “Tales of the Wizard of Oz” done in Canada.
This lead into the first of the Christmas Specials, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer on NBC in 1956 (before it became a CBS Mainstay). It became so popular – Frosty the Snowman was made (animated in 1961, but didn’t air until 1968 on CBS) and several others came between the mid 60’s to the very late 70’s.
He and Bass also worked with Controversial animation superstar Ralph Bashski on several films, the Hobbit and Return of the King, along with The Last Unicorn. Rankin and Bass also had great connections in Hollywood, bring out some of the biggest stars of there time to do voice overs. One can never forget the Ives baritone on the title song “Rudolph The Read Nose Reindeer”…
But maybe the greatest contribution to animation Rankin and his business partner Bass has ever given to animation, with the help of the great toy maker Tobin (Ted) Wolf was Thundercats. The best animators in Japan and Korea with the best story borders and designers in the west joined to create action animation’s miracle series. It was one of the biggest franchises of its time, and launched the careers of several famed animators and writers. Silverhawks and Tigersharks were also created by these two men, and both men wrote for the series (under pen names).
Mr. Rankin leaves behind his wife, Olga and His Two Sons Todd and Gardner.