Do you recall Rudolph, the most famous reindeer of all? Quiz


By: Carolyn Brooks Fleming

4 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, is our favorite misfit. But how much do you know about his origin story and his adventures, as told in the original poem, the TV special we all grew up with, and pop culture?

Who is the eighth reindeer mentioned in the famous song, "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer"?

The eighth reindeer mentioned is Blitzen: "You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, / Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen."


In the Rankin/Bass "Rudolph" special, what is one of the insulting names the young bucks call Rudolph after they see his shiny nose?

One of the young bucks calls Rudolph "Fire Snoot" after Fireball accidentally knocks off Rudolph's nose cover. Coach Comet sees Rudolph's shiny nose and tells the other yearlings that they shouldn't let Rudolph join in any reindeer games.


Who created the character and story of Rudolph?

Robert L. May created the character and story of Rudolph, back in 1939, when he was a copywriter at Montgomery Ward in Chicago. The department store released Rudolph's story as a children's book for the holiday season.


On what date did the Rankin/Bass "Rudolph" Christmas special first air?

Rankin/Bass' "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" first aired on December 6, 1964, on NBC, sponsored by General Electric.


How tall was the Bumble puppet figurine, used by animators to film the Rankin/Bass "Rudolph" Christmas special?

The Bumble puppet was 14 inches tall. By comparison, Santa was 8 inches and Rudolph was 4 inches.


Johnny Marks, who wrote the song, "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer," also wrote which other iconic Christmas songs?

Johnny Marks wrote "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and "A Holly Jolly Christmas." "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" was a hit for Brenda Lee. "A Holly Jolly Christmas" was recorded by Burl Ives and featured at the end of the Rankin/Bass version of Rudolph's story.


What is the year of copyright, in Roman numerals, as shown on the Rankin/Bass version of "Rudolph"?

The year of copyright should be MCMLXIV in Roman numerals, to represent 1964. However, in the "Rudolph" special the displayed year is MCLXIV. This is clearly an error. MCLXIV would mean the show was copyrighted in the year 1164.


What are the first lines of the original "Rudolph" story, written by Robert L. May?

The first lines are, "'Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the hills / The reindeer were playing, enjoying their spills." Next comes "Of skating and coasting, and climbing the willows… / And hop-scotch and leap-frog (protected by pillows)."


In the Rankin/Bass version of "Rudolph," who is the beautiful doe who thinks Rudolph is cute?

Clarice tells Rudolph she thinks he's cute, and he's so happy that he soars higher than any of the other yearling bucks. Santa even notices Rudolph's talent for flight.


On the Island of Misfit Toys, why is the cowboy a misfit?

The cowboy rides an ostrich, rather than a traditional horse. There's also a boat that doesn't float and a set of clown nesting dolls with a wind-up mouse as the smallest doll.


Which singer first made the "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" song famous?

Gene Autry made the "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" song famous, selling more than 25 million copies of the single. Autry was known as the "Singing Cowboy."


Who rules on the Island of Misfit Toys?

King Moonracer rules the Island of Misfit Toys. He is a winged lion with a deep voice.


In the Rankin/Bass version of "Rudolph," who is the young buck who befriends Rudolph, then accidentally knocks the cover from Rudolph's nose?

Fireball befriends Rudolph, and even encourages romance between Rudolph and Clarice. He is terrified, however, when they spar and Rudolph's nose cover gets knocked off.


In what ways does Hermey the elf look different from the other toy-making elves?

Hermey is the only elf with hair, which is blond and swooping. Also, Hermey is the only elf whose ears are round rather than pointy.


On the Island of Misfit Toys, why is the water pistol a misfit?

The water pistol only shoots jelly. There's also a plane that can't fly and a train with square wheels on its caboose.


What famous performer had to turn over the publishing rights to his song, "Run Rudolph Run," to the writer of the original "Rudolph" song?

Because Chuck Berry mentioned Rudolph by name in his song without permission and Rudolph is a copyrighted character, he had to turn over the publishing rights to the writer of the original "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" song, Johnny Marks.


What is the name of the snowman who narrates the Rankin/Bass Christmas special, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?

Sam the Snowman narrates the famous Christmas special. Folk singer Burl Ives was the voice of Sam the Snowman.


At the beginning of the Rankin/Bass "Rudolph" Christmas special, what is the headline in the "San Francisco Chronicle"?

Several headlines are shown at the beginning of "Rudolph." The "New York Herald Tribune" says, "Cold Wave in 12th Day"; the "Chicago Sun-Times" says, "We're Frozen"; the "Daily Mail" says, "Ice Peril Warning"; the "Daily News" says, "Tough Going!"; and the "San Francisco Chronicle" says, "Foul Weather May Postpone Christmas."


On the Island of Misfit Toys, who is the Official Sentry?

The Official Sentry of the Island of Misfit Toys is Charlie-in-the-Box. He's a misfit because he's a Jack-in-the-Box named Charlie.


In the Rankin/Bass "Rudolph" Christmas special, what lyrics come after "Have a holly jolly Christmas / It's the best time of the year"?

The lyrics are, "I don't know if there'll be snow / But have a cup of cheer." Burl Ives sang the "A Holly Jolly Christmas" for the Christmas special, then released it as a single in 1965.


In the original "Rudolph" story by Robert L. May, how does Rudolph use his shiny nose to help Santa?

In May's original "Rudolph" story, Santa trips on a rug while delivering toys to Rudolph's house. Santa then recruits Rudolph to help him find his way around in other people's homes.


On the Island of Misfit Toys, why is Dolly for Sue a misfit?

Dolly for Sue seems "normal" in appearance, but she has low self-esteem and psychological problems, according to Arthur Rankin of Rankin/Bass, creators of the "Rudolph" television special.


In the Rankin/Bass "Rudolph" show, what does Clarice say after Rudolph complains about his nose being different from everybody else's?

Clarice says, "But that's what makes it so grand." She continues, "Why, any doe would consider herself lucky to be with you."


How was Johnny Marks, songwriter of "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer," related to Robert L. May, creator of the Rudolph story?

Marks and May were brothers-in-law. Marks was married to May's sister, Margaret May Marks. Marks wrote the iconic Rudolph song at the request of May.


In the Rankin/Bass version of "Rudolph," what does Hermey the elf wish he could be, rather than a toymaker?

Hermey wants to be a dentist. Yes, his name is Hermey, even though sometimes he is mistakenly identified as Herbie.


What is the title of the 1995 song by Joe Diffie that tells the story of Rudolph's cousin?

"Leroy the Redneck Reindeer" tells the story of Rudolph's country cousin, Leroy, who helps out one Christmas Eve when Rudolph is sick. Leroy drives a pickup truck and wears overalls.


In the Rankin/Bass version of "Rudolph," what kind of dogs pull Yukon Cornelius' sled?

The dogs that pull Yukon Cornelius' sled are a Poodle, a Cocker Spaniel, a Saint Bernard, a Dachshund, and a Collie. When the dogs fail to stop when he says "whoa," he commands them to "unmush."


What song about Santa Claus mentions Rudolph in this lyric: "And haulin' through the snow at a frightenin' speed / With a half a dozen deer with Rudy to lead"?

The song is "Little Saint Nick," by the Beach Boys. To avoid having to pay royalties, they referred to Rudolph by the nickname Rudy. The song appeared on "The Beach Boys' Christmas Album," which featured both traditional Christmas songs and original songs.


On the Island of Misfit Toys, what color are the elephant's spots?

The spotted elephant is white with red spots and rosy cheeks.


Who was the chief animator for the Rankin/Bass "Rudolph" project?

Tadahito "Tad" Mochinaga was the chief animator for Rankin/Bass' "Rudolph." He and his assistant spent two studying the movement of wild deer before creating and animating Rudolph and friends.


In the Rankin/Bass "Rudolph" special, what is Mrs. Claus' pet name for her husband?

Mrs. Claus calls her husband "Papa," as is the custom in some marriages. Santa calls her "Mama" in response.


How did producers of the Rankin/Bass "Rudolph" change their show, following its first air date?

After the first airing of "Rudolph," producers received many complaints that the misfit toys had been forgotten. They added a scene at the end, in which Santa and Rudolph rescue the toys from the Island of Misfit Toys and deliver them to loving homes.


In the 1823 poem, "A Visit from Saint Nicholas," what were the original names of the reindeer we now know as Donner and Blitzen?

In the original poem, by Anonymous, printed in the "Troy Sentinel," the last two reindeer were Dunder and Blixem. The phrase "Dunder and Blixem" means "thunder and lightning" in Dutch. Scholars debate whether the original poem was written by Clement C. Moore or Henry Livingston.


In the Rankin/Bass version of "Rudolph," who are Rudolph's parents?

Rudolph's parents are Donner and Mrs. Donner. Donner is the one who decides that Rudolph's red nose should be hidden.


While creating his famous story, what names did Robert L. May consider before choosing the name Rudolph for his red-nosed reindeer?

There is an existing list of potential red-nosed reindeer names, handwritten by Robert L. May, all of which start with R. They include Rollo, Rodney, Reggy, Reginald, Roddy, Roderick, Rudy, Roland, Romeo, and - of course - Rudolph. Rudolph is circled.


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