Robert L. May created Rudolph in 1939, when his company, the Montgomery Ward department stores, asked him to write a Christmas story that they could give away to customers. Drawing on the tale of “The Ugly Duckling,” Mr. May penned the story of a sweet, homely reindeer shunned because of his glowing red nose. Little did he know his creation was destined to become a Christmas holiday classic. Over the next few years, the company distributed millions of copies of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The book’s copyright was transferred to Mr. May in 1947, and under his ownership, Rudolph’s popularity soared. Commercial printings and cartoons quickly followed, and then, of course, came the song, which secured Rudolph’s place in Christmas history, and in our hearts, forever. Robert L. May died in 1976.
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