Pop-up Fact #6 – Unsung Writer – Romeo Muller

The holiday season is almost wrapped up. I for one got to watch my chillun become enraptured with the Rankan-Bass stop-motion extravaganzas of the 1960s.

The what?

Remember the effin Bumble? Yukon Cornelius licking his pick axe? Hermey the Elf dreaming of being a dentist? I’m only talking about the most popular holiday television special of all time, Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer. We all know the song, but that claymation flick took the song and the story, and did mad science to it. King Moonracer soaking up the Aslan vibe? WTFuckery is this? Romeo Muller happened is what, and that was just the beginning.

Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town, The Little Drummer Boy, and Frosty the Snowman. This guy penned the script to my every snow day wish. And he wrote, oh, a few dozen more films including the animated Wind in the Willows flick, and Puff the Magic Dragon. So, this guy has been amping the childhoods of at least two generations, but why is a scifi site happily flogging his legend?


Peter Jackson did not inflame our mortal minds until 2001. Until then, all a
nazgul-ridin’, longbottom leaf smokin’ dude had to watch was the late 70s animated version of The Hobbit and The Return of the King, which Romeo adapted. Every geek worth their bantha poodoo needs to watch these two with their kids (especially the scary parts). It’s worth it just for the songs.

Hail the unsung writer: Romeo Muller (1928-1992).

PS. For something that speaks to the true holiday spirit, I need to relate a story behind the story. Rudolf was created by one R.L. May, then an employee of Montgomery Ward (MW), the Walmart of the first half of the 20th century. A scrawny, oft-picked on child, May found a job as a copywriter at MW during the depression. He married, had a child, but then his wife got cancer and died near X-mas, and May, too poor after the medical bills to afford any presents, gave his daughter a story of a plucky misfit reindeer.

MW was looking for a story to sell at Xmas and bought it for peanuts. It became so popular, that industry types wanted to make songs and movies, so the retail giant gave the rights back to May, and he remarried and became wealthy. (In the 1940s, May’s brother-in-law wrote the song everyone knows and the legend grew.)

Can anyone imagine Walmart, or Wall Street, or any Big Music Label giving the rights back to the creator? A lost time, you say? Only if we let it be lost. I think it’s time to channel some plucky misfit reindeer, and take the country back from the Bumbles in Washington and Wall Street. And I don’t mean Tea Party rage. I mean better government, not an absence of government. Oops, I’m getting political. I better stop before I go all post-apocalypse on you.

See you in 2012. Sincerely, The ScribbleNinja.

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