Archives On The Air 203: Rollo The Red-Nosed Reindeer—Montgomery Ward Records

Jun 30, 2020

Did you know that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was almost named Rollo - or even Reginald?

Montgomery Ward, the world's first general merchandise mail-order business originated Rudolph as an advertising campaign in 1939.

Copywriter Robert May drafted a poem about a reindeer with a shiny red nose that assisted Santa in his deliveries. 2.4 million copies of his illustrated poem were distributed for free to Montgomery Ward shoppers.

A popular song about Rudolph was recorded in 1951 by singing cowboy Gene Autry. 

By the time the now familiar television special premiered in 1964, Rudolph's likeness had been licensed for more than 500 items.

Learn more in the Montgomery Ward records at UW's American Heritage Center.