Arthur Rankin Jr., a director, producer, and animator best known for creating the classic stop-motion Christmas specials Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, died Thursday at home in Bermuda, THR reported Friday. He was 89.
Born in New York City to actor parents, Rankin got his start in the business in the ’40s as an art director at ABC. He would go on to team up with Jules Bass to form a production company in the early ’60s (now called Rankin/Bass) which specialized in animated television movies. There, they created Rudolph, Frosty, and a host of other programs, including the 1980s TV series Thundercats.
Rankin and Bass also co-directed the 1977 animated take on The Hobbit, and 1982’s The Last Unicorn, which featured the voices of Jeff Bridges, Alan Arkin, Mia Farrow, and Angela Lansbury.
Rankin, Jr. is survived by his wife and two sons.