Jules Bass, Producer of Animated Classics ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and ‘The Last Unicorn,’ Dies at 87

Generations grew up on the films and holiday specials he made with partner Arthur Rankin Jr.

"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"

Jules Bass, the co-producer and co-director of such animated classics as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty the Snowman” and “The Last Unicorn,” died Tuesday of age-related illness at an assisted living facility in Rye, New York, his publicist confirmed to TheWrap. He was 87.

Through their banner Rankin/Bass, Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr. (who died in 2014) made some of the most beloved children’s programming of all time, including stop-motion classics “Rudolph” (1964), “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” (1970), and “The Year Without a Santa Claus” (1974). Bass also wrote many of the iconic songs, including Heat Miser and Snow Miser’s catchy showstopper and “Put One Foot in Front of the Other” with composer/conductor Maury Laws.

Bass also produced and directed the 1967’s “Mad Monster Party?” starring Boris Karloff and Phyllis Diller.

Rankin/Bass’s hand-drawn projects include the 1969 holiday special “Frosty the Snowman,” the Peabody-winning TV movie “The Hobbit” (1977), and its sequel, “The Return of the King” (1980), and feature film “The Last Unicorn” (1982).

After Bass retired from filmmaking, he turned to writing children’s books, including “Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon.”

His daughter, Jean Nicole Bass, died in January at age 61.