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Arthur Rankin, Jr.

Arthur Rankin, Jr., was someone where you could figure out what he did just through hearing the surname—he was half of Christmas-special stalwart Rankin/Bass Productions. Born to an acting family (he was the grandson of Gone with the Wind actor Arthur Davenport) in 1924, Rankin began his career in the late 1940s as a graphic designer for ABC, where he was soon promoted to art director and worked on programs such as the sci-fi anthology series Tales of Tomorrow.

Rankin soon departed from ABC to begin his own advertising company. From there, he discovered Jules Bass, and they joined forces with the intention, in Rankin's words, "to combine his advertising know-how with my television and artistic know-how." In 1960, the duo founded the company Videocraft International, which would soon be renamed Rankin/Bass.

The company produced a variety of works, starting with a stop-motion series starring Pinocchio, and soon saw its greatest success with Christmas specials, with the likes of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman phenomenal successes to this day. Rankin wrote the scripts and designed the characters for the specials, and he was also credited with convincing numerous celebrities to lend their voices to the specials, starting with Burl Ives in Rudolph.

Though it's the holiday specials that will forever be synonymous with Rankin/Bass, over time the company also expanded to Saturday-morning cartoons, animated films, and the occasional live-action product. Rankin ultimately had more than a thousand television credits to his name.

Remaining active into his final years, Rankin spent his later life in Bermuda, and is perhaps the first AODP pick to die there. His death occurred several weeks after that of Larry D. Mann, who had voice roles in Rudolph and several other Rankin/Bass works. Jefferson Survives receives 5 points for age and 5 for the solo, for a total of 10.

--Jefferson Survives

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