Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has become one of the most popular characters of the holiday season, starring in his own TV show, books, and song. But how much do you really know about Santa’s special reindeer? Here are 3 facts you may not have know about everyone’s favorite flying reindeer.

1. Rudolph was created as an advertising gimmick. Robert May, the author of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was an advertising copywriter for Montgomery Ward. The company wanted to create a book as a giveaway for kids during Christmas, was in 1939 May wrote a story about a little red-nosed reindeer. Store execs were a bit worried that the red nose would be associated with being drunk, but customers apparently didn’t see it that way. The book, as we all know, became a hit, and Rudolph later got his own song, TV show and merchandise.

2. Rudolph was a woman. In the popular animated TV special, Rudolph was voiced by a Canadian woman by the name of Billie Mae Richards. She was listed as Billie Richards in the credits so no one would know the voice of the male reindeer was that of a female. Richards also voiced Rudolph in the later specials, “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year” and “Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July.”

3. Rudolph was also comic book star. Although he may be best known as the misfit reindeer from the 1964 Rankin-Bass TV special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was also a comic book star. Every year from 1950 to 1962 and again in 1972, DC Comics published a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer comic book each December. The comics are now collectibles.

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