Tributes paid to Arthur Rankin Jr
By Deirde Collins
Published Aug 4, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 4, 2014 at 12:28 am)
Rick Goldschmidt, the official historian and biographer for Rankin/Bass Productions, recently visited the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art to pay tribute to the work of Bermudian animation legacy, Arthur Rankin Jr.
Mr Rankin, who died in January at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, was famous for using stop-motion animation with his creative partner, Jules Bass, to produce festive and popular holiday TV specials such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and The Little Drummer Boy.
A new exhibit at the Botanical Gardens museum — Arthur’s Galaxy — celebrates the Harrington Sound resident’s life and career and was opened on July 16, what would have been his 90th birthday.
Friends, associates and family, including Mr Goldschmidt, toasted Mr Rankin’s memory at a posthumous birthday party held that evening.
Mr Goldschimdt, who visited Bermuda for the first time to see the exhibit and attend the birthday celebration, has written three books about the long partnership between Arthur Rankin Jr and Jules Bass.
Mr Goldschmidt has devoted many years to amassing Rankin/Bass lore in order to spotlight the creators of TV’s favourite holiday specials.
Made between 1964 and 1985, the evergreen, seasonally-themed productions still draw millions of TV viewers when they air at Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and Halloween.
“My books helped to bring attention to the actual specials,” said Mr Goldschmidt. “My purpose is to give credit where credit is due and Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass deserve credit. Arthur knew that I would carry on the name.”
Mr Goldschmidt was born in Oak Lawn, Illinois and studied illustration at Columbia College in Chicago.
Inspired by their mutual determination, perseverance and love for animation, Mr Goldschmidt became fascinated by the work of Rankin/Bass Productions at a young age.
He says he tries to emulate Mr Rankin’s work ethic and respects the fact the US-born Bermudian “never gave up on anything”.
“Arthur became like a second father to me,” said Mr Goldschmidt. “He trusted me because I was able to find a lot of material through toy shows and collectables shows that they had lost over the years because they moved their New York office so many times.”
Mr Goldschmidt’s said his relationship with the local animator was also driven by their vast similarities.
“Arthur and I had the same taste in art, music, film, and in projects he worked on.
“We liked the same things and we were also close because I am an illustrator and he was also an artist,” explained Mr Goldschmidt.
Mr Goldschmidt, who visited Bermuda with his fiancee Denise Amelio, believes that many of Mr Rankin’s best qualities were influenced by Bermuda’s warm and friendly people.
“Mr Rankin was a very professional and warm person,” said Mr Goldschmidt. “Coming to Bermuda, I got to meet all his Bermudian friends and family and it was no surprise that everyone was so welcoming and wonderful.
“My fiancee and I couldn’t believe how nice everybody was. It was no surprise because Arthur was the same way.”
“2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the first broadcast of Rudolph as well so it’s an important year for Rankin/Bass Productions. I wish Arthur could have lived to see it.”
Mr Rankin “was very proud” of upcoming Rankin/Bass projects including a series of holiday stamps which Mr Goldschmidt is helping to launch in the US.
Mr Goldschmidt’s books are available at www.miserbros.com where he will be offering a special discount shipping rate for Bermudians.
The Masterworks Museum is also planning to extend its current Arthur Rankin exhibit.
“I think Masterworks director Tom Butterfield and collections manager Anne-Marie Walsh did a wonderful job with their Arthur’s Galaxy display and I can’t wait to see and, hopefully, help with the expanded exhibit.
“Tom and I spoke about many wonderful ideas we have to honour Arthur in the future,” said Mr Goldschmidt.
“Olga Rankin, Arthur’s wife, brought Denise and I to Bermuda and showed us all over town.
“She was a wonderful hostess and she put the whole 90th birthday party together single-handedly, drove guests, arranged dinner parties, and more.
“She was absolutely amazing. Arthur’s wish was a party instead of a sombre funeral and she was very careful to do everything as he wanted,” he added,
“I could see why Arthur loved Bermuda,” said Mr Goldschmidt about meeting Mr Rankin’s friends and family and “forming some close friendships on the trip”.
“Arthur would have called the whole experience ‘a love fest’,” added Mr Goldschmidt of the celebration.