Arthur Gardner Rankin Jr. was born into a theatrical family in Manhattan on July 19, 1924. His mother, Marian Mansfield, was a singer and actress in film and on the New York stage in the 1930s and ’40s. His father, also an actor, was the son of Harry Davenport, a well-known character actor in the movies of that era.
Mr. Rankin was an art director at ABC before he and Mr. Bass teamed up in 1955 to make television commercials, forming the company Videocraft International. They changed its name to Rankin/Bass Productions when they began making animated films for television.
“Rudolph,” based on the song popularized by Gene Autry in 1949 and narrated by Burl Ives, made its debut on NBC in 1964 and has been seen on network television every year since, most recently on CBS. It was the first of more than a dozen animated holiday specials produced by Rankin/Bass from 1964 to 1985, many of which have remained perennial favorites.
Mr. Rankin is survived by his wife, Olga, and two sons, Todd and Gardner.more » « less
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