'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' TV special celebrates 50 years

OAK LAWN, Ill. (WLS) -- If you were around 50 years ago, perhaps you saw the first airing for the "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" TV special.

It still runs every year, and an Oak Lawn man couldn't be merrier.

On the outside, Rick Goldschmdt's Oak Lawn home is fairly simple. But on the inside, where "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" lives, it's another story. A story of one man's junk is another man's you know what.

"This is my house. My collection of all kinds of memorabilia from the 50s, 60s and even some of the stuff is modern. It's sort of retro," Goldschmidt said.

He has no idea how many thousands and thousands of items he has collected in the last 25 years. But absolutely every bit of space in his home is taken up by show biz memories. And this time of year his nostalgia turns to the 50-year-old "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" TV special.

"It's the longest-running, highest-rated TV Special of all time. Not just Christmas, but TV special," Goldschmidt said.

Goldschmidt is the official historian and archivist for Rankin and Bass Productions. They were the producers of the Rudolph special. And you have to remember, this show ran long before viewers could record their favorite shows.

"You always had to catch that one performance and it was a big event in people's lives. And to watch it now it brings you back to that time period when it was all about the characters and the holiday," Goldschmidt said.

Goldschmidt has written four books about "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and he knows his red-nosed friend. And he says there's a very good reason he's lasted all these years.

"It had a lot of heart and warmth that's missing in today's entertainment and Arthur Rankin chose very talented people to put that special together and it just all jelled," Goldschmidt said.

Rudolph flies away every Christmas, but have faith. He always comes back.

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