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"There's always that element of magic that you can't duplicate," said Rick Goldschmidt Oak Lawn historian and biographer for Rankin/Bass Procduictions Inc. "It comes from the heart."
Such is the case with Frosty the Snowman – the Rankin/Bass classic first aired 50 years ago this month. Frosty was conceived earlier in the 1950s, part of song made famous by Gene Autry, but it was the creative team at Rankin/Bass that rounded him into form.
After graduating from Columbia College in Chicago with a bachelor's degree in illustration, Goldschmidt pursued a career as a freelance illustrator/cartoonist. His freelance projects included magazine illustrations, editorial cartoons and assignments as a charicaturist. In the early 1990s, he befriended legendary MAD MAGAZINE artists Jack Davis, Paul Coker, Jr. and Mort Drucker and this lead to discussions about RANKIN/BASS Productions. He later met with cartoonist Tony Peters and writer Romeo Muller.
"I'm glad I got the history when I did," Goldschmidt said with a smile. "I got to be familiar with everybody and told me everything – whether they wanted to or not."
Today's animators and writers have fallen into the habit of copying each other, he said.
"It all looks the same and it doesn't have any uniqueness to it," he said. "I feel like Pixar had the right forumula. But when Disney took over it seemed like it was all about the money."
Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass are best-known for producing some of the most popular animated holiday TV specials ever aired, including Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, The Little Drummer Boy and – of course – Frosty the Snowman. Goldschmidt said one of those voiceover actors, Paul Frees, who voices the parts of Santa Claus and the traffic cop, also was the voice of the Pillsbury Doughboy. Pillsbury sponsored Frosty.
"You really can't describe it," Goldschmidt said of the creative soup that was allowed to bubble at the Rankin/Bass studio . "It's why you have to watch the shows over and over again. ... It's amazing to see that they've held up so great."
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