Animator, director, producer and composer Jules Bass — one half of the iconic Rankin/Bass duo, who created many of the most beloved animated holiday specials of the 20th century — died Tuesday, October 25 at age 87. Bass was residing at an assisted living facility in Rye, New York, where he passed away according to publicist Jennifer Fisherman Ruff.
Bass was born in Philadelphia on September 16, 1935, and received his higher education at New York University. He began his professional life working at an ad agency in New York City. In 1960, Bass and Rankin set up their own studio, originally dubbed Videocraft International.
Together with his longtime producing partner Arthur Rankin Jr., who predeceased him in 2014, Bass created the evergreen stop-motion (or, as the creators dubbed them, “Animagic”) specials Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), based on the hit Gene Autry song and voice starring Burl Ives; Frosty the Snowman (1969), starring Jimmy Durante and Jackie Vernon; and Santa Claus Is Comic’ to Town (1970), starring Fred Astaire.
Bass also solo directed Mad Monster Party (1967) and the stop-mo/live-action musical The Daydreamer (1966), as well as co-directing with Rankin The Year without a Santa Claus (1974), Rudolph’s Shiny New Year (1976) and Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July (1979); the studio’s 2D-animated J.R.R. Tolkien TV movies The Hobbit (1977) and The Return of the King (1980); and the fan favorite fantasy movie The Last Unicorn (1982).
Bass also wrote some of the specials, under the nom de plume “Julian P. Gardner,” including The First Christmas, The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus and The Little Drummer Boy Book II. Bass and Rankin shared a Primetime Emmy nomination for the latter title. (The pair was honored with a Peabody Award for The Hobbit the following year.)
Beyond the holiday fair, Bass served as an executive producer on 1980s toon classics ThunderCats and Silverhawks, serving as a consulting producer on the 2020 reboot ThunderCats Roar.
After stepping away from directing and producing in 1987, Bass focused on writing, including children’s books based around his original character Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon. His comedy-adventure novel Headhunters was adapted into the 2011 Selena Gomez movie Monte Carlo.
[Source: Hollywood Reporter]