Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer And Friends: Where Are They Now?
by: Max Burbank

It's been forty-three years since Rankin and Bass gave the world "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer". Like the song says, he 'went down in history' along with Clarice and Hermy and Yukon Cornelius, and that one, really tall elf with the glasses. But what happened to them after that? Where are they now? And what kind of person would ask themselves questions like that about a bunch of fictional puppets? The answers you seek can be found right here.


Rudolph, or 'Rudy' as friends knew him, came to view his fame with puzzlement. His refusal to do the convention circuit, often seen as arrogance by fans, was more due to embarrassment. "Look, I'm just a working buck who happened to get born with a shinning nose. Some Christmas Eves, the weather gets bad and it works out good for everybody, I'm glad of that. Most years I just pull the sleigh, same as the other guys."

"He was the most decent reindeer I ever met," recalls close friend Hermy. "But after his folks died the way they did and then the divorce... it just broke him. He let Clarice have it all. The Cave, the kids, the rights to the song. You think if Rudy had kept the rights you'd have heard it on that friggin' Prius commercial? Everybody says the cancer got Rudy, but that's a lot of crap. He had the biggest heart in Christmas town and that lousy Doe broke it to pieces. That's what he died of."

Dr. William "Sparkly" Elf, North Pole Large Animal Veterinarian, disagrees. "A biological deviation like Rudolph's nose... well, it rarely comes alone. Generally something like that is part of a syndrome, a suite of genetic anomalies and honestly, it's never good. If he'd been born with fifth hoof coming out of his chest, no one would have been surprised he died young. Frankly it's a miracle he lived as long as he did."


"Look, I make no apologies," says Clarice, retired to Boca Raton Florida. "Do you know how old I am in reindeer years at this point? Am I gonna do regrets? No. No I am not. So I got all the money. I had kids to raise, and who's supposed to pay for my chemo, Santa? Look, I was a young doe when Rudy and I hooked up. I was the first one to look past the nose, ok? I oughta get some slack for that, but everybody wants to give me a ration of shit for leaving Rudy. Fine. Yes, Rudy was a nice buck. Absolutely. But not to put to fine a point on it, he was pretty damn dull. Yeah, dull! Oh, sacrilege! Lookit, here's a buck who's on the cover of Time and Newsweek, saved friggin' Christmas, right? And he won't take one friggin' endorsement deal! Like to know how many kids I had my first litter? Five! No one ever writes a friggin' hit carol about that, do they? It's all 'Rudy, Rudy, Rudy'. You try livin' in a North Pole Cave with a Reindeer with clinical depression who refuses to get treatment. It's no damn picnic."


Hermy sold his successful Christmas Town dental practice in 1984.

"Man, you guys are takin' me back. I haven't thought about those days in a long time. A Long time. We had some fun. I miss Rudy like hell, you know? I mean, nowadays, people don't even remember what it was like being gay back then. Well I remember. Rudy didn't give a shit about any of that. He never really got it, though; he was just too sweet to get it. He was always, like, "You love Bumble, Bumble loves you, that's good right?" He never told anybody. He respected me. I thought if it got out, Santa would slap me on his god damn Naughty List and I could kiss my dental practice goodbye. If he's reading this, I hope he's happy. Bumble I mean. He deserves it. Ahhh, who am I kidding? Bumbles can't read."

Hermy died after a long illness shortly after our interview. Having no family, he left his estate to the "Chris Kringle Foundation For Elves Living With Brain Cancer".


Charlie runs "The Island of Misfit Toys", a small comics and collectibles shop in Schenectady NY, with long time companion Polka Dot Elephant.

"We were lucky to get off the island when we did, before it all went south. I ran into Cowboy riding an ostrich at a con in, what was it, November of '06? Something like that. He couldn't even talk about it. Made me feel almost guilty to have been leading the simple life for so long. I'm on the board of the Schenectady Chamber of Commerce, can you believe that? Me, Charlie-In-The-Box. Times change I guess. Have you seen what passes for a Christmas special these days? "The Polar Express"? I don't know. Computer animation. Feh. A million Tom Hanks Zombies is what. Don't look at their eyes. Polka Dot Elephant had nightmares for a week. I shit you not."


Reindeer coach could not be contacted for this article. Fired by Santa after a number of incidents involving young bucks and Reindeer games, he retired to Brazil where he now runs a neo-Nazi website, He is rumored to be seeking alternative treatments for brain cancer.


Cornelius gave up prospecting in 1972 and moved to Key West where he opened a very successful bar, "Silver and Gold". In 1979 he established the annual "Polar Bear Ball", and while now retired is still the honorary Grand Bear.

"The first few years a lot of people didn't get it. I don't know what they thought; we were raising money for bears or something. I mean, come on, it's Key West, for god's sake! Well, if somebody didn't know what a bear was before they walked in, they sure did afterwards! What? Why polar? We're senior citizens, sonny! Don't you get it? Look at my hair! It's white! White all over!... Oh, never mind."

Asked to comment on "The Rudolph Years" he said:

"Rudy was a good kid, but naive, you know? Working for Santa because of the 'True Meaning of Christmas' my wrinkled old prospectors ass! When did Santa get on the right side of the nose issue? When he found a way to exploit it, that's when! Nah, I got outa the whole North Pole Christmas scene as soon as I could. Sellin' booze to aging queens is where it's at. Know what 'Silver and Gold' stands for? White hair and discretionary income. Good thing too. I got medical bills up the ying yang. And I'm one of the lucky ones! Look at all those elves who didn't reach retirement. Glow in the dark paint my polar bear ass! Santa worked 'em to death is what!"


King Moon Racer was tried and found guilty of crimes against toymanity by the World Court at The Hague in 1989. Sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, he died of pancreatic cancer in 1991.


Telling Rudolph's story was only a single stop on Sam the Snowman's long life journey.

Blacklisted in the 1950's for his membership in the Communist party, Sam the Snowman made a remarkable comeback, winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Snowman in "The Big Country With A Lot Of Snow", but he is probably best remembered for his music. Prominent New York Times music critic John Rockwell wrote: "Sam the Snowman's voice... had the sheen and finesse of opera without its latter-day Puccinian vulgarities and without the pretensions of operatic ritual. It was genteel in expressive impact without being genteel in social conformity. And it moved people."

Sam lent his name and image to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's "This Land is Your Land, Keep It Clean" campaign in the 1970's.

In 1984, he narrated the made-for-TV Star Wars film, "Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure"

In 1995 Sam the Snowman died of cancer of the mouth at the age of 85. In accordance with his wishes, he was melted. His water was scattered over the Grande Tetons by his life partner Snow Miser.


Misfit Doll runs a successful psychotherapy practice in Eugene, Oregon and is the author of "Sub Plot: The Gulag of Misfit Toys"

"Anyone can see a train with square wheels is challenged. People can be cruel, but they can also see with their own eyes what the problem is. Some disabilities are not so visible. Some disabilities are on the inside. That was me. 'What are you doing here, what are you doing here?' that's what they all kept asking me. Bird that Swam, Jelly Shooting Water Pistol, all of them. Oh, I was in the right place all right. How ironic I should have survived. What happened to us was terrible, terrible. Was it Rudolph's fault? No. No. Should he have seen, should he have known? Perhaps. He was a young buck with serious problems of his own. In my book I say he was as much a victim, as much a 'misfit' as the rest of us. Do you know I got death threats for saying that? Death threats. Imagine. Santa says he didn't know. Santa says Moon Racer supplied the parachutes, Santa says he was as shocked and horrified as anybody else. Well, he's given a lot of money to the survivors over the years. Did it begin and end with Moon Racer? It seems impossible to me. But we're all old now, aren't we? If anyone was going to come forward... No, no, it's done. It's a closed book. Anyone who knew anything died a long time ago. Most of them from brain cancer."


'Bumble' as he's still called, runs a GLBT trailer park in Saskatoon, Canada.

"I'll tell you what, when Hermy pulled my teeth? I may not have asked for it, but it was empowering. He could never help himself, but he sure helped me. He had the deepest closet of anybody I've ever known. What was he hiding from? His imagination. We were all gay up there! Didn't he notice there was like, one girl elf? And I'll tell you something, she was a 'girl' but she wasn't a girl, if you know what I mean. Anyhoo, before I got my chompers yanked it was all monster this, monster that. Well you know what? I am a monster. I'm a big, gay, hairy, monster, which is just how god made me, but it doesn't mean I have to devour talking sentient living reindeer, does it? We all make our own prisons, don't we? Well, bust out, that's what I say!

I'm still in touch with the old gang. I see them at cons, or we email. I won the King Polar Bear sash in Key West five years running! I mean, come on, who's going to beat me? Unless I let 'em, right? Which I sometimes do. I can't go anymore, it's just too much of a schlep with my hip and all. Oh, it's just arthritis, don't worry about me! I'm just about the only one of us who didn't get 'The Big C'. I guess I'm just lucky."


Tall Elf With Glasses left the North Pole in 1975 and worked as a merchant marine, shrimp fisherman, roofer, and long haul trucker prior to his arrest in 1988 for a series of pipe bombings he claims he did not commit.

"Yeah. Yeah. Pipe bombing. It's all too convenient isn't it? They followed me for years, dropping evidence wherever I holed up. A bunch of wires in an Alaska flophouse, blow up a mailbox in Eugene, Klamath Falls, whatever town I took some crap job in. Because I know, see? So they could get me out of the way whenever they had to. Make it so if I ever got called to the stand at Moon Racer's trial, no one would believe me. Cause I could connect the dots, see?

Oh, yeah, yeah, glow in the dark paint, lotta dead elves, class action lawsuit, Santa settles, he's very sorry, what a tragedy, lets establish a foundation... it's a drop in the bucket for him. He's Santa! Nothing sticks too him. Bullshit!

Listen. Rudy? Cancer. His folks? Cancer. Clarice? DYING... of CANCER! Sam the friggin Snowman coincidentally happens to die of MOUTH CANCER?! When did any of those poor bastards ever pick up a paintbrush with glow in the dark paint on it? NEVER! Reindeers and snowmen DO NOT MAKE TOYS! Oh, oh, oh, and a whole bunch of toys that MIGHT have died of cancer just happen to get shoveled out of Santa's sleigh with defective parachutes, and Moon Racer, ever the good soldier, it's all his fault. And which elf does not eventually end up with cancer? The TALL elf. Me. Me and Bumble are cancer free.

You know what? I'm tired. Leave me the hell alone. You do the math. You figure out what all those dead and dying people have in common, what their heads all got closer too than me and Bumble. You ask yourself how some poor little reindeer got born the way he did and how Santa always wore a lead hat for what, a FASHION STATEMENT?! Get outta here, go on, lemmee rot. Visiting hours are over.

Questions or Comments about this piece?
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Reader Comments

Forum Virgin
Oct 26th, 2010, 10:25 PM
Tee hee HAW! HAW! Hilarious and you gave two shout outs to the town I am living at right now Eugene OR. This is the god honest truth, they would've ended up this way or close to it.
Forum Virgin
Jun 4th, 2014, 10:54 PM
Lol....that was great....very enjoyable re-cap...

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