Arthur Rankin, animator of 'Rudolph,' dies in Bermuda

Sat Feb 1, 2014 2:19pm EST

(Reuters) - Arthur Rankin, Jr., a prolific animator, producer and director behind holiday TV classics, including "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," has died at his home in Bermuda at the age of 89, a close friend and associate said on Saturday.

Rankin passed away this week after a brief illness, Tom Butterfield, head of the Masterworks Foundation in Bermuda, told Reuters.

Born in New York in 1924, Rankin teamed with Jules Bass to form a company known as Rankin/Bass that made its mark in the industry for its stop-motion animation and use of celebrity voices in its productions.

Rankin had dozens of credits as a producer or director for movies and TV shows spanning six decades that included the "Jackson 5ive" animated TV series in the early 1970s, the TV short "Frosty the Snowman" and the "Thundercats" TV series.

"He was warm and funny, and was also incredibly intense. Arthur Rankin never lost that creativity that came from the child that was in him. He had the most amazing business acumen, as well," Butterfield said.

Rankin's death was also reported in The Royal Gazette of Bermuda.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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