Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.
TV URBAN LEGEND: The Misfit Toys were never saved in the original airing of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Holiday specials hold a unique place in television history in that they tend to be the only classic programming to still be aired every year on network television. Other non-holiday programs like The Wizard of Oz or the Mary Martin Peter Pan specials were annual network traditions that gradually faded away. However, films like It’s a Wonderful Life and animated specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer continue to air decades into their existence. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, for instance, will mark its 50th anniversary next year, airing every year since it debuted on NBC in 1964.
A problem with airing specials from decades ago today, though, is that there are many more commercials per every televised hour these days. So classic television shows have to be edited to make room for these commercials, and since Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was originally an hour-long special, it does not have the freedom that A Charlie Brown Christmas has to avoid edits by simply airing the original A Charlie Brown Christmas (which ran in a half-hour time slot) in an hour-long time slot with some additional filler material to make it work (even then, A Charlie Brown Christmas has had other notable edits, which I’ve spotlighted in the past here). So Rudolph has seen a number of edits over the years, with songs being trimmed, songs being cut and whole scenes being eliminated entirely.
However, interestingly enough, one of the biggest changes in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer since its original airing in 1964 was an added scene. You see, the first time around, the Misfit Toys were never actually saved!