You know you love them: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town,” and a half dozen others. What holiday season would be complete without at least one viewing of these treasured classics? These American icons of the ‘60s and ‘70s have held up to more than 40 years of increasing crassness and commercialism, with their endearing-to-watch (but tedious to produce) stop-motion animation, charming characters, and songs that have themselves become holiday staples. The Rankin-Bass oeuvre stands virtually alone in the annals of American television specials, with a longer shelf life than could ever have been imagined at their creation (the Peanuts series of specials, generated during the same period, also remains indelibly imprinted on the American psyche).
The team that brought these shows to us, Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass, have birth charts which show a very special working relationship, to each other and to the creations which still bring smiles to the faces of young and old. Both men are still alive; Rankin (born 19 July 1924), aged 89, and Bass (born 16 September 1935), aged 78, live within blocks of each other in New York City, though both also maintain separate residences abroad. They continue to collaborate, with their most recent holiday venture 2001’s “Santa Baby!”, and also work together as consultants on the Cartoon Network’s series “ThunderCats.”
PNAs (Personal-Named Asteroids) reflecting their names and some of their chief characters as well as the holiday season generally, appear prominently in their birth charts, by synastry, and in the chart of the premiere of their most famous, and first, Christmas production, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” An overall simpatico is obvious, with Rankin’s 26 Cancer Sun, focused on family, roots and home, in a complimentary sextile to Bass’s 22 Virgo Sun, bringing much-needed focus and detail to their efforts. Rankin’s natal Mars and Bass’s natal Saturn conjoin exactly at 5 Pisces, bringing energy to their projects, and Bass’ natal Jupiter at 19 Scorpio trines Rankin’s Sun, while Rankin’s natal Jupiter at 10 Sagittarius squares Bass’ Saturn, adding a fortunate, expansive flair to career matters for both.
A cluster of PNAs in late Gemini and early Cancer from Rankin’s chart tells the tale quite succinctly. Asteroid Ranke (#20012) at 25 Gemini opposes the Galactic Center at 26 Sagittarius and provides that spark of international recognition and acclaim.
It’s followed closely by asteroid Juels (#20135, homophone for “Jules”) at 0 Cancer; Venus, ruling creative and artistic expression, at 1 Cancer; asteroid Arthur (#2597) at 5 Cancer; and asteroid Yule (#14960, an alternate English term for Christmas, derived from Scandinavian roots) at 6 Cancer. Having these very evocative elements bound up within 11 degrees of the zodiac shows a very focused, driven, and harmonious interchange of energies, and explicates Rankin’s biography beautifully and elegantly.
Also of note is an exact opposition linking Rankin’s most popular creation with his steadfast partner, in the form of asteroid Rudolf (#44613) at 15 Taurus opposed asteroid Basso (#49501, for “Bass”) at 15 Scorpio.
Asteroid Noel (#1563), the French term for Christmas, at 15 Sagittarius is conjoined natal Jupiter, showing holiday-related material as a pathway to fame and renown for Rankin. Asteroid Santa (#1288), a character which appears in no less than seven Rankin-Bass productions, appears at 28 Taurus, in sextile to the Sun and inconjunct the 25 Libra natal Saturn.
Jules Bass’ nativity shows similar connections. A pairing of Saturn at 5 Pisces with Yule at 12 Pisces suggests a career focused on holiday themes, while his natal Ranke at 15 Sagittarius, representing Arthur Rankin, is an exact match for his partner’s natal Noel, bringing the two together in a shared focus on the holidays. Yule also opposes natal Neptune at 14 Virgo, combining fantasy and television specifically, in the context of holiday TV specials.
Noel at 19 Gemini conjoins Chiron at 16 Gemini; many of the Rankin-Bass characters portray the trademark “misfit” or “wounded” aspect common to Chirotic themes, including Rudolf and his dentist-wannabe elf friend Hermie. Both men sport Sun/Chiron squares (Rankin’s Chiron at 24 Aries), making this a very personally-identified theme which pervades their joint efforts.
Bass’s asteroid Santa at 26 Leo conjoins his natal Arthur at 0 Virgo, and is squared by Mars at 0 Sagittarius, funneling large amounts of energy into their holiday-themed partnership. Rudolf at 19 Aries is exactly sextile Noel, with both asteroids exactly inconjunct natal Jupiter at 19 Scorpio, forming a perfect Yod, or Finger of Destiny, between the three points, suggesting a fated linkage between Christmas themes, and Rudolph specifically, focused on Bass’ personal fame and celebrity. Natal Basso at 29 Scorpio opposes Rankin’s Santa and T-Square’s his own natal Santa, further binding that very pivotal character to both men’s lives, uniting the majority of their body of work together.
That Chiron/misfit energy is also very powerfully displayed at the premiere of “Rudolph,” arguably their most successful endeavor, on 6 December (St. Nicholas Day!) 1964. An exact T-Square of Sun at 14 Sagittarius with squares to Uranus (inventiveness, creation, animation) and Mars, both at 14 Virgo, and Chiron at 14 Pisces, repeats the Sun/Chiron square common to both men. The “misfit” theme of “Rudolph” is unmistakable, from the ear-catching song “Misfits” to the Island of Misfit Toys subplot, with an eponymous song of its own.
Asteroid Ranke conjoins the Sun from 6 Sagittarius (together they straddle Rankin’s natal Jupiter at 10 Sagittarius), while Juels and Rudolf make an exact conjunction at 1 Capricorn, with Mercury (stories and tales, the media) close beside at 4 Capricorn, all three opposing asteroid Yule at 4 Aries. Asteroid Arthur at 11 Aquarius is part of a second T-Square, with squares to a Venus (arts)/Neptune (TV) pairing at 14 and 18 Scorpio (with Neptune homing in on Rankin’s natal Jupiter at 19 Scorpio, combining TV and fame), and a Noel/Jupiter conjunction at 12 and 18 Taurus (atop Rankin’s natal Rudolf at 15 Taurus).
Asteroid Santa at 24 Leo is about to return to its natal degree in Jules Bass’ chart, and opposes transit Saturn at 29 Aquarius, appropriate for a venture which would spawn a career largely based on Santa-related specials, extending more than 20 years and including “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” (1970), “The Year Without a Santa Claus” (1974), and “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus” (1985).
So for “Rudolph’s” premiere we see contacts from Rudolf and Yule to Mercury, Santa to Saturn, and Noel to Jupiter. Having four asteroids which bear directly on the venture at hand, all in prominent placements, is a startling testimony to the powerful effect PNAs can have in mundane events, not just birth charts. Moreover, linked with Saturn (career), Jupiter (fame) and Mercury (storytelling), the picture becomes very clear, and sets the stage for a lifetime of similar achievements, with this premiere offering the most indelible of all.
Rankin-Bass creations will doubtless continue to delight and enchant global audiences for generations to come. Without them, it just wouldn’t be Christmas!