Animation historian coming to town for nostalgic start to new year

‘Frosty the Snowman’ among beloved Rankin/Bass television shows

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ST. CHARLES – For many families, sitting around the television set to watch "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Frosty the Snowman" is just as important to the holiday season as opening presents.

Rankin/Bass Productions made those and other beloved TV classics. Rick Goldschmidt, the official historian/biographer for Rankin/Bass Productions, is one of the guests who will appear at the Cosmic Comic Con & Toy Extravaganza from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 4 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 5 at Pheasant Run Resort’s St. Charles Ballroom, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles.

Tickets cost $6 and can be purchased at The tickets are good for both days of the convention.

Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Goldschmidt, who lives in Oak Lawn, about the upcoming convention. The interview has been edited for length and style.

Eric Schelkopf: You have a lot going on, including that you have this new book out, 'Rankin/Bass' Frosty the Snowman's 50th Anniversary Scrapbook.' It's hard to imagine that it's been 50 years since 'Frosty the Snowman' first aired. Was it a labor of love to do this book?

Rick Goldschmidt: Oh, yeah. I really admired the artists behind all this stuff – Jack Davis and Paul Coker Jr. And I got to know Arthur Rankin Jr. and then became friends with all the people that made these shows and are the reason that they’ve been on for 50 years.

Those people are important to me, and they don’t get their credit from anybody else except me. So that’s really what drives me to do it. I want to make sure that the people who really created the stuff are acknowledged.

Maury Laws, the guy who did all the music, he passed away this year at age 95. He and I were good friends. In part, we dedicated the Frosty book to him because he was a big part of the reason for the success of songs like ‘Heat Miser’ and ‘Snow Miser’ and ‘Put One Foot in Front of the Other.’

He wrote all the music, and then Jules Bass wrote the lyrics for all the songs. Laws lived in Appleton, Wisconsin. He was kind of their biggest celebrity.

He knew how important his music was to people.

Eric Schelkopf: You’re 54 years old, so you must have grown up on these shows. So you wanted to let people know about the people behind the shows?

Goldschmidt: Yeah and my degree is in art, so I have a deep appreciation for visual art, and my books are kind of that way, where there’s all kinds of photos and art. My books are more of an art portfolio.

Rankin/Bass was a very visual company. They did stop-motion animation and a lot of cel animation. They just had a lot of nice art and design to their characters, and that’s what attracted me in the first place.

I think that’s what people appreciate about my books. They’re different from other takes on animation or television or whatever. You can expect to see a lot of color and visuals in our books.

Eric Schelkopf: Why do you think the shows still stand up today? Is it because of the stories?

Goldschmidt: The writing by Romeo Muller is at the heart of everything. He wrote stories that weren’t speaking down to kids. They were for everybody, including grandparents.

All the characters are underdogs, and they triumph in the end. The villains get reformed, and the stories are more satisfying than most.

He really created all of these characters that we know and love.

[Note to readers: Learn more about the Cosmic Comic Con and concurrent antiques show on page 37.]