|Scene from The Hobbit (1977)|
I just read that Arthur Rankin Jr passed away recently at the age of 89. His company, Rankin-Bass Productions (formed with Jules Bass), is best remembered for its numerous stop-motion specials like Rudolph, but it also produced animated features like The Hobbit (1977), The Return of the King (1980), The Last Unicorn (1982) and even the Thundercats series. The Hobbit was first shown on TV near Thanksgiving later in the same year (1977) as both Holmes Basic and Tolkien's Silmarillion were first published. Watching a re-run of The Hobbit was perhaps my first encounter with the fantasy genre, and I still love it.