Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer made his debut in, of all places, a department store catalogue.
It's true. Montgomery Ward introduced the world to Rudolph in 1939. He was originally meant to be a mouse, but the decision was made to make him a reindeer because reindeer were perceived to be more friendly for children.
Well, suffice to say, it worked. Five years later, Max Fleischer, now working for Jam Handy studios, directed the first cartoon based on Rudolph, which explained why his red nose, larger and brighter than the usual brown noses that reindeer have, resulted in his being ostracized by the other reindeer. After Johnny Marks wrote the classic song, recorded by Gene Autry, Jam Handy reissued their cartoon with the song included. That's the version we have for you.
Internet Archive's information is slightly off by a year. Thus, 15 years after the reissue came the Rankin-Bass TV special that we all know, which added some new elements, including giving Rudolph a girlfriend, among other things, and establishing that Donner was his dad. This version was remade in 1998, and merited a DTV sequel.
Don't worry, we'll have the 1964 model Rudolph soon enough.