MOVIES

Why Is Dolly In The Rudolph Movie A Misfit Toy? The Answer Is Too Dark For Kids

It’s more than likely that the team behind the light-hearted 1964 family TV special weren’t thinking too hard about in-depth character backgrounds, especially for minor roles like Dolly’s, and Arthur Rankin Jr.’s answer is a retrospective conclusion after years of fan questioning. In reality, the team probably wanted a toy character that girls could relate to in the male-dominated Island of Misfit Toys. Even if Dolly’s role wasn’t initially meant to have much depth, there’s no doubt that the ice patch she calls home was always intended to resonate deeply with the film’s intended audience. 

In the aforementioned Television Academy Foundation interview with Arthur Rankin Jr., the “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman” creator shared the philosophy behind the Island of Misfit Toys. “I think all kids are looking for guidance, I think all kids feel slightly inferior,” he said. “Kids have problems, whatever they may be, and to see other characters that also have problems, they can associate with them, and when the characters are relieved of their problems by their own actions …  kids love to see someone of their own stripe, their own age, their own inferiority achieve things that makes them feel good. I think that’s probably the reason these films last so long.” 

Interestingly enough, kids almost didn’t see that happy end come to fruition. The original 1964 broadcast of “Rudolph” did not feature Santa returning to the island despite promising he would. Fan response to NBC became so extreme that the team inserted a new sequence for the following year’s airing where Santa returned to collect the toys. Talk about Christmas miracles.

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