Arthur Rankin Jr
Arthur Rankin Jr.jpg
Role producer
Country U.S.A., New York
Born July 19, 1924
Died January 30, 2014
Spouse Olga Karlatos
Children Gardner & Todd (sons)
Other Works ThunderCats, SilverHawks, TigerSharks, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman
Page List of all Cast & Crew

Arthur Rankin Jr. was an American director, producer, and writer. Rankin was born in New York to a family of actors. His father, Arthur Rankin Sr. and his mother, Marian Mansfield, were both actors. His paternal grandparents, Phyllis Rankin and Harry Davenport, were also actors, the latter was well known for his role as Dr. Meade in "Gone with the Wind".

In the 1940s, Rankin started working for the American Broadcasting Company as an art director. He continued working there until the mid-1950s, when he met Jules Bass, who used to work for an advertising agency in New York. The two decided to form their own film production company known as Videocraft International, which mainly produced TV commercials. The company was later changed to "Rankin/Bass Productions" and their focus shifted to animation. The two produced and directed a wide range of stop-motion animated features and cartoons. Their Christmas Specials such as "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and "Frosty the Snowman" were particularly popular and highly successful.

The two would also go on to produce and direct a number of other animated shows such as "The Last Unicorn" and "Jackson 5ive", the later showcasing the musical adventures of the Michael Jackson and his brothers. In addition to directing, Rankin primarily wrote the script and sketched the character concepts. The concept designs would then be made into the wooden puppets by artists in Japan, where Rankin/Bass used to outsource all of their animation work.

During the 1980s, Ted Wolf took his concept about an action/adventure animated show centered around a group of humanoid cats to Rankin/Bass. Seeing the potential in the premise, Rankin and Bass agreed to produce the show, and ThunderCats was born, which would go on to become one of Rankin/Bass' most popular and successful show ever. After the end of ThunderCats, Rankin/Bass produced similar themed animated shows SilverHawks and The Comic Strip featuring TigerSharks, but neither could match the popularity or success of ThunderCats.

After marrying Greek/Italian actress Olga Karlatos, Rankin and his wife settled in Bermuda, where Rankin continued to produce and direct stage shows as well as teaching courses on film and entertainment at Bermuda College. After a brief illness, Rankin passed away on January 30, 2014, aged 89, in his home at Harrington Sound, Bermuda.

ThunderCats Bullet Point.png Notes of Interest[edit | edit source]

  • Rankin worked with actors such as Jeff Bridges, Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury, Alan Arkin, Danny Kaye, James Cagney, Fred Astaire, Boris Karloff, Tallulah Bankhead, George Burns, John Huston, Burl Ives, James Earl Jones, Christopher Lee, Walter Matthau, Vincent Price and Flip Wilson
  • In 1977, Rankin and Bass were awarded the Peabody Award for their animated film "The Hobbit", based on the book of the same name by J. R. R. Tolkien.

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