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Producer-director Jules Bass, known for holiday specials, dies

Bass produced and co-directed holiday classics like "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Frosty the Snowman" and "Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town."

NEW YORK β€” Jules Bass, a producer, director and animator behind beloved animated holiday television specials of the 1960s and 70s like "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," has died at age 87, according to multiple reports.

Bass passed away of an age-related illness at an assisted living facility, his publicist confirmed to Variety.

Bass was best known for the work that came from his creative partnership with Arthur Rankin Jr. He and Rankin teamed up to form their own production company, first producing the 1960 syndicated television series "The New Adventures of Pinocchio." 

"Rudolph" was released in 1964 and became an immediate success, featuring the voice of Burl Ives as Sam the Snowman and introducing new songs, such as "Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Silver and Gold," into Americans' holiday repertoire.

The pair went on to produce many more holiday specials, including "The Little Drummer Boy," "Frosty the Snowman" and "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town," among many others. 

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Bass and Rankin were nominated for an Emmy for outstanding children's special for "The Little Drummer Boy Book II" in 1977, and won a Peabody Award in 1978 for their animated version of "The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien. 

Together, they co-directed "The Last Unicorn" in 1982, which featured the voices of major stars like Jeff Bridges and Angela Lansbury.

Bass and Rankin also made a lasting impact on the Saturday morning cartoon lineup with popular shows like "Jackson 5ive" and "Thundercats."

Rankin died in 2014 at age 89.

Bass' daughter, Jean Nicole Bass, died in January at age 61, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

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