Which Holiday TV Movie Is Older: ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ or ‘Frosty the Snowman’?

It’s that time of year again in which families carry on the tradition of watching and streaming some beloved Christmas classics.

The number of holiday movies to choose from seems endless but there are two that continue to make watchlists year after year and that is Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

(L) Still image from the animated TV special 'Frosty The Snowman,' (R) Still image from 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' movie
(L): Still from the animated TV special ‘Frosty the Snowman’ | CBS/Courtesy of Getty Images, (R): Still from ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ movie | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

‘Frosty the Snowman’ plot

The animated TV special Frosty the Snowman is a can’t miss during the holidays in many households.

The story is based on the 1950 Walter E. Rollins and Steve Nelson song of the same name. Comedian Jimmy Durante narrates the film. Billy De Wolfe and Jackie Vernon also lent their voices to the movie as Professor Hinkle and Frosty respectively.  

As IMDb noted, the special is about the magician Hinkle who tosses away his silk hat which schoolchildren later find brings Frosty to life. Believing that his old hat now has magic, Hinkle demands it back. Not only is he a threat to Frosty but so is the changing weather. The snowman is in danger of melting unless he makes the trip to the North Pole; something he must do with Hinkle on his trail.

The 25-minute program was such a hit that it spawned a few spinoffs and sequels including Frosty’s Winter Wonderland, Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July, and The Legend of Frosty the Snowman.

‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ plot

The stop motion animated TV movie Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is another can’t miss program that many children (and their parents) watch every year.

Like Frosty the Snowman, the special was based on a song of the same name. The tune “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” sung by Gene Autry in 1949 was also based on earlier work. It came from a poem of the same name written in 1939.

As IMDb noted, Burl Ives voices Sam the Snowman who narrates the story about a young Rudolph who is teased over his bright red nose. He runs away from home and meets another “outcast” named Hermey, a working elf who’d rather be a dentist. Together they travel to the Island of Misfit Toys. When a snowstorm threatens to cancel Christmas, Santa realizes that Rudolph’s shiny nose is his only hope to get presents to every girl and boy who’ve been good the past year.

Unlike some other holiday films, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is broadcast on television more than just once during the season.

Which Christmas classic came out first and which one is more popular?

As for which children’s classic came out first that would be Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It aired on TV on Dec. 6, 1964. Frosty the Snowman did not air until Dec. 7, 1969.

Rudolph also beats out Frosty in terms of popularity too. Despite some critics calling Rudolph “problematic” because of the verbal abuse and bullying of its main characters, the film was voted the best Christmas movie of all time