Julius “Jules” Bass, 87, of Garrison and New York City, died Oct. 25 at a senior living facility in Rye with close friends at his side.
He was born in Philadelphia on Sept. 16, 1935. Little was known about his early life, other than that he nearly died as a teenager of scarlet fever. He was educated at New York University and found work at an advertising agency in New York.
In the early 1960s, he co-founded the film production company Videocraft International, later called Rankin/Bass Productions, with Arthur Rankin Jr. Together, they created and produced a wide array of stop-motion animated features, as well as many animated television series, most notably the hit television series ThunderCats, which aired from 1985 to 1989, and SilverHawks, which aired from 1986 through 1988. Jules wrote many of the episodes and composed the score and lyrics for dozens of the productions.
Rankin/Bass was well-known for their highly successful animated television holiday specials. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, featuring Burl Ives, one of the most popular and longest-running Christmas specials in television history. This holiday season will mark its 58th anniversary. Other holiday classics Jules co-produced include, but are not limited to: Frosty the Snowman, featuring the voice of Fred Astaire; The Little Drummer Boy, featuring Greer Garson and Jose Ferrer; The Year Without a Santa Claus, featuring the voices of Shirley Booth and Mickey Rooney; and Here Comes Peter Cottontail, with the voice of Danny Kaye as the narrator.
Other memorable productions were an animated version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, followed in 1980 by an animated version of The Return of the King and The Last Unicorn. Jules also directed several Rankin/Bass features, including Mad Monster Party and The Daydreamer, and was also a prolific author. Some of his works include Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon; Cooking with Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon: A Cookbook for Kids; Headhunters; and The Mythomaniacs.
He has no immediate survivors; his daughter, Jean Bass, died before him. But friends said they would remember him as a great man, incredible chef and host. A memorial service is being planned.