Robert L. May
(1905 - 1976) was the creator of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
. May graduated Phi Beta Kappa
from Dartmouth College
in 1926. He then went on to join Montgomery Ward
where he created Rudolph in 1939 as an assignment for the company. The retailer had been buying and giving away coloring books for Christmas
every year and it was decided that creating their own book would save money. 2.4 million copies of Rudolph's story were distributed by Montgomery Ward in its first year. Because May had created Rudolph as an employee, he did not own the license. However, in 1947, he was able to convince the company's corporate president, Sewell Avery
to turn over the copyright to him.
May is buried in Saint Joseph Cemetery in River Grove, Illinois.