Here Comes Bermuda Producer’s Peter Cottontail

March 29, 2012

Easter is almost upon us — which means Bermudian producer Arthur Rankin Jr.’s classic animated creation Peter Cottontail is busy hopping down the bunny trail to a television near you,

“Here Comes Peter Cottontail” is a 1971 Easter television special made by American-born Mr. Rankin and partner Jules Bass, based on a 1957 novel by Priscilla and Otto Friedrich entitled “The Easter Bunny That Overslept.”

The title of the special is from the Easter song “Here Comes Peter Cottontail”, which is also heard in the special.

It was originally broadcast on ABC-TV, and in later years, appeared on CBS and continues to air on various cable channels.

Featuring the Animagic technique popularised in the flagship Rankin-Bass production “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”, in the Easter special Seymour S. Sassafrass [voice of Danny Kaye], an eccentric, yet friendly, peddler and inventor, tells the tale of Peter Cottontail.

Peter lives in April Valley, where the Chief Easter Bunny supervises activities such as the colouring of eggs and the making of chocolate candy.

Scenes from Rankin-Bass Easter special “Here Comes Peter Cottontail”

Peter Cottontail [voice of Casey Kasem] is challenged by the evil Iron Tail (voice of Vincent Price) to a contest to see who can deliver the most decorated eggs. The winner receives the distinguished title of Chief Easter Bunny.

In 1978 Mr. Rankin wrote and co-produced the cult TV movie classic “The Bermuda Depths” which was filmed entirely on location on the island.

Along with the following year’s “Ivory Ape” which also debuted on ABC, “The Bermuda Depths” is one of two TV films he made here.

“I always like to work close to home,” Harringston Sound resident Mr. Rankin once joked about his twin Bermuda projects.

Now retired from the entertainment industry, in recent years Mr. Rankin has lectured on showbusiness at the Bermuda College and directed plays staged at Hamilton’s City Hall. He is married to Olga Rankin, who at the age of 65 became the oldest newly-qualified lawyer ever called to the Bermuda bar.

Arthur Rankin discusses some of his 1960s and early ’70s projects including “Here Comes Peter Cottontail”

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