How the story of Rudolph the reindeer got started is really sad. It started with a family called the Mays. The mother was terminally ill and it was Christmas time. The four year old daughter (Barbara) was on her father's lap (Robert) and asked him why her mommy was different from all of the other mommies. This sparked a bit of creativity in the father and on the spot he made up a Christmas story, the one about Rudolph the red nosed reindeer because Rudolph was also different than all the others. The father was also different as a child. He was a very sickly child and therefore couldn't play the games the other children played. That is the legend. However, towards the end of his life, he admitted that it was only a legend and not really true.
Actually the story came about because Robert May was given an assignment from his employer (Montgomery Wards). Montgomery Wards did Christmas promotions using stories and coloring book giveaways. The story about Rudolph was printed for Christmas in 1939 and millions of copies were distributed. May did manage to get ownership for the story from Montgomery Wards and produced a commercial edition plus a short 9 minute cartoon in 1947. But it wasn't until May's brother in law wrote the song about Rudolph and had Gene Autry record it in 1949 that Rudolph the reindeer became a Christmas time super star.
The story we now hear about Rudolph the reindeer is not the original story by Robert May. Of course the story got added to and embellished as that is what Hollywood and entertainers have always liked to do. So now you know a bit about the origins of Rudolph the red nosed reindeer.