Question: True or false? “Sam the Snowman” on TV’s timeless Christmas classic, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” is voiced by a guy who got in trouble at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston back in 1930 for climbing the ivy-covered walls of that school’s then all-female dormitory, Pemberton Hall.
Answer: You could say that’s true. The voice of “Sam” is Burl Ives, a popular 1950s and ‘60s singer and banjoist from near Newton who attended nearby Eastern Illinois Teachers College but later admitted he never “enjoyed the classroom” and dropped out as a junior to pursue Broadway. The school has fully forgiven Ives for his legendary antics that he later consigned as “vintage college immaturity.” The art facilities center at EIU in 1990 was named Burl Ives Studio Hall. Ives died in 1995 at age 89 and is buried near Newton.