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Subject: Hokey Smokes! Rocky & Bullwinkle celebrates 50 years

Written By: woops on 11/19/09 at 12:05 pm

well yesterday

Happy 50th Birthday, Rocky & Bullwinkle! Moose and Squirrel Through the Years

November 18, 2009
By Kim Potts

Wossamotta U? You didn't know that Thursday, Nov. 19, marks the 50th anniversary of all things Bullwinkle?

The dimwitted but beloved moose, along with flying squirrel pal Rocky, foes Boris and Natasha, 'Fractured Fairy Tales' and 'Mr. Peabody & Sherman,' debuted in 1959 on ABC's 'Rocky & His Friends,' a twice-a-week afternoon series that moved to primetime when it shifted to NBC and became 'The Bullwinkle Show' in 1961.

The series was created by Jay Ward, the U.C. Berkeley and Harvard grad who also created the Cap'n Crunch character. And though "moose and squir-rel," as baddies Boris and Natasha so often referred to them, are beloved today, Ward's daughter Tiffany Ward -- who was 11 when her dad created Bullwinkle and his buddies -- says the show wasn't a ratings smash during its original run.

"I think it's actually more popular today than it was when it was originally on the air the first five years," says Ward, Jay Ward's middle child and only daughter, who now serves as the president of Ward Productions. "It had its followers but it wasn't a huge hit."

Those followers were a devoted bunch, though, and turned out to include many future creative forces in Hollywood, particularly 'The Simpsons' creator Matt Groening.

"Matt grew up saying he wanted to do his own version of 'Rocky & Bullwinkle,' he was such a fan," says Ward. "So he created the Simpsons and gave each an initial J in their names as an homage to my dad Jay Ward. I think the show would have been a primetime hit . In 1959, it was just ahead of its time."

What else might the future hold for the gang from Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, Rocky and Bullwinkle's home turf? First, a trip through the show's history ...

Rocky & Bullwinkle: The Past
- Jay Ward was born J. Troplong Ward in 1920, and changed his name to the simpler "Jay Ward" before launching his animated career. He had originally planned to work in real estate.

- In addition to Rocket "Rocky" J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose's adventures with Pottsylvania rivals Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, and Bullwinkle's ill-fated attempts to pull a rabbit out of a hat, the Bullwinkle series also featured the clever, fairytale-spoofing 'Fractured Fairy Tales'; genius pooch Mr. Peabody and his friend Sherman, who traveled through time in the WABAC machine; 'Bullwinkle's Corner' and 'Mr. Know It All,' featuring Bullwinkle's (again, ill-fated) attempts to show his authority on cultural and historical topics; 'Aesop & Son,' a 'Fractured Fairy Tales'-ish segment that spoofed fables; and 'Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties,' a do-gooding Canadian Mountie who had a thang for Nell Fenwick (who only seemed to have eyes for Dudley's horse), was in pursuit of the evil-doing Snidely Whiplash and who was spun off into his own big-screen movie (starring Brendan Fraser) in 1999.

- Ward moved his family from Berkeley to Los Angeles to do the show, and set up shop on Sunset Boulevard, where Tiffany recalls his very kid-friendly offices. "His studio was within walking distance of our house, and he put in an entire soda fountain -- the kind that you used to find in the drugstores, with the five-gallon containers of ice cream. So he had four different flavors, and fudge and caramel and marshmallow, and he had a snow cone machine, a popcorn machine, a refrigerator full of soft drinks and candy ... so that was always fun to go there. And he always had a lot of things going on, was always giving parties. He closed off Sunset (Blvd.) in 1961 and had a block party to celebrate the premiere of the new 'Bullwinkle Show' in NBC primetime ... he was just always doing very exceptional, what we call PR now, things, way ahead of his time."

- Ward teamed with Bill Scott, who would become his studio's head writer and go on to write all the Bullwinkle episodes. One of their main objectives: to write an entertaining show that wasn't written specifically for kids. " always said he wrote for adults, because younger kids would get it from the point of view of the funny-looking characters and the great voices, and the adults would get the fast writing and the funny jokes, and the in-between ages would be working on both levels, trying to figure out why their parents were laughing so hard," Tiffany Ward says.

- In 1962, Ward made a cross-country road trip to try to gather support to have "Moosylvania" named as the 51st U.S. state. Despite his massive effort, history intervened in the campaign. "He and his publicity agent, a man named Howard Brandy, took a van across the United States with a circus calliope attached to the back, and they would go into towns with all these PR stunts, playing music and trying to get people to sign petitions to have Moosylvania as the next state," Tiffany Ward laughs. "And they actually wound up in front of the White House to pass along these petitions, but it was the day of the Cuban Missile Crisis, so they weren't well received."

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Subject: Re: Hokey Smokes! Rocky & Bullwinkle celebrates 50 years

Written By: CatwomanofV on 11/20/09 at 11:24 am

I LOVE Rocky & Bullwinkle. I have a few episodes on VHS. They were NOT meant for kids. They were meant for adults.


Subject: Re: Hokey Smokes! Rocky & Bullwinkle celebrates 50 years

Written By: coqueta83 on 11/21/09 at 7:08 pm

I love Rocky and Bullwinkle, too.  I've been watching it whenever I could since childhood.  I managed to catch a few episodes on WGN a few months back (wished I'd known sooner because its not on WGN anymore). 

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