The Bullwinkle Show was a spin-off of Jay Ward's successful Rocky and his Friends series. The Rocky and Bullwinkle characters had been created in the late 1940's by Ward's former partner, Alex Anderson, as part of The Frostbite Falls Revue, a series proposal which didn't sell. The series was to be the adventures of a group of animals running a TV station in the North Woods. The cast (seen in the background of this web page) included Oski Bear, the station's cameraman; Blackstone Crow, the director; Sylvester Fox, an egotistical actor ; Flora Fauna, the leading lady; and Rocky the flying squirrel and Bullwinkle, a French-Canadian Moose.
Ward loved the moose and squirrel characters, and years later decided to use them in a new series. Rocky and his Friends premiered on ABC-TV on November 19, 1959. On September 24, 1961 it was renamed The Bullwinkle Show and moved to NBC-TV in prime time. In addition to airing the shows in color, NBC devised a gimmick where the cartoons would be introduced by a Bullwinkle puppet, voiced by Bill Scott. The puppet would make fun of current events and celebrities, including Walt Disney, who happened to follow The Bullwinkle Show on NBC Sunday nights.
On one occasion, the puppet told the kiddies in the audience to pull the knobs off their TV sets. "In that way, we'll be sure to be with you next week." NBC, after hearing about an estimated twenty thousand tots who complied, was furious. The next week, Bullwinkle asked them to put the knobs back on with glue, "and make it stick !" Shortly after, the puppet was dropped from the series.
Bill Scott, who had worked at UPA, was the co-producer and head writer of the Jay Ward cartoons. Scott, who was born August 2, 1920, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was also the voices behind Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right, Fillmore, Mr. Peabody, George of the Jungle, Super Chicken, Tom Slick, Cloyd, and many other supporting characters. He was a multi-talented man who later supplied voices for Disney's Gummi Bears and Wuzzles series, Hanna-Barbera's Velveteen Rabbit special for ABC-TV, and Buzzco's Wacky Wallwalkers special for NBC-TV. He passed away of a heart attack on November 29, 1985, in Tujunga, California.
In addition to Scott, there were many other talented people working at the Ward studio. UPA veterans Bill Hurtz, Ted Parmalee, Lew Keller and Pete Burness all worked there. Other vocal talent included June Foray, Hans Conried, William Conrad, Edward Everett Horton, Paul Frees, Charles Ruggles, and Walter Tetley. Up-and-coming young talent at the studio included Chris Hayward and Allen Burns.
Jim Burness, the grandson of animation director Pete Burness, shared the following Jay Ward story with me:
"...My grandfather was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 1969. He died six weeks after it was found. At the time he was working for Jay Ward, one of the most amazing guys on the planet. To give you an idea of Jay's character, he kept my grandfather on the payroll as a full employee the entire time he was sick until the day he died. I was lucky enough to meet the guy a few years before he passed away and I've always thought that a Jay Ward biography, focusing a bit more on the man than the work, would be really interesting, such as the time he had a wooden cutout of himself take his place in the reception line at his daughter's wedding with a tape looping "Hi, I'm Jay Ward. Thanks for coming."
Jay Ward was born September 20, 1920, in San Francisco, California, and died of kidney cancer on October 12, 1989, in Hollywood, California.
Michael Francis wrote to me recently, and attached a photo of an interesting curiosity:
I recently purchased these two vinyl head Rocky & Bullwinkle dolls from the 60's. The Rocky doll is marked c 1960 PAT WARD PROD while the Bullwinkle doll is marked c 1961 TERRY TOONS. How is this possible? Terry Toons never had the rights to Bullwinkle , did they? Is it possible that Terrytoons had a moose character that resembled Bullwinkle this closely? Is it possible that someone has glued the "B" onto the front of a Bullwinkle look-alike doll?
I replied that, while I have never seen these dolls before, frequently a manufacturer will make a mistake with licensed characters and display the wrong copyright notice. I have a Bozo the Clown book from the 1960's which states that it is © Hanna-Barbera Productions, when in fact it should have read Larry Harmon Pictures.
If anyone has any further knowledge of these dolls, please e-mail me or Mr. Francis.
Click here for the Rocky and Bullwinkle Episode Guide
Above are two examples of the Bullwinkle Comic Strip from the 1960's
See The Bullwinkle Show introductions (with the Bullwinkle puppet)
Jay Ward Productions (NBC-TV) 1961
See Bullwinkle's Corner - The Daffodils
Jay Ward Productions/Producers Associates for Television (NBC-TV) 1962
See Bullwinkle with Hans Conried on Jay Ward's Fractured Flickers
Jay Ward Productions (syndicated) 1963
See a Cheerios commercial with Bullwinkle
Jay Ward Productions/General Foods - 1961
See Bullwinkle's Corner with Dudley Do-Right/Cheerios commercial
Jay Ward Productions/General Foods - 1961
Rocky, Robert De Niro, Jason Alexander, Rene Russo and Bullwinkle
Universal Pictures released "The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle" movie in June, 2000.
In the movie, Boris (Jason Alexander) and Natasha (Rene Russo) break a code which enables them to break out of the two-dimensional cartoon world into the real world. Under the direction of Fearless Leader (Robert De Niro), the two Pottsylvanian attempt to turn the citizens of America into a nation of zombies using a fiendish device that produces nothing but Really Bad Television. Bullwinkle (voiced by Keith Scott) and Rocky (voiced by June Foray) attempt to stop the Pottsylvanian archvillains, assisted by FBI agent Karen Sympathy (Piper Perabo). Cameos by Janeane Garofalo, John Goodman, Don Novello, Jonathan Winters, Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal. The movie is narrated by Keith Scott, doing a very passable imitation of the late William Conrad.
Australian Keith Scott, the man behind the narration and Bullwinkle's voice in the movie, met his childhood heroes, Jay Ward and Bill Scott (no relation), while still in his teens. Through them, he has had access to virtually every key player in the Jay Ward empire. He has written a book, "THE MOOSE THAT ROARED", that covers the entire history of the Jay Ward Studio, from Crusader Rabbit to Cap'n Crunch. This hard cover book, written over many years, is 442 pages, illustrated, and full of information and details. In-depth information on Gamma Studios, P.A.T., DFS and more. It's a great book, and a highly recommended addition to any animation reference library.
Order the book from Amazon.com by clicking the picture above.
Pictured left to right, Bill Scott, an unidentified local kids show host, Jay Ward
SINCE JANUARY 3, 1997.