Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Rocky & Bullwinkle!

Thanks to friend of the blog, Bob Elisberg for reminding me that yesterday Rocket J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle Moose turned 50. Their show premiered on ABC on November 19, 1959. Robert DeNiro almost killed them a few years ago in his sort-of live-action movie of the dynamic duo. But neither DeNiro, or Boris Badanov, or Natasha (who had great knockers for a cartoon character – better even than Betty Rubble’s), or Mr. Big, or the networks could ultimately squash the plucky squirrel and the moose with the IQ of Sarah Palin.

Zany Jay Ward created the series. He also had a hand in the development of Crusader Rabbit and Rags (who just turned 60 and I’m happy to report Crusader is recovering nicely from a hip replacement). The humor in the show was refreshingly irreverent, geared as much for adults as kids. Rocky’s staff went on to write THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, ALL IN THE FAMILY, THE JEFFERSONS, and BARNEY MILLER.

Here’s a sample episode. Rocky and Bullwinkle adventures were serialized into three minute segments (a format originated by Crusader, who thanks you all for the get well cards and letters). For more info on the squirrel and moose check out Bob’s article.

Hokey smokes! I love these guys!

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey! Don't go dissing the Moose. He never claimed to see Russia.

VW: ingst. A quote from the Swedish chef: "Ingst. Ingst. Ingst. Bort."

Paul said...

Betty Rubble did not have boobs. Observe:

http://gremlindog.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/betty-rubble.jpg

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

...my first experience with adult humor...

Today, it's Lewis Black and Jon Stewart.

Not sure with whom I laugh the best...

Hokey Smokes!

Terrie said...

Rocky is actually Crusader Rabbit in drag...(Have you ever seen them together? )

Mike Barer said...

I always wondered who the characters were based on.

Great Big Radio Guy said...

They had the two best storytellers as narrators...William Conrad for the Rocky episodes, and Edward Everett Horton for the Fractured Fairy Tales. Bottom line: Everything about Rocky & Bullwinkle was top notch except the animation...which when witnessing the end product really didn't matter at all.

Max Clarke said...

The smartest cartoons I saw as a kid, missing it was like missing the Smothers Brothers. Professor Peabody and Sherman, Fractured Fairy Tales, great features. I also think Bullwinkle read poetry, there was a cadence and modulation that he used, at the time it seemed unique.

Roger Owen Green said...

Mark Evanier, close personal friend of June Foray (only THE voice of Rocky and Natasha Fatale) remembers moose and squirrel here and here.

Larry said...

Great cartoon. First day I was in LA I went to Jay Ward's emporium and bought a Bullwinikle mug.

By the way: "Hey! Don't go dissing the Moose. He never claimed to see Russia."

Neither did Sarah Palin.

Tallulah Morehead said...

Don't say "Sarah Palin" around Bullwinkle. He's still recovering emotionally from her shooting and eating his mother.

Mike Schryver said...

Actually, Larry, Sarah Palin did talk about being able to see Russia in an interview on Sept. 11, 2008 with Charles Gibson. She said you can see Russia from Alaska.

That was what led to all the jokes - not that you can't see Russia from a part of Alaska, but that she thought that gave her foreign policy credentials.

Moose and squirrel rule!

Anonymous said...

The cheap shot at Palin is is quite disappointing coming from a writer of your accomplishment Ken.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Neat to know that I share a birthday with Rocky and Bullwinkle.

pat reeder said...

Want to know the least likely thing ever inspired by Rocky & Bullwinkle?

Years ago, I was the head writer on a new video series for kids. Since some of my earliest, happiest childhood (and college) memories all involved watching moose & squirrel, I wanted to impart some of the same feeling. So I layered the scripts with what I hoped were aspects that small children would enjoy and jokes and references that older kids and adults would get, so that all ages could watch and enjoy it together. I also included my own message that I try to put into everything, which was "turn on your brain and use your imagination."

Sadly, after I handed in the scripts, I was fired and the scripts were rewritten to remove all the funny, cool, smart, hip stuff that might have appealed to anyone over five. The idea of imagination survived, at least.

And that is how the world got...

...wait for it...

Barney the Dinosaur.

It was a work for hire and I had no imput into the finished product. So please don't blame me, Rocky or Bullwinkle. Blame Fearless Leader.

Bob Claster said...

I don't do a lot of self-promotion, but if you go to www.bobclaster.com, you'll find a very nice half-hour interview I did with June Foray (voice of Rocky) and Bill Scott (voice of Bullwinkle and head writer for the series).

David C. said...

Allan Burns and Chris Hayward, who created Rocky and Bullwinkle, also created perhaps the worst TV show ever, My Mother the Car. One thing the latter show had going for it was great titles, similar to those of Rocky and Bullwinkle. For example, "A Riddler on the Roof," and "When You Wish Upon a Car." For a complete list, see the post The Worst TV Show Ever? at Lugubrious Drollery.

Michael said...

A friend and I once went to the Bullwinkle Emporium, and although we didn't realize it at the time, we met Jay Ward--I didn't know until I saw a picture later. That speaks to his modesty; he should have been wearing a shirt saying, "I created the funniest TV series ever."

But then I read that he also was very shy--that at the wedding of his daughter, he wouldn't go to the reception, but he built a life-sized cardboard cutout of himself with an outstretched hand. When you shook the hand, he rigged it to say, "Hello, I'm Jay Ward and this is costing me a fortune."

Anonymous said...

I do a killer Bullwinkle - "Today, story lovers..." well, ya gotta be here

D. McEwan said...

"Anonymous said...
The cheap shot at Palin is is quite disappointing coming from a writer of your accomplishment Ken."

Yea Ken, you should charge more for those shots. They're pure gold. Look how much she's charging for a whole book full of cheap shots. And you actually wrote your stuff.

Anaonymous, I expect better from a commenter of your credentials.

Joe said...

With all due respect to The Simpsons it must be said that Rocky and Bullwinkle is the most relentlessly funny TV series ever.

And, unlike ANY other "edgy comedy" show of the time, it actually holds up, 50 years later.

My very favorite line, EVER: Someone in an angry crowd shouts, in protest "Let's march on Washington!" to which Bullwinkle replies "Nah. He's been dead for years."

pat reeder said...

If we're quoting favorite Bullwinkle lines, my favorite was when Bullwinkle is saved from a snake pit, and he leans over it and says, "Goodbye, Olivia."

I think that was from the episode called "The Ruby Yacht of Omar Kayam." The title was a better joke than you find in most scripts these days.