Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Rocky and Bullwinkle

“We have two peasants whom we keep bound in the basement. Every once in awhile we drag them out and beat them. They come up with very funny material.” -- Jay Ward

Rocky and His Friends, (1959-1961) produced by Jay Ward and Bill Scott, hit the air in November of 1959 on ABC. Jay Ward created the first TV cartoon series, Crusader Rabbit. Scott was a former writer on Mr. Magoo, Gerald Mc-Boing-Boing and Bugs Bunny. The scripts were prepared in Hollywood but the animation plant was situated in Mexico City and employed 70 people. “It’s like the story of the talking dog,” said Scott, “The wonder is not what it says, but that it talks at all.”

Voices were handled by Edward Everett Horton, Hans Conried, William Conrad, Marvin Miller, Don Knotts, and Louis Nye, as well as two of the most talented “voice men” in animation, Daws Butler and Paul Frees. June Foray voiced both Rocky and his nemesis Natasha Fatale. Bill Scott was the foghorn voice of the most popular character Bullwinkle J. Moose.

The use of topical Cold War humor made Rocky and Bullwinkle a stand out among such innocuous fare as Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw and Beany & Cecil. When the show (retitled The Bullwinkle Show) moved to NBC (1961-1964) and prime-time the networks sponsors clashed with Ward and Scott, telling the exasperated duo that “You can’t kid the Army, Navy, Marines, box tops, or any racial, cultural or religious group.” The problems started with the first prime-time show, in which the Bullwinkle puppet told the audience that if the knobs on their sets were removed the sets would stay tuned to that channel until next weeks episode. The network was inundated with complaints from parents whose offspring had followed instructions.

On July 23, 1962 Rocky and Bullwinkle tackled the newspaper comics in a daily illustrated by Al Kilgore. Kilgore, like Mr. Magoo’s cartoonist Pete Alvorado, worked in animation and on various comic books for Western Publishing Co. Kilgore designed the crest for The Sons of the Desert, a club set up to honor comedians Laurel and Hardy. The crest carried the club’s motto in Latin, “Two Minds Without a Single Thought.”

1 comment:

  1. Theodore Davis Parmelee(1912-1964),director of The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show on television, was the grandson of Theodore Russell Davis (1841-1894),campaign artist for HARPER'S WEEKLY during the Civil War,creator of the Haviland White House china for the Hayes Administration, and director of the BATTLE OF ATLANTA and BATTLE OF MISSIONARY RIDGE & LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN panoramas (two units each),mapped out at his beach studio, Asbury Park, New Jersey, for William Wehner (1847-1928),whose panorama company was incorporated in Chicago but whose studio was located in downtown Milwaukee