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|Born||J Troplong Ward
September 20, 1920
San Francisco, California
|Died||October 12, 1989
Los Angeles, California
|Cause of death||Kidney cancer|
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale|
|Occupation||Animator, TV producer|
|Television||The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show|
J Troplong "Jay" Ward (September 20, 1920 – October 12, 1989) was an American creator and producer of animated TV cartoon shows. He produced animated series based on such characters as Crusader Rabbit, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right, Peabody and Sherman, Hoppity Hooper, George of the Jungle, Tom Slick, and Super Chicken. His company, Jay Ward Productions, designed the trademark characters for the Cap'n Crunch, Quisp, and Quake breakfast cereals and it made TV commercials for those products. Ward produced the nonanimated series Fractured Flickers that featured comedy redubbing of silent films.
Jay Ward was raised in Berkeley, California, and he earned his undergraduate degree at the University of California at Berkeley. He also received an MBA from Harvard University. His first career was real estate. Even when his animation company was at the height of its success, he continued to own his own real estate firm as a "fallback" business. Jay Ward was married to Ramona "Billie" Ward. He had three children: Ron, Carey, and Tiffany. He and his wife collected African masks, and their collection is now part of the permanent collection of the Michelson Museum of Art in Marshall, Texas.
Ward moved into the young mass medium of television with the help of his childhood friend, the animator Alex Anderson. Taking the character Crusader Rabbit to NBC-TV and the pioneering distributor of TV-programs, Jerry Fairbanks, they put together a pilot film, The Comic Strips of Television, featuring Crusader Rabbit, Hamhock Bones, a parody of Sherlock Holmes, and Dudley Do-Right, a bumbling Canadian Mountie.
NBC-TV and Fairbanks were both unimpressed with all but Crusader Rabbit. The animated series Crusader Rabbit premiered in 1949 and continues its initial run through 1952. Adopting a serialized, mock-melodrama format, it followed the adventures of Crusader and his dimwitted sidekick Rags the Tiger. It was, in form and content, much like the series that would later gain Ward enduring fame, Rocky and His Friends.
Rocky and Bullwinkle
Ward and Anderson lost the rights to the Crusader Rabbit character, and a new color Crusader Rabbit series under a different producer premiered in 1956. Ward then pursued an unsold series idea, The Frostbite Falls Revue. Taking place in a TV studio in the North Woods, the proposed series featured a cast of eccentrics such as newsman Oski Bear and two minor characters named Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose, described in the script treatment as a "French-Canadian moose." This was the genesis of what would become Rocky and His Friends and later, The Bullwinkle Show, when NBC gave Rocky's sidekick top billing.
Premiering on ABC in 1959 (and moving to NBC two years later), the series contained a mix of sophisticated and low-brow humor. Thanks to Ward's genial partner Bill Scott (who contributed to the scripts and voiced Bullwinkle and other characters) and their writers, puns were used often and shamelessly: in a "Fractured Fairy Tales" featuring Little Jack Horner, upon pulling out the plum, Jack announced, "Lord, what foods these morsels be!" Self-referential humor was another trademark: in one episode, the breathless announcer (William Conrad) gave away the villain's plans, prompting the villain to grab the announcer from offscreen, bind and gag him, and deposit him visibly within the scene. The show skewered popular culture, taking on such subjects as advertising, college sports, the Cold War, and TV itself. The hapless duo from Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, blundered into unlikely adventures much as Crusader and Rags had before them, pursued by "no-goodnik" spies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, perennially under orders to "keel moose and squirrel." The segments were serialized, generally ending on a cliffhanger; the announcer would urge the viewer to "tune in next time" for the next adventure, featuring two puns in the titles, like "Mine Eyes Have Seen the Gory, or, Moose's in the Cold, Cold Ground" and "When a Felon Needs a Friend, or, Pantomime Quisling." "Jay loved to hear me read the jokes out loud," Scott said in an interview. "I’d do all the voices. I’d never done this kind of thing, but I went through radio training when I was going to school in Denver."
In a running-joke tribute to Ward, many of his cartoon characters had the middle initial "J.", presumably standing for "Jay" (although this was never stated explicitly). The cartoonist Matt Groening later gave the middle initial "J." to many of his characters as a tribute to Jay Ward.
Ward fought many heated battles over content with the network and sponsor, but had little fear of censorship or lawsuits. The "Kirward Derby", a bowler hat that made everyone stupid and Bullwinkle a genius, was named (as a spoonerism) for Durward Kirby, sidekick of the 1950s and 1960s TV host Garry Moore and the co-host of Alan Funt's Candid Camera. When CBS tried to sue, Ward quipped, "We need the publicity.:181–182 This was often a punchline in gags such as:
Rocky: "I think somebody's trying to kill us!"
Bullwinkle: "Well, don't worry. We'll be renewed."
Rocky: "I wasn't talking about the Bullwinkle Show."
Bullwinkle: "Well, you'd better! We could use the publicity!"
An eccentric and proud of it, Ward was known for pulling an unusual publicity stunt that coincided with a national crisis. Ward bought an island in Minnesota near his home and dubbed it "Moosylvania," based upon the home of his most famous TV character Bullwinkle. He and publicist Howard Brandy crossed the country in a van, gathering signatures on a petition for statehood for Moosylvania. They then visited Washington, D.C., and attempted to gain an audience with President John F. Kennedy. They arrived at the White House during the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis and were escorted off the grounds at gunpoint.:199–200
Early in his career, Ward was involved in two near-fatal incidents. He was run over by a car just outside his office, and he later received incorrect medical treatment while hyperventilating in an airplane. He then developed agoraphobia.:181–182
Death and legacy
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Following Ward's death, Alex Anderson, who created the initial conceptions of the characters Dudley Do-Right, Bullwinkle and Rocky, but had not received public recognition, learned the characters had been copyrighted in Ward's name alone. He sued Ward's heirs to reclaim credit as a creator, and in 1993 or 1996, (sources differ), Anderson received a settlement and a court order acknowledging him as "the creator of the first version of the characters of Rocky, Bullwinkle, and Dudley."
In 2002, Jay Ward Productions established a partnership with Classic Media called Bullwinkle Studios; the partnership produced DVDs of the first five seasons of Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2010, and 2011. respectively, and then switched to releasing "best of" DVD collections of segments from the series. Eventually, the complete fourth and fifth seasons would be released.
Jay Ward Drive is a studio access road at Universal Studios Hollywood.
- Folkart, Burt A. (13 October 1989). "Jay Ward Dies; He Created Rocky, Bullwinkle for TV". Los Angeles Times.
- Scott, Keith (2000). The Moose that Roared. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0312283834.
- Yarrow, Andrew L. (14 October 1989). "Jay Ward, 69, The TV Cartoonist Who Created Bullwinkle, Is Dead". The New York Times.
- Korkis, Jim (2009). "Bullwinkle Speaks! An Interview With Bill Scott". Hogan's Alley (17).
- Chunovic, Louis (1996). The Rocky and Bullwinkle Book. New York: Bantam Books. p. 24. ISBN 978-0553105032.
- "Jay Ward". Find a Grave. Archived from the original on April 30, 2008. Retrieved December 25, 2012.
- Lopez, Daniel (Oct. 22, 2010). "Alexander Anderson Jr., creator of 'Rocky and Bullwinkle,' dies at 90". The Monterey County Herald via The Kansas City Star. Archived from the original on October 28, 2010.
- Schudel, Matt (2010-10-24). "Alex Anderson, creator of Rocky and Bullwinkle, dies at 90". The Washington Post (Washington, D.C.). Archived from the original on December 25, 2012. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
- Jay Ward at the Internet Movie Database
- Jay Ward Productions at the Internet Movie Database
- "Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends". Bullwinkle Studios. Archived from the original on July 20, 2011.
- Cruz, Brian; Delgadillo, Eileen; Feder, Colin, eds. "Hokey Smoke! Rocky & Bullwinkle". Toonzone (fan site). Archived from the original on July 20, 2011. Retrieved December 25, 2012.
- Ulrich, Charles, ed. "Frostbite Falls Page". (fan site). Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved December 25, 2012.
- "A Salute to Moosylvania!! Recorded Live at the Moosylvania Jazz Festival!". BambinoMusical.com (fan page for a satirical record album by Jay Ward). Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved December 25, 2012.