You know when your favorite cartoon characters turn 50, you're getting up there. Last week two of my favorites, Rocky and Bullwinkle celebrated the big 5-0!
Actually when you talk about Rocky and Bullwinkle, you're talking about many more memorable characters. You have the evil Boris and Natasha, Mr. Peabody (the smart dog) and Sherman (his pet boy) and the WABAC Machine (pronounced Way-Back) and who can forget Dudley Do-right and the lovely Nell!
Most of these cartoons within the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show came from the imaginings of Jay Ward and Bill Scott, pioneers of TV animation.
The prime time cartoon premiered in November, 1959 6:30 p.m. on ABC. The series, Rocky and His Friends, was an instant hit among children and adults. Kids loved the witty characters, while adults enjoyed the social commentaries and satire. I remember watching this with my Dad!
So in honor of this milestone, I thought I'd share some Moose and Squirrel factoids!
Frostbite Falls: Rocky & Bullwinkle's hometown, is actually based on a real place, International Falls, Minnesota. Jay Ward, the creator, nicknamed it Frostbite Falls after one reporter called the area the "icebox of America". On a map, it's located on the northern border of Minnesota, right next to Canada, thus the "international" in the name. Today, it's known for its recreational activities and beautiful national parks.
The Middle Initials: The full names of the characters are Bullwinkle J. Moose and Rocket J. Squirrel. The two J's come from Jay Troplong Ward (voice talent and creator) and/or Bill J. Scott (co-producer and head writer). It's believed the letters really don't stand for anything. It's been rumored that Rocky's middle initial is Jet, Rocket Jet Squirrel, but there's been no documentation.
Boris Badenov: Boris's name was really a pun from Mussorgsky's opera titled "Boris Godenov". The Russian last name sounds like "Bad Enough," yet another pun that the series embraced.
Moosylvania: Moosylvania was a small island, on the show, that Bullwinkle was in president of. No country wanted to claim Moosylvania as belonging to them, so it remained on its own. Well, Jay Ward bought a private island and dubbed it 'Moosylvania'. He even petitioned to get turned into the 51st state on a cross-country campaign, collecting thousands of signatures. Needless the say, the attempt failed. It's reported that Jay Ward lead a small rally of supporters to the White House to present the petition, but they were stopped by the armed Secret Service agents. No one was authorized to get close to the President...It was the first day of the Cuban missile crisis.
The Cold War: Boris and Natasha were in the series as a parody of the Cold War. There was a great fear back then that Russian spies were invading America to steal secrets.
So, Happy Birthday Moose and Squirrel!