For most of the Rocky and Bullwinkle years, Jay Ward received credit as creator. But there was an unrecognized friend and partner, one who actually created the characters themselves. That man was Alex Anderson.
Before Rocky and Bullwinkle, Anderson had worked for his uncle, Paul Terry (Terrytoons—Tom Terrific of Captain Kangaroo fame), on Mighty Mouse. At the time, Terry refused Anderson’s idea of creating cartoon television series’ and, consequently, Anderson and Ward started their own company with Ward as businessman and Anderson as creator.
Crusader Rabbit and Dudley Do-Right were the first characters developed. But it was Rocky and Bullwinkle who became famous.
The character Bullwinkle came from an Anderson dream of a poker party which included a silly moose, his name from a local car dealership. One popular skit featuring Bullwinkle was Mr. Know-It-All.
Anderson rejected the idea of moving from Berkeley to Los Angeles to begin the essential marketing and promotional efforts necessary to develop a popular animated television series. Ward went alone, creating a crucial disconnect between Anderson and the characters he had created.
After the death of Ward, in 1996, Anderson sued Jay Ward Productions. An out of court settlement made it clear Anderson was the creator of Rocky, Bullwinkle, and Dudley Do-Right.
Anderson died in October of last year from complications related to Alzheimer’s Disease. He was 90. Should anyone wonder why he didn’t sue Jay Ward Productions sooner, it may be in his philosophy of what he did for a living. His wife once quoted him as saying, “If you love your work, it isn’t work.”
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