The iconic series Rocky and Bullwinkle had many sub-categories over its lifetime including Rocky and His Friends, The Bullwinkle Show, The Rocky Bullwinkle Show, and many more. However, the original show ran from 1959 to 1964. The show aired on both ABC and NBC. The series was produced by Jay Ward Productions. The premise of the television series was variety. It focused on two main characters: Rocket J. Squirrel or Rocky, a flying squirrel and moose, Bullwinkle J. Moose. The enemies of the series were Russian spies, Natasha and Boris. The show is acclaimed for its witty lines, cultural satire, and appeal to a wide age range from young children to adults.
Today, we will be exploring 10 shocking facts about the popular animated television series, Rocky and Bullwinkle. This hit show was a major success and inspired countless animated series to come. Facts Verse Presents: 10 Shocking Facts You Never Knew About Rocky and Bullwinkle.
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NUMBER ONE: Inspired by a Car Dealer
The name for Bullwinkle the moose came from a San Francisco Bay Area car dealership. The creators of the series, Jay Ward and Alex Anderson, grew up in San Francisco/ Oakland. The Ford/Lincoln/Mercury dealer located in Berkeley, California was the inspiration for the main character’s name. The dealership was called “Clarence Bullwinkel.” The dealership had been in business since the ‘40s. As a result, Jay and Alex decided to use the name in their series, changing the spelling of “Bullwinkel” to Bullwinkle.
The dealership was flattered at their name selection. Jay and Alex knew Clarence Bullwinkel, the owner of the Ford dealership. In fact, the Ford dealership used to be under another owner’s name. Once the dealership changed names to Clarence Bullwinkel, the duo decided it was the perfect match for their main moose character. The owner, Clarence, found the name amusing and was glad to have a character in honor of himself. In fact, Alex Anderson’s production studio was minutes away from the Bay Area dealership.
NUMBER TWO: A Successful Writer
One of the co-writers for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” as well as “The Munsters” served a critical role in the development of Rocky and Bullwinkle. Allan Burns was the co-writer of Rocky and Bullwinkle. Allan wrote alongside Bill Scott, the voice of Bullwinkle/ head writer and Chris Hayward. In fact, Chris Hayward and Allan paired up for “My Mother the Car” and “The Munsters.” In addition, James L. Brooks and Allan developed “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” following Rocky and Bullwinkle. As it turns out, almost every successful series can be traced back to the writers from this animated series.
NUMBER THREE: Cap’n Crunch Cousins
Allan Burns also developed the Cap’n Crunch character/ mascot for Quaker Oats. In fact, the commercials for Cap’n Crunch were produced by the same team as Rocky and Bullwinkle: Jay Ward Productions. This is what gave Cap’n Crunch characters a similar look to Rocky and Bullwinkle. In fact, it is not uncommon for production teams of TV series to work with other manufactures such as dolls, toys, figurines, snacks, cereals, and more.
Viewers will notice the same features on the animated characters of Cap’n Crunch as Rocky and Bullwinkle. The design of their cartoon, speech and animation is similar. Many viewers have noticed these similarities when Cap’n Crunch aired its first commercial advertisement.
NUMBER FOUR: Sponsored by General Mills
The manufacturing giant, General Mills, was actually a sponsor for Rocky and Bullwinkle. Known as the creators of Cheerios, General Mills quickly sponsored the moose and squirrel cartoon. In fact, General Mills was based in the hometown state of Rocky and Bullwinkle: Minnesota. You can even see a picture of Bullwinkle eating Cheerios on a General Mills advertisement during the late 50’s and early 60’s.
General Mills actually began their venture into animation through Rocky and Bullwinkle. The series was their first involvement in television. The station agreed to run discounted or free advertisement. In exchange for the feature of Generals Mills in the cartoon, ABC/ NBC would run discounted or free commercials. This was a deal made by General Mills and the producers, but also involved their networks.
NUMBER FIVE: More Friends
Prior to the success of Rocky and Bullwinkle, the characters were used in “The Frostbite Falls Revue.” This series never took off though. However, Frostbite Falls had similar aspects to it. For example, it was also based in Minnesota. The series was located in the fictional town of Frostbite Falls, said to be found in the north of Minnesota. During this series, Rocky and Bullwinkle had a host of friends! These included Sylvester Fox, Flora Fauna, Blackstone the Crow, and Oski the Bear. In fact, Oski the Bear had no relation to the mascot of Golden Bears, California-Berkeley football team.
NUMBER SIX: Animated in Mexico
Rocky and Bullwinkle TV series was actually animated in Mexico. Yes, that’s correct, the animation was outsourced to a southern Mexico studio. While it is true the series was fictionally set in Minnesota and produced in San Francisco, the actual animation took place in Mexico. In fact, the advertising agency associated with General Mills was the creator of the Mexico studio. However, this studio was branded as unreliable as time went on, due to major inconsistencies in animation quality. For example, colors would change on the screen unnecessarily and character’s features would disappear with new scenes. The studio received a bad reputation as a result.
The studio was called Gamma Productions. The storylines were shipped out to their production studio. The studio was funded by Total Television. The end result caused a choppy animation, resulting in a lack of structure and consistency. The animation was limited and not on the same caliber as domestic production at the time. In fact, critics have described the episodes produced at Gamma Productions as “radio programs with pictures.” The series lacked visual quality and the same structure as other cartoons at the time.
NUMBER SEVEN: A Daytime Favorite
Rocky and Bullwinkle quickly became the highest-rated show for daytime during 1959. Taking the number one place previously held by “American Bandstand,” Rocky and Bullwinkle soared to the top of ratings. Their time slot was 5:30 p.m., just after school. After two years of airing, the show moved to NBC and changed their time slot. Their new time slot was Sunday evenings. After the switch, the show no longer maintained its top rating. Instead, the popular show “Lassie” took its place.
NUMBER EIGHT: Home Damage
Following their move to NBC, a live-action puppet was aired, portraying Bullwinkle. The show found themselves in hot water with a few of the lines recited by Bullwinkle. The puppet encouraged kids to tear the knobs off their home TV sets. The purpose of this line was to encourage kids to watch next week. By telling them to “tear the knobs off,” the show would be sure to play at the same time the following week. This was a poor judgment call on the creative team’s behalf and actually led to real home damage. Kids did in fact attempt to disassemble their TV knobs after this episode aired. According to complaint letters, 20,000 children damaged their televisions. After this major event, the live-action puppet was fired.
The moose told the children to pull the knobs off their television sets “right now.” The puppet explained they would come “right off” if they simply pulled. These were the lines that received major backlash as children are very impressionable and attempted this dangerous task. As you can imagine, this angered and upset many parents. The puppet went even further to specify exactly which knob to remove. The moose said to remove the “channel knob” to ensure children didn’t accidentally remove the volume knob. Furthermore, the reasoning was to never miss an episode again. It created a false sense of urgency amongst children and caused major criticism for the Rocky and Bullwinkle brand.
NUMBER NINE: Successful Voice Actor
The voice actor for popular character Marshal Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke, William Conrad, also starred in Rocky and Bullwinkle narration. Following the end of each weekly episode, Conrad would tease viewers with the next episode’s title. The narrations were also comedic and full of puns.
NUMBER TEN: Santa Claus and John Lennon
Paul Frees was the voice of Boris Badenov. However, he has an impressive resume including the voice of Santa Claus on Frosty the Snowman in 1969. Paul was also the voice of John Lennon in 1965’s Beatles cartoon, airing on Saturday mornings. Paul also voiced George Harrison in the cartoon series as well. It was said he could mimic any voice and create any accent.
Thank you for watching another episode of Facts Verse. We hope you found these top 10 shocking facts fun and interesting. The popular animated series definitely made an everlasting impact on television today. Don’t forget to like this video and give it a thumbs up if you enjoyed it. Subscribe to our channel for more exciting episodes. Let us know down in the comment box below which episode of Rocky and Bullwinkle is your favorite and which character in the series you like best. Thanks again and we’ll see you in the next one!