On November 19, 1959, the ABC television network introduced this new half-hour show to America on Tuesdays and Thursdays, right after American Bandstand, and I was hooked. I still am! Two years later, NBC acquired the show, broadcast it in color and moved it to Sunday nights at 7:00 pm, just before Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. It ran there until the summer of 1964 when it was cancelled by NBC. You can still see episodes on TV, and all of the seasons are available on DVD.
The stars of the show were two Frostbite Falls, Minnesota residents, a flying squirrel, “Rocket ‘Rocky’ J. Squirrel” and his best friend, “Bullwinkle J. Moose,” who was actually named after a car dealership in Berkeley, California, called Bullwinkel Motors.
Supporting characters included fiendish Pottsylvania spies, Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale; a melodramatic Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman, named Dudley Do-Right and his arch nemesis, Snidley Whiplash; Peabody, a genius talking dog who presented Improbable History, and his pet boy, named Sherman; and Aesop and his son. Another favorite segment of mine was Fractured Fairy Tales, familiar stories that were changed to be quite funny.
Bullwinkle hailed from “Moosylvania.” According to a variety of sources, the show’s creators, Jay Ward and Bill Scott started a campaign to gain statehood for Moosylvania by driving to a number of cities gathering signatures for a petition that they planned to present to President Kennedy at the White House. Apparently, they chose to present those signatures on an evening during the Cuban Missile Crisis and they were told to leave.
How could they ignore quotes like:
- Rocky: “Do you know what an A-bomb is?”
Bullwinkle: “A bomb is what some people call our show.”
- Rocky: “Hey Bullwinkle, we’re in real trouble now!”
Bullwinkle: “Oh good, Rocky! I hate that artificial kind!”
- Rocky: “Well, they don’t call him Wrongway Peachfuzz for nothing!
Bullwinkle: “You mean they gotta pay?”