Jay Ward sired a collection of characters dominated by a squirrel named Rocky and a simple-minded moose he called Bullwinkle, and then put them in a TV series that featured primitive animation and sophisticated dialogue.
The creator of Boris Badenov, Natasha Fatale, Dudley Do-Right, Snidely Whiplash and, of course, Bullwinkle and Rocky was a bull of a man with a walrus mustache and a nervous giggle.
Ward was the gentle giant in charge of a group of zany animators and writers led by Bill Scott. All he asked was that they make him laugh, said Howard Brandy, his longtime friend and publicist.
"It was a wonderful time," Brandy said.
The programs featured limited animation because of budget considerations but the dialogue and titles were wonderfully wordy and often awful:
Episodes were titled "The Whale: Maybe Dick," "The Guns of Abalone" or "On the Shores of Veronica Lake There Sails the Ruby Yacht of Omar Khayam." He once staged a giant picnic for his colleagues in New York City. But rather than host it in Central Park, he rented the Plaza Hotel's Grand Ballroom, importing plots of grass, two dance bands, box lunches and an array of fortune tellers, pickpockets and even ants (enclosed in glass for sanitary purposes).
He also decreed that Bullwinkle was entitled to his own fiefdom and proposed that the fictional territory of Moosylvania be accorded statehood.
Ward pressed that concept with a referendum for which he toured the country in a van he converted to a circus wagon complete with a calliope. On it he had inscribed Bullwinkle's fictional school, "Whatsamatta U?" (Ward himself was a graduate of Harvard Business School). Ward, in an Adm. Horatio Nelson outfit, and Brandy, dressed as Canadian Mountie Do-Right, claimed to have gotten 50,000 signatures.