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1962 Bullwinkle article

Not many TV cartoon shows of the 50s and 60s made it into the pages of gossip and fan magazines – much less the cover – but NBC’s prime time Bullwinkle Show did. This article, from TV Radio Mirror (January 1962) by Roger Beck (no relation), is pretty slight – but in the interest of animation history, I post it below (click thumbnails to see pages enlarged). The basic facts are there – and Jay Ward and Bill Scott’s sense of humor comes through. I love Ward’s quote: “We feel it’s adult humor, but NBC can’t understand the jokes, so they think it’s a children’s show!”

  • JP

    I wasn’t aware that Don Knotts ever did any voice work for “The Bullwinkle Show”. I thought he’d been considered as the voice of Super Chicken, but that series came later (as part of “George of the Jungle”). Was Knotts used (or merely considered) for an early “Super Chicken” pilot or something else around the time this article was written? My “Moose That Roared”-retention has clearly faded!

  • uncle wayne

    Oh WOW! That is ABsolutely scrumptious…and one the of main reasons I adore this (CB) site!! I remember it like it was yesterday. For years I thought (surely) i had dreamed UP the hand-puppet-Intro….until YouTube proved me wrong!! I so remember the Derwood Kirby lawsuit! The only true Question I have: were the nighttime shows “new”…or re-hashed from the synidcated show from 2 years earlier?

    Thank you for the post! SuPERB!

  • Arthur F

    A great find – so interesting to read intelligent people in the field, and the kind of smart satire (vs Family Guy shotgun riffing on celebs etc… ) for example:

    “For the prince, we drew a caricature of Walt Disney. …. when he come in to wake the princess with a kiss, suddenly stops and says, ‘Awake, she’s just another princess – but asleep, she’s a gold mine.’ Next scene shows him selling tickets to see her”

    Great. In that time period – incredible. No wonder NBC couldn’t get it, it was good comedy.

  • HA!

  • Steve Menke

    Thanks, Jerry. Interesting to see the sponsors get a plug in the footnote, even if General Mills was probably ready to flee by then (thinking they were going to back a seemingly innocent cartoon).

    Once again, Ward & Scott prove to be masters of time-bomb humor; stuff you don’t get as a kid that comes back to haunt when you’ve grown up and finally get the reference, in this case the dig at MCA.

    My most excruciating Bullwinkle moment: two minutes into literature class one day, the teacher referenced “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.” So it wasn’t just Bullwinkle’s bathtub toy boat suddenly encrusted with gems! Had to hold both hands over my mouth for 48 minutes to keep from cracking up.

    Uncle Wayne: At least one of the R&B DVD season collections has interstitials of the Bullwinkle puppet.

  • Christopher Cook

    JP: The only Super Chicken pilot is on the George of the Jungle DVD set (which came out last January), and Don Knotts’ voice wasn’t on it. The only noticeable differences were the narrator (William Conrad), Super Chicken’s design (longer beak) and his identity (Hunt Strongbird Jr.). Perhaps Knotts did a Fractured Fairy Tale somewhere down the line.

  • Bob Harper

    Thank you Jerry – This is the show that made me want to do cartoons, wish I could’ve worked for them.

  • I’m a big fan of Jay Ward, so this is super awesome of you to post this!

  • Come on gang – get out your copies of “The Moose That Roared”…the Don Knotts Super Chicken pilot was recorded in early 1960 and was awaiting completion (i.e., money) when this 1962 article was written. (It never was finished – the soundtrack was finally mixed to accompany color storyboard drawings – an early animatic. In 1965 a new pilot script was produced, with Conrad narrating and Scott as Super Chicken. This one made it to completion.)

    Knotts and Louis Nye were big comedy names then, as skit players on Steve Allen’s TV show, and Jay and Bill hired them to do the voices of Super Chicken and Fred. General Mills ad agency had requested some different voices for future Ward properties they might sponsor, rather than Jay’s regular “team” heard on Rocky and His Friends. Bill Scott also hired Marvin Miller to narrate (Miller had done several UPA cartoons when Scott worked there in the 1950s).

    See, there’s always a reason for an odd-seeming fact in articles from “back when.”

  • Inkan1969

    Anyone else find that “TV Mirror” cover a bit morbid? :-)

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Strange, I thought the cover was funny.

  • top cat james

    Keith, any idea if the 1960 recording still exists?

  • Yes – The audio was mixed (sound effects were added to the edited takes of the voice track), and a dub of this exists on quarter-inch audio tape stored in the Ward Productions vault. I forgot to add that Ward also hired Mel Blanc for some supporting characters. Louis Nye did one too, while his voice for Fred was a Bert Lahr “Cowardly Lion” impression.

  • top cat james

    Thanks, Keith-and your book is terrific!

  • s.w.a.c.

    Love the joke about going to war with Canada over Dudley Do-Right. Of course in typical Canadian fashion, we were just happy to be recognized.

  • David Sadowski

    In a 2009 interview with Stu’s Show (, Keith Scott denies that any voices were re-recorded for the Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends DVDs. He said that the misconception had come about because Bill Conrad’s voice sounds different in the series pilot, which was recorded in early 1958. Jay Ward kept encouraging Conrad to talk faster and liked the fact that BC’s voice went up in pitch when he did so.

    another practical reason for talking faster was the length of the scripts. Everything had to be shoehorned into a certain time frame, and the writers were trying to put as many gags into the scripts as possible. So the timing was lightning fast.

  • David Sadowski

    A slight correction to what I posted earlier today… there is only one place I can think of on the Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends DVDs that is an obvious new vocal track and that is a drop-in during the opening credits where the name of the show is announced. Since the show’s name was changed slightly for legal reasons, and William Conrad is dead, just for that one line they had to use a celebrity impersonator.