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Alex Anderson 1920-2010

Alex Anderson, partner of Jay Ward and instrumental in the creation of Crusader Rabbit and the characters of Frostbite Falls, has passed away.

Anderson, a native of Berkeley, California, came from a family of creative artists and in 1938 started working in animation with his uncle Paul Terry in New York at Terrytoons. During World War II, Anderson was a U.S. Navy spy, his wife said in Kansas City Star, and in 1946, he returned to Terrytoons to work full time. Two years later, he pitched the idea to create cartoon characters for television to his uncle.

Rebuffed by Terry, Anderson returned to Berkeley where he and childhood friend Jay Ward teamed up to pioneer animated series production for television, creating Crusader Rabbit for NBC in 1949.

Anderson was also part of the creation of Dudley-Do-Right and The Frostbite Falls Review, which included the characters of Rocky and Bullwinkle. In 1996, Anderson reached an out-of-court settlement with Jay Ward Productions over rights to Bullwinkle, Rocky and Dudley-Do-Right. Anderson spent most of his career in advertising, creating slogans for Berkeley Farms, Skippy Peanut Butter and Smucker’s. He died Friday at a home in Carmel, Calif. He was 90.

UPDATE: The New York Times printed this Alex Anderson obit in their October 26 print edition.

Here is the first episode of Crusader Rabbit:

(Thanks, Karl Wilcox)

  • Texans…”they’re all sinners”? To think that when I was a youngster, I wondered if various religions around the world would be offended by Crusader Rabbit. I didn’t even know about this episode referring to Texans.

    • Ooopsie from me, the narrator did say singers. Thanks for the info. I’m sorry that another animation person
      has passed. They have done much for us, been loved by
      family and friends, and I know too little about too many of them.

  • David Breneman

    You’ve got to wonder if today’s network hand-wringers would put the kibosh on the name “CRUSADER Rabbit” for fear of offending terrorists.

  • Michael F.

    They didn’t know much about Texas at the time. I’m curious as to what slogans he created over time; those can be very memorable if done right.

  • We Texans are all sinners!!! That’s why we tighten the buckle of the Bible Belt. This news is a bummer. I was just re-reading The Moose that Roared. Anderson’s work is one of the major reasons I became a cartoonist.

    • TimmyElliot

      yeah, I can hear the “G”– it’s singers (2:44), although “sinners” would have been funny.

  • DonaldC

    As a Texan…this doesn’t really bother me at all.

    They didn’t have a lot of funding for these things did they?

    • No, but if you wanted new television cartoons back in the late 1940s, you had a choice between this and Pow Wow the Indian Boy. Guess which title I’d pick.

  • John A

    I think he said “they’re all singers”.

    Interesting origin story, I always wondered why he was “Crusader Rabbit” and how he teamed up with Ragland T. Tiger.

  • Handel

    I kept waiting for a cartoon dog/wolf to come out and they swear non-stop at each other. Now THAT would be must see tv!

  • Bob

    “Sinners”? Sounds like he said SINGERS!

  • Daniel J. Drazen

    OK, so who presently owns the rights to the Jay Ward stable of characters? I’m afraid they’re getting the same slice-and-dice treatment that mortgages got in the pre-bust days.

  • Doug Drown

    What a delight! Thanks so much for posting it. I haven’t seen this in over fifty years. I had no idea that Crusader Rabbit dated all the way back to 1949. Was it the first made-for-TV cartoon?

    Interesting to note how limited animation cartoons (VERY limited animation) can actually be funny if the characters are developed well.

  • That is very compelling and it don’t hardly move or nothin’.

    It says much about character design, direction, and story, I guess.

    ANIMANIACS moved all over the place and it often chased me away rather than draw me in as CRUSADER RABBIT does.

  • About the same time as Crusader Rabbit, there was something on NBC called Telecomics or NBC Comics..I found a few of these on YouTube, even more limited animation than CR..