Alex Anderson, the cartoonist who created the famously pun-loving 1960s cartoon characters Rocket “Rocky” J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose, has died. He was 90 and died Oct. 22 in Carmel, Calif. He had Alzheimer’s disease.
Many people, included me, have long thought that Jay Ward was responsible for the creation of Rocky and Bullwinkle, whose media-savvy adventures made thema cult favorite for generations of kids who felt cooler for watching their show. But it was Anderson who created the clever squirrel and his dim-bulb moose pal; Ward was Anderson’s business partner early on, a strong influence on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, and did much to keep the show’s memory alive. Still, Anderson had to sue Ward’s heirs in the 1990s to regain full credit as creator of the characters.
Rocky and Bullwinkle first appeared on TV in 1959, and their escapades matching wits with their Russian enemies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale were undisguised critiques of cold-war tension. William Conrad, later famous for starring in the TV series Cannon, did the voiceover narration. The show was constructed like an old movie cliffhanger, with breathless plugs to tune in for the next installment, which would have titles such as “Avalanche Is Better Than None, or Snow’s Your Old Man.”