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Jay Ward
Joseph Ward Cohen Jr.

(1920-09-20)September 20, 1920[1]
San Francisco, California, U.S.
DiedOctober 12, 1989(1989-10-12) (aged 69)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
Harvard Business School
Occupation(s)Animator, TV producer, Writer
Years active1942–1989
Notable workThe Rocky and Bullwinkle Show
George of the Jungle
SpouseRamona Ward (m. 1943)
AwardsInkpot Award (1977)[2]
image icon Jay Ward, with Bullwinkle puppet on left hand[3]
image icon Jay Ward, with Rocky & Bullwinkle characters[4]

Joseph Ward Cohen Jr. (September 20, 1920[1] – October 12, 1989), also known as Jay Ward, was an American creator and producer of animated TV cartoon shows. He produced animated series based on such characters as Crusader Rabbit, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right, Peabody and Sherman, Hoppity Hooper, George of the Jungle, Tom Slick, and Super Chicken. His own company, Jay Ward Productions, designed the trademark characters for the Cap'n Crunch, Quisp, and Quake breakfast cereals and it made TV commercials for those products. Ward produced the non-animated series Fractured Flickers (1963) that featured comedic redubbing of silent films.[5]

Early life

Jay Ward was born[1] Joseph Ward Cohen Jr., the son of Joseph Ward Cohen (1890–1967) and Mercedes Juanita (née Troplong) Ward (1892–1972).[6][7] He was raised in Berkeley, California, attending Frances E. Willard Intermediate School[8][9] as "J. Ward".[3]

He obtained his undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley.[10][11] In 1947, he obtained his MBA from Harvard Business School.[12]

Early career

In 1947, the first day that Ward opened his first real estate office at the corner of Ashby and Claremont, a runaway truck crashed through the building and pinned Ward. While recuperating, Ward decided to animate cartoons, but kept his real estate business, later moving it to Domingo Avenue and then Tunnel Road, where it stayed, in Berkeley, even after Ward moved to Los Angeles.[4] He later received incorrect medical treatment while hyperventilating in an airplane. He then developed agoraphobia.[11]: 181–182 

Animation career

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Ward moved into the young mass medium of television with the help of his childhood friend, the animator Alex Anderson. Taking the character Crusader Rabbit to NBC-TV and the pioneering distributor of TV-programs, Jerry Fairbanks, they put together a pilot film, The Comic Strips of Television, featuring Crusader Rabbit, Hamhock Bones, a parody of Sherlock Holmes, and Dudley Do-Right, a bumbling Canadian Mountie.

NBC-TV and Fairbanks were both unimpressed with all but Crusader Rabbit. The animated series Crusader Rabbit premiered in 1948 and continued its initial run through 1952. Adopting a serialized, mock-melodrama format, it followed the adventures of Crusader and his dimwitted sidekick Rags the Tiger. It was, in form and content, much like the series that would later gain Ward enduring fame, Rocky and His Friends.

Rocky and Bullwinkle

Ward and Anderson lost the rights to the Crusader Rabbit character in a legal fight with businessman Shull Bonsall, who had taken over the assets of the bankrupt Jerry Fairbanks company, and a new color Crusader Rabbit series under a different producer premiered in 1956. Ward then pursued an unsold series idea, The Frostbite Falls Revue. Taking place in a TV studio in the North Woods, the proposed series featured a cast of eccentrics such as newsman Oski Bear and two minor characters named Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose, described in the script treatment as a "French-Canadian moose."[citation needed]

Rocky and His Friends premiered in the late-afternoon,[13] after American Bandstand. on ABC in 1959, moving to prime-time on NBC as The Bullwinkle Show in 1961,[13] the series contained a mix of sophisticated and low-brow humor. Thanks to animators from United Productions of America, Ward's genial partner Bill Scott (who contributed to the scripts and voiced Bullwinkle and other characters) and their writers, including Chris Hayward, and Allan Burns, puns were used often and shamelessly. In a "Fractured Fairy Tales" featuring Little Jack Horner, upon pulling out the plum, Jack announced, "Lord, what foods these morsels be!" Self-referential humor was another trademark: in one episode, the breathless announcer (William Conrad) gave away the villain's plans, prompting the villain to grab the announcer from offscreen, bind and gag him, and deposit him visibly within the scene. The show skewered popular culture, taking on such subjects as advertising, college sports, the Cold War, and TV itself. The hapless duo from Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, blundered into unlikely adventures much as Crusader and Rags had before them, pursued by "no-goodnik" spies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, perennially under orders to "keel moose and squirrel".[14]

In a running-joke tribute to Ward, many of his cartoon characters had the middle initial "J." The cartoonist Matt Groening later gave the middle initial "J." to many of his characters as a tribute to Jay Ward.[15]

Ward fought many heated battles over content with the network and sponsor. The "Kirward Derby", a bowler hat that made everyone stupid and Bullwinkle a genius, was named (as a spoonerism) for Durward Kirby, sidekick of the 1950s and 1960s TV host Garry Moore and the co-host of Allen Funt's Candid Camera. When Kirby threatened to sue, Ward quipped, "Please do! We need the publicity!"[11]: 181–182 

An eccentric and proud of it, Ward was known for pulling an unusual publicity stunt that coincided with a national crisis. Ward leased an island on the Canadian border in Minnesota near his home[citation needed] and dubbed it "Moosylvania," based upon the home of his Bullwinkle TV character. He and publicist Howard Brandy crossed the country in a van, gathering signatures on a petition for statehood for Moosylvania. They then visited Washington, D.C., and attempted to gain an audience with President John F. Kennedy. Unfortunately, they arrived at the White House the morning the Cuban Missile Crisis was breaking, and were ordered at gunpoint to drive off.[11]: 199–200 

Personal life and death

Ward married Ramona "Billie" Ward in 1943; the couple had three children: Ron, Carey, and Tiffany.[16]

Ward died of renal cancer in West Hollywood on October 12, 1989, and is buried in Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.[5][17]


The offices of Jay Ward Productions, today managed by members of his family, are located across the street from the Chateau Marmont on the Sunset Strip.[18] In 2007, the building could be identified by a statue of Bullwinkle and Rocky,[19][13] located in front. In 2013, the statue was reported by the Los Angeles NBC affiliate KNBC to have been removed from its location by DreamWorks Animation, which previously owned the licensing rights to the Jay Ward catalogue.[20][21] DreamWorks Animation had stated that they intended to restore the statue as soon as repairs were completed on it; however, as of May 2014, the statue's whereabouts and status were unknown. It had been speculated that DreamWorks intended to relocate the statue to its own headquarters.[22] In late 2014 (ran until 4 January 2015) the statue was temporarily housed at the Paley Center for Media, in Beverly Hills, California, in conjunction with "The Jay Ward Legacy Exhibit".[13][23] The Jay Ward family gifted the refurbished statue to the City of West Hollywood as part of its Urban Art collection. On Feb 28th, 2020, the Bullwinkle statue finally received its permanent home when it was installed on the turning island at Sunset Blvd. and Holloway Drive, right across from where Tower Records and Spago had been.[24][25]

Following Ward's death, Alexander Anderson Jr., who had created the initial conceptions of the characters Dudley Do-Right, Bullwinkle and Rocky, but had not received public recognition, learned the characters had been copyrighted in Ward's name alone.[26] He sued Ward's heirs to reclaim credit as a creator, and in either 1993[27] or 1996[26] (sources differ), Anderson received a financial settlement and a court order acknowledging him as the "creator of the first version of the characters of Rocky, Bullwinkle, and Dudley."[27]

On June 21, 2000, Ward was recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7080 Hollywood Boulevard for his contribution to the television industry,[28][29] as part of the publicity for the live-action and animation film The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.[28][30]

Until it closed in July 2004, the Dudley Do-Right Emporium, which sold souvenirs based on Ward's characters and was largely staffed by Ward and his family, operated on Sunset Boulevard.


  1. ^ a b c "Joseph W Cohen, born on September 20, 1920 in San Francisco County, California". Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  2. ^ Inkpot Award
  3. ^ a b "Jay Ward". Willard Middle School. Retrieved 11 December 2021. In Willard's yearbook he is listed simply as "J. Ward."
  4. ^ a b "Ward, Jay – Animator". Berkeley Historical Plaque Project. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  5. ^ a b Folkart, Burt A. (October 13, 1989). "Jay Ward Dies; He Created Rocky, Bullwinkle for TV". Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ "Mercedes J Clark in the 1940 Census". Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  7. ^ Campana, Joe (21 April 2007). "Finding Jay Ward". Animation - Who & Where. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  8. ^ Frances E. Willard
  9. ^ Waterman, S. D. (1918). "History of the Berkeley schools ... an account of the school system of Berkeley from its establishment to date". via: Berkeley, CA: Printed by the Professional Press. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  10. ^ Torrez, P.G. "Fiat yuks: Let there be laughs". Office of the President. University of California. Archived from the original on 8 October 1999. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  11. ^ a b c d Scott, Keith (2000). The Moose that Roared. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0312283834.
  12. ^ "Re: Fred Newman (MBA 1978); John Giudice (MBA 1978); Rich Wailes (MBA 1977); Sue Dickie (MBA 1978); Linda Carlson (MBA 1980); Kerr Taylor (OPM 39)". Alumni. Harvard Business School. December 2015. Retrieved 11 December 2021. I put him in a special category of entertaining HBSers, including the late Jay Ward (MBA 1947), who developed and produced The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show. —Richard Wailes (MBA 1977) via
  13. ^ a b c d King, Susan (25 October 2014). "Classic Hollywood: Honoring Jay Ward of Bullwinkle and Rocky fame". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 December 2021. Darrell Van Citters, author of the book "The Art of Jay Ward Productions," talks about the Jay Ward Legacy Exhibit at the Paley Center For Media in Beverly Hills on Oct. 15, 2014;....16-foot revolving fiberglass statue of Bullwinkle in a bathing suit, holding Rocky up high in his left hand — a parody of the old Las Vegas Sahara hotel billboard across from Ward's offices by the Chateau Marmont.
  14. ^ Korkis, Jim (2009). "Bullwinkle Speaks! An Interview With Bill Scott". Hogan's Alley. No. 17.
  15. ^ Chunovic, Louis (1996). The Rocky and Bullwinkle Book. New York: Bantam Books. p. 24. ISBN 978-0553105032.
  16. ^ Yarrow, Andrew L. (October 14, 1989). "Jay Ward, 69, The TV Cartoonist Who Created Bullwinkle, Is Dead". The New York Times.
  17. ^ Ellenberger, Allan R. (1 May 2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-7864-0983-9.
  18. ^ Blum, Steven (2019-08-21). "WeHo Has Strong Feelings About a Rotating Moose Returning to the Sunset Strip". LAmag - Culture, Food, Fashion, News & Los Angeles. Archived from the original on March 8, 2024. Retrieved 2024-03-08.
  19. ^ "Rocky And Bullwinkle Statue · 8218 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046". Google Maps. July 2007. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  20. ^ Kudler, Adrian Glick (July 22, 2013). "Breaking: 52-Year-Old Bullwinkle Statue Lifted Off the Strip". Curbed: Los Angeles.
  21. ^ Painter, Alysia Gray (July 22, 2013). "Vamoosed: Bullwinkle Statue Exits the Sunset Strip". NBC Los Angeles. NBC. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  22. ^ Grams, Martin (17 January 2014). "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Statue".
  23. ^ "The Jay Ward Legacy Exhibit". Paley Center. 16 October 2014. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  24. ^ "Beloved Rocky and Bullwinkle Statue Returns Home to the Sunset Strip". WeHo Times. 28 February 2020.
  25. ^ "Sunset Blvd & Holloway Dr · West Hollywood, CA 90069". Google Maps. January 2021. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  26. ^ a b Lopez, Daniel (October 22, 2010). "Alexander Anderson Jr., creator of 'Rocky and Bullwinkle', dies at 90". The Monterey County Herald via The Kansas City Star. Archived from the original on October 28, 2010.
  27. ^ a b Schudel, Matt (2010-10-24). "Alex Anderson, creator of Rocky and Bullwinkle, dies at 90". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Archived from the original on November 11, 2012. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
  28. ^ a b "Jay Ward". Hollywood Walk of Fame. 25 October 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  29. ^ "Star Walk: Jay Ward". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2016-07-18.
  30. ^ "Legendary Animator Jay Ward to Be Honored With a Star On The Hollywood Walk of Fame on Thursday, June 22 at 3:00 p.m." PR Newswire. via: Free Online Library. June 22, 2000. Archived from the original on 18 August 2016. Retrieved 11 December 2021.

Further reading