CARMEL, Calif. — Pioneering TV cartoon artist Alexander Anderson Jr., who created Rocky the flying squirrel and Bullwinkle the moose, has died at age 90.
Anderson's wife, Patricia, told The Associated Press that her husband, a longtime resident of Pebble Beach, Calif., died at an assisted living facility in Carmel on Friday. He was suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
Before Rocky and Bullwinkle, Anderson worked on “Mighty Mouse” while apprenticing for his uncle, Paul Terry, whose Terrytoons cartoons were distributed in movie theaters by 20th Century Fox. Anderson worked with Terry before and after World War II, when he worked as an intelligence officer with the U.S. Navy in San Francisco.
Anderson began his own company with former University of California, Berkeley fraternity brother, Jay Ward, after Terry refused his suggestion to produce cartoons specifically for television.
The duo worked out of a garage behind Anderson's family's Berkeley home. There, they created Crusader Rabbit and his friend Rags the Tiger along with Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties and Rocky and Bullwinkle.
“Crusader Rabbit” was among the first animated series produced for television and aired on NBC in the 1950s.
The inspiration for Bullwinkle came from a dream Anderson had in which he was playing poker with friends and a moose doing “silly card things” was sitting next to him, Patricia Anderson said.
The character's name came from a car dealership in Berkeley called “Bullwinkel Motors,” which her husband thought was funny, she said.
Anderson told the San Francisco Chronicle in 1991 that he found there was “something majestic” about a moose.
“They're macho, but they have a comic aspect with that schnozzola of theirs. There are few creatures begging to be caricatured,” he said.
As for Rocky, Anderson told the newspaper he couldn't quite understand how a mouse or Superman would be able to fly. But some squirrels, in fact, could fly.
“That gave (Rocky) the mantle of superness without having to stretch the truth,” he said.
Patricia Anderson said she remembered her husband telling her that what he did not feel like work.
“He said, 'When you love your work, it isn't work.” '
Ward would go on to produce “Rocky and His Friends” on ABC in 1959.
With Rocky leading his somewhat slow but good-natured friend, Bullwinkle, the duo battled villains Boris and Natasha, agents of the nation of Pottsylvania, in the fictional town of Frostbite Falls, Minn.
Anderson had decided to pursue a career in advertising and was not involved in the venture. He later said he felt he had not received credit for his creations.
He won a lawsuit against Jay Ward Productions in 1993 that recognized him as the creator of the first versions of Rocky, Bullwinkle and Dudley Do-Right.