Keith Scott

The Moose That Roared, Keith ScottKeith Scott
The Moose That Roared 

As Rocket J. Squirrel would say, “And now here’s something we hope you’ll really like.” Keith Scott has set the Wabac Machine for the late 1950s, when Jay Ward had his best idea ever: the unlikely pairing of a flying squirrel and a not-too-bright moose.

The result was the legendary Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, the cartoon show that “taught an entire generation the art of parody.” The series was famous for its howling puns (Whynchataka Peak, Wottsamotta U) and pointed satire, but also for pulling in a host of cultural references far beyond the grasp of a juvenile audience. Villain Boris Badenov’s name spoofs the opera character Boris Godunov; Omar sails a ruby yacht. A hat called the Kirward Derby provoked the threat of a lawsuit from the real-life (and apparently humorless) Durward Kirby.

The atmosphere on the set was nearly as wild as the cartoons themselves. Flubbed lines were turned to advantage by sharp ad-libs; practical jokes were daily occurrences. The biggest child of all was Jay Ward, whose passion for play was matched only by his creative zeal. Ward filled the studio with carousel animals, fun house mirrors, ice cream machines, and nickelodeons; asked why, he invariably responded, “Life is fun and worth living.”

Scott, a lifelong fan of the series (no relation to Bill Scott, the original Bullwinkle), has done a superb job of excavating the whole story for this engrossing treasury of behind-the-scenes information and anecdotes, with extended quotes from the voice actors and a complete episode guide.

And if you ever wondered why so many of the show’s characters sport a middle initial J, here’s the answer. It was Ward’s unabashed tribute to—himself.

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