Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G

Alexander Anderson Jr., Rest In Peace

Alexander Anderson Jr. is one of the pioneers of animation.  He started off apprenticing for his uncle, Paul Terry.  Yes, of Terrytoons fame.  Anderson worked on Mighty Mouse cartoons for a while.  He worked there before and after WWII (he was an intelligence officer for the Navy during the war).  Seeing that cartoons for theaters were going to decline, he approached his uncle about making cartoons for television.  Terry thought the idea was insane.

So, Anderson teamed up with a former frat brother.  They started their own animation studio, working out of a garage behind Anderson's home in Berkley.

Who was the frat brother?

Jay Ward.

Their first creation was the classic Crusader Rabbit.  The animation may have been crude, but the stories were inventive, clever, and funny.  Crusader Rabbit became one of the first animated cartoons on television, running on NBC.  Among the other characters to come out of that garage were Dudley Do-Right, Rocky, and Bullwinkle.

The inspiration for Bullwinkle came from a dream Anderson had where he was playing poker with his friends, and a moose sat next to him and did "silly card things."  He told the San Francisco Chronicle in 1991 that he found "something majestic" about moose.  "They're macho, but they have a comic aspect with that schnozzola of theirs. There are few creatures begging to be caricatured."  Bullwinkle's name came from a Berkley car dealership called "Bullwinkel Motors."  Rocky was sort of a response to super heroes.  He couldn't figure out how a mouse or Superman could fly, but some squirrels could.  "That gave (Rocky) the mantle of superness without having to stretch the truth."

Anderson went into advertising.  Ward, meanwhile, got Rocky and Bullwinkle on the air in 1959.  Anderson felt Ward didn't give him proper credit for the creation of the characters and sued.  In 1993, he won, and was recognized as the creator of those early versions of Rocky, Bullwinkle, and Dudley.

Anderson died Friday in an assisted living facility in Carmel, CA.  He was suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Thank you, Anderson, for the joy your creations gave us.
Tags: art, news

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