Tuesday, December 3, 2013
As a small child the first cartoon I remember liking was Crusader Rabbit. In looking back at the show I was surprised to find out that one of its creators were later responsible for one of the great cartoon series of the 1960s.
Crusader Rabbit was the first animated series produced specifically for TV, premiering on KNBH-TV in Los Angeles in 1950. In 1950-1, 195 four minute episodes were produced, divided into ten "Crusades". The creator of the characters was Alex Anderson and Jay Ward (more of whom below) was the business manager and producer. The series went into syndication and was shown for years (I probably first saw it around 1955 or 56) though you can be pretty certain that no new TV show with the word Crusader in its title is going to appear in the future.
Crusader's sidekick was Ragland "Rags" T. Tiger, my favorite character; the T stood for The. The villain in many episodes was Dudley Nightshade with his sidekick Bilious Green.
Here is a typical episode. You'll notice that they saved money by having very little actual animation for an animated series. It certainly was sufficient for a 5-year old.
Through a series of misadventures Anderson and Ward lost control of the show and when a new series of 160 color episodes was produced in the late 1950s neither of them was associated with it.
But Jay Ward had an idea for a new series which included characters like Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Bullwinkle J Moose, better known as Rocky and Bullwinkle. The series, running from 1959 to 1964, was popular with both adults and children introducing memorable characters like Dudley Do-Right (the dim Canadian Mounted Policeman), Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale (and their bosses, Mr Big and Fearless Leader), Captain Peter "Wrongway" Peachfuzz, Mister Peabody and his pet boy, Sherman, and Fractured Fairy Tales as voiced by Edward Everett Horton.