Saturday 25 March 2023

Aquasmoke and Ogden T. Baloo's Mongoose

Jay Ward sent out the best news releases.

Ward had the best satiric and silly writers this side of Your Show of Shows—some ended up in live action—and the really hip TV columnists quoted from them liberally.

Rocky and Bullwinkle got caught up in the Great Prime Time Cartoon Invasion of 1961. That’s when The Flintstones became a hit in 1960 and, suddenly, all the networks wanted their own animated ratings grabbers. The aforementioned moose and squirrel were already on the air. They were simply picked up by another network and were shoved into what was considered prime-time then.

We’ve reprinted several columns praising Ward’s humour. Let’s give you two more. The first is from the Modesto Bee of July 16, 1961. Ward is pushing phoney TV shows, in addition to two of his efforts that never got bought—the puppet show Watts Gnu? and Simpson and Delaney. It took several years for Super Chicken to be appear, but as part of George of the Jungle.

The reference to “Sam the native” was an in-joke. No such series was planned. It was a jab at Bill Conrad and his somewhat limited ability to play character parts.

Jay Ward And Bil1 Scott Are Ready To Flood TV Market
By Pat Morrison

Producers Jay Ward and Bill Scott are a couple of zany characters who should be on the threshold of television success.
For many, they already have made it. The two produce Rocky And His Friends, a cartoon series seen at 5:30 PM Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays on ABC-TV. Ward and Scott think of it as their "subliminal show" since the sponsors and network have been content to leave it virtually untouched by any promotion.
But things should change come fall when the show moves over to NBC-TV in the time slot immediately preceding Walt Disney's new color offering on Sunday evening.
If the series clicks, they have about 20 other shows ready to go such as Super Chicken, Watts Gnu?, Simpson And Delaney and Fractured Flickers.
“We're not worried about our big backlog of unsold shows,” Scott said recently. "When one sells they'll all sell and we'll be rich, rich, rich!"
In an effort to unload some of this backlog, the partners have launched a campaign among advertising agencies, TV editors and trade papers.
On Mother’s Day weekend one ad ran: “Free — make a long distance phone call to your mom any place in the USA. All you have to do is buy a Jay Ward TV series, 39 weeks just $2 million.” Frequent mail promotions have offered the Jay Ward Series Of The Month Club. “With the purchase of every two series for $2 million, club members are entitled to a bonus series.” Selections could be made from such possibilities as Touch Football Highlights “originating from Palm Beach, Washington, DC, and Hyannis Port.” Others were Aquasmoke "combining the most popular features of westerns and underwater shows," Championship Mah Jong and The Unreachables "based on the stories of a group of law abiding Italians who fight corruption and evil among the Irish, German and French.”
Other mailings have proposed the Jay Ward Peace Corps for "work among the underprivileged advertising agencies," Jay Ward Summer Camp for tired TV columnists and editors and the Jay Ward Cerise Saving Stamps.
As bold as they might appear, the two basically are cowards. Their executive producer is someone named Ponsonby Britt, who gets screen credit for the Rocky shows.
Ponsonby is highly fictional but he has a prepared biography in case anyone asks. “Britt is a tall, spare fellow of 40 odd with a sparkling blue eye — his other eye, which is brown, is rather dull." Background material on the two cartoonists is a little harder to come by. “I was born in San Francisco in 1920 with a silver spoon in my mouth,” Ward admits.
Scott claims: “I was born in Philadelphia in 1920 of poor but poor parents. In 1924 I ran away from home with my mother and father and settled in Trenton, NJ.”
There will be some changes made when the cartoon series is moved from ABC to NBC. Rocky will be aced out by his pal Bullwinkle Moose. Next year the program will be called The Bullwinkle Show and will introduce a whole new set of characters, including Dudley DoRight of the mounted police and Sam the native.
The characters will sound familiar because people like Edward Everett Horton, Hans Conried, radio Gunsmoke’s Matt Dillon (Bill Conrad) and Paul Frees do many of the voices.
“We go for actors," said Scott, who is the voice of Dudley DoRight. "It’s like picking out the fish for your guppy tank. What we look for is a community fish to join our group."

Here’s what the Akron Beacon Journal’s entertainment page had to say on August 2, 1961. This one brings us phoney TV executives at phoney TV stations in phoney towns.

Nonsense, Fellows, Sheer Nonsense


Beacon Journal Radio-TV Writer
A staggering amount of mail comes across a TV columnist's desk every week, much of it promotional material from networks, agencies, production companies and public relations firms.
Despite the volume, it's easy to wade through. Half of it goes into the circular file unopened.
ANOTHER 30 per cent can be disposed of by opening the letter and reading only the first paragraph.
That takes care of promotional blurbs which start out. "There are 7,425 beads in the flapper dress worn by Dorothy Provine in the Oct. 23 episode of "The Roaring Twenties..."
The only person who could possibly be interested in such trivia is the nut who counted the beads.
Feature stories comprise another 15 per cent, little human interest tales about the fellow who greases axles for "Wagon Train" or the chap who loads the blanks in Marshal Dillon's revolver.
These features may be digested (burp!) in their entirety, but they usually wind up in the wastebasket with the other 80 per cent.
OF THE remaining 5 per cent, 4 7/8 per cent may be usuable in some form.
What about that missing one-eighth of one per cent? Oh, that's the correspondence from Jay Ward Productions.
Jay Ward is the creator of "Rocky and His Friends" (an ABC-TV cartoon series). Jay Ward doesn't give a tinker's damn whether or not you read his promotional releases.
On the theory nobody is reading them anyway, Jay Ward throws all sorts of nonsense into his promotional releases and all sorts of columnists read them avidly.
LIKE his latest effort, plugging a forthcoming NBC-TV cartoon series, "The Bullwinkle Show" (Bullwinkle is a moose, in case you're one of those serious types). It's a personal biography of Bullwinkle.
The biography states Bullwinkle "is the finest example of the great North American Clod."
"After distinguished service in the Armed Forces as a destroyer radar mast and an officers' club hat-rack, Bullwinkle decided to study acting under the great student of Stanislavski, Francis the Talking Horse . . . After several off Broadway roles (in Laos and Yucca Flats). Bullwinkle hit the Great White Way in 'Irma La Moose' and 'Charley's Antlers.' (The Great White Way, incidentally, is the main street of Frostbite Falls, which is snowed in 11 months of the year.")
HOW HAS Jay Ward plugged "The Bullwinkle Show?"
"Williard Porter, station manager of KWQA, Flack, Tex., hit John Nance Garner with a cream pie as he was leaving a Rotary Club luncheon. . . .
"Fern Kurdle, TV editor of the Washington Shopping News, Washington, D. C., bit Sen. Everett Dirksen on the ankle during a "Capital Reports" broadcast. ...
"Ogden T. Baloo, publicist for KIVP, Como, Wash., staged a cobra-mongoose battle in the lobby of the RKO theater. Unfortunately, both unexpectedly turned on him and he died within 45 seconds. . . .
"Clyde Cooberly, program manager of KEDT-TV, Auburn, Cal., joined the John Birch Society completely naked. . . .
"Ted Urie, general manager of WROT-TV, Bisby, Conn., consummated a proxy marriage with Winnie Ruth Judd."
Jay Ward, you're sick. But you're our kind of sick.

Bullwinkle et al splashed their irreverance on NBC for three seasons, though the last one was on late Saturday mornings/early Saturday afternoons. Ward accused the network of actively disliking the show and refusing to promote it. Ward came up with other concepts; only George of the Jungle was picked up as a series. It’s perhaps one of the great tragedies of television of the 1960s that more of a place wasn’t found for Jay Ward and Bill Scott, and more of their facetious promotions.

1 comment:

  1. The Jay Ward cartoons and Beany and Cecil are my favorites of this era.