Jay Ward, Animator


J. Troplong “Jay” Ward, Animator

Ward Residence: 2925 Russell Street
Office: 2 Tunnel Road

Jay Ward was a Berkeleyan celebrated for his pioneering role in television animation. Ward and his childhood friend, Alex Anderson, teamed up to create the memorable character Crusader Rabbit in the early days of television. Some years later, Ward launched the immortal Rocky and Bullwinkle show in partnership with Bill Scott, an animator who also provided voices for the moose and many other characters. The name Bullwinkle was inspired by a local auto dealership at College and Claremont owned by Clarence Bullwinkel.

Ward’s first career and day job was real estate. After getting an MBA at Harvard, he opened a real estate office at the corner of Ashby and Claremont. The first day that Ward was at his new office in 1947, a freak accident occurred.  A runaway truck crashed through the building and pinned Ward. It was while recuperating from severe injuries that Ward decided to pursue animated cartooning. But he kept at his day job, eventually moving the office to Domingo and then Tunnel Road, where it stayed even after the success of the animating business led Ward to move his family to Los Angeles.

The Rocky and Bullwinkle show was remarkable as a cultural product. It invented a format that appealed to children on one level while drawing in their parents with wordplay and satire. Moreover, its humor tended to the subversive; it joked about  U.S.-Soviet conflicts while the Cold War was at its height. This is another instance where countercultural ideas nurtured in the Bay Area entered the cultural mainstream and struck a powerful chord.

Contributed by Fred Block, 2012

  • Ward Residence, 2925 Russell St. (2012), photo R. Kehlmann.

  • Rocky and Bullwinkel, ABC Photo Archives.

  • Rockey and Bullwinkle, photo mysa.

  • Cap'n Crunch and his creator Jay Ward, photo Neatorama.

Photo credit abbreviations:
BAHA: Berkeley Architectural Heritage Assn.
BHS: Berkeley Historical Society