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Retro : It’s Always Moose Season

TIMES STAFF WRITER

America has had a 33-year love affair with the favorite sons of Frostbite Falls, Minn., Bullwinkle the Moose and his best buddy, Rocket “Rocky” J. Squirrel, and a love-hate affair with their nemesis, the nogoodnik Potsylvania spies, Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale.

Created by Jay Ward of “Crusader Rabbit” fame, Bullwinkle, Rocky and Co. were first introduced on the animated 1959 ABC weekday series “Rocky and His Friends.” A precursor of “The Simpsons,” the richly satirical show also had plenty of slapstick humor for the kids. Retitled “The Bullwinkle Show,” the series moved to NBC and prime time for a season in the fall of 1961.

“The Bullwinkle Show” also featured such segments as “The Adventures of Dudley Do-Right,” about a noble but dimwitted Mountie who was pursued by the evil Snidley Whiplash; “Fractured Fairy Tales,” narrated by actor Edward Everett Horton; and “Peabody’s Improbable History,” in which a wealthy dog named Mr. Peabody traveled back through time with his adopted son, Sherman.

Bill Scott provided the voices for Bullwinkle, Dudley and Mr. Peabody, June Foray was Rocky and Natasha, Paul Frees supplied the voice of Boris, veteran movie actor Charlie Ruggles was Aesop, Hans Conreid (Uncle Tonoose from “The Danny Thomas Show”) played Snidley and Walter Tetley was the voice of Sherman. A pre-"Cannon” and “Jake and the Fatman” William Conrad was the narrator of the Bullwinkle segments.

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Bullwinkle and his friends have lived on in syndication--they only air now in Southern California on San Diego’s XETV--and the gang seems to be more popular than ever. Last year, Buena Vista Home Video scored a great success, selling more than 2 million units when it released eight volumes of vintage “Bullwinkle” cartoons. “Bullwinkle” memorabilia is available in stores and through such catalogues as Signals. And the Dudley Do-Right Emporium on Sunset Boulevard features everything from stuffed Bullwinkles to storyboards to animation cells from the original cartoons.

Bullwinklemania reached new heights last month when the moose and squirrel became the stars of their own live-action show at Universal Studios. The “extravaganza” features Rocky and Bullwinkle arriving in Hollywood in their pink limo to seek their fame and fortune. Bullwinkle wins the Mr. Talent contest. Boris, though, decides to seek revenge when he comes in second. As usual, his plot backfires and Rocky and Bullwinkle get to put their hoof and paw prints at the famous “Graumoose” Chinese Theater in Hollywood. June Foray supplies voice-overs for her famed characters.

But that’s not all, dahlings. This Saturday, Showtime premieres the “Cold War” comedy, “Boris & Natasha,” starring Dave Thomas of “SCTV” as Boris and Sally Kellerman (“Hot Lips” of the movie “MASH”) as Natasha. The plot finds the two pitted against a mad scientist who has a hidden laboratory in Abe Lincoln’s nose on Mt. Rushmore. Hokey smokes!

“Boris and Natasha” premieres Friday at 8 p.m. on Showtime . “Bullwinkle” airs Sundays at 6 a.m. on XETV.

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