Friday, January 17, 2014

The Rocky and Bullwinkle Statue

If you are like me, a fan of the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, you are probably already marked your calendars for the theatrical release date of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, the 2014 animated motion-picture from Dreamworks. Steven Spielberg's production company purchased the rights to the series and plan to make a number of movies based on the animated characters. If you want to check out the movie trailer, CLICK HERE.

Allan Duffin brought this to my attention. Just recently the Moose and Squirrel moved to a new location -- the statue, that is -- and this news fact almost went under the radar.

On the afternoon of September 24, 1961, Los Angeles County Sheriff Peter Pitchess presided with actress Jayne Mansfield over the unveiling of a 15-foot-tall fiberglass statue of cartoon characters Rocket J. ("Rocky") Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose in front of Hollywood Hounds, creator Jay Ward's production offices, 8218 Sunset Strip. If there was any sign of success to Rocky and his Friends (later re-titled Bullwinkle Show and again as The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle), the iconic statue verified that status for anyone driving along the Strip.

At the time, the publicity stunt, "heralding the debut of The Bullwinkle Show" on NBC, drew '5,000 milling, screaming, caterwauling celebrants,'" the Los Angeles Times quotes a TV Guide report at the time. The iconic statue drew mentions in the guidebooks known as Roadside America, where it was referred to as "beautifully tasteless and wonderfully weird."

During the ceremony, Jay Ward had obtained permits to have all but one lane of Sunset Boulevard blocked off and mischievously posted a sign to motorists that said: "Don't complain or we'll block this lane too." The invitees received "pairs of tickets to widely separated seats to accommodate Hollywood couples who weren't on speaking terms," according to author Keith Scott in his wonderful book (and highly recommended) The Moose That Roared: The Story of Jay Ward, Bill Scott, a Flying Squirrel, and a Talking Moose.

The Las Vegas Hotel across the street.
Alert partiers might have noticed that it was a parody of an ad on the other side of Sunset hawking a Las Vegas hotel — a statue of a bikini-clad showgirl holding a cowboy hat in the same manner that Bullwinkle was holding Rocky. Ward even had his statue move on a rotating base like the cowgirl did. The toon duo wore the same colors as she. Bullwinkle and Rocky recently celebrated their 50th Anniversary and for five decades the statue sat in front of Hollywood Hounds, which offered grooming and day care for dogs (but not for moose or squirrels). Hollywood Hounds no longer exists and the building is presently occupied by Posh Pet Care. 

A few months ago, in July, the statue was carried away by crane. Locals took photographs and thanks to Facebook, word spread about the iconic statue making an unannounced move. No one knew what had happened to the statue until Vintage Los Angeles received an explanation from Brian Watson of Posh Pet Care: "[It had] a severe crack in the statue that was too expensive for the landlord to repair."

So where did the statue move to? You can thank the head honchos at Dreamworks Entertainment, David Geffen and Steven Spielberg who recently bought the rights to Rocky & Bullwinkle and arranged for the statue to undergo restoration before becoming a permanent fixture at Dreamworks.