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carole lombard 01

Briefly a Ward of Rocky and Bullwinkle

Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.18 at 09:37
Current mood: curiouscurious

Carole Lombard's Mack Sennett shorts are now in public domain (which makes one wonder why no one has put them together into a DVD package), but one of the previous owners of the Sennett catalog -- someone who kept the items in circulation -- may surprise you. It was Jay Ward, the eccentric (and beloved) animation pioneer.

While Ward was popularly perceived as the creator of "Crusader Rabbit" and later "Rocky And Bullwinkle," he actually handled the business aspects; the characters were created by veteran animator Alex Anderson, Ward's college friend from the University of California. The Ward-Anderson team also worked for Quaker Oats in establishing such characters as Cap'n Crunch.

Ward corraled some of Hollywood's top talent for his productions; William Conrad narrated the "Rocky" cartoons (at about the same time he was wrapping up his memorable work as Marshal Dillon on the classic "Gunsmoke" radio show), and the likes of Edward Everett Horton and Hans Conried did voice work on the program. Like "The Simpsons" two decades later, clever writing made it a series both adults and children loved. Here's Jay with the voices of Rocky and Bullwinkle, June Foray (who still works regularly) and Bill Scott:

Ward also loved silent films; some of you may recall his non-animated series "Fractured Flickers," which used clips of old silents for comedic effect. In the early sixties, Ward and Raymond Rohauer obtained the rights to 150 Laurel and Hardy films, then acquired rights to much of D.W. Griffith's catalogue. In 1964, they obtained rights to some 200 of Sennett's movies -- which likely included at least some of those featuring Lombard in the late 1920s -- for about $100,000. (Sennett, once a millionaire, had died in 1960 with relatively little to his name.)

I'm not sure what Ward did with these properties before his death in 1989. As for Anderson, who sued the Ward estate in 1996 over creation of the characters (it was settled out of court), he died last October at age 90.

This week's header shows Carole relaxing on a hammock, one apparently created from a carpet.

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