Jay Ward (1920-1989), born J (no period, so he could choose a full name later) Troplong Ward, was a television producer best known for his many animated series, ranging from Crusader Rabbit (1949), which became the first original cartoon series created specifically for television, and Rocky and His Friends and its various incarnations (1959-1964) and supporting segments to George of the Jungle (1967-1968).
In contrast to the often assembly-line approach used by Hanna-Barbera and others, Ward's shows were known for their satirical humor, carefully crafted scripts (penned by Looney Tunes veteran and Bullwinkle voice Bill Scott and writers who would go on to develop such series as Get Smart and The Mary Tyler Moore Show), bad puns, and innumerable references to literature, pop culture, and current events. The humor extended to the credits, which almost invariably credited the mythical Ponsonby Britt OBE as executive producer. Ward's work has been cited as an influence on such later series as The Simpsons.
Other Ward productions included Hoppity Hooper, the unaired puppet pilot Watts Gnu, Fractured Flickers (a live-action showcase for vintage mostly silent film footage re-dubbed with comic voices), and many commercials for Cap'n Crunch and other Quaker Oats products.
In 1997, George of the Jungle was adapted into a live-action film, with Jim Henson's Creature Shop providing semi-realistic versions of such Ward characters as An Ape Named Ape and the Tookie Tookie Bird.
- In the second season Muppet Babies episode "The Great Muppet Cartoon Show," the song "We Love Cartoons" briefly features Baby Gonzo as Rocky the Flying Squirrel.
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the turtles watch an Aesop and Son cartoon (a segment of Rocky and His Friends) featuring a fractured version of "The Tortoise and the Hare."
- In the Muppet Treasure Island CD-ROM game, the Moose Head on the Admiral Benbow Inn wall remarks, "You were expecting Bullwinkle?"
- In Sesame Street episode 4080, the Fairy Godperson gets a call on his wand cell phone about a moose in Minnesota who wants to fly like a squirrel, in reference to Bullwinkle, Rocky, and their hometown of Frostbite Falls, Minnesota.