Rocky and Bullwinkle on Sunset Boulevard, May 2020.
Rocky and Bullwinkle on Sunset Boulevard, May 2020.

Rocky and Bullwinkle

Field review by the editors.

West Hollywood, California

Rocket J. Squirrel -- a flying rodent with aviator goggles -- and his friend Bullwinkle J. Moose were once cartoon superstars, featured in Jay Ward Productions' best-known TV series, "Rocky and his Friends/The Bullwinkle Show," which originally aired from 1959 to 1964.

When the popular, pun-laden comedy series switched networks in 1961, Jay Ward felt that the event merited some Hollywood-worthy publicity. He hired artist Bill Oberlin to create a 14-foot-tall statue of the Moose and Squirrel, and placed it outside the Jay Ward Productions offices on Sunset Boulevard. Bullwinkle wore a goofy Gay Nineties striped swimsuit, parodying a barely-clad cowgirl statue across the street that advertised a Las Vegas casino. Both the showgirl and Rocky and Bullwinkle spun around on motorized poles.

The statue was officially dedicated on September 24, 1961. Movie bombshell Jayne Mansfield pulled the ribbon that unveiled Rocky and Bullwinkle in front of what the Los Angeles Times described as, "5,000 milling, screaming, caterwauling celebrants." The shows' writers and voice actors pressed their elbows into wet cement around the base of the statue; Jay Ward asked for elbow prints instead of hand prints so that no one would spill their martinis.

Rocky and Bullwinkle, 1961.
1961 dedication. Bill Scott (voice of Bullwinkle) on left, Jay Ward on right.

Every time that the spinning cowgirl's outfit changed, so did Bullwinkle's painted swimsuit, including a peek-a-boo version during the showgirl's final years as Myra Breckenridge. She was taken down in the early 1970s, and eventually Rocky and Bullwinkle's rotating motor went kaput. By the 1990s Jay Ward and nearly all of the voice actors were dead. Yet the Moose and Squirrel remained -- stubbornly clinging to their spot along the busy Sunset Strip. In the early 2000s Bullwinkle was given his first new outfit in years: a college sweater of his alma mater, Wossamotta U. Rocky was given a W.U. pennant to hold.

After surviving for nearly 52 years -- an amazing feat in a town where nearly everything is bulldozed to make way for something else -- Rocky and Bullwinkle were abruptly hauled away on July 22, 2013. Fans feared that the Moose and Squirrel had been lost forever.

But they hadn't -- they were being restored by artist Ric Scozzari at the behest of the Ward family and Dreamworks Animation. After brief cameo appearances in Beverly Hills in 2014 and West Hollywood's city hall in 2016, the Rocky and Bullwinkle statue vanished again. Ric and his team of plasterers, welders, fabricators, painters, and finishers continued their work, stripping off layers of paint, gunk, and rust, and studying old photos of the statue with a magnifying glass to get every original detail right.

Bullwinkle and Rocky during the indoor display era, 2015
Bullwinkle and Rocky during their brief indoor display era.

Rocky and Bullwinkle, 2020.
Rocky and Bullwinkle restored and back on Sunset Boulevard.

On February 29, 2020, Rocky and Bullwinkle finally returned to Sunset Boulevard, standing in a traffic triangle about a mile west of their former spot. Local officials declared it a "permanent location," and fans cheered it as a triumph of Hollywood-style historical preservation. Ric said that the restored statue looks almost exactly as it did in 1961, down to the number of stripes on Bullwinkle's suit and the seven hairs atop his head. The only difference is that Rocky and Bullwinkle stand on a lower pedestal, and Ric lowered the gaze of Rocky and Bullwinkle's eyes so that they can smile at the faces of their faithful fans.

Rocky and Bullwinkle

Address:
61 Holloway Drive, West Hollywood, CA
Directions:
On the south side of Sunset Blvd, at its intersection with Holloway Drive. The statue faces west.
RA Rates:
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In the region:
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