boston.com News your connection to The Boston Globe

Chris Hayward; helped create Bullwinkle

LOS ANGELES -- Chris Hayward, a television writer who developed the klutzy cartoon character Dudley Do-Right and helped imbue the rest of the Rocky and Bullwinkle gang with the same sense of silliness and satire, has died. He was 81.

Mr. Hayward, an Emmy winner who also helped write "Barney Miller," died of cancer Nov. 20 at his Beverly Hills home, said his wife, Linda.

Bullwinkle and his zany friends came out of the Sunset Boulevard studios of Jay Ward, who warned against underestimating television viewers and encouraged his writers to "take potshots at everything," Mr. Hayward once said.

"His philosophy was 'just write sharp stuff for yourself and the audience will get it.' It was very freeing," said Allan Burns, a "Bullwinkle" writer who became Mr. Hayward's writing partner.

There was no such thing as a bad pun on "Rocky and His Friends," which debuted on ABC in 1959 and was renamed "The Bullwinkle Show" when it moved to NBC in 1961. "The worse the better," Mr. Hayward said.

The first episode Mr. Hayward co-wrote for the flying squirrel and his sidekick with the dimwitted voice was titled "Rue Britannia," according to "The Moose That Roared" (2000), a history of the show. When the plot requires Bullwinkle to survive a week in the Abominable Manor in England, he says, "Shucks, I've been livin' in an abominable manner all my life!"

The writers' revelry in wordplay extended to other segments that filled out the half-hour show: "Fractured Fairy Tales" and "Aesop and Son," irreverent sendups of classic fables; "Peabody's Improbable History," in which a smart dog time-travels with a pet boy; and "Dudley Do-Right of the Royal Canadian Mounties," a goofily inept hero whose nemesis is Snidely Whiplash.

When "Bullwinkle" debuted, "it was one of the hippest and most underappreciated programs on TV," said Robert Thompson, a professor of pop culture at Syracuse University. "Half the people watching it were kids who weren't getting it. And the other half couldn't believe what they were watching. There was stuff going on that was positively hallucinogenic."

For their work on the CBS sitcom "He & She," Mr. Hayward and Burns received an Emmy in 1968. After writing for "Get Smart" (1965-70), the team split. Mr. Hayward turned to "Barney Miller," a successful series that satirized life in a precinct house.

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES
 
Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months
 Advanced search / Historic Archives