When Jay Ward launched the “Rocky & Bullwinkle” cartoon TV show in 1959, he didn’t have a huge budget for fancy animation.

So he compensated for that with a daring new innovation — great writing. (How’s that for a concept?)

Thursday, Nov. 19, marks the 50th anniversary of the squirrel and the moose, one of the oddest (and funniest) couples in show biz.

The original cartoons survive on disc, and the franchise has weathered the years well, despite a fairly terrible movie version in 2000 that included a supporting cast of live actors (Robert De Niro among them.)

Ward filled Rocky and Bullwinkle’s world with wonderfully wacky characters, including the Russian spies,  Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale.

He also rounded out the show with segments featuring Canadian Mountie Dudley Do-Right, dog genius Mr. Peabody and his pet boy Sherman, and fabled storytellers Aesop and Son. And let’s not forget those wry, dry “Fractured Fairy Tales.”

So take a moment Thursday to relish your memories of our heroes’ mountaintop shack at Frostbite Falls., Minn., and the heroes’ relentless pursuit of the cherished Kerwood Derby.

My personal favorite is still Bullwinkle’s mystical incantation: “Eenie Meenie Chili-Beanie, the spirits are about to speak.”

And let us never forget that a little imagination is more powerful than billion-dollar special effects.

(Illustration credit: Classic Media.)

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