LINDA CAUTHEN: The Tale of the Moose

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For the last few years, WeHo-ans who pass the intersection of Holloway and Sunset have been greeted by a 15-foot moose holding aloft a cheeky squirrel. Most of us have heard the story of how this statue was rescued from demolition, refurbished and given a permanent home at this site but do you know the provenance of this local landmark?

When I first moved to WeHo way back in 1971, I noticed this statue in its original home, a courtyard in front of Jay Ward Productions at 8218 Sunset Blvd. across the street from the Chateau Marmont. I frequently passed this location walking to my job at Schwab’s or just cruising the neighborhood. I was aware of Jay Ward because I watched his cartoons on TV as a kid.

The pun-filled cartoons featured a collection of characters including Bullwinkle J. Moose, his pal Rocky Squirrel, their nemeses Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, George of the Jungle, Tom Slick and Dudley Do-Right. From 1959 until 1964, all of them appeared on “Rocky and His Friends/The Bullwinkle Show.” Ward characters were aimed at a less innocent audience than fans of Disney’s Mickey Mouse and Goofy, like the hard-bodied, thick-headed George of the Jungle, a Tarzan-wannabe who frequently crashed into trees and not-so-super spy Boris who excuses his failures with “Is fault of moose and squirrel.”

In 1961, Ward decided to get publicity for the show by having a 15-foot statue created of two pf his most popular characters and on September 20, 1961, the figure was unveiled in a gala ceremony with movie bombshell Jayne Mansfield cutting the ribbon opening the new tourist magnet as 5,000 guests drank and celebrated. Ward animators placed their elbow prints in wet cement in front of the statue so they didn’t spill their martinis by adding their palm prints.

Bullwinkle’s pose and costume was inspired by the scantily clad showgirl revolving endlessly atop a billboard across Sunset in front of the Chateau Marmont promoting the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas. This showgirl is a story in itself, as she’s mentioned frequently in Gore Vidal’s salacious novel “Myra Breckenridge” and the 1968 film starring Raquel Welch and Mae West. Main character Myra occupies a luxurious suite at the Chateau Marmont, with a balcony from which she gazes at the revolving showgirl statue. Movie posters and paperback copies of the book sported an image of Welch as the showgirl holding a cowboy hat.

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In 1971, Dudley Do-Right’s Emporium opened down the block at 8200 Sunset Blvd., giving fans of the Ward cartoons the opportunity to purchase tee shirts and souvenirs of their favorite characters. The shop and the offices nearby were landmarks on the Strip through the seventies and eighties but over time, Ward Productions moved and Dudley’s closed in 2005. The statue fell into disrepair until getting rescued in 2013.

After extensive restoration by DreamWorks Studios, the statue was moved to several temporary locations before finding a forever home on the island at the intersection of Holloway and Sunset in 2020. Today Pinches Tacos stands on the former site of Dudley Do-Right’s and the old Jay

Ward building seems to be vacant. The Sahara Showgirl revolved from 1957 until 1966 and was eventually replaced by the Marlboro Man.

The billboards adorning Sunset these days may be classier than the ones from years past but they aren’t nearly as much fun.

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About Linda Cauthen
Linda F. Cauthen moved to West Hollywood from Montgomery, Alabama, fifty years ago in search of adventure. What she found was a long career in journalism including gigs with Larry Flynt Publishing, The Hollywood Reporter, and many more. After the bottom fell out of print magazines, she made the move to online media where she produced content on a variety of subjects including beauty, consumer technology, and showbiz gossip. Her interests include Hollywood history, classic country music, and old movies. She is one of WeHo’s top authorities on what used to stand at any given location in the distant past.

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DKWEHO
DKWEHO
2 days ago

For the sake of clarity the statue was donated to the city of WeHo when the building was sold in 2013. Both the buyer and seller of the building wanted to ensure that piece of history was restored and would find a new home. WeHo restored the statue, placed it at city hall for a while and then found it a personal home at Sunset and Holloway. Additionally, the Ward Building is not vacant. It’s used as creative office space and is currently occupied.

Robert Switzer
Robert Switzer
10 days ago

I would like to add a clarification regarding which characters appeared on “Rocky and His Friends,” aka “The Bullwinkle Show.” They were Rocky, Bullwinkle, Boris and Natasha, and Dudley Do-Right, as well as Mr. Peabody and Sherman and Aesop. A separate show ran later with new characters under the title, “George of the Jungle.” Each weekly episode, featured three segments, the eponymous one with George, Ursula, and Shep the ape, “Super Chicken” with Henry Cabot Henhouse III (aka Super Chicken) and his sidekick Fred, and, finally, “Tom Slick” about a race car driver of the same name. As for where… Read more »

Carleton cro9nin
10 days ago

Rocky for city council!

Really...
Really...
11 days ago

And one of those temporary locations was the lobby of WeHo City Hall.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
11 days ago

Hey Linda, thanks for the added context. So the tale is deeper than just a promotional gimmick, (not that promotional gimmicks are unknown on the Strip).

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