Saturday Morning Cartoon

Crusader Rabbit is generally considered to be the first cartoon series made specifically for TV, first produced in the late 1940s, and the often cheap animation certainly looks like something made on the low TV budgets of the ’40s and ’50s. Still, as Don Markstein’s online Toonopedia notes, it had ”one saving grace — its young viewers thought it was funny.”

Indeed, one of the creators was Jay Ward, later renowned as the mastermind of the Rocky and Bullwinkle tales.

Adds Markstein: ”Crusader’s basic formula was simple — humorous adventure stories told (by narrator Roy Whaley) in short episodes, with cliffhangers, about a little smart hero (Crusader Rabbit, voiced by Lucille Bliss, who many years later was the voice of Smurfette), a big dumb hero (Rags the Tiger, voiced by Vern Loudon), and an inept recurring villain (Dudley Nightshade, voiced by Russ Coughlin).”

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