Jay Ward was born in San Francisco, California. Ward's company, Jay Ward Productions, produced television animated series such as Crusader Rabbit (1950s), Rocky & Bullwinkle (also featuring Dudley Do-Right and Peabody and Sherman, late 1950s and early 1960s), Hoppity Hooper (mid 1960s), and George of the Jungle (also featuring Tom Slick and Super Chicken, in the late 1960s). Jay Ward Productions also designed the trademark characters for Cap'n Crunch, Quisp, and Quake breakfast cereals and made commercials for those products.
In a running joke tribute to Jay Ward, many of his cartoon characters had the middle initial "J.", standing for "Jay". The creator of The Simpsons, Matt Groening, gave his cartoon character Homer Simpson the middle name "Jay" as a tribute to Jay Ward cartoons.
Jay Ward died in Hollywood, California, of kidney cancer. The Sunset Strip is still host to his production company (now managed by members of his family) and Dudley Do-Right's Emporium, which sells souvenirs based on his many characters. They are located across the street from the famous Chateau Marmont.