Today is National Teddy Bear Day and, quite honestly, they definitely deserve their day. Many of us can think back to a little stuffed bear that used to comfort us at night, that we used to carry around with us throughout the day, and that we might even still have in our rooms. Some might be in a shadow box now, or if you’re a big mush like I am, then your bear might still even sit upon your bed each morning when you make it (because how could Teddy breathe in a shadow box?). Thanks to Teddy Roosevelt for not killing his furry friend nearly 120 years ago, the Teddy Bear gained its name and we gained our own furry friends.
In honor of this holiday, and all of the Teddy Bears our there, here’s a list of some of the most memorable bears in literature:
1. Goldilocks and the Three Bears
We actually get a three-for-one special with the first item on the list, but how could I not start off with what is possibly the original bear story, Goldilocks and the Three Bears? The story was originally written by Robert Southey and published in The Doctor in 1837. Since then, there have been countless retellings of his famous fairy tale. I’d be willing to bet every single one of you reading this can think of some rendition of Goldilocks and the Three Bears that you came to know and love. Personally, I think right to a Christmas/New Years movie, Rudolph’s Shiny New Year. I’ll never forget Happy with his big years and his top hat, playing the part of Goldilocks during his brief stay on the Island of 1023 (the year of the fairy tales). The story has been adapted to Sesame Street within the TV show itself, as well as in the form of a book called Goldilocks and the Three Grouches. There have also been multiple film adaptations of the story, including a live-action movie in 1995 and a cartoon in 2008.
2. Old Bear
Old Bear is something – or should I say someone – that I had forgotten about for a long time, until only a few years ago when I rediscovered him. Old bear is a very traditional-looking bear, somewhat resembling the Harrods bear but with longer legs and a slightly-sandier coat. With the first book published in 1986, Jane Hissey has since written over 20 stories of Old Bear. Following the success of the books, Jane Hissey was also asked to do a TV show called Old Bear Stories. The show garnered much success within its three seasons, which ran from 1993 to 1997. In 1993, Old Bear Stories even won a BAFTA for ‘Best Children’s Television Programme.’ Growing up, I absolutely adored the raggedy little bear. I always gravitated towards stop-motion productions, and the ten-minute episodes are perfect for not losing the attention of young viewers like myself.
3. Yogi Bear
Yes, I know this bear is more famous for his television show and you’re probably wondering why I put him on the list, but just bear with me here (ha). Believe it or not, Yogi Bear made his debut on The Huckleberry Hound Show before ever getting his own spin-off in 1961. The Yogi Bear Show, of course, made complete sense when his character started to become more popular than Huckleberry Hound himself. You might remember Yogi for being “smarter than the average bear,” spending his days trying to steal “pic-a-nic” baskets from campers and doing other mischievous things. Yogi Bear had his first movie produced in 1964, called Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear! He has since had multiple movies produced as well, but it wasn’t until 2010 that Yogi Bear was brought to life in a live-action film. The reason why I get to include Yogi Bear on this list, though, is that Yogi Bear was also featured in comic books, ranging from Dell Comics to Marvel to DC. Finally, Yogi Bear also has some books too, including Life Is a Pic-a-Nic: Tips & Tricks for the Smarter Than the Av-er-age Bear and Yogi Bear: Home Sweet Jellystone.
Our little friend, known for his red hat, duffel coat, and beat-up suitcase, made his first appearance back in 1958 in the book A Bear Called Paddington. According to the story, he was found in the Paddington Railway Station (thus, how he got his name) with a label which read “PLEASE LOOK AFTER THIS BEAR. THANK YOU.” Since then, Paddington has had fourteen novels, with the most recent one being published in 2017. Besides just novels, though, there have been over 150 Paddington titles published. Paddington was made into a feature film in 2015 with quite the recognizable cast signing on for the job. The cast includes Nicole Kidman, Hugh Bonneville (if you’re a huge Downton Abbey fan like I am, you might be screaming right now as well), Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Imelda Staunton, and Michael Gambon. It had rave-reviews, including a whopping 98% on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer and 80% on the Audience Score, therefore more than deserving of its sequel in 2017.
5. Winnie the Pooh
Why does it always have to be Paddington versus Pooh? I say we should love both. Winnie the Pooh is a bit older than our beloved Paddington, first of all. He was born out of the short story “The Wrong Sort of Bees” in the London Evening News on Christmas Eve in 1925. Winnie-the-Pooh was officially published in 1926 and was an immediate hit. Pooh’s crew began with Eeyore, Piglet, Owl, Rabbit, Kanga, and Roo, with Tigger (my personal favorite, re: the stuffed animal I keep on my bed and feel too guilty putting into a shadow box) being introduced in The House at Pooh Corner, published in 1928. It was Stephen Slesinger who brought Winnie the Pooh into pop culture, but it was Walt Disney who brought him to the screen. Winnie the Pooh was first seen on TV in the form of a short, called “Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree,” released in 1966. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, a compilation of Pooh’s first three shorts, was released as a feature film in 1977. Winnie the Pooh has since gone on to have a very successful career, with his last appearance being in the 2018 movie, Christopher Robin.
Featured image via The Guardian