B. J. and the Bear

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B. J. and the Bear
Genre Comedy
Created by Christopher Crowe
Glen A. Larson
Directed by Gil Bettman
Bruce Bilson
Daniel Haller
Bruce Kessler
Christian I. Nyby II
Michael Preece
Charles R. Rondeau
Starring Greg Evigan
Claude Akins
Theme music composer Glen A. Larson
Opening theme BJ and the Bear
Composer(s) William Broughton
Stu Phillips
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 48
Executive producer(s) Glen A. Larson
Michael Sloan
Producer(s) Lester Wm. Berke
Joe Boston
Richard Lindheim
Robert F. O'Neill
Cinematography Frank Beascoechea
Charles Mills
Frank Thackery
Running time 45–48 minutes
Production company(s) Universal Television
Distributor NBCUniversal Television Distribution
Original channel NBC
Audio format Monaural
Original run February 10, 1979 (1979-02-10) – August 11, 1981 (1981-08-11)
Related shows The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo

B.J. and the Bear is an American comedy series which aired on NBC from 1979 to 1981. Created by Christopher Crowe and Glen A. Larson, the series stars Greg Evigan and Claude Akins. The theme song, also titled "B.J. and the Bear" was written by Glen Larson and performed by the lead star, Greg Evigan.[1]


Greg Evigan stars as B.J. (Billie Joe) McKay, a professional freelance itinerant trucker who traveled the country's highways in a red and white Kenworth K-100 cab over semi truck with his pet chimpanzee, Bear (named after Bear Bryant, the famed football coach for Alabama,[2] explaining the chimp's choice of headwear). He was constantly harassed by Sheriff Elroy P. Lobo (Claude Akins,[3] who eventually spun off onto his own show, The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo). Ben Cooper appeared in an episode of B.J. and the Bear and continued his "Waverly" character in The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo. Other episodes dealt with B.J. uncovering or getting mixed up with crime in the area and a local resident—usually, a young, beautiful woman—appealing to the trucker to help.

In 1981, when the show returned from hiatus, B.J. had settled down to run Bear Enterprises, a trucking company based in Los Angeles. His nemesis was Rutherford T. Grant (Murray Hamilton), the corrupt head of the state's Special Crimes Action Team, who was a silent partner in a competing trucking company. Because of Grant's harassment, B.J. was unable to hire experienced truckers, and he was forced to hire seven beautiful young female truckers, consisting of Grant's daughter Cindy (Sherilyn Wolter), twins, Teri and Geri (Candi and Randi Brough), no-nonsense Angie (Sheila Wills), Samantha (Amanda Horan Kennedy), Callie (Linda McCullough) and a busty blonde nicknamed "Stacks" (Judy Landers). The episode was a two-parter appropriately called "Snow White and the Seven Lady Truckers".

Popular culture[edit]

In the 1995 movie Mallrats, Jason Lee's character Brodie makes a reference to the show with: "Why don't they ever bring back or remake good shows, like B.J. and the Bear. Now there's a concept I can't get enough of, a man and his monkey".

In episode 302, "Peanut Butter, Eggs, and Dice" of Mr. Show with Bob and David, during a sketch entitled "The Bob Lamonta Story," Bob Lamonta's father, played by Bob Odenkirk, tells the Bob Lamonta character, played by David Cross, during an out-of-body experience to wake him and his mother when B.J. and the Bear comes on.

In an episode of My Name Is Earl, Earl's brother Randy asks Joy why a chimp was named "Bear". She obligingly explains that B.J. McKay was a fan of the University of Alabama's football team, hence the moniker. In yet another episode, while Randy is going to sleep, he asks what Bear's name is, even though he just said it in the title of the show.

In the series Breaking Bad, a replica of the red and white Kenworth appears in the episode "One Minute". In the Breaking Bad Original Mini Episode "Just Married", character Hank Schrader makes a pun with the show's title as "B.J. and the Bear, minus the bear".

In the comedy series 30 Rock, Kenneth Parcell refers to the show as You-Know-What and the Bear.

Seattle-based indie rock group Minus the Bear derives their name from a joke referencing B.J. and the Bear. "A friend of the band had gone on a date,” explains singer-guitarist Jake Snider, "and one of us asked him afterwards how the date went. Our friend said, 'You know that TV show from the '70s, B.J. and the Bear? It was like that... minus the Bear.' That’s the straight truth."[4]

In the South Park episode The Ring, Cartman quotes the theme song, referencing "B.J. McKay and his best friend Bear."

In the 2007 Quentin Tarantino's Movie Death Proof, Kurt Russell's character introduces himself as Stuntman Mike McKay and is mocked by two other characters (Dov and Omar) by making a reference to BJ and the Bear due to his last name.[5]


  1. ^ Robinson, Mark (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. McFarland. p. 26. ISBN 9780786465170. 
  2. ^ Witbeck, Charles (June 24, 1979). "'BJ and the Bear': a silent interview with Sam the chimp". Chicago Tribune: J3. 
  3. ^ "Claude Akins; actor in classic movies.". St. Louis Post - Dispatch: 4. 1994-1-28. 
  4. ^ "Minus the Bear" Spin Magazine. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  5. ^ "The Quentin Tarantino Archives" Wiki. Retrieved 2014-01-08.

External links[edit]