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The opening sequence
|Directed by||Rudolf Ising
Preston Blair and Michael Lah
|Produced by||Fred Quimby
|Music by||Scott Bradley|
|Distributed by||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Original)
Turner Entertainment (Today via Warner Bros.)
|Release date(s)||June 10, 1939 - July 31, 1954|
Barney Bear was a series of animated cartoon short subjects produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon studio. The titular character was an anthropomorphic cartoon character, a sluggish, sleepy bear who often is in pursuit of nothing but peace and quiet.
He was created for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer by director Rudolf Ising, who based the bear's grumpy yet pleasant disposition on his own and derived many of his mannerisms from the screen actor Wallace Beery. Barney Bear made his first appearance in The Bear That Couldn't Sleep in 1939, and by 1941 was the star of his own series, getting an Oscar nomination for the 1941 short The Rookie Bear. Ising left the studio in 1943.
Ising's original Barney design contained a plethora of detail: shaggy fur, wrinkled clothing, and six eyebrows; as the series progressed, the design was gradually simplified and streamlined, reaching its peak in three late 1940s shorts, the only output of the short-lived directorial team of Preston Blair and Michael Lah. These cartoons tended to have a hint of Tex Avery's influence and more stylilized, rubbery movements—which wasn't surprising, as both worked as animators (and Lah ultimately as co-director) on several of Avery's pictures. Avery himself never directed a Barney short. The last original Barney Bear cartoons were released between 1952 and 1954, and Dick Lundy was responsible for those. In the films from the late 1940s and early 1950s, Barney's design was streamlined and simplified, much the same as those of Tom and Jerry were.
In the 1941 cartoon The Prospecting Bear, Barney was paired with a donkey named Benny Burro. Though Benny would only make two further cartoon appearances, he would later feature as Barney's partner in numerous comic book stories.
The 1952 cartoon Rock-a-Bye Bear featured his twin brother, Joe Bear (voiced by Daws Butler).
The 1953 cartoon Barney's Hungry Cousin is the first known mentioning of Jellystone Park, the later home of Hanna-Barbera's Yogi Bear. Like Yogi, the titular cousin eats (often by theft) copious amounts of other people's food (including Barney).
- Directed by Rudolf Ising
- The Bear That Couldn't Sleep (10 June 1939)
- The Fishing Bear (20 January 1940)
- The Prospecting Bear (8 March 1941)
- The Rookie Bear (17 May 1941)
- The Flying Bear (1 November 1941)
- The Bear and the Beavers (28 March 1942)
- Wild Honey (7 November 1942)
- Barney Bear's Victory Garden (26 December 1942)
- Bah Wilderness (13 February 1943)
- Barney Bear and the Uninvited Pest (17 July 1943)
- Directed by Hugh Harman
- Papa Gets the Bird (7 September 1940)
- Directed by George Gordon
- Bear Raid Warden (9 September 1944)
- Barney Bear's Polar Pest (30 December 1944)
- The Unwelcome Guest (17 February 1945)
- Supervised by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera
- The Bear and the Bean (30 January 1948)
- Directed by Preston Blair and Michael Lah
- Directed by Dick Lundy
- The Little Wise Quacker (8 November 1952)
- Busybody Bear (20 December 1952)
- Barney's Hungry Cousin (31 January 1953)
- Cobs and Robbers (14 March 1953)
- Heir Bear (30 May 1953)
- Wee-Willie Wildcat (20 June 1953)
- Half-Pint Palomino (26 September 1953)
- The Impossible Possum (20 March 1954)
- Sleepy-Time Squirrel (19 June 1954)
- Bird-Brain Bird Dog (31 July 1954)
The version of The Little Wise Quacker that aired on Cartoon Network (and currently on CN's sister channel, Boomerang) cuts the scene where, after Barney gets electrocuted from a kite-and-power line collision, he and the duck are left in blackface, with Barney singing "Shortnin' Bread" to the duck. The edited version cuts to black after the electric shock, and immediately fades in to the scene where Barney wipes the soot from his face and resorts to his next hunting plan.
Dell Comics licensed various MGM characters, including Barney Bear. He appeared in backup stories in Our Gang Comics (1942–49) starting in the first issue; then—from 1949—in Tom and Jerry Comics (later just Tom and Jerry) and its spinoffs. From Our Gang #11-36 (1944-1947), Carl Barks took over the writing and drawing of the series. Barks regularly teamed Barney up with Benny Burro; later, the obnoxious neighbor Mooseface McElk was also introduced.
Mooseface was created for Barks by Western Publishing colleague Gil Turner, who wrote and drew the Barney stories for several years after Barks' run ended. Later, post-Turner talents introduced other characters, including Barney's nephews Fuzzy and Wuzzy.
In 2011, Yoe Books will issue a hardback volume collecting the Carl Barks work on the series.
- Adamson, Joe, Tex Avery: King of Cartoons, New York: De Capo Press, 1975