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Gentle Ben is a children's novel by author Walt Morey, first published in 1965. The book concerns the friendship between the title character who is an Alaska brown bear, and a young boy named Mark. The story was later made into a film and television series (1967-1969), as well as made-for-TV movies which originally aired in 2002 and 2003.
The CBS television series Gentle Ben ran from September 10, 1967 to August 31, 1969, airing a total of 58 episodes in two seasons. The show stars a young Clint Howard as Mark Wedloe, and chronicles his adventures with a lovable 650-pound American black bear named Ben (played by Bruno the Bear).
Musician and voice actor Candy Candido provided the voice of Ben. Dennis Weaver played Mark's father, Wildlife Officer Tom Wedloe. Beth Brickell had the role of his mother, Ellen. Rance Howard, who is Clint's real life father and the writer of several episodes for the show, played Weaver's neighbor and friend, Henry Boomhauer. Weaver's character often traveled the Everglades via airboat and Jeep, while Howard senior's Boomhauer drove a swamp buggy. The series was produced by Ivan Tors, also the creator of Lloyd Bridges's Sea Hunt. The series also changed the locale from the book's Alaska to Florida.
Although the bear character in a subsequent television series, The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, is also named Ben, there is no connection between the bears.
On October 15, 2013, CBS Home Entertainment (distributed by Paramount) released season 1 on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time. The second and final season will be released on February 18, 2014.
Gentle Ben (also known as Gentle Ben: The Movie and Gentle Ben: Terror on the Mountain) was first shown on 25 March 2002, although some cable airings list it with a 2003 date.
Gentle Ben 2 (also known as Gentle Ben: Danger on the Mountain) was first shown on 5 January 2003. It was known as Gentle Ben: Black Gold for its UK release.
The following characters were in both films:
- Dean Cain as Jack Wedloe
- Corbin Bernsen as Fog Benson
- Ashley Laurence as Dakota
- Reiley McClendon as Mark Wedloe
- Cody Weiant as Ashley June Benson
- Collin Bernsen as Kyle
- Gil Birmingham as Pete
- Jack Conley as Cal Stryker
- Jeanne Cooper as Rowland
- Martin Kove as Cully
- "Walt Morey, 84; Author of 'Gentle Ben'". Los Angeles Times. 1992-01-14. Retrieved 2014-07-24.
- Morey, Walt (1992). Gentle Ben. New York: Puffin Books. ISBN 0140360352.
- "Gentle Ben: Season One". DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video. Retrieved 2014-07-24.
- 'Season 1' Box Cover Art Arrives for the Long-Awaited DVDs, TV Shows on DVDs
- The 2nd (and Final) Season is Coming to DVD in Early 2014, TV Shows on DVDs
- Gentle Ben 2: Danger on the Mountain (2003) IMDB entry