Barney Bear

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Barney Bear
BarneyBear.jpg
The opening sequence
Directed byRudolf Ising
George Gordon
Preston Blair and Michael Lah
Dick Lundy
Produced by
Written byRudolf Ising
Heck Allen
Jack Cosgriff
Starring
Music byScott Bradley
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
June 10, 1939 –
July 31, 1954
Running time
6–9 minutes (per short)
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

Barney Bear is an American series of animated cartoon short subjects produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon studio. The title character is an anthropomorphic cartoon character, a sluggish, sleepy bear who often is in pursuit of nothing but peace and quiet.

The character 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. The character was voiced by Rudolf Ising from 1939 to 1941, Pinto Colvig in 1941, Billy Bletcher from 1944 to 1948, Paul Frees from 1952 until 1954, Lou Scheimer in 1980, and Richard McGonagle from 2012 to 2013. 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 stylized, rubbery movements—which wasn't surprising, as both worked as animators (and Lah ultimately as co-director) on several of Avery's pictures.[1] 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 is 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 by Tex Avery features his irritable, obnoxious, noise-sensitive twin brother, Joe Bear (voiced by Daws Butler). Also, in the 1944 Tex Avery cartoon Screwball Squirrel, Barney Bear is mentioned by Sammy Squirrel as he talks to Screwy Squirrel at the beginning.

Barney Bear would not appear in new material again until Filmation's The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show in 1980. More recently, Barney Bear appeared in the direct-to-video films Tom and Jerry: Robin Hood and His Merry Mouse in 2012 and in Tom and Jerry's Giant Adventure in 2013. Giant Adventure once again paired Barney with Benny Burro. Barney Bear also made cameo appearances in Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes in 2010 and Tom and Jerry: Back to Oz in 2016.

Plot[edit]

The series begins with the title character, Barney Bear, usually trying to accomplish a task in his series, but is also a bit lazy, but not too lazy. But, Barney tends to over-do or do his task the wrong way. He also has a hard time going to sleep, but when he finally does go to sleep, he is a heavy sleeper. Mostly he doesn't talk, but sometimes he does talk. At times he pairs with a donkey named Benny Burro, a curious donkey who accompanies Barney on several occasions, but mostly when he's in the west (Benny Burro never spoke, but he did speak in comic books).

Controversy[edit]

Like many animated cartoons from the 1930s to the early 1950s, Barney Bear featured racial stereotypes. After explosions, for example, characters with blasted faces would resemble stereotypical blacks, with large lips, bow-tied hair and speaking in black vernacular. Cartoon Network would usually censor them, like in The Little Wise Quacker, when the rocket firework exploded and Barney turns black, he rocked the duckling and singing Shortnin' Bread.

MGM filmography[edit]

# Title Directed by Supervised by Release Date Notes
1 The Bear That Couldn't Sleep Blue ribbon Rudolf Ising Rudolf Ising June 10, 1939
2 The Fishing Bear Blue ribbon Rudolf Ising Rudolf Ising January 20, 1940
3 The Prospecting Bear Rudolf Ising Rudolf Ising March 8, 1941
4 The Rookie Bear Rudolf Ising Rudolf Ising May 17, 1941 Oscar nominee
5 The Flying Bear Rudolf Ising
Bob Allen (Co-Directed)
Rudolf Ising
Bob Allen (Co-Supervised)
November 1, 1941
6 The Bear and the Beavers Rudolf Ising Rudolf Ising March 28, 1942
7 Wild Honey Rudolf Ising Rudolf Ising November 7, 1942
8 Barney Bear's Victory Garden Rudolf Ising Rudolf Ising December 26, 1942
9 Bah Wilderness Rudolf Ising Rudolf Ising February 13, 1943
10 Barney Bear and the Uninvited Pest Blue ribbon Rudolf Ising Rudolf Ising July 17, 1943
12 Bear Raid Warden George Gordon Rudolf Ising September 9, 1944
13 Barney Bear's Polar Pest George Gordon Rudolf Ising December 30, 1944
14 The Unwelcome Guest George Gordon Rudolf Ising February 17, 1945
15 The Bear and the Bean Blue ribbon George Gordon
Prestion Blair (Co-Directed)
Michael Lah (Co-Directed)
Rudolf Ising
William Hanna (Co-Supervised)
Joseph Barbera (Co-Supervised)
January 30, 1948
16 The Bear and the Hare Blue ribbon George Gordon Rudolf Ising
Preston Blair (Co-Supervised)
Michael Lah (Co-Supervised)
June 26, 1948
17 Goggle Fishing Bear Blue ribbon George Gordon Rudolf Ising
Preston Blair (Co-Supervised)
Michael Lah (Co-Supervised)
January 15, 1949
18 The Little Wise Quacker George Gordon Rudolf Ising
Dick Lundy (Solely Directed)
November 8, 1952
19 Busybody Bear George Gordon Rudolf Ising
Dick Lundy (Solely Directed)
December 20, 1952
20 Barney's Hungry Cousin George Gordon Rudolf Ising
Dick Lundy (Solely Directed)
January 31, 1953
21 Cobs and Robbers George Gordon Rudolf Ising
Dick Lundy (Solely Directed)
March 14, 1953
22 Heir Bear George Gordon Rudolf Ising
Dick Lundy (Solely Directed)
May 30, 1953
23 Wee-Willie Wildcat George Gordon Rudolf Ising
Dick Lundy (Solely Directed)
June 20, 1953
24 Half-Pint Palomino George Gordon Rudolf Ising
Dick Lundy (Solely Directed)
September 26, 1953
25 The Impossible Possum George Gordon Rudolf Ising
Dick Lundy (Solely Directed)
March 20, 1954
26 Sleepy-Time Squirrel George Gordon Rudolf Ising
Dick Lundy (Solely Directed)
June 19, 1954
27 Bird-Brain Bird Dog George Gordon Rudolf Ising
Dick Lundy (Solely Directed)
July 31, 1954

Home media[edit]

A selection of Barney Bear cartoons have been released on VHS tapes and Happy Harmonies Cartoon Classics laserdisc by MGM/UA Home Video in the 1980s and 1990s.

The following cartoons can be found as extras on DVDs or Blu-rays of classic Warner Home Video films of the period:

In 2017, most of the Barney Bear shorts were released on the Boomerang streaming app, as well as on streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video.

Comic books[edit]

Barney Bear began appearing in comic books in 1942. 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. [2] 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. [3] Later, post-Turner talents introduced other characters, including Barney's nephews Fuzzy and Wuzzy. Other artists who've worked on Barney Bear have been Lynn Karp. [4]

In 2011, Yoe Books issued a hardback volume collecting Carl Barks' work on the series.

List of comics[edit]

  • Our Gang Comics (1947) (Dell)
  • Our Gang With Tom & Jerry (1949) (Dell)
  • Barney Bear Comics (1949) (Magazine Management-Australia)
  • Barney Bear's Bumper Book Of Comics (1950) (Rosnock-Australia)
  • Woody Woodpecker Back to School (1952) (Dell)
  • Tom & Jerry Winter Carnival (1952) (Dell)
  • M.G.M.'s Tom & Jerry's Winter Fun #3 (1954) (Dell)
  • M.G.M.'s Tom & Jerry's Winter Fun #4 (1955) (Dell)
  • M.G.M.'s Tom & Jerry's Winter Fun #5 (1956) (Dell)
  • M.G.M.'s Tom & Jerry's Winter Fun #6 (1957) (Dell)
  • M.G.M's The Mouse Musketeers (1957) (Dell)
  • Tom and Jerry's Summer Fun (1957) (Dell)
  • M.G.M.'s Tom & Jerry's Winter Fun #7 (1958) (Dell)
  • Tom & Jerry Picnic Time (1958) (Dell)
  • Tom and Jerry Comics (1962) (Dell)
  • Golden Comics Digest (1970) (Gold Key)
  • TV Comic Annual (1975) (Polystyle)
  • Tom and Jerry Winter Special (1977)
  • Tom and Jerry Holiday Special (1978) (Polystyle)
  • Tom and Jerry (1979) (Gold Key)
  • Barks Bear Book (1979) (Editions Enfin)
  • Tom & Jerry Julehefte (1987) (Semic International)
  • Tex Avery's Wolf & Red #1 (1995) (Dark Horse Comics) (appearance as a plush toy bear)
  • Carl Barks' Big Book of Barney Bear (2011) (IDW Publishing)

References[edit]

External links[edit]