Barney Bear

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Barney Bear
The opening sequence
Directed byRudolf Ising
George Gordon
Preston Blair
Michael Lah
Dick Lundy
William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Story byRudolf Ising
Heck Allen
Jack Cosgriff
Produced by
Music byScott Bradley
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
June 10, 1939 –
July 31, 1954
Running time
6–9 minutes (per short)
CountryUnited States

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 except for peace and quiet.[1] 26 Barney Bear cartoons were produced between 1939 and 1954.[2]


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 1942,[3] Pinto Colvig in 1941, Billy Bletcher from 1944 to 1949, Paul Frees from 1952 until 1954, Frank Welker in 1980, Lou Scheimer in 1980, Jeff Bergman in 2004,[4] 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 his fourth cartoon, the 1941 short The Rookie Bear. Ising left the studio in 1943. Three additional cartoons were produced and directed by George Gordon before he too left in 1945.

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. Lah and Blair's cartoons had a direction much more closer to cartoons by Hanna-Barbera and Tex Avery. Both worked as animators (and Lah ultimately as co-director) on several of Avery's pictures.[5] The last original Barney Bear cartoons were released between 1952 and 1954, directed by Ex-Disney/Lantz animator Dick Lundy. Lundy used Avery's unit to produce these cartoons while the latter was taking a one-year sabbatical from the studio. 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.

In the 1941 cartoon The Prospecting Bear, Barney is paired with a donkey named Benny Burro.[6] Though Benny would only make two further cartoon appearances, he would later feature as Barney's partner in numerous comic book stories. In the 1944 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.


The series begins with the title character, Barney Bear, usually trying to accomplish a task in his series, He can be a bit lazy, but not too lazy. But, Barney tends to overdo 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).


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.

In one particular cartoon, The Little Wise Quacker, when the duck kite hit the electricity cables, and Barney's face turned black because the electricity hit him, he rocked the duckling (also in blackface) and sang "Shortnin' Bread". Cartoon Network and Boomerang would usually omit these scenes on re-airings.

MGM filmography[edit]

# Title Directed by Produced by Release Date Notes
1 The Bear That Couldn't Sleep Rudolf Ising Rudolf Ising
Fred Quimby
June 10, 1939 The first episode of Barney Bear.
2 The Fishing Bear January 20, 1940
3 The Prospecting Bear March 8, 1941
4 The Rookie Bear May 17, 1941 Oscar nominee
5 The Flying Bear November 1, 1941
6 The Bear and the Beavers March 28, 1942
7 Wild Honey (Or How to get along without a Ration Book!) November 7, 1942
8 Barney Bear's Victory Garden December 26, 1942 Narrated by Gayne Whitman[7]
9 Bah Wilderness February 13, 1943
10 Barney Bear and the Uninvited Pest July 17, 1943
11 Bear Raid Warden George Gordon Fred Quimby September 9, 1944
12 Barney Bear's Polar Pest December 30, 1944
13 The Unwelcome Guest February 17, 1945 Finished by Michael Lah[8]
14 The Bear and the Bean Preston Blair
Michael Lah
January 30, 1948 Also supervised by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera
15 The Bear and the Hare June 26, 1948
16 Goggle Fishing Bear January 15, 1949
17 The Little Wise Quacker Dick Lundy November 8, 1952
18 Busybody Bear December 20, 1952
19 Barney's Hungry Cousin January 31, 1953
20 Cobs and Robbers March 14, 1953
21 Heir Bear May 30, 1953
22 Wee-Willie Wildcat June 20, 1953
23 Half-Pint Palomino September 26, 1953
24 The Impossible Possum March 20, 1954
25 Sleepy-Time Squirrel June 19, 1954
26 Bird-Brain Bird Dog July 31, 1954 Latest release of Barney Bear cartoon.

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.

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.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11]

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)


  1. ^ Rovin, Jeff (1991). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Cartoon Animals. Prentice Hall Press. pp. 19–20. ISBN 0-13-275561-0. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  2. ^ Lenburg, Jeff (1999). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons. Checkmark Books. p. 53. ISBN 0-8160-3831-7. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  3. ^ Scott, Keith (3 October 2022). Cartoon Voices of the Golden Age, Vol. 2. BearManor Media.
  4. ^ "Boomerang UK from Argentina". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  5. ^ Adamson, Joe, Tex Avery: King of Cartoons, New York: Da Capo Press, 1975
  6. ^ "Reviews of Short Subjects". The Film Daily. 79 (76): 10. April 18, 1941. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  7. ^ Webb, Graham (2011). The Animated Film Encyclopedia: A Complete Guide to American Shorts, Features and Sequences (1900-1999) (Second ed.). McFarland & Company Inc. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-7864-4985-9.
  8. ^ "MGM's "The Bear and The Beavers (1942) |". Retrieved 2021-09-24.
  9. ^ "Carl Barks".
  10. ^ "Gil Turner".
  11. ^ "Lynn Karp".

External links[edit]