The Three Bears (Looney Tunes)

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The Three Bears
Looney Tunes character
3bears cartoon cel.jpg
First appearance Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears February 26, 1944
Created by Chuck Jones
Voiced by Papa Bear:
Mel Blanc (1944)
Billy Bletcher (1948–1951)
Frank Welker (1990–1991)
Jeff Bergman (1991)
Will Ryan (2003)
Maurice LaMarche (2013)
Mama Bear:
Bea Benaderet (1944–1951)
Mel Blanc (1948)
Tress MacNeille (1990–1991)
June Foray (1991)
Joe Alaskey (2003)
Grey DeLisle (2013)
Baby Bear:
Kent Rogers (1944)
Stan Freberg (1948–2003)
Joe Alaskey (2004)
John DiMaggio (2013)
Species Brown bears

The Three Bears are animated cartoon characters in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. The family consists of Papa Bear (sometimes called Henry), Mama Bear, and Junior Bear (sometimes spelled Junyer or Joonyer).


  • Henry Bear (better known as Papa Bear) is the father of Junior Bear and the husband of Mama Bear. The voice actors Billy Bletcher, played Papa. Papa is a loud-mouthed, short tempered nervous and often abusive little dwarf bear. He would usually punch or kick Junior if he does something wrong or say something stupid. He's never abusive with Mama Bear (except for near the end of What's Brewin', Bruin?) but would sometimes act rude to her such as telling her to shut up. While Junior is an oversized, muscular, buffoon. The two are constantly at each other (usually Junior at Papa's wrath), leaving Mama Bear as the innocent (and deadpan) middle-bear, although she often resorts to thwacking one of them with a rolled-up newspaper to keep the peace.
  • Mama Bear is the mother of Junior Bear and the wife of Papa Bear. Mama Bear as the innocent (and deadpan) middle-bear, although she often resorts to thwacking one of them with a rolled-up newspaper to keep the peace. She would usually try to tell Henry something important but Henry just tells her to shut up and don't listen. While she doesn't seem to have much affection for her husband, when Bugs Bunny tried to flirt her just to distract her and gave her a kiss on the lips, she took it a bit too seriously and gained a crush on him. Mama Bear attempted to seduce him and inevitably left his face covered with lipstick marks, much to his dismay.
  • Junior Bear (sometimes spelled Junyer or Joonyer) is the child of Henry Bear and Mama Bear. He is seven-years old, yet he is twice as tall as his parents, and has a heavy voice. He is very dim-witted and childish, but has a good heart. He appears to be an adult because of his size, but still is a child. Junior still wears diapers even though he is seven years old.

First appearance[edit]

Animator Chuck Jones introduced the trio in the 1944 cartoon Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears, in which Bugs Bunny invades the home of the three bears, and Mama Bear takes a fancy to him.[1] In the short, Papa Bear tries to feed his starving family by having them act out their roles in the traditional fairy tale from which they derive their name. Unfortunately for them, when they were out of porridge, Mama substitutes carrot soup for it, and the "Goldilocks" they lure turns out to be none other than Bugs.[citation needed] Purcell and Liepien, in Parallel Curriculum Units for Social Studies, Grades 6-12 , recommended this film as part of the study of the sociological implications of humor;[2] Steven Case, in Toons That Teach, also mines this work for pedogogic value.[3]

In this initial entry in the series, Mel Blanc played Papa Bear, Kent Rogers played Junior, and Bea Benaderet played Mama. However, for the bulk of the remainder of the series, Billy Bletcher, played Papa, and Stan Freberg took over as Junior after Kent Rogers' death in a World War II training accident (Benaderet continued as Mama Bear). After the classic theatrically-released shorts, Will Ryan and Joe Alaskey played Papa and Mama.

Jones' bears as introduced in the short are perhaps the first film satire of the American nuclear family and how its traditional roles were coming under increasing scrutiny in the 1940s. Papa is a loud-mouthed, short tempered know-it-all shrimp, while Junior is an oversized, bumbling buffoon. The two are constantly at each other, leaving Mama Bear as the innocent (and deadpan) middle-bear, although she often resorts to thwacking one of them with a rolled-up newspaper to keep the peace. As Jones himself was never shy to point out, this cartoon and others in the series anticipate the failings and foibles that would later make the sitcom All in the Family such a success.[citation needed]

Further theatrical appearances[edit]

Jones brought back the Bears for his 1948 cartoon What's Brewin', Bruin?, this time without Bugs.

Here, Papa Bear decides that it's time for the Bears to hibernate. However, various disturbances interfere.[4] Junior's voice is here supplied by Stan Freberg,[5] who would retain the role for all future Three Bears cartoons.[citation needed]

Other Three Bears cartoons included Bear Feat, released in 1948[6] and Bee-Deviled Bruin, released in 1949.[7] (Both Bee-Deviled Bruin and Bear Feat were later released on the laserdisc Looney Tunes Assorted Nuts.)

Mama Bear made a cameo appearance in the 1950 Daffy Duck short The Scarlet Pumpernickel.[citation needed]

1951's A Bear for Punishment, the last film in the series, is often considered the funniest, and it is perhaps the most satirical. This time, it's Father's Day, and Mama and Junior's well-intended gifts do nothing but dishonor the perturbed Papa. Jones later stated that many of the scenarios in the short were derived from his own experiences.[citation needed]

Jones retired the Three Bears in 1951. The influence of the series would linger, however, as other studios copied or altered the idea. Aside from Norman Lear's aforementioned All in the Family, Famous Studios repeated Jones family scenario in their Baby Huey series of cartoons. The Bears' cartoons most significant impact was perhaps on Jones himself, as these films (along with the Hubie and Bertie and Charlie Dog shorts) represent some of Jones's earliest work.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Liebman, Roy (2010). Vitaphone Films: A Catalogue of the Features and Shorts. McFarland. p. 280. ISBN 978-0786446971. Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  2. ^ Purcell, Jeanne H.; Leppien, Jann H. (2009). Parallel Curriculum Units for Social Studies, Grades 6-12. Corwin. p. 122. ISBN 978-1412965408. Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  3. ^ Toons That Teach: 75 Cartoon Moments to Get Teenagers Talking. Videos That Teach. Zondervan/Youth Specialties. 2005. p. 24. ISBN 9780310259923. Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  4. ^ Liebman, 2010. p292
  5. ^ Pat Saperstein (April 7, 2015). "Comedian and Voice Actor Stan Freberg Dies at 88". Variety. Retrieved November 13, 2015. 
  6. ^ Liebman, 2010. p298
  7. ^ The Bee-Deviled Bruin on IMDb[better source needed]