Thursday, 5 April 2012

Spotlight on Humphrey

The animation world has seen a number of famous bears brought to life - Andy, Barney, Fozzie, Chuck Jones's Three Bears…even Disney has its own number to speak of. Whether your favourite happens to be Winnie the Pooh, Baloo or Bongo.

However, there is one more bear that Disney almost neglected about - and like so many short-lived characters, would gain a small but loyal fan-base.

The brain-child of director Jack Hannah and writer David Detiege, Humphrey originally started out as an antagonist for Donald Duck in the mid 1950's. Rumoured to be a predecessor for Yogi Bear (who would star alongside Huckleberry Hound a few years later), Humphrey lived in a National Park where, with his neurotic, bumbling personality, he often fended for food and up against hunters or Ranger Woodlore.

Humphrey starred in five Donald cartoons where he proved so popular that he was almost granted his own series - ALMOST. For before 1960, Disney stopped producing theatrical shorts to concentrate on television and other projects. His lead episodes only consist of "Hooked Bear" and "In the Bag".

However, his popularity with the audience never dwindled. Over the years Humphrey was still very much present in merchandise and later generations of Disney made sure he wasn't forgotten about - including him in various episodes of Goof Troop, Rescue Rangers, House of Mouse and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

In fact, once Disney shut up shop, Jack Hannah took the "dumb bear" design over to Walter Lantz and redubbed the character "Fasto", who went on to star in three shorts alone.

Fatso was pretty identical to Humphrey in both mannerisms and "voice"

Fortunately, with the joy of DVDs and the Internet, it's safe to say that Humphrey Bear will never truly be forgotten about.
Humphrey Bear - included as part of the totem pole at Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort

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