The Terry Bears acting like they typically do (from a comic book cover).


Original Medium: Theatrical cartoons
Produced by: Terrytoons
First Appeared: 1951
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From the name, one would expect The Terry Bears, 1950s products of the Terrytoons animation factory, would be more like studio mascots than regular series characters. And that's how they were first conceived. But the success of series such as Mighty Mouse

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… and Heckle & Jeckle was convincing its mogul, Paul Terry of the advantage of the star system over cartoons without regular characters, which had once formed the vast bulk of the studio's output, and it seemed like a waste not to make cartoons about this pair of lovable tykes.

The Terry Bears were mischievous twins — not mischievous like the British Dennis the Menace, whose major motivation is to cause trouble; but more like the American one, who finds trouble just by being a kid. Conflict was provided by Papa Bear, partly because he was about as competent in most areas as the average father in contemporary popular entertainment and therefore had to be rescued a lot; and partly because, like his counterpart in a Warner Bros. bears series, he had a violent temper. It was clear he loved the boys (who didn't have individual names), but that didn't keep him from committing mayhem on them whenever doing so would get a cheap laugh in these shallowly-characterized cartoons.

The first of their outings was Tall Timber Tale, directed by Connie Rasinski and released during July, 1951. The next was Little Problems, directed by Eddie Donnelly and released in September, then came Thrifty Cubs in January, directed by Mannie Davis. These three directors, who worked interchangeably on practically all Terrytoons of that period, continued to crank them out on a regular basis. They were released about as often as the ones starring Little Roquefort or Dinky Duck, also non-stellar Terrytoons series holders of the early '50s.

Also like the others, they were spun off into comics. St. John Publishing, which had earlier done comic book versions of the Famous Studios characters (Casper, Baby Huey etc.), was licensing the Terrytoons properties just then, and included the Bears in Paul Terry's Comics, sometimes on the cover. St. John also gave them their own title for three issues in 1952-53. There was little if any other licensing.

The studio changed hands in 1955, and most of the old characters were left behind. The new owner, CBS, licensed its properties to Pines Comics (Supermouse), which brought out one more issue devoted to the Bears in 1958. But as far as the cartoons go, the last one, Baffling Business, came out in April of 1956. There were 17 in all.

The Terry Bears then joined the general mix of Terrytoons, to be used as fillers in CBS cartoon shows. Later, they became part of the Terrytoons package sold to individual stations all over America, to be used on locally-hosted shows alongside other theatrical cartoons such as Woody Woodpecker and made-for-TV ones such as Clutch Cargo. And like most Terrytoons, they haven't been seen in years.


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Text ©2006 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Viacom, Inc.