Friday, July 4, 2008

The life and times of Yogi Bear

Yogi Bear is a fictional anthropomorphic bear with brown fur who appears in animated cartoons created by Hanna-Barbera Studios. He made his debut in 1958 as a supporting character in The Huckleberry Hound Show. In 1961 he was given his own show, The Yogi Bear Show, which also included the segments Snagglepuss and Yakky Doodle. Hokey Wolf replaced his segment on The Huckleberry Hound Show. There was a musical animated feature film, Hey There, It's Yogi Bear!, in 1964.

Yogi was one of several Hanna-Barbera characters to have a collar, which allowed the body to be kept static and to redraw just the head in each frame when he was speaking, thus reducing the number of drawings needed for a seven-minute cartoon from 14,000 to around 2,000.

Yogi Bear was voiced by Daws Butler and much later by Greg Burson.
In 1999, animator John Kricfalusi's Spümcø company created and directed two Yogi cartoons, which were "A Day in the Life of Ranger Smith" and "Boo Boo Runs Wild". Both shorts aired that year on the Cartoon Network as part of a Yogi Bear special. "Boo Boo Runs Wild" features a fight between Yogi and Ranger Smith, which was heavily edited for broadcast for both violence and suggestive situations. A third Yogi cartoon from Spumco was planned and storyboarded, but was not finished.

In 2003, Spumco created another Boo Boo cartoon, "Boo Boo and the Man", which was made with Macromedia Flash and released on Cartoon Network's website.
Like many Hanna-Barbera characters, Yogi's personality and mannerisms were based on a popular celebrity of the time. Art Carney's Ed Norton character on The Honeymooners was said to be Yogi's inspiration. Yogi's name is a nod to the famed baseball star Yogi Berra.The plot of most of Yogi's cartoons centered around his antics in the fictional Jellystone Park, a takeoff on the famous Yellowstone National Park. There had been a 1941 Bugs Bunny cartoon, Wabbit Twouble, that used the more obvious name "Jellostone" Park, a play on both the name of the national park and the dessert Jell-O. Yogi, accompanied by his reluctant best friend Boo Boo, would often try to steal picnic baskets from campers in the park, much to the chagrin of Park Ranger Smith. A girlfriend, Cindy Bear, turned up sometimes, and usually disapproved of Yogi's antics.
Besides often speaking in rhymes, Yogi Bear is well-known for a variety of different catchphrases, including his pet name for picnic baskets ("pic-a-nic baskets") and his favorite self-promotion ("I'm smarter than the average bear!"), although he often overestimates his own cleverness. He often greets the ranger with a cordial, "Hello, Mr. Ranger, sir!" He also liked to say, "Hey there, Boo Boo!" as his preferred greeting to his humbler sidekick.
Yogi Bear is currently aired by Cartoon Network's sister channel, Boomerang, worldwide.

There was also a Hanna-Barbera Personal Favorites video where William Hanna and Joseph Barbera picked their favorite Yogi Bear episodes, including the very first one, "Yogi Bear's Big Break", and Yogi meeting some storybook friends: The Three Little Pigs, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Little Red Riding Hood.
Over the years, several publishers put out Yogi Bear comic books.
Gold Key Comics was first, with a title that ran 33 issues from 1962-70.
Charlton Comics then did a title for 35 issues from 1970-77.
Marvel Comics did a title for 9 issues in 1977.
Harvey Comics then did several titles for a total of 10 issues in 1992-94.
Archie Comics regularly featured Yogi Bear stories in the anthology comics Hanna-Barbera All-Stars and Hanna-Barbera Presents. After the cancellation of both titles, Archie put out a separate Yogi Bear comic that got one issue.
DC Comics semi-regularly featured Yogi in Cartoon Network Presents.
On November 15, 2005, Warner Home Video released the complete series on DVD R1.
Yogi Bear featured in at least two video games on the Commodore 64: Yogi Bear and Yogi's Great Escape. In Yogi Bear, Boo Boo has been kidnapped by a hunter and it is up to Yogi to rescue his friend. Fortunately Boo Boo has left a trail of clues in the form of toffee apples which help the player decipher a stepping stone puzzle at the end of the game. This game features Yogi's odd ability to turn into a bush when he's being pursued by one of the game's many antagonists.

Yogi's Great Escape is based on the telefilm of the same name where Yogi Bear escapes Jellystone Park as he's going to be sent to the zoo and makes his way to New York City. This was also published on the Amiga.

There was also at least one Yogi Bear game made for the Nintendo Entertainment System, somewhere in the late '80s or early '90s. "Adventures of Yogi Bear" was also produced for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1994.
Yogi Bear lends his name to a chain of recreational vehicle and camping parks, "Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts", with the first opening in 1969 in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, and as of 1971, had 10 locations. There is also one remaining restaurant from the chain bearing Yogi's name, "Yogi Bear's Honey Fried Chicken",in Hartsville SC. In the '60's and '70's these were around in the Southeast US(These were owned/franchised by Hardee's). In both cases, Hanna-Barbera licensed the name and likenesses to the respective companies.

Over the years he appeared in many other spin-off series as well, including:

* Yogi's Gang (1973-1975)
* Yogi's Space Race (1978-1979)
* Galaxy Goof-Ups (1978-1979)
* Yogi's Treasure Hunt (1985-1988)
* The New Yogi Bear Show (1988-1989)
* Wake, Rattle, and Roll (1990-1991)
* Yo Yogi! (1991-1992)

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