Friday, November 03, 2006

Happy Birthday Humphrey! Well Sort of . . .

The cantankerous bear that is Goofy’s foil in the 1950 cartoon Hold That Pose does not bear (sorry) any resemblance to the future Humphrey the Bear in either appearance, personality or setting, yet Disney historians claim they are one in the same. Hence, today, November 3, the original release date of that particular short, also takes on the status of our favorite bear’s birthday.It’s an odd connection that even John Grant notes in his excellent Encyclopedia of Disney Animated Characters. The “real” Humphrey would not appear until three years later in the Donald Duck short Rugged Bear. His frequent co-star, Ranger J. Audubon Woodlore and the setting of Brownstone National Park would not arrive until the 1954 cartoon Grin and Bear It. Humphrey would solo in his own two shorts in 1956--Hooked Bear and In the Bag.

Humphrey was indeed on the verge of becoming the studio’s next big cartoon star, but his career was sadly cut short with the advent of television and the demise of Disney’s cartoon shorts in the late 1950s. Ranger Woodlore would go on to host a few episodes of Wonderful World of Disney, before his equally all-to-early retirement.

But like the proverbial bad penny, Humphrey turned up again, almost forty years after his final screen appearance. When the Wilderness Lodge Resort opened in 1994, there was Humphrey, carved into the lodge’s character totem pole icon, and featured on numerous merchandise and souvenir items. A few years later, he was a frequent player on both the Mickey’s MouseWorks and House of Mouse television programs.

Happy Birthday big guy!


Anonymous said...

I remember the Humphrey shorts fondly, especially In the Bag (which is the one where he has to pick up trash correct?). Anyways, because he has had a large amount of shorts, perhaps he will appear one day on his own Walt Disney Treasure.