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Smokey Bear Show, The

USA



Original Air Date:
1969
Channel:
ABC
Prod. Co.:

Genre:
Series
 

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Characters & Voices
Smokey - Jackson Weaver
Young Smokey - Billie Richards
 
There's little doubt that Smokey Bear is a celebrity. He is recognized and respected throughout the country as the figure who's taught us not to play with matches in the woods. In his rugged jeans and ranger hat, his huge hairy chest exposed, Smokey delivers his unforgettable safety mantra: "Remember," he tells us, "Only you can prevent forest fires."

But what's the real Smokey like? What does he do in his spare time, when he's not delivering public service announcements?

This Rankin-Bass series sought to answer those very questions.

Smokey lived a peaceful life in the forest, along with neighbors Bessie the pig, Freddie the skunk, Bennie the rabbit, and Gabby the mountain lion. Together, they would teach each other the ways of the world and enjoy a laugh now and then.

But true to his cause, Smokey was always on the alert for fire. Some of his friends weren't always so careful, so he often had to teach them a thing or two. Even when Smokey wasn't talking about fire safety, each episode invariably stressed the importance of preserving the wild.

The cartoon also showed us Smokey as a cub, and how he came to be the spokesbear for the U.S. Forest Service. This part of the show was inspired by Smokey's true-life story. There really was a bear cub who had been saved from fire, deemed "Smokey," and shipped off to the National Zoo in Washington. There, he was chosen as the Forest Service's mascot in the early 1940's. He soon began making public service announcements on TV, in his new animated form.

In the late 60's, long after Smokey was already well-established as an American icon, he was given this Saturday morning show and a new, upbeat theme song. Despite his fame, Smokey couldn't compete with Bugs Bunny or Heckle and Jeckle, and the show was cancelled after 17 episodes.

But Smokey never really needed that show, since he hadn't quit his day job. The kindly, knowing bear can still be seen working today as the world's most famous forest protector.
 
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In 1923, cartoonist Morrie Turner was born.