The Three Bears are a family that consists of Henry Bear (Papa Bear), Mama Bear and Junior Bear. The Bears' cartoons most significant impact was perhaps on Chuck Jones himself, as these films (along with the Hubie and Bertie and Charlie Dog shorts) represent some of Jones's earliest work which were strictly intended to be funny. In the golden age, they were voiced by Billy Bletcher, Bea Benaderet, and Stan Freberg respectively.
Henry Bear (better known as Papa Bear) is the father of Junior Bear and the husband of Mama Bear. The voice actors Billy Bletcher, played Papa. Papa is a loud-mouthed, short tempered and nervous little dwarf bear. He would usually punch or kick Junior if he does something wrong or say something stupid. He's never abusive with Mama Bear (except for near the end of What's Brewin', Bruin?) but would sometimes act rude to her such as telling her to shut up.
Mama Bear is the mother of Junior Bear and the wife of Papa Bear. Mama Bear as the innocent (and deadpan) middle-bear, although she often resorts to thwacking one of them with a rolled-up newspaper to keep the peace. She would usually try to tell Henry something important but Henry just tells her to shut up and don't listen. While she doesn't seem to have much affection for her husband, when Bugs Bunny tried to flirt her just to distract her and gave her a kiss on the lips, she took it a bit too seriously and gained a crush on him. Mama Bear attempted to seduce him and inevitably left his face covered with lipstick marks, much to his dismay.
Junior Bear (sometimes spelled Junyer or Joonyer) is the child of Henry Bear and Mama Bear. He is seven-years old, yet he is twice as tall as his parents, and has a heavy voice. He is very dim-witted and childish, but has a good heart. He appears to be an adult because of his size, but still is a child. Junior still wears diapers even though he is seven years old.
The Animator Chuck Jones introduced the trio in the 1944 cartoon Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears. In the short, Papa Bear tries to feed his starving family by having them act out their roles in the traditional fairy tale from which they derive their name. Unfortunately for them, when they were out of porridge, Mama substitutes carrot soup for it, and the "Goldilocks" they lure turns out to be none other than Bugs Bunny.
Jones' bears as introduced in the short are perhaps the first film satire of the American nuclear family and how its traditional roles were coming under increasing scrutiny in the 1940s. As Jones himself was never shy to point out, this cartoon and others in the series anticipated the failings and foibles that would later make the sitcom All in the Family such a success. According to the documentary Chuck Jones: Extremes and In-Betweens, Simpsons creator Matt Groening even acknowledged The Three Bears cartoons as the first animated depiction of the American dysfunctional family.
For the bulk of the series, the voice actors Billy Bletcher, Bea Benaderet, and Stan Freberg played Papa, Mama and Junior, respectively. However, in the initial entry Mel Blanc played Papa and Kent Rogers played Junior (Freberg assuming the role after Rogers's death in World War II). After the classic shorts, Will Ryan, Frank Welker and Jeff Bergman play Henry, Joe Alaskey, Tress MacNeille and June Foray play Mama.
Jones brought back the Bears for his 1948 cartoon What's Brewin', Bruin?, without Bugs. Here, alpha-male Papa Bear decides that it's time for the Bears to hibernate. Like any good family should, Mama Bear and Junior Bear obey, but Mama's snoring and Junior's creaky cradle keep Papa from getting the sleep he himself advocated. Henry's voice is here supplied by Billy Bletcher, Mama Bear's voice is supplied by Mel Blanc and Junior's voice is here supplied by Stan Freberg , who would retain the role for all future Three Bears cartoons, including The Bee-Deviled Bruin and Bear Feat, both in 1949. Mama Bear made a cameo appearance in the 1950 Daffy Duck short The Scarlet Pumpernickel.
1951's A Bear for Punishment, the last film in the series, is often considered the funniest, and it is perhaps the most satirical. This time, it's Father's Day, and Mama and Junior's well-intended gifts do nothing but dishonor the perturbed Papa. Jones later stated that many of the scenarios in the short were derived from his own experiences.
Jones retired the Three Bears in 1951, along with Hubie and Bertie, Charlie Dog, and Claude Cat (later in 1955) to focus on characters such as Marc Anthony and Pussyfoot, Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner, Porky Pig, Pepé Le Pew (character), and many others.
In the early 1990s, the Three Bears were brought back and featured several times in the TV series Tiny Toon Adventures. Most famously, they appeared in an updated "90's version" of the classic Three Bears fairy tale (with Elmyra Duff playing the part of Goldilocks), which parodied suburbia and the mass commercialism prevalent in American society. Papa Bear also appeared as the vendor in "Garage Sale of the Century."
The Three Bears make a cameo appearance in Space Jam, watching a basketball game.
In Looney Tunes: Back In Action, the Bears are tourists in Paris. They run into DJ Drake Brendan Fraser, whose trousers have rocketed off into the air leaving him in his underwear. DJ steals Papa Bear's trousers so he can save Jenna Elfman from a villain.
The Three Bears made a guest appearance in The Looney Tunes Show episode "Ridiculous Journey", with Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Junyer Bear voiced by Maurice LaMarche, Grey DeLisle and John DiMaggio respectively.
|1940||The Bear's Tale||first appearance|
|1944||Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears|
|1948||What's Brewin', Bruin?|
|1949||The Bee-Deviled Bruin|
|1950||The Scarlet Pumpernickel||(Mama Bear only, cameo)|
|1951||A Bear for Punishment|
|1988||Who Framed Roger Rabbit|
|1990||Fairy Tales for the 90's||Tiny Toon episodes|
|Acme Home Shopping Show|
|1991||Bugs Bunny's Overtures to Disaster|
|Warner Bros. film|
|2003||Looney Tunes: Back In Action|
|2013||Ridiculous Journey||The Looney Tunes Show episode|
cartoons directed by Chuck Jones
- Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears 1944 MM
- What's Brewin', Bruin? 1948 LT
- The Bee-Deviled Bruin 1949 MM
- Bear Feat 1949 LT
- The Scarlet Pumpernickel 1950 (Mama Bear only, cameo) LT
- A Bear for Punishment 1951 LT