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Barney Bear is a series of cartoons produced for MGM between 1939-1954. The title character is an anthropomorphic cartoon character, a sluggish, sleepy bear who often is in pursuit of nothing, except for peace and quiet.
The character was created for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer by director Rudolf Ising, who based the bear's grumpy yet pleasant disposition on his own and derived many of his mannerisms from the screen actor Wallace Beery. Barney Bear made his first appearance in The Bear That Couldn't Sleep in 1939, and by 1941 was the star of his own series, getting an Oscar nomination for the 1941 short The Rookie Bear. Ising left the studio in 1943.
Ising's original Barney design contained a plethora of detail: shaggy fur, wrinkled clothing, and six eyebrows; as the series progressed, the design was gradually simplified and streamlined, reaching its peak in three late 1940s shorts, the only output of the short-lived directorial team of Preston Blair and Michael Lah. These cartoons tended to have a hint of Tex Avery's influence and more stylilized, rubbery movements—which wasn't surprising, as both worked as animators (and Lah ultimately as co-director) on several of Avery's pictures. Avery himself never directed a Barney short. The last original Barney Bear cartoons were released between 1952 and 1954, and Dick Lundy was responsible for those. In the films from the late 1940s and early 1950s, Barney's design was streamlined and simplified, much the same as those of Tom and Jerry were.
In the 1941 cartoon The Prospecting Bear, Barney is paired with a donkey named Benny Burro. Though Benny would only make two further cartoon appearances, he would later feature as Barney's partner in numerous comic book stories.
The 1952 cartoon Rock-a-Bye Bear by Tex Avery features his irritable, obnoxious, noise-sensitive twin brother, Joe Bear (voiced by Daws Butler). Also, in the 1944 Tex Avery cartoon Screwball Squirrel, Barney Bear is mentioned by Sammy Squirrel as he talks to Screwy Squirrel at the beginning.
The character was retired in 1954 due to the directors who directed his cartoons leaving the MGM Cartoon studio.
|#||Title||Director(s)||Writer(s)||Producer(s)||Original release date||Notes|
|1||The Bear That Couldn't Sleep||Rudolf Ising||?||Fred Quimby|
|June 10, 1939||The first Barney Bear cartoon to be made. The first Barney Bear short to be directed and produced by its creator, Rudolf Ising. The first Barney Bear short to be produced by Fred Quimby.|
|2||The Fishing Bear||January 20, 1940||The first Barney Bear cartoon to be released in the 1940s.|
|3||The Prospecting Bear||March 8, 1941|
|4||The Rookie Bear||May 17, 1941|
|5||The Flying Bear||Rudolf Ising|
|November 1, 1941||The only Barney Bear cartoon to be co-directed by Robert Allen.|
|6||The Bear and the Beavers||Rudolf Ising||March 28, 1942|
|7||Wild Honey||Henry Allen||November 7, 1942||The first Barney Bear cartoon to receive an onscreen writing credit, with this being the first time Heck Allen is credited as a writer.|
|8||Barney Bear's Victory Garden||?||December 26, 1942|
|9||Bah Wilderness||February 13, 1943|
|10||Barney Bear and the Uninvited Pest||July 17, 1943||The final Barney Bear short to be directed and produced by series' creator, Rudolf Ising.|
|11||Bear Raid Warden||George Gordon||Webb Smith||Fred Quimby||September 9, 1944||The first Barney Bear short to be directed by George Gordon. The first Barney Bear short to be written by an uncredited Webb Smith.|
|12||Barney Bear's Polar Pest||December 30, 1944|
|13||The Unwelcome Guest||George Gordon|
|February 17, 1945||The final Barney Bear cartoon to be directed by George Gordon. The first Barney Bear short to be directed by Michael Lah, who directed and finished this short after Gordon's departure.|
|14||The Bear and the Bean||Preston Blair|
|Jack Cosgriff||January 30, 1948||The first out of three Barney Bear shorts to be directed by both Preston Blair and Michael Lah. William Hanna and Joseph Barbera both supervised this short. The first Barney Bear short to be written by an uncredited Jack Cosgriff.|
|15||The Bear and the Hare||Preston Blair|
|June 26, 1948||The second out of three Barney Bear shorts to be directed by both Preston Blair and Michael Lah.|
|16||Goggle Fishing Bear||January 15, 1949||The the third and final one out of three Barney Bear shorts to be directed by both Preston Blair and Michael Lah.|
|17||The Little Wise Quacker||Dick Lundy||Jack Cosgriff|
|November 8, 1952||The first Barney Bear short to receive onscreen writing credits since Wild Honey (1942). The first Barney Bear short to be directed by Dick Lundy. The first Barney Bear short to receive onscreen credits to Heck Allen and Jack Cosgriff.|
|18||Busybody Bear||December 20, 1952|
|19||Barney's Hungry Cousin||January 31, 1953||This cartoon would be the inspiration to Hanna-Barbara's Yogi Bear.|
|20||Cobs and Robbers||March 14, 1953|
|21||Heir Bear||May 30, 1953|
|22||Wee-Willie Wildcat||June 20, 1953|
|23||Half-Pint Palomino||September 26, 1953|
|24||The Impossible Possum||March 20, 1954|
|25||Sleepy-Time Squirrel||June 19, 1954|
|26||Bird-Brain Bird Dog||July 31, 1954||The final Barney Bear short to be made. The final Barney Bear short to be directed by Dick Lundy, as well as his final short at MGM altogether. The final Barney Bear short to be written by both Heck Allen and Jack Cosgriff, with the latter being the final short he wrote at the MGM studio altogether, unless counting the CinemaScope remake of the Droopy cartoon Wags to Riches, known as Millionaire Droopy.|
Home Video Releases
The only official material featuring several Barney Bear cartoons is the MGM Happy Harmonies LaserDisc. Only one side of the LaserDisc contains them, which means the full series has not been officially released with restored negatives by Warner Bros.