The Three Bears are a family that consists of Henry Bear (Papa Bear), Mama Bear and Junyer 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 Junyer 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 Junyer 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 Junyer 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 because, she took a romantic interest when Bugs Bunny flirted with her just to distract her and gave her a kiss on the lips. She took it a bit too seriously and becomes instantly smitten. After she stood up and sent her husband and son away, Mama Bear attempted to seduce Bugs for more compliments. He attempts to reject her advances, but is inevitably caught by her in the end. She then forces herself and kisses him repeadtly, leaving red lipstick kiss marks on his face.
Junior Bear (sometimes spelled Junior 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. Junyer 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.
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 Junyer Bear obey, but Mama's snoring and Junyer'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 Junyer'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.
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 Junyer'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.
Mama Bear of the Three Bears can be briefly spotted in a brief head shot during the final scene of the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
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.
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