Yogi Bear was the first breakout character created by Hanna-Barbera and was eventually more popular than Huckleberry Hound. In January 1961, he was given his own show, The Yogi Bear Show, sponsored by Kellogg's, which included the segments Snagglepuss and Yakky Doodle. Hokey Wolf replaced his segment on The Huckleberry Hound Show. Yogi is also the first television cartoon character to become a movie star in a musical animated feature film, Hey There, It's Yogi Bear, produced in 1964.
Yogi was one of several Hanna-Barbera characters to have a collar. This allowed animators to keep his body static, redrawing only his head in each frame when he spoke — a method that reduced the number of drawings needed for a seven-minute cartoon from around 14,000 to around 2,000.
Like many Hanna-Barbera characters, Yogi's personality and mannerisms were based on a popular celebrity of the time. Art Carney's Ed Norton character on The Honeymooners was said to be Yogi's inspiration; his voice mannerisms broadly mimic Carney as Norton. Norton, in turn, received influence from the Borscht Belt and comedians of vaudeville.
Yogi's name was similar to that of contemporary baseball star Yogi Berra, who was known for his amusing quotes, such as "half the lies they tell about me aren't true." Berra sued Hanna-Barbera for defamation, but their management claimed that the similarity of the names was just a coincidence. Berra withdrew his suit, but the defense was considered implausible. At the time Yogi Bear first hit TV screens, Yogi Berra was a household name.
The plot of most of Yogi's cartoons centered on his antics in the fictional Jellystone Park, a variant of the real Yellowstone National Park. Yogi, accompanied by his constant companion Boo-Boo Bear, would often try to steal picnic baskets from campers in the park, much to the displeasure of Park Ranger Smith. Yogi's girlfriend, Cindy Bear, sometimes appeared and usually disapproved of Yogi's antics.
Besides often speaking in rhyme, Yogi Bear had a number of catchphrases, including his pet name for picnic baskets ("pic-a-nic baskets") and his favorite self-promotion ("I'm smarter than the av-er-age bear!"), although he often overestimates his own cleverness. Another characteristic of Yogi was his deep and silly voice. He often greets the ranger with a cordial, "Hello, Mr. Ranger, sir!" and "Hey there, Boo Boo!" as his preferred greeting to his sidekick, Boo Boo. Yogi would also often use puns in his speech, and had a habit of pronouncing large words with a long vocal flourish.
Animation historian Christopher P. Lehman considers the original concept of the Yogi Bear series to contain political symbolism relative to its era of production. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, racial segregation in the United States was still legally enforced, people were confined to living in their designated social "place", and attempts to venture outside it came with serious consequences. Yogi also has a designated social place, restricted to spending his life in Jellystone Park, under an overseer in the form of a White park ranger.
Yogi is living in social confinement, but tries to take advantage of his situation. People come to the Park to have picnics and bring with them picnic baskets. Yogi resorts to theft, stealing the picnic baskets, and enjoying their contents. Yogi's habitual criminality and preoccupation with his own nourishment and survival are not portrayed as negative traits. He is depicted as a sympathetic protagonist.
Yogi never actually challenges the social hierarchy of the Park, does not seriously challenge the authority of the ranger over him, and does not seek more autonomy in his life. Lehman contrasts Yogi's acceptance of the way things are with the activists of the series' contemporary Civil Rights Movement who did challenge the way things were. They wanted to move beyond their designated place and integrate into wider society. The press and politicians of the time were portraying these activists as radicals and opposed their efforts.
From the time of the character's debut until 1988, Yogi was voiced by voice actor Daws Butler. Butler died in 1988; his last performance as Yogi was in the television film Yogi and the Invasion of the Space Bears.
After Butler's death, Greg Burson stepped in to perform the role (Butler had taught Burson personally how to voice Yogi as well as his other characters). Greg Burson died in 2008.
Jeff Bergman and Billy West also performed the character throughout the 1990s and early 2000s for various Cartoon Network commercials and bumpers.
In the Yogi Bear film, the character is voiced by actor Dan Aykroyd.
In the animated stop motion sketch comedy show Robot Chicken created by Seth Green, Dan Milano voiced Yogi Bear.
Scott Innes performed the voice Yogi along with Boo Boo in At Picnic, Forest, and Honey Lesson.
The Huckleberry Hound Show
The Yogi Bear Show
Yogi Bear & Friends
The New Scooby-Doo Movies
Yogi's Space Race
Yogi's Treasure Hunt
The New Yogi Bear Show
Wake, Rattle, and Roll
A Pup Named Scooby-Doo
Films and specials
Hey There, It's Yogi Bear!
Yogi's Ark Lark
Hanna-Barbera's All-Star Comedy Ice Revue
Casper's First Christmas
Yogi's First Christmas
Yogi Bear's All Star Comedy Christmas Caper
Yogi's Great Escape
Yogi Bear and the Magical Flight of the Spruce Goose
Yogi and the Invasion of the Space Bears
The Good, the Bad, and Huckleberry Hound
Hanna-Barbera's 50th: A Yabba Dabba Doo Celebration
Yogi the Easter Bear
Scooby-Doo! in Arabian Nights
Boo Boo Runs Wild
A Day in the Life of Ranger Smith
Boo Boo and the Man
Yogi Bear & Friends in The Greed Monster
Yogi's Great Escape
Yo Yogi Bear
Adventures of Yogi Bear
Yogi Bear's Gold Rush
Yogi Bear: Great Balloon Blast
Yogi Bear: The Video Game
The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera
- Yogi Bear at the Yogi Bear Wikia