We were sad to hear about the recent passing of Stan Berenstain, who created the hugely successful Berenstain Bears series of children’s books with his wife, Jan Berenstain, who published more than 200 books featuring the delightful and very human bear family since 1962, died of complications from cancer last Saturday in Bucks County, PA.
Centering on a family of bears in human clothing (called Mama, Papa, Brother, Sister, and in later volumes, Baby), the series was launched after Berenstain and his wife met with Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss. in 1960. Berenstain told the Los Angeles Times that Geisel looked at The Big Honey Hunt manuscript and said, ‘This is going to be a great book.’ The couple also admitted that the personalities of Papa and Mama Bear closely resembled their own.
Animation fans will know that the characters inspired two animated series. The first by Southern Star ran from 1985 to 1987. More recently, Nelvana produced a wonderful 2D-animated show based on The Berenstain Bears, which premiered on PBS in 2003.
Before launching their bear empire, the Berenstains worked for many years as successful cartoonists for magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, McCalls and Good Housekeeping. In recent years, their sons, Leo and Michael, have helped write and illustrate the Berenstain Bears books. They will continue the series with their mother.