The History of Yogi Bear

Do you remember watching the cute little mischievous brown bear that lives In Yellowstone Park every Saturday morning? That’s right, he’s Yogi Bear and he is one of television’s most popular and successful animated characters. And back in the day, he was loved by kids and kids at heart because of his witty comebacks, crazy antics, and catchy phrases.


He first started as a sidekick in another famous Hanna-Barbera show called “The Huckleberry Hound Show” in 1958. And he was the first breakout character that was created by Hanna-Barbera because he even became more popular than Huckleberry Hound.

He was given his own show in 1961 entitled “The Yogi Bear Show” which was sponsored by Kellogg’s. His show included other segments like Yakky Doodle and Snagglepuss.  The show also featured episodes on Yogi Bear’s effort to break away from the unadventurous life of other bears in Yellowstone Park. He ransacked picnic baskets, dodge hibernation, and make money together with his sidekick Boo-boo Bear. The show also featured episodes of Ranger Smith’s efforts to tame Yogi and Boo-boo Bear. Yogi’s girlfriend, Cindy Bear, often disapproves Yogi’s crazy antics.

Yogi Bear was one of Hanna-Barbera’s characters to have a collar. This made the animators’ job easy because the collar made Yogi’s body static; they just had to redraw Yogi’s head in each frame whenever he spoke.  Just like most of Hanna-Barbera characters, Yogi’s personality was based on a popular celebrity of the time. He was based on Art Cartney’s character on the TV sitcom, The Honeymooners.

There was once a controversy around Yogi’s name because it was similar to the contemporary baseball player named Yogi Berra. Because of this, Berra sued Hanna-Barbera for defamation. But Hanna-Barbera claimed that the similarity of the names was just purely coincidental. Eventually, Yogi Berra withdrew his suit.

Yogi Bear is known for speaking in rhyme and because of this there is a handful catchphrase like “I’m smarter than the average bear”, and his pet-name for picnic baskets in which he pronounces as “pic-a-nic baskets”.

Since Yogi Bear’s debut until 1988, he was voiced by voice actor Daws Butler. But when Butler died in 1988, he was replaced by Greg Burson who was personally taught by Butler on how to do Yogi’s voice and other characters he does. On the other hand, Billy West and Jeff Bergman also voiced Yogi Bear throughout the 1990s and early 2000s for several Cartoon Network commercials and bumpers.

Aside from a TV show, Yogi Bear was also featured in several comic books like Marvel Comics, Dell Comics, and Charlton Comics. Yogi Bear also had a series of video games like Yogi’s Frustration, Yogi’s Great Escape, Yogi’s Gold Rush, and Adventures of Yogi Bear. He was also featured in different films, special episodes, and television series like The New Scooby-Doo Movies, Galaxy Goof-Ups, and the Laff-a-Lympics.

Yogi Bear was aired on Cartoon Network from 1992 to 2004. Nickelodeon also re-aired The Yogi Bear Show, Galaxy Goof-Ups, and Yogi’s Gang throughout the 1990s. Yogi Bear also had a live-action/animated film that was released in 3D on December 2010.