Yogi Bear was the first of Hanna Barbera’s characters to be based on a television personality pre-dating Barney Rubble as Art Carney.
Hanna Barbera produced half hour television shows consisting of three cartoons in one show. The first was Huckleberry Hound, who shared his show with Pixie and Dixie and Yogi Bear.
Yogi, with his winning personality, stole the show which ended up in his popularity surpassing that of Huck, so H&B gave him his own show which was sponsored by Kellogs and which premiered in January of 1961. His spot on the Huckleberry Hound Show was given to Hokey Wolf. Keeping true to the three cartoon half hour shows The Yogi Bear Show was intertwined with Snagglepuss and Yakky Doodle.
Obviously Yogi’s name was taken from the baseball star Yogi Berra. The setting for Yogi’s cartoons was Jellystone Park, an obviously mock of Yellowstone National Park. Yogi had a sidekick named Boo Boo Bear whom he always coerced into helping him steal pic-a-nic baskets, much to the chagrin of Ranger Smith. Ever the wise guy Yogi would greet Ranger Smith with a seemingly cordial, “Hello, Mr. Ranger, sir!” Usually Yogi got away with his thefts leading him to say that he is “Smarter than the Average Bear”. A phrase so well loved that it was also his theme song.
Yogi Bear is smarter than the average bear,
Yogi Bear is always in the ranger’s hair.
At a picnic table you will find him there
Stuffing down more goodies than the average bear.
He will sleep till noon but before it’s dark,
He’ll have every picnic basket that’s in Jellystone Park.
Yogi has it better than a millionaire
That’s because he’s smarter than the average bear.
Yogi was so popular that he starred in Hanna Barbera’s first full length feature “Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear!”
In 1999 Yogi had a brief stint with Spümcø and John Kricfalusi making two cartoons “A Day in the Life of Ranger Smith” and “Boo Boo Runs Wild”. Spümcø returned in 2003 for one more cartoon made with Flash entitled “Boo Boo the Man”.