Ted, Pooh and Paddington, Too: The Top Teddy Bear Stars in Pop Culture
Ted 2 isn't the only teddy bear to make a name for himself
He is one of very few teddy bears to star in back-to-back movies. In the ranking of pop culture teddy bears, that puts him pretty high up. Not many stuffed bears can boast that kind of showbiz bank.
And that made us think: Who are the most famous pop culture teddy bears? We’re talking stuffed toys here, not just any bear that happens to walk or talk or wear clothes. (Sorry Fozzie, Smokey and the Berenstain clan – you’re “too real” for this crowd.)
Without further ado, we present the power teddies of Hollywood.
Winnie the Pooh
Ted will have to try harder if he wants to dethrone Pooh as the No. 1 all-time teddy bear. Pooh dominates. Since A.A. Milne published Winnie-the-Pooh in 1926, the character has starred in five full-length movies, five different TV series, various plays, a slew of direct-to-video features and even a series of Soviet-era Russian cartoons. Pooh is a multimedia mogul.
Within the Paddington Bear books, he’s an actual bear who emigrated from Peru for a new life in London. Same goes in the TV adaptation and the big-budgeted Paddington movie that came out in 2014. We are including him on the list as a result of the character’s charming origin story: He literally began as a teddy bear that author Michael Bond spotted on a store shelf near Paddington Station and bought for his wife. That bear inspired Bond to write the first book.
Of course, Pooh and Paddington aren’t the only teddy bears beloved from children’s literature. There’s also Corduroy, who debuted in a 1968 children’s book by Don Freeman. He has since received two sequel books, as well as a TV movie in 1984 and two animated series. Come to think of it, it’s surprising this department-store-dwelling bear hasn’t been rebooted into a blockbuster movie yet.
The Care Bears
This rainbow squadron of belly-badge-sporting bears originally appeared on greeting cards in 1981. TV specials spun into stuffed toys, then a cartoon series and three feature films. They’ve never quite recaptured their ’80s fame, but they also never really went away, with relaunches in 1991, 2002, 2007 and most recently 2012, with the series Welcome to Care-a-Lot. Now Netflix is working on a new series.
Snuggle the Fabric Softener Bear
Sure, he was invented to foist Snuggle-brand fabric softener upon the world, but before you write him off as just an ad mascot, consider that the commercial debuted in 1983, and he’s been unleashing his unrelenting cuteness upon the world ever since. Snuggle can’t stop, won’t stop until all laundered fabric is huggably soft.
The infamous talking teddy was the best-selling toy of 1985, and you’d better believe that Ruxpin rode that ’80s high for all it was worth. He got a cartoon series out of it, but he has more recently been telling his stories out of the spotlight. However, he’s not gone: In 2005, an updated version of Teddy Ruxpin was released, with his pre-programmed stories coming on digital cartridges instead of cassettes.
The bears of "Teddy Bears’ Picnic"
This vaguely foreboding song has discouraged generations of kids from intruding upon the teddy bears’ big get-together in the words. But you may be surprised to know that it was first composed in 1907 and first given lyrics in 1932. It’s since been covered by a host of singers, from Anne Murray to Jerry Garcia.
Pooky from Garfield
He’s the most teddy bearish of all the characters on this list. He doesn’t sing or talk. He literally sits there, an inanimate object. However, emotionally speaking, Pooky is Garfield’s rock, and the little guy has been a recurring element in the Garfield comic strip and its various adaptations since 1978.
Teddy from A.I. Artificial Intelligence
This 2001 Steven Spielberg movie spends more than two hours making you feel terrible for Haley Joel Osment’s robo-moppet character. His one ally throughout the movie is Teddy, a robo-plushie so cool and so loyal that it almost makes this dystopic future seem worth it.
Lots-O-Huggin’ Bear from Toy Story 3
He’s the only evil teddy bear on the list – that we know of – and his existence makes for a valuable lesson for kids and adults alike: Just because something looks cute doesn’t mean it’s actually nice. Abandoned by his former owner, Lotso deals with some serious rage issues. By the way – when’s the last time you saw your childhood teddy bear?
Mark Wahlberg’s Changing Looks
A 1987 episode of The Golden Girls features a pre-Troop Beverly Hills Jenny Lewis feuding with Betty White over a teddy bear named Fernando. Years later, Lewis would record a song titled "See Fernando." Coincidence?
On Full House, Stephanie Tanner’s favorite stuffed animal was a trench-coat-wearing teddy named Mr. Bear. He appeared in more episodes than actress Kathy Santoni, and in one episode, we learned that he was Stephanie’s gift from her late mother. Feel those heartstrings tug.
In 1993, The Simpsons built an entire Citizen Kane parody episode around Mr. Burns’ search for his childhood teddy bear, Bobo.
And don’t forget the important role a teddy bear plays in making love happen in Sleepless in Seattle.
Disney fans may also remember that Penny’s stuffed bear Teddy in The Rescuers is used as a giant-diamond-hiding mule by the evil Madame Medusa.