The Gentle Ben TV show was a 30 minute family drama series on CBS about a young boy (Mark Wedloe) who came across a bear cub while walking through the forest. When its mother suddenly appeared, she wasn't very happy about the human visitor and chased Mark up a tree. A hunter then happened along and shot the mother, leaving the poor bear cub an orphan and threatening to kill him too! Many months later and against many objections, Mark managed to convince his father to let him make a pet of the docile bear who had grown to a whopping 650 pounds! The rest of the series centered around the love that "Gentle Ben" and Mark shared and the threat from the hunter who still wanted him dead!
Gentle Ben Cast
Bruno the Bear .... Gentle Ben
Clint Howard .... Mark Wedloe
Dennis Weaver ....................Tom Wedloe
Beth Brickell .... Ellen Wedloe
Rance Howard .... Henry Boomhauer
Angelo Rutherford .... Willie (1968-1969)
Candy Candido .... Gentle Ben's Voice
Patrick Newell .... Gentle Ben (In a bear suit)
Gentle Ben Trivia
Gentle Ben got its start as a childrens' book written by Walt Morey. The TV series strayed a bit from the book by moving the location from Alaska to Florida.
Since he was always in a bear suit, audiences never got to see Patrick Newell. You may have seen him, however, in his role as "Mother" on the hit British series, "The Avengers".
Gentle Ben was filmed at Virginia Key, Florida; Africa USA in Acton, California; and Greenwich Studios (a.k.a. Ivan Tors Studios) in Miami, Florida.
Clint Howard scored pretty big as a child actor. When he grew up, he had the same problem that many child stars do in that audiences and producers found it difficult to accept him in adult roles. Clint was able to land starring adult roles in "B" movies, however, and he also played many minor roles in "A" movies which were mostly those directed by his brother, "Ron Howard" who had also been a child star on the series, "The Andy Griffith Show" and then later as a teenager on, "Happy Days".
Many people think that there's some connection between the bear on Gentle Ben and another bear on the series, "The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams" because it's also named, "Ben". "Grizzly Adams" aired ten years after Gentle Ben and had no connection whatsoever with it.
Dennis Weaver was quite the accomplished man! He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in "Fine Arts" and a major in "Theater". He came in at sixth place in the decathlon at the 1948 Olympic trials and actually came in first in the 1500 meter run! He held office as the President of the "Screen Actor's Guild" from 1973-1975! He was the star of over 40 films and TV movies; several TV series including "Gunsmoke (1955-1964)", "Gentle Ben (1967-1969), "McCloud (1970-1977)", and "Buck James (1987)"; plus he guest starred on many other TV shows. In 1981, he was inducted into the "Hall of Great Western Performers" of the "National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum".
When Weaver was first signed on to "Gunsmoke", he was a working/but struggling actor. His starting salary was $300 per week which was pretty good money in 1955, but by his last season on the series in 1964, he was earning $9,000 per week!
Gentle Ben never won any awards. It even had to wait until 2004 to get nominated for one when TV Land nominated the series for its "Favorite Fauna Award". Unfortunately, the show lost out to the series, "Mister Ed". It's pretty hard to beat a talking horse, huh?
Episodes List With Original Air Dates
(Updated versions starring Dean Cain & Reiley McClendon)
Gentle Ben: Terror on the Mountain (3/25/2002)
Gentle Ben: Danger on the Mountain (1/5/2003)
Gentle Giant (10/25/1967)
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