Posted in Dolls

by Ruby Lane

No other toy has reached the spirit of as many people as the Teddy Bear. Male or female, child or adult there is something about a teddy that touches the human heart.

Almost right from their birth in the early years of the 20th century the Teddy Bear made an instant connection with human admirers.

Teddy bears increased the public popularity of the President for whom it was named and became a staple of the Christmas morning experience, bringing joy to those who Santa favored with one.

A teddy bear can make even the darkest night better.Early 20th century illustrators of children’s books reflected the growing importance of the teddy bear, including it in their vision of childhood during the era.

Teddies provide unconditional love and non-judgmental understanding even when we’re feeling sad or mad. A young Shirley Temple poses in a publicity photo from the 1934 film Now and Forever.

Some Teddies have moved in high-profile circles, appearing in photos with notables such as model Jean Shrimpton, politician Margaret Thatcher and actress Judy Dench. “Bear” who was Dench’ s childhood friend is now part of the Gyles Brandreth teddy bear collection which is on display at the Newby Hall & Gardens, in Ripon, England.

Other bears have enjoyed notoriety in the music world. In 1957 Elvis wanted “to be your teddy bear,” Ringo received a kola bear when visiting Australia in 1964 and in Walt Disney’s Country Bear Jamboree life-sized teddy bears perform to sold out crowds. (Photo courtesy of “Country Bear Jamboree” by Sam Howzit is licensed under CC BY 2.0 )

In fact, Teddies have the power to make friends with anyone they meet, even pets or a lonely doll. Author-Photographer Dare Wright wrote the first in a series of tales about a doll and her teddy bear friends in Edith the Lonely Doll, first published in 1957. Dare used a Lenci doll and bears by Schuco and Steiff in her photographs.

Even a robotic boy needs a teddy bear friend!  This publicity still photo shows child actor Haley Joel Osment in his 2001 role in the Steven Spielberg film A.I.

Our teddies provide comfort in times of trouble, linking us to memories of happier times. Publicity still of MASH television star Gary Burghoff as Walter “Radar” O’Reilly. Radar ‘s teddy bear brought an added poignancy to the character of a young man dropped into a strange and frightening world.

Today teddies are often used in hospitals and by emergency workers to bring added comfort to patients in difficult situations.

Teddy bears make great traveling companions and help us stay connected.

Some bears have even been known to travel on their own such as Michael Bond’s Paddington. In 2000 a statue by artist Marcus Cornish was installed at Paddington Station in the UK.Other bears have sent our cards and letters off to our loved ones as did AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stamp series as issued as a Royal Mail in 2010.

Author-Illustrator Don Freeman perfectly captured the bond between a teddy and his person in his book Corduroy, published in 1968. To quote the last page ” “You must be a friend,” said Corduroy. “I’ve always wanted a friend.” “Me too!” said Lisa, and gave him a big hug.”

Here’s hoping there’s a new teddy bear friend waiting for you this holiday season!

Author – Linda Edward

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