Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Man-child Comedian's Love of the Teddy Bear

No comic man-child was more attached to his teddy bear than M*A*S*H's Radar O'Reilly (Gary Burghoff).  The bear was featured in nineteen episodes of M*A*S*H between 1971 and 1981.

Larry Gelbart, the creator and producer of the series, came to regret the introduction of the bear.  He said, "I think we went too far with it and it got awfully coy."  In 2014, Burghoff sold the bear in an online auction for $14,307.50.

Another well-known teddy bear is Mr. Bean's Teddy.  Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) treats Teddy as his best friend.  He even makes sure to have a gift for the bear on Christmas morning.

Mr. Bean's affection for Teddy can never be doubted.


On Gilligan's Island, Mr. Howell (Jim Backus) also had a beloved teddy bear named Teddy.  Teddy made frequent appearances on the series.

"Home Sweet Hut" (Season 1, Episode 2)

"Will the Real Mr. Howell Please Stand Up" (Season 2, Episode 26) 

"Allergy Time" (Season 2, Episode 28)

"Mr. and Mrs. ???" (Season 2, Episode 31)

"Up at Bat" (Season 3, Episode 1)

"Where There's a Will" (Season 3, Episode 6)


"And Then There Were None" (Season 3, Episode 13)

"Splashdown" (Season 3, Episode 22)


"Slave Girl" (Season 3, Episode 26)


In Citizen Kane (1941), a child's sled represented a capitalist's lost innocence.  Perhaps, a child's teddy bear has a similar meaning to Mr. Howell, who has amassed a great fortune as the owner of several large corporations.  In The Simpsons' episode "Rosebud" (1993), it is made clear that a teddy bear has a "lost innocence" meaning to the series' villainous billionaire Mr. Burns.

A childlike young woman's emotional attachment to her teddy bear is movingly expressed by Kelli Garner in a scene from Lars and the Real Girl (2007).

A teddy bear is close at hand as Miles Teller makes love to Mackenzie Davis in the man-child comedy That Awkward Moment (2014).

A stuffed bear was prominently featured in promotional photos and ads for the film.


Before I conclude this article, let me give you one last look at funny men being comforted by their teddy bears.

Dylan Moran
Hugh Laurie in the "General Hospital" episode of Blackadder Goes Forth (1989)
Dylan Moran
Buster Keaton
How old is Minion Bob?
Read more about the comic man-child in I Won't Grow Up!: The Comic Man-Child in Film from 1901 to the Present.

Good night!

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