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How Howard Crenshaw Stopped the Flood: A Novel
Save for Later. Store Description Buying and selling books since Bruno the Bear also appeared as "Ben" in both the film and TV series. The film was shot on location in the Florida Everglades and in the old fishing town of Port Salerno, Florida. Although Gentle Giant follows the same basic storyline as Morey's novel, there are several differences between the book and the film:. Howard and Weaver played the same roles in the weekly television series.
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Several black bears appeared in the film, portraying Ben's mother, Ben at different stages of his life from cub to full-grown adult, and Ben's mate and cubs. According to Derrick Rosaire Sr. Ben as a full-grown adult was played primarily by Bruno , who also was the main bear playing Ben in the TV series. The CBS television series Gentle Ben premiered September 10, and ran until August 31, , airing a total of 58 episodes in two seasons.
Like the Gentle Giant film, the TV series Gentle Ben was set in Florida allowing Tors to use his own studio facilities there rather than Alaska, and Ben was a large black bear instead of the brown bear of the original novel.
The TV series picked up the story where Gentle Giant left off, with Mark's father Tom Wedloe already a wildlife officer in the Everglades , and Ben an adult bear and established family pet living outside or sometimes inside the Wedloes' house. The TV series had few regular characters, consisting of the Wedloe family and their friend and neighbor Henry Boomhauer.
The Boomhauer character appeared in several of the episodes and was played by Clint's real-life father Rance Howard who also wrote episodes for the show. Other recurring characters included Hank Minegar, a squatter played by Robertson White who had a different small role in Gentle Giant and Willie, a friend of Mark's, played by Angelo Rutherford. Although several black bears were used to play Ben, depending on what behavior was required for a particular scene, the role was played primarily by Bruno the Bear who also played adult Ben in the Gentle Giant film.
Musician and voice actor Candy Candido provided the voice of Ben. Although the network wanted to have Ben speak like a human on the show, Tors disliked the idea, so Ben made only animal noises. Ralph Helfer's Africa U. The bears were obtained from Canada or near the Canada-U. The bears were declawed and had most of their teeth removed. Helfer stated that four bears were used to portray Ben, with other sources naming or listing additional bears, who may have been used in particular scenes or as stand-in bears.
Some episodes and sequences also involved bear cubs or other bear characters that may have required additional bears. Bruno was the favorite bear actor because of his good disposition, broad range of behaviors, facial expressions, and ability to work with children. A bear named Buck, who closely resembled Bruno but was a slightly smaller, younger and more agile bear, was used for scenes requiring the bear to run.
According to Clint Howard, Bruno the bear and Buck the bear together did approximately 75 percent of the bear acting work. A bear named Drum frequently appeared in scenes requiring the bear to enter water. Drum's coat was brown and had to be spray-painted to match the black coats of the other bears playing Ben. In the s, Dennis Weaver recalled that a bear named Hammer, who occasionally misbehaved on the set, was used for bear scenes involving water. Other bears reportedly used included Smokey, Oscar, Baron, Tudor, Virgil, and a bear identity unknown with a tendency to fight who was used for bear fight scenes.
Bear trainer Tuffy Truesdell, who owned nine bears including the elder and younger Victor the Wrestling Bear , also claimed that his bears did "most of the stand-in work" for the TV series.
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According to most sources, the primary bear trainers and bear handlers who did most of the day-to-day bear work on the series were head bear trainer Monty Cox who said that he was hired after "Ben" had "chewed up" a previous bear trainer , and Vern Debord. Other animal trainers involved in the series included Ron Oxley and Steve Martin. Derrick Rosaire Sr.
Bruno and some of the other bears were trained using "affection training", which stressed establishing a respectful bond between animal and trainer, rather than using punishment or food rewards. However, food rewards were used to motivate at least one bear who responded better to that method. Bruno reportedly lived with Cox in a Miami apartment, sometimes even following him into the shower and sleeping in his bed.
During and after the run of the TV series, the name "Ben" or "Gentle Ben" was used to refer to a number of bears who had appeared in the show. Bruno's name was changed to "Ben" while he was appearing in the series; it was changed back to "Bruno" after the show ended. Oxley and Martin made personal appearances at fairs and events with a bear often Drum billed as "Gentle Ben.
Rosaire Sr. Ben's mother never appears in the TV series as she is killed at the beginning of the film, and the TV series takes place after the events of the film. Tuffy Truesdell also trained a wrestling brown bear known as "Gentleman Ben" and occasionally called "Gentle Ben" or "Ben", who wrestled in at least 80 matches for various promotions in the late s and s.
Although Truesdell claimed that his bears did work on the TV series, there is no evidence linking the particular bear he called "Gentleman Ben" to the TV show, particularly since the show used black bears rather than brown bears. Bruno reportedly died in or Skip to content Skip to footer.
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