Bear is the title character of the TV series, Bear in the Big Blue House. He was performed by Noel MacNeal.
Role in the series
Bear is the full-bodied, ursine title character from Bear in the Big Blue House. Bear greets television viewers, who he often addresses directly by facing the camera, with an appraising sniff and the information that he likes the way they smell. He has a strong sense of smell and loves to sniff things, but he enjoys his other four senses as well. Bear oversees everyone at the Big Blue House, a sort of combination daycare / group-home. Bear has a warm, caring personality somewhat similar in style to Fred Rogers and a well-ranged singing voice. A change of his appearance in the fourth season (or occasionally seen) is pointy eyes rather than circular ones.
Bear does not have any children of his own, but seems to have a way with the younger members of his circle. He is full of good advice and warm, caring love. Bear never seems to get angry and often seems laid-back, but he loves to get up and dance the cha cha. He also has an advanced vocabulary and is ready and willing to teach it to others.
Bear's favorite food, like most bears, is honey. He absolutely loves its taste and smell. Another favorite food of his is triple-berry pie. Sometimes in the morning, Bear talks to the sun, Ray and he always talks to his good friend the moon, Luna, before going to bed at night. Bear attended Hazelnut High and sometimes he looks at his old yearbook, located in the attic of the Big Blue House. He was voted "Most Likely to Cha-Cha-Cha."
Apart from Bear in the Big Blue House, Bear starred in the spin-off series, Breakfast with Bear, and appeared in several stage shows. He has also made guest appearances on Hollywood Squares, The Wayne Brady Show, Donny & Marie, The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon, BBC Children in Need, Milkshake! and Live with Regis and Kelly. His live appearances include MuppetFest, an event for the Center for Puppetry Arts, various baseball-related appearances and The White House Easter Egg Roll.
Bear has been immortalized as a balloon appearing in at least three different parades, and has been produced in plush form and other merchandise. He also made an appearance in the "We Are Family" music video alongside Big Bird, Barney and characters from Between the Lions.
- "Home Is Where the Bear Is" - Bear takes the viewers on a tour of his Big Blue House.
- "Need a Little Help Today" - When Bear comes down with a cold, his friends help him and recall all the help he's given them.
- "Bear's Birthday Bash" - Bear's birthday is celebrated.
- "Bear's Secret Cave" - The kids discover Bear's secret cave that he once played in when he was a kid.
- "I For-Got Rhythm!?" - Bear searches for his rhythm when he forgets how to do "The Bear Cha-Cha-Cha."
- "This Is Your Life, Bear" - Bear wins a trip to Sequoia City and when his friends hear him say he needs a vacation, they sing him a song to show him how much they appreciate him. When they explain why they did so, he clears up the misunderstanding.
Behind the Scenes
The Bear costume weighted 45 pounds. According to Noel MacNeal, it was very comfortable and easy to move around in.
In one episode during the first season, Bear kneeled down to talk to Tutter, and at this point Noel MacNeal realized that it broke the illusion, so afterwards whenever he had to get down, Bear would get on all fours, with Jim Kroupa performing the right hand.
Like Big Bird, Bear was operated by Noel operating the head with his right hand and a string attached from the right arm to the chest to the left hand. Noel MacNeal wore a monitor strapped to his chest to see what Bear was doing. In a Tough Pigs interview, Noel MacNeal spoke a bit about the monitor:
"There was a monitor. It was what I call Big Bird technology. There was a microphone strapped to my chest, and the string from the left hand to the right hand. But then when I did appearances on other shows like Hollywood Squares or Donny & Marie, and I had to walk out, I couldn’t really count on cameramen knowing how to shoot a puppet. So the Henson Company developed the camera-in-the-eye, so for those shots, I had a camera in the left eye, and a matching glint in the other one. Basically it was like if you put your right hand over your right eye, and make a tube with your left hand and put it over your left eye like half a binocular, that was the vision I had. So for those shows I would have two monitors. I would have the monitor giving me the feed of what you see at home, and then I would have the monitor showing me my actual vision."