Help…It’s the Hair Bear Bunch!

Apparently October 1 is National Hair Day…which calls to mind a certain Hanna-Barbera cartoon of my extreme youth, Help…It’s the Hair Bear Bunch! (1971-72).

Hippies are naturally associated with the ’60s, when they first emerged as a cultural phenomenon, but it wasn’t until the early 1970s that longer hair and mod clothing began to be sort of dominant as a mainstream national style which ordinary people (as opposed to rock musicians and college students) started to emulate. Can there be a clearer measure of when a trend is “over” than when it becomes a children’s cartoon?

The afro-sporting Hair Bear was voiced by Daws Butler. His two pals were Bubi (Paul Winchell) and Square Bear (William Callaway). The plots were similar to those of Yogi Bear. The three jive-talking ursines would forever be sneaking out of the zoo to carry out get-rich-quick schemes or otherwise better there conditions. Their foils were a couple of zookeepers. Joe Flynn was originally slated to play one of them, in a parody of his McHale’s Navy character. He legendarily flunked the audition because he didn’t sound enough like himself. His part went to John Stephenson. His dumb sidekick was played by Joe E. Ross.

Around the same time, it also became a 13 issued Gold Key comic:

Believe it or not, when I was in first and second grade, the boys who’d come back from the barber shop with short hair were the ones who got razzed, not the ones with shaggy, shoulder length locks. Shows like The Hair Bear Bunch would be a contributing factor to that condition.