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Barney Bear was a character created by Rudolf Ising for MGM Studios' first foray into animated shorts. Preceding Tom and Jerry by nearly two years, Barney was the studio's first legitimate star. His schtick was based on the premise of being eternally frustrated in accomplishing his quest - be it hibernation, fishing, or building a home. His first appearance was on June 10, 1939, in the short "The Bear That Couldn't Sleep."

In 1942, Barney received his most endearing treatment when he was introduced by Dell Comics into the back pages of their popular Our Gang series featuring The Little Rascals. Barney was lovingly written for and drawn by none other than Disney legend Carl Barks, whose work in the Donald Duck universe would become masterpieces in his later years.

In MGM's original incarnation, Barney was a silent bear, often relying on a narrator or simply nothing at all to convey his emotions. This didn't often bear well against his zanier counterparts Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd over at Warner Brothers, nor his misfit counterparts at MGM, Tom and Jerry. By 1945, Barney was all but forgotten by MGM, limited to two cartoons over the next 5 years.

In 1952 Dick Lundy, who had been working at Walter Lantz's studio, came to MGM and revived Barney, reconstituting him as a family bear with wife and kid. In Lundy's shorts, Barney was voiced by Paul Frees - who would later find his way back to Barks as the voice of Ludwig von Drake. Barney continued on his predictable path as the amicable protagonist constantly foiled in his attempts to enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

All in all, 26 episodes of Barney were created. Barney had a small recurring role as a B-sider in 1980's "The New Adventures of Tom and Jerry" and then disappeared off the small screen once more. You can still catch the Barney Bear cartoons on Cartoon Network now and then, if you're watching carefully.

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