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"Ha, Ha! You said pooh."

- W.J. Flywheel, Webporium Curator

WINNIE THE POOH

Winnie-the-Pooh is a fictional bear created by A. A. Milne. He appears in the books Winnie-the-Pooh (published October 14, 1926) and The House at Pooh Corner (1928). Milne also wrote two books of children's poetry, When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six, which include several poems about Winnie-the-Pooh. All four volumes were illustrated by E. H. Shepard. The setting of the stories is based on the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, England. The name "Winnie" was inspired by a pet bear of a Canadian soldier, named after his hometown, Winnipeg.

Some of Pooh Bear's friends include Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, Rabbit, Roo, Kanga, Owl, Gopher, Christopher Robin, and many other friends that the gang makes on their journeys. The Pooh stories were later made into a series of Winnie the Pooh (without hyphens) featurettes by Walt Disney Productions, which became one of the company's most successful franchises.

Between 1929 and 1932, A.A. Milne contractually assigned the Pooh merchandising rights for the US and Canada to an American literary agent named Stephen Slesinger. It was only one of many assets Slesinger managed during his lifetime, and not even the biggest—that would probably be the Red Ryder comic strip, which he placed in movies, on radio and other media. Slesinger died in 1953, and his widow inherited the operation.

In 1961, Walt Disney Productions bought film and other rights to the character and made a series of cartoon films about him. (Note that Winnie-the-Pooh's name was hyphenated in the Milne books, but lost its hyphens in the Disney incarnation.) The early cartoons were based on several of the original stories. However this is not true of the more recent films and television series which Disney has made.

Disney's storytelling style and characterisation have little in common with Milne's tales, and were greatly disliked by the Milne family. The appearance of the cartoons derives from Shepard's illustrations but the style of drawing is simplified and the characters are given exaggerated features. Alongside the cartoon versions, merchandise using the Shepard drawings is now marketed under the description "Classic Pooh".

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In 1977, Disney released the animated feature The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, introducing a new character named Gopher, which Disney acknowledged by having Gopher proclaim, "I'm not in the book, you know!" This movie features three segments that were originally released separately as featurettes: Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966), Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968), and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too (1974). This feature version featured new bridging material and a new ending, as it had been Walt Disney's original intention to make a feature. In 1983, a fourth featurette, Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore, was released.

Pooh has become one of the most lucrative literary franchises in history. Today, Pooh videos, teddy bears, and other merchandise generate $1 billion in annual revenues for Disney—as much as is earned by Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto combined. Pooh stuffed toys can be found in every imaginable (and some unimaginable) shape and size from Beanie and miniature versions up to human size stuffed varieties. As well as the stylised Disney Pooh there is also a large range of Classic Pooh merchandise depicting the EH Shepard style in toy form.

Many direct-to-video featurettes have been created, as well as the theatrical feature-length films The Tigger Movie, Piglet's Big Movie, and Pooh's Heffalump Movie. The last of the films listed introduced an elephant-like heffalump named Lumpy.

My Friends Tigger & Pooh was a computer animated television series, inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh. The television series featured Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends, including two new characters: a 6-year-old red-haired girl named Darby and her dog Buster. Although Darby appears to be the main human friend of Pooh and the gang, Christopher Robin still appeared sporadically. Developed by Walt Disney Television Animation, the show premiered on Disney Channel's Playhouse Disney block on May 12, 2007. The show's theme song was written by Jellyfish lead singer Andy Sturmer and is sung by former Letters to Cleo singer Kay Hanley. In Season 2, Chloë Moretz (USA) and Kimberlea Berg (UK) as Darby (replacing Kay Hanley) sing the theme. Also, beginning with this series Travis Oates assumed the role of Piglet, taking over for John Fiedler, who had died in 2005, two years prior to the debut of the series. On July 4, 2010, the show started airing outside of Playhouse Disney, while three new episodes aired in October as the series finale, and since February 14, 2011, after Playhouse Disney has been rebranded into Disney Junior, this show is no longer on the air.

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Content intended for informational and educational purposes under the GNU Free Documentation Areement
and is not affiliated with the Walt Disney Company.
Disney logos, content and images copyright © Walt Disney

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