As one of Hollywood’s greatest OG members, Clint Howard has built massive success over a career that has spanned decades. His career and resume are so lengthy, in fact, that he doesn’t even remember his first appearance on “The Andy Griffith Show.” It turns out, Hollywood actually runs through his genes. He joined his brother Ron in the acting business early on, following in their filmmaker/actor father’s and actress mother’s footsteps.
One of Clint Howard’s earliest and most beloved roles includes his stint on “Gentle Ben.” The TV show even copped an award for “Favorite Fauna” at the 2004 TV Land Awards. It honored Howard’s particularly unusual non-human co-star, Bruno. In a recent interview, Howard opened up about “the only negative” thing about working with the trained North American black bear actor. And what he said actually makes a lot of sense.
Clint Howard Blames Bruno’s Diet
According to IMDb, Clint Howard and Bruno the bear enjoyed quite a long time together. “Gentle Ben” actually ran for nearly 60 episodes between ’67 and ’69. In their new memoir together, “The Boys,” Clint and Ron Howard detail their child star experiences growing up in the limelight. His time spent on “Gentle Ben” is something Clint spends a lot of time unpacking. Here’s what he said about working with Bruno…
“The only negative…was that he smelled. He also took prodigious dumps due to his equally prodigious diet.”
We can only imagine what that must have been like for Clint and the other actors involved with the making of the show. Still, what a neat story to be able to relay from his childhood.
More About Bruno the Bear
So, before Bruno the bear got his big Hollywood break, who actually trained him? Well, according to the Chicago Tribune, we should thank a man named Anthony Pelky. He was the owner of Wisconsin’s Chain Lake Deer Farm and actually raised the bear from a cub. Unfortunately, Mr. Pelky died in his retirement home at the age of 73.
Anthony Pelky’s son, Ralph, recounts how Bruno ended up on the “Gentle Ben” cast. He remembers producers contacting his father with the idea of a TV show about keeping a bear as a pet. A trainer from the show remembered hearing about Pelky’s Wisconsin farm, which featured deer, fox, and other animals among Bruno.
”Dad and the trainer went into the pen and hollered for the bear, who we called Smokey at the time,” Ralph said. ”Ben opened his mouth and grabbed the trainer`s hand in his mouth. The trainer said right there he wanted that bear.”
Mr. Pelky relinquished his ownership and producers paid him $600 for the bear, according to his son Ralph.