Not every movie can play on the nostalgia factor for every generation, but no matter how old you are, there’s a good chance that you grew up with Winnie the Pooh in some form. The character created by A.A. Milne has endured for over 90 years as a beloved figure of children’s literature and television. And in that time, that silly old bear has been through a lot. Here, we look at the history of Pooh Bear across his many books and cartoons, all the way up to the live action “Christopher Robin” opening August 3.
The first Winnie the Pooh story written by Alan Alexander Milne first appeared in the London Evening News in 1925 on Christmas Eve. The story, “The Wrong Sort of Bees,” would be the first chapter in the first volume of stories, “Winnie-the-Pooh,” published on October 14, 1926. Milne named the boy in the story after his son, Christopher Robin Milne, and named Pooh after Christopher Robin’s teddy bear Winnie, which he nicknamed after he saw a bear from Winnipeg at the zoo.
In 1930, Stephen Slesinger bought the rights to Winnie-the-Pooh from Milne, and bu 1931, he had developed a lucrative line of toys, board games, records, radio broadcasts and more.
Winnie-the-Pooh was first drawn in color with a red shirt starting in 1932, as seen here in this Parker Brothers board game from 1933. The original illustrator, E.H. Shepard, had previously drawn Pooh with a shirt in some instances.
Disney acquired the rights to Winnie-the-Pooh in 1961 and dropped the hyphens in the character’s name. And in 1966, they released the very first Winnie the Pooh short, “Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree.” Sterling Holloway originally voiced the character and would do so in subsequent shorts, including the Oscar nominated “Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day” from 1968.
The first Pooh movie, “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” from 1977 was a collection of the four previously released shorts all edited together.
In 1981, Hal Smith took over voicing duties for Winnie the Pooh in “Winnie the Pooh Discovers the Seasons” and 1983’s “Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore,” the last of the theatrical featurettes Disney released.
One of the first shows to air when the Disney Channel launched on April 18, 1983 was a live-action show known as “Welcome to Pooh Corner,” in which human actors dressed in outfits as Pooh and all the other creatures of the Hundred Acre Wood. The show lasted for three years and 120 episodes.
Disney rebooted Winnie the Pooh with another cartoon that ran between 1988 and 1991, “The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh,” complete with an upbeat theme song that every ’90s kid will have stuck in their head for the rest of the day. Jim Cummings, a Disney voice actor mainstay, took over the voice of Winnie the Pooh and has remained the voice actor ever since.
The first modern Winnie the Pooh movie was 2000’s “The Tigger Movie,” about Tigger, who long sang, “I’m the only one,” searching for his family.
Milne’s original series of stories got an authorized sequel in 2009 as written by David Benedictus and illustrated by Mark Burgess. all drawn in the style of Shepard’s original design.
Domhnall Gleeson starred in the biopic about A. A. Milne, “Goodbye Christopher Robin,” in 2017. Also starring Margot Robbie, the film looks at how Milne conceived of the story and how the family adapted to the success of the stories.
Disney’s live action film “Christopher Robin” imagines Ewan McGregor as an adult Christopher Robin returning to the Hundred Acre Wood after losing sight of fun and family in place of work. Pooh and the other characters are CGI, but are made to resemble weathered toys. And McGregor and the actors worked with real, plush, stuffed animals that matched their onscreen counterparts.