Stan Berenstain (1923–2005) Biography
OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for SATA sketch: Born September 29, 1923, in Philadelphia, PA; died of lymphoma, November 26, 2005, in Doylestown, PA. Illustrator and author. Along with his wife, Jan, Berenstain was the creator of the popular "Berenstain Bears" series of children's picture books. The Berenstains first met while attending classes in 1941 at what was then the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art. America entered World War II the next year, and Berenstain enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he worked as an illustrator. After the war, he married Jan and studied for three more years at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. The young couple then aspired to become cartoonists. After a rocky first year, they found their first success selling their work to the Saturday Evening Post. They learned that they could get laughs by spoofing everyday American family life, notably with their "It's All in the Family" cartoon, which appeared in McCall's and then Good Housekeeping. It was Theodore Seuss Geisel—better known as Dr. Seuss—who suggested the couple write children's books. At the time, Geisel was an editor at Random House, and he liked the sample cartoon the Berenstains provided featuring a family of bears. The series premiered in 1962 with The Big Honey Hunt, with the couple serving as both authors and illustrators. The goal of the "Berenstain Bears" series is to encourage children ages four to eight years old to read while offering everyday lessons in life, such as the value of sharing and the importance of going to the dentist. Sometimes, the couple addressed more weighty subjects, such as pregnancy and the environment, but usually the topics are more benign. Critics praised the books, for their well-developed characters and plots, and the series earned the Berenstains numerous awards. Over a period that spanned five decades, the Berenstains produced over two hundred books in their series, which they also adapted to television, CD-ROM, coloring books, and even a Christmas musical. Later in their career, sons Leo and Michael Berenstain joined the team to continue the pace of the series, which often produced ten new books a year.
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Chicago Tribune, November 30, 2005, section 3, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times, November 30, 2005, p. B10.
New York Times, November 30, 2005, p. C19.
Times (London, England), December 7, 2005, p. 56.
Washington Post, November 30, 2005, p. B5.
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