the Bear - Troublemaking bear on the adventure series
SIERRA/NBC/1974. Cruncher was a mischievous but friendly bear who lived in
the fictitious Sierra National Park. He would constantly but cleverly
break into cars or the park's trash can looking for food. One of the
recurring elements on each episode involved the park rangers trying to
design a bear-proof trash container to thwart the advances of the local
bears, especially Cruncher the bear. But time after time, Cruncher always
found a way into the park's stash of trash.
There were two bears used on
the series: Sweet William, an old circus bear and an 8-year-old Mergatroid,
a.k.a. "Mergy." who played the role of Cruncher.
SIERRA starred Ernest Thompson as Ranger Matt Harper, and James G.
Richardson as Ranger Tim Cassidy who patrolled the Sierra National Park
and assisted the tourists (campers, skiers, hikers and climbers) who
visited the rustic landscape. The series also starred Jack Hogan as Chief
Ranger Jack Moore, Mike Warren as Ranger P.J. Lewis, and Susan Foster as
Ranger Julie Beck. Jack Webb's "Mark VII" production company produced this
series. The program was filmed at the Yosemite National Park with the help
of the real National Park Service.
TRIVIA NOTE: Ernest Thompson who played Ranger Matt Harper
won an Academy Award in 1981 for his adapted screenplay of On Golden Pond;
Michael "Mike" Warren who played Ranger P.J. Lewis later earned acclaimed
as Officer Bobby Hill on the police drama HILL STREET BLUES; and
ironically, James G. Richardson who played Ranger Tim Cassidy died on
February 20, 1983 from an accident in the Mammoth Mountain, south of
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