Bruno was a black bear orphaned as a cub along with his brother Smokey in Lake White, Wisconsin. They were rescued and made there home at Africa, USA, an affection training animal compound in Los Angeles found by animal trainer Ralph Helfer and producer Ivan Tors.
Bruno made his film debut in 1965 in Zebra in the Kitchen.
Bruno's next film was Gentle Giant (1967) starring Clint Howard. Bruno won a PATSY award for his performance.
The success of Gentle Giant and the appeal of Bruno led to a televison series entitled Gentle Benn (1967-1969).
Although bears usually tend to be shy, Bruno was extremely friendly. In fact, Bruno's claim to fame was his gentleness.
Bruno tipped the scales at nearly 650 pounds. Bruno loved bread, carrots, apples and oranges. Bruno was also addicted to sweets especially soft drinks and doughnuts. He also had a passion for lemon drops.
Bruno's best friend was Mitzi (Flipper) and the two enjoyed swimming together.
Bruno was trained by Monty Cox. Cox's only complaint was that Bruno never stayed on his side of the bed.
In 1969, a flood destroyed the ranch. Bruno was found alive and safe two miles down the canyon but covered with mud and weighing a few pounds less. Another time, a runaway locomotive fell off its track and crushed Bruno's cage. Luckily, the bear had vacated the cage to go walking with his trainer.
Bruno was one spoiled bear.
8 years ago