Padding­ton Bear’s pappa passes

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Reads - By JILL LAW­LESS and DANICA KIRKA

IT was a last-minute Christ­mas gift for his wife that in­spired Bri­tish au­thor Michael Bond to cre­ate Padding­ton bear, the mar­malade-lov­ing teddy in a duf­fel coat and floppy hat.

Bond would go on to see his cre­ation en­chant chil­dren for more than half a cen­tury and be­come an icon im­mor­talised in print, on screens, and as count­less stuffed toys be­fore his death at age 91.

His pub­lisher, HarperCollins, said on Wed­nes­day that the au­thor died at his home a day ear­lier af­ter a short ill­ness.

Ann-Ja­nine Murtagh, ex­ec­u­tive pub­lisher of HarperCollins Chil­dren’s Books, said Bond “will be for­ever re­mem­bered for his cre­ation of the iconic Padding­ton, with his duf­fel coat and wellington boots, which touched my own heart as a child and will live on in the hearts of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.”

The furry ad­ven­turer first ap­peared in A Bear Called

Padding­ton in 1958 – a stow­away from “Dark­est Peru” who ar­rived at Lon­don’s Padding­ton train sta­tion wear­ing a sign say­ing, “Please look af­ter this bear. Thank you.”

Adopted by the kindly Brown fam­ily, the mis­ad­ven­ture-prone bear went on to star in more than 20 books, sev­eral tele­vi­sion se­ries and a 2014 fea­ture film. A se­quel is cur­rently in pro­duc­tion.

The books have sold some 35 mil­lion copies world­wide and have been trans­lated into 40 lan­guages, in­clud­ing Latin (Ur­sus Nomine Padding­ton.)

Born in New­bury, south­ern England, on Jan 13, 1926, Bond served in both the Royal Air Force and the Bri­tish Army dur­ing World War II.

He be­gan writ­ing while sta­tioned with the army in Egypt in 1945.

He was work­ing as a BBC cam­era­man when he cre­ated his most fa­mous char­ac­ter. Padding­ton was in­spired by a teddy bear that Bond bought for his wife one Christ­mas Eve as a stock­ing filler and named af­ter the sta­tion he used for daily com­mutes.

To­day, stuffed Padding­tons are for sale in toy stores and sou­venir stands around Bri­tain. A statue of the beloved bear stands at his name­sake sta­tion.

In creating the ini­tially home­less Padding­ton, Bond drew on mem­o­ries of the refugees and evac­uees who streamed through Bri­tish train sta­tions be­fore and af­ter World War II, seek­ing se­cu­rity in safer places. Many of the chil­dren had name tags hung around their necks.

Bond said a sense of vul­ner­a­bil­ity “was an im­por­tant part of Padding­ton’s per­sona” and a rea­son why chil­dren were drawn to him.

Ex­plain­ing the char­ac­ter’s en­dur­ing ap­peal in 2008, Bond said “there’s some­thing about bears which sets them apart from the other toys”.

“I think dolls are al­ways won­der­ing what they’re going to wear next,” he said.

“Bears have this qual­ity that chil­dren in particular feel they can tell their se­crets to and they won’t pass them on.”

Ac­tor Hugh Bon­neville, who plays Mr Brown in the movie adap­ta­tions, said news of Bond’s death came on the fi­nal day of shoot­ing for the up­com­ing film.

Bon­neville said Padding­ton’s “en­thu­si­asm and op­ti­mism has given plea­sure to mil­lions across the gen­er­a­tions”.

“Michael will be greatly missed by his le­gions of fans and es­pe­cially by his wife, Sue, his fam­ily and of course by his beloved guinea pigs,” he said.

“He leaves a spe­cial legacy: long live the bear from dark­est Peru.”

In ad­di­tion to the Padding­ton sto­ries, Bond wrote a se­ries of books about a guinea pig named Olga da Polga and a string of nov­els for adults about a French de­tec­tive called Mon­sieur Pam­ple­mousse.

Bond is sur­vived by his wife and his chil­dren, Karen and An­thony. – AP

— AP

In this 2015 file photo, Bond poses with a soft toy ver­sion of Padding­ton bear.

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