8 April 2003 | raysond
Another Ivan Tors animal series from the mid-1960's
"Gentle Ben" is a story about a tame old brown bear and his faithful friend,a little boy named Mark as they go onward in search for adventure and excitement. This show was another winner from producer Ivan Tors,who was behind some very successful television series which included. "Sea Hunt","Flipper","Primus",and also "Salty". This show was on the same premise as "Flipper" but with a twist,with the father as the park ranger(played by Dennis Weaver,aka of Gunsmoke and McCloud fame),his wife(Beth Brickell),and his son Mark(played by Clint Howard,brother of Ronnie Howard,aka Opie from The Andy Griffith Show)as they were living up in the Florida everglades and also taking responsibility for Gentle Ben and the national park in which the show is set in.
The show was filmed on location in the Florida Everglades region and also at the famous Ivan Tors Studios near Miami. The series started out as an theatrical feature at first,but when CBS executives saw it and the pilot episode,they immediately launched it into a weekly series that ran for two seasons on the network from 1967-1969. It was shown on Sunday nights opposite another family-oriented animal show,"Lassie",on the same network. However,it was a mix of high adventure and breathtaking excitement at every turn as Gentle Ben and his friend Mark explore the territory,facing danger at every turn,and in some of the episodes having Dad save him from a certain fate. Great show.
NOTE: This series hasn't been seen in many years since the last time this show was on anywhere was during the 80's on cable's The Family Channel,and later on Nickelodeon. Catch it on Discovery Kids! Check local listings.