Wayback Whensday – The Berenstains

Stan and Jan Berenstain, the Philly natives who created [The Berenstain Bears], met as art students at the Philadelphia Museum and School of Industrial Arts — most recently known as the University of the Arts. It was during their time there in the 1940s that they honed their illustration skills.

Stanley Melvin Berenstain and Janice Marian Grant were both born in Philadelphia in 1923. In 1941, Stan graduated from West Philly High School and Jan graduated from Radnor High School, and they both headed to the Philadelphia Museum and School of Industrial Arts, nicknamed Industrial, on scholarships.

“They met, they said, on the first day of art school in 1941, in drawing class,” Mike Berenstain said. “They instantly fell in love with each other’s drawings and fell in love with each other.”

On the occasion of Philadelphia Museum and School of Industrial Arts/Philadelphia College of Art/University of the Arts shuttering Stan and Jan’s son Mike talks to Philly Voice reporter Franki Rudnesky about his parents.

After the war, Jan returned to Industrial and got a degree in art teaching, while Stan went to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts to study painting. 

They also got married, taught at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia and began working as a magazine cartoonist team. Their work appeared in publications like the Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s magazine, McCall’s and Good Housekeeping. Many of their cartoons were also published as book collections. 

Their son Leo was born in 1948 and their son Mike was born in 1951. Both kids were fans of Dr. Seuss, inspiring Stan and Jan to create their own children’s book, “The Big Honey Hunt.” It featured Papa, Mama and Small Bear, and was released in 1962 with Dr. Seuss himself as editor and publisher. Over the next five decades, Berenstain Bears books have sold hundreds of millions of copies and led to the creation of animated adaptations, toys, games and clothes. There have been changes along with way…

further reading:

Before “The “Berenstain Bears” – Classic Stan and Jan adult comics

Team Berenstain – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Obscurity of the Day: Sister

Before They Were Stars: Stan and Jan Berenstain

The Berenstain Bears site

2 thoughts on “Wayback Whensday – The Berenstains

  1. I have our family’s treasured 1967 copy of MR. DIRTY VS. MRS. CLEAN by the Berenstains. My parents bought all of their ‘adult’ books and the kids were allowed to read them. MR. DIRTY/MRS. CLEAN and FLIPSVILLE/SQUARESVILLE, were both ‘upside down’ books with different covers and different viewpoints. I was honored to direct cut scenes in a video game based on the Berenstain Bears books in 1992 for Philips Sidewalk Studios. The Berenstains were wonderful cartoonists and writers.

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