Happy Birthday to Smokey Bear, the mascot of the U. S. Forest Service created to educate the public on the dangers of forest fires.
Smokey Bear's famous message "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires" was created in 1944 by the Ad Council, making it the longest running Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign in U.S. history.
Smokey's correct full name is Smokey Bear. In 1952, the songwriters Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins had a hit with "Smokey the Bear". The pair said that "the" was added to Smokey's name to keep the song's rhythm. This small change has caused confusion among Smokey fans ever since.
The U.S. Forest Service authorized the creation of Smokey Bear on August 9, 1944. Smokey's debut poster (see picture above - on right) was delivered on October 10 of that year by artist Albert Staehle.
Be sure to check out the Smokey Bear website to see the history of the AD campaign. The site includes an interactive trail by decade with an extensive collection of old posters, TV/radio spots (including the famous Bambi TV spot), and other memorabilia.
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