RL Magazine looks at history’s most famous incarnations of the cuddly bear on the eve of its 110th holiday season
n 1903, two toy makers—each completely unaware of the other—created a little stuffed bear to sell in their shops. They were a Russian Jewish immigrant in Brooklyn, New York, Morris Michtom, and the nephew of a soft-toy maker in Germany, Richard Steiff. Michtom was inspired by a political cartoon that chronicled United States President Theodore Roosevelt’s refusal to shoot a black bear cub while hunting, and he named the bear Teddy after the president. Steiff named his first bear 55 PB, but Michtom’s teddy bear moniker is the one that stuck and was what all plush novelty bears were soon commonly called.
A 1902 political cartoon depicts United States President Theodore Roosevelt as he declines to shoot a small bear restrained by a rope. A similar cartoon by Clifford Berryman ran in The Washington Post on November 16, 1902. Roosevelt’s refusal was seen as a kindly act, and because the president’s nickname was Teddy, that became the basis for the name teddy bear. (Photo by Stock Montage/Getty Images)
Christopher Robin Milne, son of Winnie the Pooh creator A.A. Milne, inspired the story of a boy, a thoughtful bear and the bear’s animal friends who lived in the Hundred Acre Wood. Here, Milne’s son offers a cookie to his plush bear in 1928. (Photo by Apic/Getty Images)
Hollywood child star Shirley Temple cuddles a teddy bear and a doll (photo via John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images)
Rock-and-roll singer Elvis Presley poses with an armful of teddies to publicize the release of his record “Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear” on June 24, 1957 (photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
German toymaker Otto Steiff, brother of stuffed-bear creator Richard Steiff, poses with his family and an enormous stuffed bear in 1958 (photo by Michael Rougler/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
A trio of Polo Bears wear iconic Ralph Lauren designs, including a tuxedo and mirrored pilot sunglasses, in a Holiday 2003 advertising campaign (photo courtesy of Ralph Lauren Corporation)
The teddy bear’s appearance sparked an international craze for the toy that has not waned to this day. Beloved by adults and children alike, teddy bears are popular presents year after year. Just in time for the gift-giving season, RL Magazine looks back on the lovable ursine that has inspired and comforted people of all ages for 11 decades and counting.
The newest addition to Ralph Lauren’s Polo Bear family was made entirely in America and sports our limited-edition official 2014 Olympic Winter Games collection (photo courtesy of Ralph Lauren Corporation)
“It’s nice having a bear about the house.” –Michael Bond, A Bear Called Paddington
(Left) a woman at Ealontoys Ltd., in London, prepares teddy bears for sale just before Christmas 1950; (right) a little girl kisses a teddy bear in a department store in 1959 (photos by Chris Ware/Keystone Features/Getty Images and Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)