In the early 1960s, Ranger Hal teamed with U.S. Forest Service mascot
Smokey Bear (voiced by Jackson Weaver) to produce an educational
phonograph record for children all over the U.S..
Ranger Hal was a children’s television program that originated in Washington, DC on what was then WTOP-TV (now WUSA) and aired from 1957 to 1969. It was hosted by Hal Shaw (1925–1999), a local television personality who created and produced the show.
Ranger Hal was a US Forest Service Ranger who was assigned to an unnamed national forest, apparently somewhere just outside of Washington, and befriended various local animals (represented by puppets) among them Oswald or Ossie the Rabbit, Dr. Fox and Eager Beaver. While Shaw voiced all the characters, his puppeteers included some future famous names, among them Barry Levinson and Max Robinson. The show ended in 1969 and Shaw was promoted to WTOP management. In 1978, Hal Shaw suffered from a brain aneurysm that forced him into permanent disability. In 1985, the Forest Service made him an honorary Ranger. He retired to his farm near Great Falls, Virginia where he died from cancer in 1999.
The Ranger Hal Show ran on WJXT, Channel 4 in Jacksonville, Florida, from 1958 through 1969, starring Henry Baranek (stage name Henry Baran) (1927–1979). It was a morning show for youngsters and was popular with all age groups. WJXT was owned by the Washington Post. The Post also owned WTOP-TV (Channel 9) in Washington DC, where Ranger Hal had started. The show was so popular in Washington that WJXT brought the idea to Jacksonville. Ranger Hal caught on quickly in Jacksonville and was a strong hit for over ten years.
A “Ranger Hal” show starring a different host was broadcast by Channel 4 in Jacksonville, Florida, (another Washington Post-owned TV station).
Smokey Bear (often called Smokey the Bear or simply Smokey) is a mascot of the United States Forest Service created to educate the public about the dangers of forest fires. An advertising campaign featuring Smokey was created in 1944 with the slogan, “Smokey Says – Care Will Prevent 9 out of 10 Forest Fires”. Smokey Bear’s later slogan, “Remember… Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires”, was created in 1947 by the Ad Council. In April 2001, the message was updated to “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires”. According to the Ad Council, Smokey Bear and his message are recognized by 95% of adults and 77% of children in the U.S.
Smokey’s correct name is Smokey Bear. In 1952, the songwriters Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins had a successful song named “Smokey the Bear”. The pair said that “the” was added to Smokey’s name to keep the song’s rhythm. During the 1950s, that variant of the name became widespread both in popular speech and in print, including at least one standard encyclopedia. A 1955 book in the Little Golden Books series was called Smokey the Bear and Smokey calls himself by this name in the book. From the beginning, Smokey’s name was intentionally spelled differently from the adjective smoky.
The fictional character Smokey Bear is administered by three entities: the United States Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters, and the Ad Council. Smokey Bear’s name and image are protected by U.S. federal law, the Smokey Bear Act of 1952 (16 U.S.C. 580 (p-2); 18 U.S.C. 711).