Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityOnly you ... can wish Smokey Bear a happy birthday! | KCBY
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Only you ... can wish Smokey Bear a happy birthday!

(Image courtesy DFPA)
(Image courtesy DFPA)
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EUGENE, Ore. - Happy birthday, Smokey Bear!

On August 9, 1944, Smokey Bear stepped into the world.

The iconic bruin is as recognizable as Santa Claus, Uncle Sam and the Easter bunny, according to a style guide for his usage.

Smokey Bear traces his origins to World War II.

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"With the looming threat of potentially disastrous wildfires in America’s National Forests due to incendiary munitions shells, the Wartime Advertising Council and the USDA Forest Service joined forces to form the Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention (CFFP) program," according to a style guide for usage of Smokey Bear.

The program launched with the help of Bambi, on loan from Walt Disney Studios for one year.

Then an illustration known as Smokey Bear stepped onto the world stage.

"Smokey always appears only with his traditional blue jeans, belt, buckle, and 'campaign' hat. Optionally, he carries a shovel," according to "The Condensed Guide to Smokey: A Style Manual". "It is inappropriate to show Smokey wearing a three-piece suit or other attire not consistent with the image of Smokey Bear."

Not that Smokey Bear is frozen in time: In 2001, his message "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires" was updated to "Only You Can Prevent Wildfires".

And living incarnation of Smokey Bear - a black bear cub rescued in 1950 from a forest fire in New Mexico - served as a symbol of fire prevention until its death in 1976.

But the illustrated Smokey Bear lives on, the subject of the longest running public service campaign in U.S. history, according to style guides for his usage.

"Over the years, Smokey has been wounded by the artist’s pen," according to a publication titled "A guide for Smokey Bear logo usage and tagline applications".

"One of the reasons that he continues to be a powerful icon is because he is carefully managed by those authorized to use his likeness," according to the guide. "Only careful adherence to the specific rules and conditions laid out in this guide will guarantee that Smokey Bear remains the strong and authoritative voice of fire prevention for years to come."

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