Winnie the Pooh, the huggable totem of openheartedness, is nearing his 90th year. And this month, everyone’s favorite octogenarian returns to the big screen in Disney’s Winnie the Pooh, which finds Pooh and his Hundred Acre Wood cronies seeking a new tail for the downcast Eeyore and, of course, a pot of honey for our titular hero. Tom Kenny, who, in addition to voicing ?SpongeBob SquarePants and dozens of other well-known animated characters, provides the pipes for Rabbit in the film, says the movie’s unapologetically retro take is refreshing.
“Disney has honored the stories by being very traditional with the movie,” he says. “That was good news for me, because the stories have always meant the world to me — as a child and as a father with young children.”
As parents and kids prepare for the latest installment, we highlight the key milestones in the life of Pooh.
1924: Inspired by the deep affection his son, Christopher Robin, has for a black bear housed in the London Zoo, playwright A.A. Milne creates Winnie the Pooh.
1926: The first Pooh book, Winnie-the-Pooh, is published. It is illustrated by E.H. Shepard, as is the 1928 follow-up, The House at Pooh Corner.
1930: Milne sells merchandising rights to businessman Stephen Slesinger, who — thanks to dolls, board games, puzzles, radio broadcasts and animation — transforms Pooh into a $50-million-a-year franchise.
1961: Disney purchases film and television rights to the Pooh character, resulting in numerous short- and feature-length films as well as TV specials and series.
1970: Pop musician Kenny Loggins pens “House on Pooh Corner,” a lullaby originally recorded by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Loggins releases his own version on his 1994 album of kids’ music, Return to Pooh Corner.
1982: Topiary gardener Benjamin Hoff publishes the best-selling book The Tao of Pooh, which fashions the ?honey-seeking peacemaker into an unexpected spiritual frontman.
2009: A nearly two-decade-long legal dustup over Pooh royalties and character rights between Disney and the estates of Milne and Slesinger is resolved.
2009: The first official and authorized sequel to Winnie-the-Pooh (called Return to the Hundred Acre Wood) is written by David Benedictus and illustrated by Mark Burgess.