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Stan Berenstain

Died when: 82 years 58 days
Star Sign: Libra

Stan and Jan Berenstain were American writers and illustrators best known for creating the children's book series The Berenstain Bears.Stanley "Stan" Melvin Berenstain (September 29, 1923 – November 26, 2005) was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Janice "Jan" Marian Berenstain (née Grant; July 26, 1923 – February 24, 2012) was born and was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and attended Radnor High School in Radnor, Pennsylvania. Stan was Jewish and Jan was Episcopalian.They met on their first day of art school at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art in 1941. During WWII, Stan served as a military medical illustrator while Jan was a draft artist for the Army Corps of Engineers in addition to working in an aircraft factory. Jan fashioned a pair of wedding rings from spare aluminum collected at the latter job, and the two married on April 17, 1946. Stan died of cancer at age 82 on November 26, 2005 after the couple were married for 59 years. Jan died on February 24, 2012, after suffering a massive stroke, at age 88. They are survived by their two sons, Mike and Leo Berenstain.In an interview about the books, the Berenstains said that a big reason behind their inspiration was some of the difficulties parents faced, as well as some childhood tribulations when they were kids themselves. The Berenstains also noted there were some issues which seemed to appear in every generation, such as kids throwing tantrums in public places, which made important subject matter for their stories. However, they deliberately wanted to steer clear of overly heavy issues, such as violence. In their later years, critics sometimes dismissed the books for having social attitudes stuck in the 1950s along with the bears' clothing styles and penchant for activities such as playing jacks and hopscotch, even though they did change with the times somewhat by introducing things like video games and cell phones.After the birth of their son Michael (now Mike) in 1951, the couple published The Berenstains' Baby Book, which dealt with the issues of pregnancy and child-rearing. Although containing practical advice, the book used humor and reminded parents not to take every situation too seriously. They would go on to publish another two books on parenting, How to Teach Your Children About Sex Without Making a Complete Fool of Yourself and Have a Baby, My Wife Just Had a Cigar!.They produced together the magazine cartoon feature It's All in the Family from 1956 to 1989 in McCall's and Good Housekeeping. Inspired by their children's enthusiasm for Dr. Seuss books, the Berenstains decided to attempt a series with animal protagonists themselves, settling on bears not because of their surname as was commonly believed, but because they found them easy to draw. They published their first book featuring the Berenstain Bears, The Big Honey Hunt, in 1962. At the time, their inspiration, Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss), was working as an editor in the children's division of Random House Publishing and eagerly approved the concept. He edited several books in the Berenstain Bears series and created a lasting franchise including many more books, television series, toys, and stage productions. Over 300 books were published in 23 languages. Jan was inducted into Radnor High School's Hall of Fame on October 20, 2006.The Berenstains' cartoon feature It's All in the Family (unrelated to the similarly named TV series) appeared regularly in McCall's and depicted the antics of a suburban family with mother, father, eldest and youngest sons, and middle daughter. It's All in the Family was not a conventional comic strip in the sense of a sequential progression of panels. Each issue featured a single situation, often seasonally appropriate, such as the daughter preparing, cooking, and serving a family meal for the first time or the costume preparations, rehearsal, and performance of the youngest child's Christmas pageant. Within a given issue, each It's All in the Family drawing was a stand-alone panel with a caption gag, rather than one panel of a sequential strip, but individual panels in order depicted the complete arc (preparation, completion, aftermath) of that issue's family experience.Stan and Jan Berenstain's younger son Michael Berenstain (born in 1951) is a writer/illustrator and also illustrated many of the books written by his parents. He continued to work with his mother on new projects until her death in 2012, with a focus on promoting Christian religious practices.
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