Polish Uszatek ? Japanese cuddly toy

Before you go to sleep today listen to a little tale.Children gave this name to me ?cause I have a floppy ear.Uszatek ? the little bear, chubby bear; I am every baby?s friend.Uszatek ? the little bear, funny bear.I am every baby?s friend!
Those lyrics are from the opening song of Poland?s most popular television series for children ? and one that many other countries are broadcasting.The shows about Uszatek, a cartoon bear with a floppy ear, originated during Communist times.More people than ever watch ?Uszatek? these days, even though production of new episodes of the show ended 20 years ago. The growing audience is caused partly by the Internet — the puppet bear is now broadcast on YouTube. Though Uszatek has been seen only in reruns since 1987, the Japanese audience likes him so much that they want to co-produce a full-length movie about him.Uszatek was born 50 years ago at the SE-MA-FOR Film Studio in Lodz, Poland?s oldest and biggest producer of animated films.Two countries besides Poland where the bear is a great hit are Finland and Slovenia, which have renewed their licenses to broadcast the series every two years for decades.In each country where he is broadcast, his name is translated into something as cute as the Polish version.In Finnish he?s Nalle Luppakorva and in Slovenian Medvedek Uhec. Slovaks call him Macko Usko and the Japanese Kumachan. In Portuguese he?s Ushatek.He got his charming name 50 years ago from a little girl who had read children?s books about him.Uszatek is smart and elegant ? but clumsy. He is particular about his clothes, to the point of changing them several times during each 10-minute episode. And he loves to moralize.In each episode, he re-examines the day that has passed, usually while changing into his pajamas before he sleeps.In the daytime he plays with friends ? the piglet Prosiak, the rabbit Kroliki and sometimes with two absent-minded and naive Lalki dolls.His typical day revolves around a problem to solve. As befits an astute commentator of life, he laces his tales with sound advice.  The Japanese company Eden, which recently bought ?Stories of Uszatek the Bear? for Japanese television, wants to co-produce a movie about the bear.More television networks in countries besides Japan are paying to show the series and it?s also gaining popularity on the Internet. Uszatek has even graduated to the world of serious art. A couple of years ago, Polish painter Robert Maciejuk made him a character in a series of paintings called ?What Makes My Breakfast So Nice??Czeslaw Janczarski created the Uszatek story line and Zbigniew Rychlicki the illustrations. Originally, he was the hero of Mis, a magazine for children. Then numerous books were written about him, translated into many languages.His popularity soared in 1975, when Polish Television began producing a show about him in Lodz.A brilliant actor, Mieczyslaw Czechowicz, gave Uszatek his voice and Piotr Hertel composed the theme for the series.  The demand for the series was so great during Communist times that it was broadcast in more than 20 countries. Two of these ? Finland and Slovenia ? still continue to show it. One-hundred-four Uszatek episodes have been released since 1987, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. Many kindergartens in Poland are named after Uszatek, including ones in Poznan, Piotrkow Trybunalski and Pabianice.

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