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Even though Paddington Bear only made his theatrical debut three years ago, he's been a beloved children's character for nearly six decades, be it as the star of many books or lead several TV shows in the United Kingdom. Sadly, the man who brought Paddington to life all those years ago is no longer with us, as Michael Bond has passed away at the age of 91.
Publishing company HarperCollins broke the news earlier today that Michael Bond died at his home following a "short illness." Bond, a member of the Order of the British Empire, is survived by his wife, Susan; two children, Karen and Anthony; and four grandchildren. HarperCollins CEO Charlie Redmayne said the following about the author:
Michael Bond was one of the great children's writers and at HarperCollins we are immensely fortunate to have published him and to have known him. He was a wonderful man and leaves behind one of the great literary legacies of our time.
Although Michael Bond created several children's characters over his lifetime, like Olga de Polga and A Mouse Called Thursday, and wrote a series adult novels about the detective Monsieur Pamplemousse, he is best known for Paddington Bear, the anthropomorphic, friendly bear who loves marmalade and can't help but get into trouble. Bond was inspired to create the character in 1956 after seeing a teddy bear sitting by itself on a shelf at a London store near Paddington Station (hence the name), and he ended up buying that bear for his wife. Paddington debuted in the 1958 book A Bear Called Paddington, and since then he has been featured in more than 20 other books (including Paddington's Finest Hour, which was published in the U.K. in April and will arrive in the U.S. this fall), ranging from chapter tales or single-story picture books for younger readers.
Even though books are where Paddington Bear can most often be found, Michael Bond's creation extends past the printed page. The stuffed toy version of the bear starting being manufactured in 1972, and Paddington led three television series between 1975 and 2000. The character made the jump to the big screen in 2014 for Paddington, where he was voiced by Ben Whishaw, and Paddington 2 will be released next year. As for Michael Bond, one of the last things he wrote was Reflection on the Passing of The Years last year, which was a birthday gift for Queen Elizabeth the II and was read by Sir David Attenborough.
Take a look at the Paddington 2 trailer below to see what kind of shenanigans Michael Bond's popular creation will get into in a theatrical setting next.
We here at CinemaBlend offer our condolences to Michael Bond's friends and family. You can see his legacy continue when Paddington 2 comes out in U.S. theaters on January 12, 2018.