Performer and producer Tedd Dunn, best known as Australian children’s TV character Fredd Bear, has died.
Dunn starred as Fredd Bear on both TEN’s acclaimed children’s storybook series The Magic Circle Club and morning show Fredd Bear’s Breakfast A-Go-Go.
He passed away on Sunday from cancer, aged 66.
Dunn had been a fashion designer prior to becoming wardrobe master at TEN. He had made the bear costume for The Magic Circle Club so large that he was the only one who could fit in it. With a budget of just $200 he purchased enough fur to create arms, legs and a part of a head. The bear was dressed in dungarees to cover the body, a collar and floppy tie hide the neck and a bear bald spot on the crown was concealed by a hat.
During the 1960s he was TEN’s answer to Nine’s Humphrey B. Bear.
Dunn appeared as the beloved, but silent, children’s character on ATV0’s The Magic Circle Club, hosted by Nancy Cato (and later Liz Harris), from 1965 to 1967. Written by John Michael Howson and produced by Godfrey Phillips, the show brought pantomime-style stories to life with songs, scenes and dances. It became so successful ABC wanted to purchase the rights after it ended on TEN, but after the network refused, the ABC created Adventure Island using some of the same performers.
Fredd Bear (the two ‘D’s” reflected Tedd’s own name) remained at TEN in his own morning show Fredd Bear’s Breakfast A-Go-Go which began in 1969, with Judy Banks, Colin McEwan and Mike McCarthy. In 1975, Dunn won a Logie Award for Outstanding Creative Effort.
Dunn could only remain in the cumbersome outfit for 45 minutes at a time. During a Moomba Parade through Melbourne he carried on for 2.5 hrs just to present flowers to Prince Phillip. After nearly blacking out, he became critically ill and was taken to the decompression chamber at Point Cook RAAF base where he was treated by a Medical Officer who had returned from Cape Kennedy.
Fredd Bear even became so popular that at one stage students from Monash University threatened to kidnap him and hold him to ransom as a prank.
Dunn was also a television producer.