Far smarter than the average bear!
He visited GOVAN!

He was a British actor of genuine stature, a shy superstar who fled across the Outer Hebrides to escape his fame and turned down a 1.3 million offer to move to Hollywood.
Today, at The Big Bear Ranch near Perth, Scotland, where he lived like an emperor, they are mourning the passing of Hercules the giant grizzly. Just as he appeared to be winning a long fight to resume his showbusiness career after a spinal problem, he died suddenly at his home.
His distraught owners, ex-wrestler Andy Robin and his wife Maggie have buried their 25 year-old 'surrogate son' with his favourite possessions in a king-sized coffin near his luxury quarters in their garden at Glendevon.
During their twenty years touring the world with Hercules, this was where he always returned, to chill out in his 45ft swimming pool listening to his favourite Sinatra tracks.
The big grizzly had little respect for television egos bigger than his own and when Richard Madeley rudely pointed out a minor imperfection on the bear's nose, Hercules bared his fangs around the offending digit.
He was a classic Steiff teddy bear, with the authentic hump between his shoulders and was considerably cheaper than the highly-collectable toys when Andy bought him as a cub for 40 from a Scottish wildlife park in 1974.
Hercules was already an established star when he made worldwide headlines 20 years ago.
On location filming a TV commercial in the Outer Hebrides, he went missing for 24 days. His weight dropped from 54 to 34 stone and when he was recaptured no 'prisoner' was more grateful as he swiftly consumed 120 pints of milk and dozens of eggs.
Even more grateful were the nation's cartoonists.
They gave him their coveted Golden Joker of the Year award and a Kleenex commercial dubbed him The Big Softy.
He made the cover of Time magazine and went on to promote anything from Russian vodka to the Miss World contest.
He secured a cameo role in the James Bond movie Octopussy, appeared on Hollywood chat shows and did cabaret in Las Vegas.
In 1994, Andy and Maggie turned down a 1.3 million offer for him to return to star in a Hollywood film because it would have meant another spell in quarentine.
His death has left a great gap in their lives.


Touched by the magic of Big Softy
by Maggie Robin

In August of 1975, Andy and I drove home with our precious cargo. No one at The Little Chef in Pitlochry could have known that the roll and tomatoe sauce that we left with was for Hercules, our nine-month-old grizzly bear.
We had just collected him from the Highlands Wildlife Park in Kingussie and we were filled with excitement.
We were about to start on 25 years of more joy and laughter than anyone could ever hope for.
But on Friday February 04th 2000, shortly after 9am, Hercules passed away.
He had waited for us that morning. His eyes looked so big and bright and he had held out his big paw and gripped our hands.
Unfortunately he was not feeling any better. He was simply looking to his mum and dad to say goodbye for the last time.
Our big pup slipped away and left us with a terrible sadness and a gap that, at the moment, is too big to describe.
Andy and I both cried all weekend and, at 1pm on Sunday, we buried Hercules in his garden beside his swimming pool, just on the spot where he loved to sleep in the sun.
We can see him from the kitchen window and we've placed bright flowers at his grave.
He has left a great gap in our lives but the memories he's left us with are wonderful.
In the 25 years since we brought Hercules home he had an unbelievably exciting life, but he always seemed to set the agenda.
His first film was for the BBC at two years and he always seemed to rise to the occasion if there was a film crew about. He had been filming TV commercials for Kleenex when he took fate by the tail and went for a 24 day tour of the Outer Hebrides - unfortunately he forgot to take us with him.

So started the real fame for Hercules. The papers named him Big Softy and he managed to steal headlines all around the world during those 24 days in 1980.
He went hungry rather than harm any living creature.
Our memories of Hercules, as our sadness fades, will be of times like the day I thought we'd been burgled.
I came into the house to find the kitchen cupboards opened. It looked like someone had tried to steal the microwave. It was very quiet and I followed the trail of chaos. The lounge was a mess and someone had ransacked the settee.
Hearing a noise, I quietly followed the sound and caught our burglar red-handed.
I should have guessed, it was Herc.
He'd positioned himself squarely in the middle of our four-poster and, after removing all the bed linen, was happily ripping all the stuffing from the centre of the mattress.
I was mad. I scolded Herc and chased him out of the front door of the house where he was met by two of our friends, gazing in amazement.
That was the kind of day that Herc loved, a bit of mischief.
But he also had an almost eerie knack of just knowing the right thing to do when it was required.
One day a blind girl had arranged to visit Hercules. She wanted to touch him so we gently introduced her to him. She touched him, very gently at first, but she found her confidence and eventually hugged Herc and stroked his ears and head.
Hercules seemed to know she needed more time and strangely just sat very still until we pulled her away. That was a lovely moment.
He travelled the world, starred in films, fronted advertising campaigns, had letters from the President of the United States and the Queen, toured America and twice sailed through the Panama Canal. And this is just a tiny piece of what he achieved.
He was Andy's pal and my pup. All 8 feet 4 inches and half-a-ton of him. We were the lucky ones. He touched us both and showed us his magic.

Maggie Robin.



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