Smokey Bear (not Smokey the Bear) is easily one of the most recognizable American advertising mascots known. His rise to fame started with a 1944 advertising campaign featuring the bear wearing his now-familiar blue jeans, United States Forest Service belt and Forest Ranger hat dousing a campfire over the slogan “Smokey Says – Care Will Prevent 9 out of 10 Forest Fires.” By 1947 the Advertising Council had come up with the long-running “Remember… Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires” campaign that stuck around until April 2001, when the message was updated to the current “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.”
Over his campaign, Smokey has had several vehicles. Some have been immortalized as toys, others appear in poster art.
The instantly recognizable Jeep CJ5 appeared in a 1980 painting titled “Ten-Four, Green and Clear” by artist Rudy Wendelin. It features happy swimmers at a lake waving to Smokey Bear and two cubs as he uses the Jeep’s radio to call in a report. A neat detail to the painting shows a Pulaski tool mounted on the side of the Jeep.
The artist, Rudy Wendelin (1910–2000), was a United States Forest Service employee. He started painting Smokey Bear in 1944. One of the most well-known artists behind the campaign, he was long considered Smokey’s ‘caretaker.’
Smokey Bear driving his Jeep CJ appears on the Smokey Bear website, and the artwork is part of the National Agricultural Library, US Department of Agriculture and the above image appears courtesy of that library.