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It simply would not fly today, of course: parading a 250-pound bear through the streets of New York, stuffing her into a taxi, plying her with booze — these sorts of things would likely be frowned upon in 2013. Besides the fact that most folks realize that a heavily muscled creature out and about in the naked city might be a recipe for sudden carnage, there’s also a widely shared perception today that hauling around a performing bear, in the city or elsewhere, is downright cruel.
But in the mid-1940s, an entertainment impresario named Stanley Beebe routinely walked his ursine star, Rosie, through Gotham, shuttling her to gigs at recording studios and live-performance arenas, and by the looks of the photos in this gallery the only reaction this behavior elicited from the vast majority of New Yorkers was delight.
[MORE: See the photo gallery, “A Squirrel’s Guide to Fashion.”]
In an August 1946 issue of LIFE, in which some of these pictures first appeared, the magazine introduced its readers to “a talented young actress” who “makes a career grunting over the radio.”
[MORE: See the photo gallery, “LIFE With Mike the Headless Chicken: Photos of a Famously Tough Fowl.”]