Louis the Bear, ‘The Rescuers’ — Lost Disney Characters
Walt Disney was interested in making an animated film based on Margery Sharp’s ‘Rescuers’ novels about heroic mice helping people in distress. But he wasn’t too keen on the plot of the first novel, in which Bernard and Bianca come to the aid of an imprisoned poet.
Among the ideas considered early on was a story where the mice instead rescue a bear trapped in the zoo. Very little has been written about this version of the film, so not much is known about Louis. What makes him an interesting lost character is the fact that Louis Prima – best known to Disney fans as King Louie from ‘The Jungle Book’ — was slated to voice him.
Walt Disney’s death in 1966 may have weakened enthusiasm for the bear in the zoo storyline, but the news that Louis Prima had a brain tumor was the character’s death knell. Animator Andreas Deja mentions a storyline where the orphan girl Penny befriends the bear, so Louis may have been part of the plot even after he was no longer the one being rescued.