the creator of Teddy Ruxpin, Husband, Father, former Disney
Imagineer and Animator, Dreamer, and Friend -
passed away peacefully and without pain on Thursday, March
20th, 2014 at his home in Southern California at age 77.
Ken had a remarkable life and career, and I hope to post an official
statement from his family soon, as well as memories from his friends
and colleagues. This website in general will grow into a
tribute to Ken and his life's work.
Below, I have posted my own tribute to Ken. We had a unique
and remarkable friendship that spanned the final 15 years of his life,
and I will be forever grateful to have known him and will miss him just
as long. Please keep his family, friends and fellow
Alchemists in your prayers during this difficult time.
footage exists of the moment my friendship with Ken Forsse began – over
decade before he’d know my name or I could pronounce his. I usually give it a spin
It’s good for a chuckle at the expense of the 1986 adults of the family
hair and the clothes) but otherwise I don’t really need it to time
way I do with other home movies. My
first encounter with Teddy Ruxpin is an indelible memory.
Like most other almost three year olds during Reagan’s second term, I
at the #1 spot on my Christmas list.
commercials advertised the technological advances this toy featured,
would’ve been marketing enough – but there was something much deeper
Teddy’s aura, an innocence and wonder, visible even in thirty second
advertisements, that made him the thing I couldn’t live without.
Santa Clause – donning the same glasses and NAVY tattoo as my Grandpa –
delivered. In the
middle of a pile of
gifts waiting to be unwrapped, Teddy’s eyes glowed magically with
light reflection as he asked if we could be friends.
The man or woman who came up with Teddy’s
slogan – A Friend for Life Comes To Life
– described that moment aptly.
Over the next several years, as promised at the beginning of The Airship story – Teddy and I had lots
of good times together. In
what was at
times a difficult childhood, Teddy allowed me to escape to a world of
and adventure. The good guys were altruistic and loyal friends. Bad guys were known for
exactly what they
were, and at the end of the day didn’t win. Ken’s characters had
held convictions, cared for one another, and genuinely fell in love. Other than my family and
there is no greater influence on my life, how I view the world, and how
it could be – than his creations.
From a young age I wanted to be a part of something as meaningful to
Teddy was to me, and Ken became my hero. I knew very little about him
the years rolled by into the age of the Internet, I began trying to
more information about Ken and Teddy’s history.
In the summer of 1998, I taught myself enough coding
skills to make a
passable website and what is now called Teddy
Ruxpin Online was created in hopes of finding out more
meeting fellow fans.
Teddy’s theme song talks about good dreams coming true, and mine
did. About a year
into the production of
the website, I was contacted by Mr. & Mrs. Forsse and began a correspondence
that lasted three
years. When we were
able to meet in
person in 2002, I found that my friendship with Ken had really begun
when I was
befriended by Teddy. Teddy’s
were described by the six crystals that were the centerpiece of his
Trust, Bravery, Honesty,
Friendship and Freedom. These
qualities Ken manifested, some even more so than his fictional
transition from acquaintanceship to
friendship was seamless because the first time we sat down together and
Ken seemed like an old friend. In
situation rivaled only by a couple others I can think of – Steve
writing a fan letter to Jim Henson and then becoming the voice of
Frog, for instance – I found the person I believed in for all these
believed in me. Ken
encouraged me with a
doubtless spirit and esteem much higher than I held for myself. I’ve yet to accomplish
anything worth the
faith Ken had in me, but I know if I’m ever able to I will owe much of
him. His life, the
way he lived it and
it’s accomplishments made my own infinitely better.
I tried for years to aptly tell Ken this – and one of the moments I’ll
cherish most from our friendship was the time I was finally able to. In 2011 while sitting
across from him at a
BBQ restaurant, (me inhaling my ribs, Ken taking his in the way he did
everything in life, more slowly with enjoyment, and likely thinking of
invention that would make them taste even better)
I told him how much Teddy meant to me, how
much his friendship meant to me, and how I wouldn’t be the same person
him. He humbly
responded that it
validated his life’s work to know that was true.
became a sensation because Ken was an
became a friend for life
because of Ken’s creativity, heart, leadership and eye for choosing
talented people of the same spirit to help him dream his dream. Ken will forever
be my friend and hero
because he honestly lived the golden rule, and held to the values of
Imagination, Trust, Bravery, Honesty and Friendship not only in fiction
also in reality. He
lived his passions,
dreamed, created, loved and allowed himself to be loved in return – and
partner of tantamount treasure in his wife and partner Jan. I can only dream my life
will be half as well
Just some of Ken's career accomplishments:
* Creator of Teddy Ruxpin & President of AlchemyII, Inc.
* Disney Animator (Sleeping Beauty)
* Disney Imagineer (credits too numerous to mention)
* Longtime Associate with Sid & Marty Krofft
* Television Writer & Producer
* Inventor, holder of numerous patents.
There was nothing Ken couldn't create given the time and inspiration.
He was constantly thinking of new creations to make the world
a better place. He is now doing the same in other worlds, no doubt.
Ken made a cameo in
The Adventures of
A lot of people saw much of Ken within
Newton Gimmick, but Ken claimed he saw "uh, eh.. absolutely
no resemblance." :)