Ronald Oxley, who trained the bear used in television's "Gentle Ben" and dozens of other movie and TV animal stars, died of a heart attack, an associate said Sunday. He was 46.
Oxley died in his sleep Dec. 22 at the Acton ranch where he had trained animals for screen roles for more than 20 years, said Carol Riggins, who "baby-sat" the animals when Oxley was away.
His most famous pupil was "Bruno," the 650-pound black bear who appeared opposite Dennis Weaver in the "Gentle Ben" television series in the late 1960s and later appeared with Paul Newman in the film "Judge Roy Bean."
Oxley's animals appeared in several television series, including "Wilderness Family," "The Bionic Woman" and "Manimal."
Oxley was single and "his only children were his animals," Riggins said. "They meant everything to him."
At the time of his death, there were about 15 animals at Oxley's ranch. Riggins said she would continue to care for the animals.