Friday, April 17, 2009

Plush Peary, the Polar Pitchman, Meets Al Roker

The late Robert E. Peary received his 15 minutes of posthumous fame, at least in effigy, on April 6, 2009, the centennial of his historic North Pole expedition. Several alumni of Bowdoin College in Maine, the explorer’s alma mater (Class of 1877), made a brief appearance on NBC's Today Show, armed with plush Peary dolls. Wearing matching Bowdoin shirts, the group interacted with weatherman Al Roker in New York City's Rockefeller Plaza outside the popular morning show’s studios. Roker hammed it up with one of the Peary dolls, repeatedly holding it up to the camera for a close-up.

The soft sculpture doll made exclusively for the museum is dressed in traditional Inuit clothing and carries a flag created for Peary by his wife, Josephine, which he carried on all his expeditions. Each time he reached his farthest north point, he cut a piece from the flag and put it in a cache. When he reached the North Pole he cut a long strip from the flag and left it at the northernmost point on the earth. The Plush Peary is available in the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum gift shop and sells for $16. Proceeds support outreach initiatives. (