I don't know when the term "bear" was first coined by gay men to refer to a brawny, masculine, hairy adult male but I know I arrived at it entirely on my own and at a young age when I was first introduced to Clint Walker in "Night of the Grizzly." Forget the honey-lovin' woodland critter with claws, the big bear I wanted to watch in action was the shirtless Clint Walker prosaically digging post holes. Walker was a big ol' fur forest of a man, with a ruggedly handsome mug and deep blue eyes and what looked like a bearskin rug on his torso. Gritty and chiseled, all beef and no gristle, big Clint Walker was the original muscle bear, and to this day there's never been a finer celebrity example of the breed.
He looked great in "Grizzly", but it's in "Cheyenne" re-runs where in my opinion Clint was at his all-time hottest. Even now it's unusual to see such a big man with such a great body, but back in the 1950s, when "Cheyenne" was filmed, Clint's sculpted hairy pecs, huge shoulders and arms, and lean waist must have been phenomenal. And he kept in good shape through the years.
When in his 40s he appeared in "The Dirty Dozen" (where he made even the great Jim Brown look puny) and in "Sam Whiskey" (where he made bear cub deluxe Burt Reynolds look like a Tolkien dwarf), he was almost as lean and ripped as he was in the 1950s when he played Cheyenne Brody.
The Cheyenne series is available on DVD now, as are two of his movies from about the same period, "Fort Dobbs" and "Yellowstone Kelly." All three are must-sees for the Walker bearstalker.