Michael Bond -- the creator of the cuddly Paddington Bear that sparked a series of famous children's books -- has died.
Bond's publisher HarperCollins announced the author died Tuesday in his home following a short illness. Bond's first book in 1958 -- "A Bear Called Paddington" -- sparked a hugely popular series of children's books, an animated TV series and, ultimately, the successful 2014 flick.
The books alone were a worldwide phenomenon ... selling more than 35 million copies. There's a sequel slated to be released later this year.
The marmalade-loving, friendly bear who traveled from the "deepest, darkest Peru" to London came about when Bond spotted a lonely teddy bear sitting on a shelf in a shop back in 1956. He called it Paddington because he was living near a station with the same name.