Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Josie and the Pussycats (cartoon)
This article is about the Josie and the Pussycats Saturday morning cartoon. For other versions of the property, see Josie and the Pussycats.
Josie and the Pussycats was a Saturday morning cartoon produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1970 for CBS. In 1972, Hanna-Barbera produced a spin-off called Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space, which ran until 1974. Based upon the Archie Comics series of the same name, Josie and the Pussycats featured an all-girl pop music band that toured the world with their entourage, getting mixed up in strange adventures, spy capers, and mysteries. The show is a sister series of sorts to Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, and is famous for its music, the girls' leopard print leotards (replete with "long tails and ears for hats," as the theme song states), and for featuring the first African American Saturday morning cartoon character in history.
- Josie McCoy
- Melody Valentine (and, in Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space, Bleep)
- Valerie Brown
- Alan M. Mayberry
- Alexander Cabot III
- Alexandra Cabot and Sebastian
Creation and development
Josie Gets a Band
During the 1968 - 1969 television season, the first Archie-based Saturday morning cartoon, The Archie Show, was a huge success, not only in the ratings for the CBS show, but also on the Billboard charts: The Archies' song "Sugar Sugar" hit the #1 spot on the Billboard charts in September 1969. Animation studio Hanna-Barbera Productions wanted to duplicate the success their competitors Filmation were having with The Archie Show. After a failed attempt at developing a teenage-music-band show of their own called Mysteries Five (which eventually became Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!), they decided to go to the source and contacted Archie Comics about possibly adapting one of their remaining properties into a show similar to The Archie Show. Archie Comics responded by offering to re-develop their comic Josie into a comic about a teenage music band, allowing Hanna-Barbera to adapt it into an music-based Saturday morning show.
The Music and the Controversy over Valerie
Main entry: Josie and the Pussycats (music)
In preparation for the upcoming cartoon series, Hanna-Barbera began working on putting together a real-life Josie and the Pussycats girl group, who would provide the singing voices of the girls in the cartoons and also cut an album as well. The songs on the album would be used in the cartoon as well.
The Josie and the Pussycats recordings were produced by La La Productions, run by Danny Janssen and Bobby Young. They held a talent search to find three girls who would match the three girls in the comic book in both looks and singing ability, and, after interviewing over 500 finalists, settled upon casting Cathy Dougher as Josie, Cherie Moor as Melody, and Patrice Holloway as Valerie.
Janssen presented the newly formed band to William Hanna and Joseph Barbera to finalize the production deal, but was in for a major surprise. Hanna-Barbera wanted Janssen to recast Patrice Holloway, because they had decided to portray "Josie and the Pussycats" as an all-White trio and had altered Valerie, an African American in the comic book, to make her Caucasian. Janssen refused to recast Holloway and threatened to walk away from the project. After a three-week-long stand-off between Janssen and Hanna-Barbera, Hanna-Barbera finally relented and allowed Janssen to keep Holloway, and changed Valerie back to being an African-American.
Valerie was actually the very first African-American regular cast member on an animated television show (in 1969, Bill Cosby's Fat Albert appeared in a one-shot animated prime-time special, but would not get his own show until 1971). Interestingly enough, Valerie only holds this position in history thanks to the CBS scheduling department: Josie and the Pussycats debuted at 9:30 AM EST on September 12 1970, while another new Hanna-Barbera show, The Harlem Globetrotters (on which all but one of its major human characters were African-American) debuted on the same day...but at 10:00 AM.
The Show Premieres
Josie and the Pussycats debuted on the CBS Saturday morning lineup on September 12 1970. The animated version of Josie was an amalgam of plot devices, villain types, settings, moods, and tones from other Hanna-Barbera shows such as Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, and Shazzan.
Every episode of the show would find the Pussycats en route to perform a gig or record a song in some exotic location. Somehow (more often than not due to something Alexandra did) they would accidentally find themselves mixed up in an adventure/mystery. The antagonist was always a diabolical mad scientist, spy, or criminal who wanted to take over the world using some hi-tech device. The Pussycats would usually find themselves in possession of the plans for an invention, an item of interest to the villains, a secret spy message, etc., and the villains would give chase.
Towards the end of the episode, the villain would succeed in capturing the Pussycats and would begin executing their diabolical plan to take over the world. The gang would break free (usually thanks to Sebastian), and would proceed to "disconboomerate" (their word) the device/lab and capture the bad guys. This would result in a final chase sequence, set to one of the songs recorded for the Capital Records releases.
The Pussycats would succeed in capturing the villain and would get back to their gig/recording session/etc. The final gag always centered around one of Alexandra's attempts to (a) interfere with/put an end to The Pussycats' performance, (b) steal Alan away from Josie, or (c) achieve both at the same time. More often than not, she would enlist Sebastian to carry out her dirty work, and Sebastian would always bumble the job in someway, which would result in Alexandra getting in trouble and/or being made a fool of.
Style and similarites
The art styling for the show was a cross between Dan DeCarlo's artwork and Hanna-Barbera's late-1960s adventure shows such as Space Ghost and The Herculoids. Josie and the Pussycats was somewhat less realistic and more cartoony than Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, from which much of its tone, pacing, and plot elements were derived; both shows also feature the same Ted Nichols background score cues and Casey Kasem. Many viewers who are unaware of Josie's Archie Comics origins would argue that it is a complete rip-off of Scooby.
Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space
In September 1972, a spin-off series called Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space debuted on CBS. The gang was lost in space (thanks--no surprise--to Alexandra's bumbling) and were trying to return back to Earth. A typical plot would involve the gang encountering some alien race, being kidnapped by said alien race, escaping, solving the problems the aliens are having (while performing a musical number or two), and then be sent on their way back to Earth by the thankful aliens. Inevitably, however, Alexandra would find a way (unintentionally) to have them go off-course again. The 16 episodes of Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space was re-run for the 1973-1974 season until January 26 1974, when CBS cancelled it and ordered no more new Josie episodes from Hanna-Barbera.
Josie and the Pussycats (but not Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space) was re-run on NBC Saturday morning for the 1975-1976 season, after which the series was not seen again until reruns began playing on Cartoon Network in 1992 (where all 32 episodes were run in the same timeslot). Josie and the Pussycats and Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space are often seen today on Cartoon Network's spinoff channel Boomerang.
Josie and the Pussycats was adapted into a live action motion picture in 2001. The movie was based more on the comic than the cartoon, but the popular theme song from the cartoon (written by Hoyt Curtin, William Hanna, and Joseph Barbera) is performed during the end credits.
- Burke, Timothy and Burke, Kevin (1999). Saturday Morning Fever: Growing Up With Cartoon Culture. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 312-16996-5.
- Charles, Don (March 2003). Long Tails and Ears for Hats: The Story of Josie and The Pussy Cats. Cool & Strange Music #28. Text available at http://lpintop.tripod.com/oldiesconnection/id17.html.
- Josie and the Pussycats: Stop Look and Listen: The Capitol Recordings [CD Set]. Burbank: Rhino Handmade. Text available at http://www.geocities.com/antlion7/josie.htm.
- Josie and the Pussycats (the Archie comic)
- Josie and the Pussycats (the music group put together in conjunction with the show)
- Josie and the Pussycats (the live action movie)
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