Top Cat

Top Cat is an American animated television series made by the Hanna-Barbera studios that first ran from September 27, 1961, to April 18, 1962, for a run of 30 episodes on the ABC network.

Top Cat
Top Cat and the gang. Left to right: Benny the Ball (foreground); Officer Dibble (Behind fence); Brain; Fancy-Fancy; Top Cat; Spook (foreground); Choo-Choo
GenreAnimated sitcom
Created byWilliam Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Written byKin Platt
Directed byWilliam Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Voices ofArnold Stang
Allen Jenkins
Maurice Gosfield
Leo DeLyon
Marvin Kaplan
John Stephenson
Theme music composerHoyt Curtin
Opening theme"The Most Effectual Top Cat"
Ending theme"The Most Effectual Top Cat"
Composer(s)Hoyt Curtin
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes30 (list of episodes)
Production
Producer(s)William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Running timeBetween 24 and 27 minutes
Production company(s)Hanna-Barbera Productions
DistributorScreen Gems
Release
Original networkABC
Picture formatColor (initially telecast in black and white)
Audio formatMono
Original releaseSeptember 27, 1961 (1961-09-27) 
April 18, 1962 (1962-04-18)

History

The central character, Top Cat (T.C.) is the leader of a gang of Manhattan alley cats living in Hoagy's Alley: Fancy-Fancy, Spook, Benny the Ball, Brain, and Choo Choo.[1]

Top Cat and his gang were inspired by the East Side Kids, characters from the series of 1940s 'B' movies, but their more immediate roots lay in The Phil Silvers Show (1955–59), a military comedy whose lead character (Sergeant Bilko, played by Silvers) was a crafty con-man. Maurice Gosfield, who played Private Duane Doberman in The Phil Silvers Show, provided the voice for Benny the Ball in Top Cat, and Benny's rotund appearance was based on Gosfield's. Additionally, Arnold Stang's vocal characterisation of the lead character, the eponymous Top Cat, was based on an impression of Phil Silvers' voice.

Other influences include the movie Guys and Dolls (1955), in which actor Stubby Kaye played a short, stout, streetwise gambler: a virtual Benny the Ball prototype. Lastly, an additional parallel was the character Hokey Wolf on The Huckleberry Hound Show, whose segment also emulated The Phil Silvers Show.[2][3]

The gang constantly attempts to earn a quick buck, usually though illegal scams, and a frequent plot-thread revolved around the local beat cop, Charles "Charlie" Dibble, ineffectively trying to evict them from the alley. Dibble's appearance was modeled on his voice actor, Allen Jenkins.

Analysis

Animation historian Christopher P. Lehman says that the series can be seen as social commentary. The cats may represent disenfranchised people confined to living in a poor environment. Top Cat's get-rich-quick schemes are efforts to escape to a better life. The gang faces a human police officer who frustrates their efforts and keeps them trapped in the alley.[4] This enforcement of the social order by police ensures that the cats will not escape their current living conditions.[4]

Characters

Episodes

Voice cast

Main voices:

Additional voices:

Home media

Episodes of the series were released on VHS in Europe, as well as Worldvision Home Video in the United States.

Warner Home Video released the complete series on DVD in Region 1 on December 7, 2004.[5]

Warner Archive re-released Top Cat: The Complete Series on DVD in region 1 as part of their Hanna-Barbera Classics Collection. This is a Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) release, available exclusively through Warner's online store and Amazon.com. On January 10, 2017, the show was re-released in stores as part of Hanna-Barbera's 60th anniversary.[6]

DVD Name Ep # Release Date Additional Information
Top Cat – The Complete Series 30 December 7, 2004 (2004-12-07)
January 10, 2017 (re-release)
  • Commentary on various episodes
  • Back to Hoagy's Alley: The Making of Top Cat (retrospective featurette)
  • Interviews: Cool Cats in Interview Alley
  • Top Cat sing-along
  • Production Sketches: Top Cat Collection (art, stills, sketches, backgrounds)
  • Storyboards: Storyboard Showcase
  • TV Spot: Top Cat Kellogg's commercials (US release only)

In the UK, the complete series box set was released in 2007, initially as a HMV exclusive until 2008. Alternatively, five single DVD volumes, each containing 6 episodes, were released. The covers were originally from the US edition but later re-released with a new design. Each volume shows a group picture of Top Cat using Dibble's phone with his gang beside him, but the colour-coding is:

  • Volume 1: Primrose (Episodes 1–6) – Top Cat
  • Volume 2: Green (Episodes 7–12) – Choo-Choo
  • Volume 3: Red (Episodes 13–18) – Fancy Fancy
  • Volume 4: Blue (Episodes 19–24) – Benny
  • Volume 5: Orange (Episodes 25–30) – Spook

The DVDs have since been made available to buy in other retailers across the UK.

Top Cat's cameos

Other characters appearing in Top Cat

Other Hanna-Barbera characters make cameo appearances during the series.

  • In the episode "King for a Day", Brain and Spook are reading comic books. Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound comics can be seen in the bottom right corner of the scene.
  • In the episode "Rafeefleas", the gang is wandering through a museum at night when they come upon a group of statues labeled "Prehistoric Man". Choo-Choo insists that he's seen the figures before, maybe on T.V., but TC waves this off. The statues are modeled after Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble.
  • In the episode "A Visit from Mother", "El Kabong" graffiti (Quick Draw McGraw's alter-ego) is seen on the wall in the background.

Top Cat's appearance in other shows

  • In one episode of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., Gomer is seen in a restaurant reading a Top Cat comic book.
  • Top Cat also made a cameo appearance in one of What a Cartoon! shorts named "Buy One, Get One Free" in a party scene.
  • Top Cat made a cameo appearance in a 2012 MetLife commercial entitled, "Everyone".
  • Top Cat's theme is featured in The Flintstones episode "Surfin Fred" when Barney and Betty discover that Jimmy Darrock is in fact not a lifeguard.
  • Officer Dibble makes a cameo appearance in The Flintstones episode "Time Machine", as a policeman in the future, thus returning the favor done in the episode "The Rafeefleas" mentioned above.
  • Top Cat and his gang appeared in Yogi's Ark Lark. While the others don't have dialogue, Top Cat was voiced by Daws Butler while Benny the Ball was voiced by John Stephenson. It was presumed that Arnold Stang wasn't available at the time while Maurice Gosfield was already dead in 1964.
  • In 1985, Top Cat appeared on Yogi's Treasure Hunt with Yogi Bear and other Hanna-Barbera toon stars as the treasure hunt assigner. Officer Dibble made an appearance in the end of the show's episode, "Yogi's Beanstalk" voiced by John Stephenson since Allen Jenkins had died in 1974.
  • In 1987, Hanna-Barbera produced a feature-length television film based on the show titled Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats (part of the Hanna-Barbera Superstars 10 film series), in which the gang helps a young girl claim her inheritance. During that time, John Stephenson reprised Officer Dibble while Benny the Ball was voiced by Avery Schreiber.
  • Top Cat appears as a teenager in “Yo Yogi!” where he lives in a trash can at the mall.
  • In the Fender Bender 500 segment of Wake, Rattle, and Roll, Top Cat and Choo Choo were one of the racers driving a trash can-modeled monster truck called the Alley Cat.
  • Top Cat was seen in a Cartoon Network Rap in 1995.
  • In the Duck Dodgers episode "K-9 Quarry", Top Cat was amongst the poached Hanna Barbera characters on the Alien Hunter's ship.
  • Top Cat, Benny, Spook and Brain made a cameo appearance at the end of The Powerpuff Girls episode "Catastrophe". They can be seen at the bottom left corner of the screen (although, instead of his hat, Top Cat has a splat of slime on his head).
  • Top Cat was seen briefly driving a motorcycle in the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "Cheese a go-go".
  • In the Futurama episode "That Darn Katz!", a picture of Top Cat is seen.
  • An excerpt from the show appears in the 1982 film Cat People.
  • Top Cat and the gang appear in a third season episode of Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law, "Mindless," where Birdman serves as Top Cat's attorney for charges of bookmaking and running an illegal gambling facility. In this appearance Top Cat was voiced by Tom Kenny, while Benny the Ball was voiced by Maurice Lamarche. Top Cat also makes a cameo in the series finale when Birdman is forced to retry all his cases.
  • Top Cat and Benny have a cameo in the Wacky Races (2017 TV series) episode Off Track.
  • Top Cat and Benny will appear in the upcoming HBO Max original series Jellystone![7]

Top Cat's appearances in comic strips

  • Top Cat and his gang (except for Brain) appeared in the March 10, 2016 strip of Heathcliff.[8]

In other media

Comic books

The gang's adventures continued off-screen in comic books as Dell (which became Gold Key) published 31 issues from 1961 to 1970. Charlton Comics published 20 more issues from 1970 to 1973.[9] In Mexico, Ediciones Latinoamericanas' "La Colección Primavera" featured Don Gato in 1968.

In 2012, there was a crossover between Top Cat and Chilean comic book character Condorito.[10]

Top Cat had a backup story in Adam Strange/Future Quest Annual #1 in where he escapes from prison and meets Batman through a cosmic portal. Unlike the cartoon, Top Cat is from a world where cats are the dominant species.[11] As a follow-up, Top Cat also appears in one issue of a crossover series between DC and Hanna-Barbera, titled Superman/Top Cat Special (October 2018).[12]

Books

Little Golden Books and Durabooks have both produced hardcover children's books starring Top Cat. In the UK, World Distributors published annuals during the 1960s sourced from the Dell comics strips. BrownWatson later published a 1978 annual entitled The Great Grape Ape and Boss Cat.

View-Master

T.C. and friends appeared on three View-Master reels in 1962. These were titled "Medal for Meddling", "Zoo-Operation", and "No Cat Fishing".

Music

The Original TV Soundtrack, written and recorded by Hoyt Curtin, was released by Colpix Records in 1962, consisting of slightly edited versions of "The Unscratchables" and "Top Cat Falls in Love". Hanna-Barbera Records released an LP in 1965 titled Robin Hood Starring Top Cat. T.C. and the gang were pictured as Merry Men on the cover. Its songs included "Top Cat", "M-O-N-E-Y", "Dibble", "Robin Hood", and "Buddies". It was re-released in 1977 on Columbia Records' Special Products label. A jazzy arrangement of the Top Cat theme can be heard most weeks over the end credits of Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour.

The titles and underscore were released as part of the CD release, The Best of Hanna-Barbera: Tunes from the Toons by Music Club in 2002 in Europe.

Television specials

Theatrical films

The series has spawned to two theatrical films produced by Mexican animation studio, Ánima Estudios. Both films have grossed a combined total of $19.3 million (MX$166.35 million pesos).

Box Office

Title Year Box-office (USD) Box-office (MXN)
Top Cat: The Movie 2011 $14.7 millon[13] $112.25 million[14]
Top Cat Begins 2015 $4.6 millon[15] $54.1 million[14]
Combined Total $19.3 million $166.35 million

Broadcast

United States

Latin America

  • Cartoon Network(1993-2004)
  • Boomerang (2001–2008; 2015–2018)
  • Tooncast (2008–2019)

Canada

Mexico

Peru


Sri Lanka


Hong Kong

India

Bangladesh

Southeast Asia

Pakistan

Japan

Denmark

France

Germany

Saudi Arabia

Italy

Zambia

Arab world

Czech Republic

Macedonia

Poland

Hungary Dubbed:

Middle East & Africa:

Russia

Spain

Trinidad & Tobago

Sweden

Netherlands

Norway

United Kingdom

Australia

New Zealand

Republic of Ireland

Malaysia

South Africa

Middle East

Argentina

Brazil

Costa Rica

Chile

Uruguay

  • National Television Uruguay

Venezuela

Cyprus

Canada

Top Cat was among the first programs aired on CTV. The country's first private television network commenced broadcasts in October 1961.

Ibero-America

In spite of the modest success of the show in the United States, the show was a massive hit in Mexico, Chile, Peru and Argentina, where it is recognized as one of the most famous Hanna Barbera characters ever, being as popular as The Flintstones. There the show is aired under the name Don Gato y su pandilla (literally Mr. Cat and his gang) and the main characters adopted different accents. Besides Top Cat, all the other characters from the show were very famous, and their popularity is commonly attributed by the excellent dubbing and voice acting: Benny was renamed Benito B. Bodoque y B. and given a more childlike voice than was the case in the original dubbing, Choo Choo was renamed Cucho and spoke with Mexican-yucatan accent, Fancy-Fancy was Panza (belly), Spook renamed as the word's rough translation Espanto, The Brain was called Demóstenes (honouring the Greek statesman Demosthenes, with whom he shares a speech impediment) and Officer Dibble renamed as Oficial Carlos "Carlitos" Matute. This name, "matute" was used in Argentina and Uruguay as a slang reference for policemen. Top Cat is still rerun every few years. The main voice actors were Julio Lucena (voice of Top Cat), Jorge Arvizu (voice of Benny and Choo Choo), Víctor Alcocer (voice of Dibble), and David Reynoso, among others.

In Brazil, the character is known as Manda-Chuva (Brazilian Portuguese for big shot) and was voiced by actor Lima Duarte. In addition, the city of New York was replaced by Brasília (federal capital) in the Brazilian version.

United Kingdom

It debuted on 16 May 1962, under its original name[16] but after only 4 weeks was renamed The Boss Cat on 13 June 1962.[17] This was shortened on 22 February 1967 to Boss Cat.[18] This rapid name change was made because Top Cat was also the name of a then-popular British brand of cat food, and the cartoon was aired on the BBC which does not carry advertising. The dialogue and theme tune still referred to the character by his original name, but a small cut was made at the climax of the opening credits (resulting in a slight jump in the film) and a title card carrying the revised title inserted before the episode proper. Similarly, the Top Cat name was edited from the final section of the show's closing credits, causing another slight jump (as Top Cat is putting on his eyeshades and readying himself for sleep in his trash can). The BBC run comprised only 26 of the original 30 episodes, with notable omissions including Choo-Choo Goes Ga-Ga, with its repeated scenes of Choo-Choo attempting suicide. This 26-episode selection was repeated on the BBC from 1962 to 1989.

Despite the show being renamed Boss Cat, the character's name was unchanged as Top Cat or the initials "TC". The Boss Cat title card was last used for a repeat run in 1989; by the time the series was next aired, in 1999, the Top Cat pet food brand had been discontinued in the UK, allowing the original US title sequence to be used. This continues to be the case in contemporary showings on satellite station Boomerang and BBC Two.

The characters from the show (all the cats and Officer Dibble) were used in 2016 as part of a UK television advertisement campaign for the Halifax bank.[19][20]

Hungary

Top Cat (Turpi úrfi) was one of the first American cartoons premiered on Hungarian television channels in 1969. It also broadcast later with The Huckleberry Hound Show, Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes, The Flintstones and The Jetsons on Magyar Televízió from 1985 to 1990, and tv2 from 1997 to 1999 (together with Wacky Races, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! and Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo). Boomerang began broadcasting it in Hungarian in 2012.

Japan

Top Cat (Japanese: ドラ猫大将) first aired on TV Asahi back in 1963 under the title translating to Stray Cat Boss. It was then rebroadcast many times over the years. In 1990, A new dub was produced for VHS sold by Columbia Records and released under its original name in Katakana (トップキャット). This new dub was also carried over to airing on Cartoon Network Japan since its launch in 1997.

India

Top Cat was one of the early favorites on Cartoon Network. It was aired in India in the 1990s. Top Cat was aired again in 2003 until 2004.

Sri Lanka

Top Cat (Sinhala: Pissu Poosa (පිස්සු පූසා) literally Crazy Cat) was one of the most popular cartoon shows in Sri Lanka and it has been repeated several times on the national television channel "Rupavahini". The series is dubbed in Sinhala and directed by Titus Thotawatte.

Name in different languages

Production credits

1961–62

  • Created, Produced and Directed by: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera
  • Written By: Kin Platt
  • Story Director: Paul Sommer
  • Associate Producer: Alan Dinehart
  • Musical Director: Hoyt Curtin
  • Starring the Voice of: Arnold Stang, With: Allen Jenkins, Maurice Gosfield, Marvin Kaplan, Leo De Lyon, John Stephenson, Paul Frees
  • Animation: Kenneth Muse, Jerry Hathcock
  • Animation Direction: Charles A. Nichols
  • Production Supervision: Howard Hanson
  • Layout: Jack Huber
  • Titles: Lawrence Goble
  • Backgrounds: Montealegre
  • Camera: Roy Wade, Norman Stainback, Frank Paiker, Charles Flekal
  • Film Editing: Greg Watson, Warner Leighton
  • Top Cat Copyright MCMLXI Hanna-Barbera Productions
  • A Hanna-Barbera Production
  • A Screen Gems Film Presentation
    • Television Subsidiary: Columbia Pictures Corporation

2004 DVD Version

  • Produced and Directed By: William Hanna and Joseph Barbera
  • Written by Kin Platt, Joanna Lee, Michael Maltese, Barry Blitzer, Tony Benedict, Ray Allen, Larry Markes, Harvey Bullock, Harvey Marshall
  • Story Direction: Alex Lovy, Lewis Marshall, Paul Sommer
  • Associate Producer: Alan Dinehart
  • Musical Direction: Hoyt Curtin
  • Starring the Voice of: Arnold Stang With: Maurice Gosfield, Allen Jenkins, Marvin Kaplan, Leo De Lyon, John Stephenson
  • Additional Voices: Bea Benaderet, Daws Butler, Herschel Bernardi, Walker Edmiston, Paul Frees, Sally Jones, Don Messick, Ge Ge Pearson, Hal Smith, Jean Vander Pyl, Herb Vigran
  • Animation: Ed Aardal, George Goepper, Jerry Hathcock, Harry Holt, Ed Love, Tony Love, Dick Lundy, Kenneth Muse, Don Patterson, Irv Spence, Carlo Vinci, Don Williams
  • Animation Direction: Charles A. Nichols
  • Production Supervision: Howard Hanson
  • Layout: Dick Bickenbach, Jack Huber, Walter Clinton, Dan Noonan
  • Titles: Lawrence Goble
  • Background: Art Lozzi, Montealegre, Robert Gentle, Neenah Maxwell, Anthony Rizzo, Richard H. Thomas
  • Camera: Charles Flekal, Roy Wade, Norman Stainback, Frank Paiker
  • Film Editing: Greg Watson, Warner Leighton, Zachary Zeiger, Kenneth Spears, Joseph Ruby, Donald A. Douglas
  • A Hanna-Barbera Production

See also

Sources

  • Lehman, Christopher P. (2007), "The Cartoons of 1961–1962", American Animated Cartoons of the Vietnam Era: A Study of Social Commentary in Films and Television Programs, 1961–1973, McFarland & Company, ISBN 978-0786451425

References

  1. "Top Cat – The Complete Series : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Dvdtalk.com. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  2. "Voice of Top Cat dies – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Abc.net.au. December 24, 2009. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
  3. "Arnold Stang, Milquetoast Actor, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Retrieved October 20, 2012.
  4. Lehman (2007), p. 26
  5. "Top Cat DVD news: The Entire Series is coming... - TVShowsOnDVD.com". www.tvshowsondvd.com. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017.
  6. "Top Cat - The Cat is Back! MOD Re-Release for 'The Complete Series' DVDs". Archived from the original on January 12, 2017.
  7. https://www.animationmagazine.net/streaming/hbo-max-scores-rick-and-morty-library-south-park-deal-kids-slate/
  8. "Heathcliff Comic Strip, March 10, 2016 on". Gocomics.com. March 10, 2016. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  9. "Don Markstein's Toonopedia: Top Cat". Toonopedia.com. September 27, 1961. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
  10. https://www.taringa.net/+comics/condorito-comic-crossover-original-con-don-gato_131xca
  11. "SUICIDE SQUAD Meets THE BANANA SPLITS, More In DC/HANNA-BARBERA Crossover Titles".
  12. "Comic Review: Superman/Top Cat Special #1 (DC Comics)". Fanboyfactor.com. October 31, 1961. Retrieved November 1, 2018.
  13. "Top Cat (2011)". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  14. "Películas Animadas 2000 – 2018". Canacine. Canacine. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  15. "Don Gato: el inicio de la pandilla (Top Cat Begins)". Amazon.com. Totals calculated. Not shown on website.
  16. "Radio Times entry for Top Cat on 16 May 1962". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
  17. "Radio Times entry for The Boss Cat on 13 June 1962". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
  18. "Radio Times entry for Boss Cat on 22 February 1967". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
  19. "Best ads of 2016: Coke and adam&eve's Top Cat for Halifax lead the way in April | MAA". Moreaboutadvertising.com. May 3, 2016. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  20. Moore, Charlie (April 27, 2016). "Halifax is mocked online for using homeless TopCat to advertise MORTGAGES". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
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