September 20, 2014


(CBS, September 19-December 12, 1987)

Sanrio, DiC Entertainment, MGM/UA Television

Tara Strong – Hello Kitty/Kitty White
Elizabeth Hanna – Grandma Kitty/Margaret White
Carl Banas – Grandpa Kitty/Anthony White
Christina Howley – Mama Kitty/Mary White
Len Carlson – Papa Kitty/George White
Sean Roberge – Tuxedo J. Orville Sam
Mairon Bennett – My Melody
Noam Zylberman – Chip
Cree Summer – Catnip
Denise Pidgeon – Fangora
Greg Morton – Grinder
Fred Savage – Mowser

Sanrio's stable of cute characters.

            In Japan, Shintaro Tsuji founded the Yamanashi Silk Company in 1960. By 1962, he had expanded to selling sandals with flowers painted on them. Noticing how well items sold with cute designs, Tsuji hired various cartoonists to design cute characters to adorn his merchandise around gift-giving occasions, renaming the company Sanrio in 1973. In 1974, Sanrio got its biggest creation from Yuko Shimizu.

Hello Kitty's first appearance.
            Hello Kitty appeared on a vinyl coin purse between a bottle of milk and a goldfish bowl. She proved an instant success and Hello Kitty continued to appear on a varity of Sanrio products in various themes courtesy of designer Yuko Yamaguchi. The Hello Kitty empire expanded when she was introduced to American audiences in 1976, and gradually around the world. Initially aimed at pre-adolescent females, the Hello Kitty brand was broadened to include products designed for teenagers and adults. Over time, Hello Kitty was given a backstory as Kitty White, a British girl five apples tall with a large family. Hello Kitty was made British because not only were foreign countries trendy at the time in Japan, but they wanted to distinguish her from their other characters who were predominantly set in America.

The cast of the theater in "Paws-The Great White Dog Shark."
            The first time Hello Kitty appeared on TV was, interestingly enough, in an American animated series, although it was a Japanese-American-Spanish co-production. Hello Kitty’s Furry Tale Theater made use of the various themes Hello Kitty was depicted in on her merchandise by centering the series around Hello Kitty (Tara Strong) and her friends and family putting on shows in a theater. As soon as the show began, however, the theater would give way to the actual world in which the story was set (imaginary, of course). Each episode was comprised of two 11-minute segments that were a parody of well-known movies and fairy tales, complete with Kitty-themed puns in both the episode titles and character names. The episode “The Phantom of the Theater” deviated from the established format slightly by taking place in the actual theater after the show had concluded. One notable difference exclusive to this show was that Hello Kitty was featured with a mouth, whereas in all other places she doesn’t have one depicted.

"The Wizard of Paws"
            Although the series only lasted one season, Hello Kitty’s popularity continues to grow starting in the late 1990s. Hello Kitty began to receive her own merchandise showcased in her own stores, and Sanrio teamed up with several corporate partners to expand the brand onto other objects like electric guitars and credit cards. An album, Hello World, was released featuring a collection of songs inspired by Hello Kitty. Along with a variety of video games across various platforms, Hello Kitty has also starred in several animes and a live-action program in Japan, which was the longest-running weekly kid’s television show in TXN’s history. In 2013, it was announced that Hello Kitty would be returning to American television on The Hub in a series inspired by the line of merchandise called “KISS x Hello Kitty,” which combined the rock group KISS with Hello Kitty. KISS frontman Gene Simmons will serve as executive producer on the series called KISS Hello Kitty.
"Cat Wars"

“The Wizard of Paws / Pinocchio Penguin” (9/19/87) – Hello Dorothy tries to get home from the land of Paws after beating the Wicked Witchy / Granpapetto Kitty’s penguin puppet comes to life when he wishes for a son.

“Cinderkitty / The Pawed Piper” (9/26/87) – Cinderkitty becomes head cheerleader for the Royals after winning the heart of Prince Purrfect. / The Pawed Piper saves a village from a plague of fleas.

“K.T.—The Kitty Terrestrial / Peter Penguin” (10/3/87) – K.T. becomes separated from her parents on Earth and is saved from UFO hunters. / Kitty and Chip must help Peter save Dinglebell from Captain Claw.

“Kittylocks and the Three Bears / Paws—the Great White Dog Shark” (10/10/87) – Kittylocks intrudes on the home of the three bears. / A great white dog shark threatens the island of Catalina.

“Cat Wars / Tarsam of the Jungle” (10/17/87) – Fluke Penguin ends up recruited to help save the planet Caturn from evil forces. / Hunter Catnip and Bwana Grinder pursue the legendary Tarsam, who was raised by apes in the jungle.

“Sleeping Kitty / Kitty and the Kong” (10/24/87) – When Princess Kitty fails to invite Bratnip to her party, Bratnip’s mother curses Kitty to sleep forever when she watches TV. / Originally escaping the clutches of Kong, Kitty helps Kong escape when Catnip takes him to New York.

“Kitty and the Beast / Little Red Bunny Hood” (10/31/87) – Fangora and Troll Grinder turns Tuxedo Sam into a beast, which can be reversed if Kitty falls for him. / Grandma Kitty faces multiple problems as Little Red Bunny Hood goes to visit her.

“Snow White Kitty and the One Dwarf / Frankencat” (11/7/87) – Dwarf Grinder saves Snow White from the evil queen Catnip. / Dr. Frankencat builds a monster that abducts My Melody.

“Catula / Paws of the Round Table” (11/14/87) – Hello Kitty and her friends have to stop Catula from terrorizing Catsylvania. / Sir Lancelot Penguin and Arthur have to retrieve Excalibur from Morgan La Fur and the Black Knight.

“Rumpeldogskin / Robin Penguin” (11/21/87) – Kitty spins straw into gold for King Sam while Fangora pushes Catnip to become his queen. / Robin Penguin must jouse Sheriff Grinder to save Maid Kitty.

“Hello Mother Goose / Crocodile Penguin” (11/28/87) – Hello Mother Goose helps her friends retrieve what they’ve lost. / Reporters Hello Kitty and My Melody track down the legendary Crocodile Penguin.

“Grinder Genie and the Magic Lamp / The Ugly Quackling” (12/5/87) – Kitty and Sam find a magic lamp. / Ugly saves sister Catnip from Grinder Fox.

“How Scrinchenip Stole Christmas / The Phantom of the Theater” (12/12/87) – Catnip attempts to steal Christmas. / Mowser the Mouse is responsible for strange goings on at the theater.

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