Remember that one day when you could wake up without an alarm? When you would get your favorite bowl of cereal and sit between the hours of 8 and 12? This is a blog dedicated to the greatest time of our childhood: Saturday mornings. The television programs you watched, the memories attached to them, and maybe introducing you to something you didn't realize existed. Updated every weekend.
World War II, cartoonist Dan DeCarlo was soon hired by Timely Comics (the precursor
to Marvel Comics) editor Stan Lee on their teen title, Jeanie. With his quality work and speed, DeCarlo was soon working
on Timely’s other teen titles, as well as taking on additional freelancing
work. Some of that work came from Archie Comics,
but because of their low page rate DeCarlo didn’t do much for them.
Willie Lumpkin by Stan Lee and Dan DeCarlo.
While working on the comic strips Willie Lumpkinand Life
With Lizzie with Lee, DeCarlo became inspired by a caricature he drew
of his wife Josie with her new bouffant hairdo. DeCarlo developed a teenage
comic strip called Josie and drew up some samples to shop
Features was interested in the strip, but
wanted more samples before they would commit. Realizing he couldn’t handle the
additional workload, he shelved the idea and focused on his current projects.
A preliminary Josie strip.
When Lumpkin ended,
DeCarlo tried to sell Josie again with no success. He decided
to try it out as a full comic book and presented the concept to Richard Goldwater, co-publisher of Archie Comics. In the interim, DeCarlo had
begun gradually doing more work for the company and his style was adopted as
Archie’s house style (meaning all of their teen-centric books emulated how he
drew the characters, regardless of the actual artist assigned). Goldwater
showed it to his father, Archie founder and co-publisher John Goldwater, and the concept was approved.
Pepper and Josie with Melody being ogled by Albert, Sock and Alex (plus a random student) on the cover to She's Josie #1.
debuted in Archie’s Pals ‘n’ Gals #22, 1962, followed by her own ongoing series, She’s Josie, in 1963; later
renamed just Josie with #17. The series focused on
sweet-natured redhead Josie McCoy (or Jones or James, depending on the story)
and her friends: the ditzy blonde bombshell Melody Valentine and the brainy,
rebellious, bespectacled Pepper. Supporting characters included Josie’s
boyfriend, Albert, and Pepper’s strong and dim-witted boyfriend, Socrates (or
Sock). Rounding out the cast were the wealthy and obnoxious Cabot twins,
Alexander III and Alexandra. Alexander was always competing with Albert for
Josie’s affections, while Alexandra would always try to trip up Josie to get
Albert all to herself. Alexandra also had a black and white cat named
Sebastian, who would later match Alexandra’s hair when both gained black hair with
a white streak.
Size comparison production sketches for Josie, Melody, Valerie, Alexandra and Sebastian.
When Filmation’s The
Archie Show proved a success on both
television and the radio, Fred Silverman was looking for a repeat performance for CBS’ morning line-up.
His original attempt wound up ditching the music angle altogether and evolving
into the powerhouse Scooby-Doo franchise
from Hanna-Barbera. With Filmation bogged down with work, Silverman again
turned to Hanna-Barbera to see what they could do. Hanna-Barbera in turn went
to Archie to see what other properties they could offer for development
and Josie was selected.
The introduction of the Pussycats' costumes.
In order to meet the qualities Silverman was
looking for, the comic went under heavy redevelopment to make it a book about a
teenaged girl band that Hanna-Barbera could adapt into a show. Gradually, the
characters of Albert, Sock and Pepper were phased out. In #42,
a muscular folk singer named Alan M. debuted and became Josie’s semi-regular
boyfriend and the band’s roadie. The rivalry between Josie and Alexandra
continued over him. With #45,
the series was renamed Josie and the Pussycats when the girls
officially decided to form their own band. Alexandra was to be their bassist,
but only if she could rename the group “Alexandra’s Cool Time Cats.” However, Alexander
appointed himself the band’s manager and supplied them with a new bassist:
Valerie Smith, Archie’s first African-American main character. The girls also
created their leopard print cat costumes in that issue (which Josie DeCarlo
cited as being inspired by a cat costume she wore on a cruise) and the
Pussycats were born. But, Hanna-Barbera didn’t do a perfect page-to-screen
From comics to film: Josie, Alexandra, Alan, Alexander, Valerie and Melody.
the comic alternated between the Pussycats performing at gigs and dealing with
everyday life, the Hanna-Barbera cartoon chose to follow their successful Scooby-Doo formula and placed the girls in the middle
of mysteries between gigs; complete with a chase scene used to feature an
original Pussycat song. Each episode would end with Alexandra (Sherry Alberoni)
attempting to interfere with the band's performance or steal away Alan (Jerry
Dexter), which would backfire against her. Other changes also included toning
down Alexander’s personality and making him kinder and more of a coward akin
to Scooby-Doo’s Shaggy, who Alexander now resembled and shared a
voice actor with in Casey Kasem. No mention was made of the Cabot fortune, or
any appearances by any of the characters’ families. Bassist Valerie (Barbara
Pariot) used various instruments, frequently the tambourine, while Melody’s sex
appeal was never addressed(and gradually reduced in the comics themselves where
a running gag was that guys would have accidents because they were too busy
staring at her). Melody was also given a new “danger sense” in the form of her
ears wiggling whenever trouble was near.
The real Pussycats: Dougher, Moor/Ladd and Holloway.
Hanna-Barbera worked on forming a real-life
version of the band to provide singing voices to the characters, record an
album for radio play and the show, and to appear in live-action segments at the
end of each episode (an idea which was later scrapped). The album would be
released through Capitol
Records through a deal secured with Karl Engemann, then vice president of Capitol, who was the younger
brother of Bobby
Young. Young, along with business partner Danny Janssen of La
La Productions would be in charge of the
music and held a talent search for girls who could both sing AND resembled the
lead characters. They eventually selected Kathleen Dougherty (renamed Cathy
Dougher by Capitol) as Josie, Cherie Moor (who would come to be known as Cheryl
Ladd) as Melody, and Patrice Holloway as Valerie. The songs would be written by
Janssen, Austin Roberts, Sue Steward (aka Sue Sheridan) and Bobby Hart and had a Motown
inspiration to them.
Character models for the Pussycats.
After presenting the band to producers William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, it was announced that they wanted Holloway recast as they
had decided to make the Pussycats an all-white trio and altered Valerie.
Janssen refused and a threatened to walk off the project, feeling the decision
a bit racist on top of the fact that Holloway's voice was the best for the soul-inspired
bubblegum pop songs he wrote. After a three-week standoff, Hanna-Barbera
reversed their position and Valerie was changed back. This resulted in Valerie
becoming the first African-American female character on a Saturday morning
cartoon series, with Filmation’s The
Hardy Boys’ drummer Pete Jones taking the
title for the male side the year prior. After word of the standoff got out,
notable soul performers around Los Angeles offered their services to La La for
the album at a fraction of their regular fees; including Ronnie Tutt, Jerry
Scheff, Clarence McDonald, Wilton Felder and Mike Stewart. The songs were made at a frantic pace of one a week as a
minimum of one, but usually two, would be used in each episode. Although the
girls only played certain instruments on screen, a full assortment of
instruments were used on the songs; giving them a unique sound that fused
elements of rock, R&B and Latin jazz.
Josie and the Pussycats tour Hanna-Barbera in issue #50.
Josie and the Pussycats debuted on CBS on September 12, 1970. The theme
song was written by Hoyt Curtin, Hanna and Barbera (the latter two under the respective
pseudonyms of Denby Williams and Joseph Roland) with lead vocals by Holloway.
The music was based on an incidental tune played in various Hanna-Barbera
productions. Larz Bourne, Tom Dagenais and Bill Lutz handled the scripting duties. To commemorate their new
show, Josie #50 had the Pussycats visiting the Hollywood studios of
Hanna-Barbera for a behind-the-scenes tour of the production of their series
(which they also did for Archie's
own show and Filmation). Along with their own comic,
the Pussycats became a feature of the comic Archie's T.V. Laugh Out, which was an anthology of Archie's three TV properties
including Archieand Sabrina,
the Teenage Witch. The show ran for a single season of sixteen episodes. For
the 1972 season, the show was revamped and turned into Josie
and the Pussycats in Outer Space.
Make the theme song start before the whole episode in every episode of this show but still show the title card after the theme song
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