THE SECRET LIVES OF WALDO KITTY / THE NEW ADVENTURES OF WALDO KITTY
(NBC, September 6-November 29, 1975)
Jane Webb – Felicia
Allan Melvin – Tyrone, various
Filmation, finally “getting over [their] aversion to satire” as co-founder Lou Scheimer would put it in his book, Creating the Filmation Generation, decided to take inspiration from the story for their next project. The Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty followed a shy and timid cat named Waldo (Howard Morris) who often imagined himself in heroic roles when dealing with the menacing English bulldog, Tyrone (Allan Melvin), which would help him come up with a real solution. These fantasies would alternate between five pop culture parodies: Batman, Tarzan, The Lone Ranger, Robin Hood and Star Trek (four of which were properties Filmation had or would come to work on). Always present and in need of rescue was Waldo’s girlfriend, Felicia (Jane Webb). Occasionally, Tyrone would be joined by three other dogs to comprise his gang, while Waldo would have either a sparrow or rabbit as a sidekick. What made the show unique was that while the fantasy sequences were traditionally animated, the real-life Waldo and his companions were portrayed by real-life animals in wraparound segments produced by Filmart with animals from Frank Inn, Inc.
The Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty debuted on NBC on September 6, 1975. The series was written by Lorna Cook, Bill Danch and Jim Ryan, with music by Ray Ellis (as Yvette Blas) and Norm Prescott (as Jeff Michael) and additional music and sound effects by Horta-Mahana Corp. The theme was written by Jackie Mills and Joyce Taylor and performed in-character by Morris. However, it was a hassle to even get the show made. Filmation’s first headache came with the conception of the show. Layout artist Lorna Smith came up with the concept, fought for it to even be considered for production by the studio, and then for her credit on the series when her role in the equation was seemingly forgotten. NBC had reduced their episode order from 16 to 13, which made the show very unattractive to certain markets for airing. Then, Filmation learned why the adage “never work with children or animals” was coined with the tremendous difficulty they had in wrangling their dog actor for filming, as he was always chasing after the cat actors on set. Finally, Thurber’s widow Helen and Samuel Goldwyn Productions filed suit against Filmation for infringing on her husband’s idea and unfair competition. The series ultimately proved different enough for the suit to go nowhere, but NBC cancelled it anyway and didn’t even give it a second season of reruns.