Top Cat

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Top Cat
Topcat.jpg
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
GenreComedy
FormatAnimated series
Directed byWilliam Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Voices ofArnold Stang
Allen Jenkins
Maurice Gosfield
Leo DeLyon
Marvin Kaplan
John Stephenson
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes30 (List of episodes)
Production
Producer(s)William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Running timeBetween 24 and 27 minutes
Production company(s)Hanna-Barbera
DistributorScreen Gems (1961-1974)
Worldvision Enterprises (1983-1992)
Turner Program Services (1992-1998)
Warner Bros. Television Distribution (1998-present)
Broadcast
Original channelABC
Picture formatColor (initially telecast in black and white)
Audio formatMono
Original runSeptember 27, 1961 (1961-09-27) – April 18, 1962 (1962-04-18)
 
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Episode 13 of The Harveytoons Show included a character and short called "Top Cat".[1]
Top Cat
Topcat.jpg
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
GenreComedy
FormatAnimated series
Directed byWilliam Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Voices ofArnold Stang
Allen Jenkins
Maurice Gosfield
Leo DeLyon
Marvin Kaplan
John Stephenson
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes30 (List of episodes)
Production
Producer(s)William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Running timeBetween 24 and 27 minutes
Production company(s)Hanna-Barbera
DistributorScreen Gems (1961-1974)
Worldvision Enterprises (1983-1992)
Turner Program Services (1992-1998)
Warner Bros. Television Distribution (1998-present)
Broadcast
Original channelABC
Picture formatColor (initially telecast in black and white)
Audio formatMono
Original runSeptember 27, 1961 (1961-09-27) – April 18, 1962 (1962-04-18)

Top Cat is a Hanna-Barbera prime time animated television series which ran from November 26, 1961 to April 18, 1962 for a run of 30 episodes on the ABC network. Reruns are played on Cartoon Network's classic animation network Boomerang.

Contents

History

Originally broadcast on Wednesdays [8:30-9pm Eastern], Top Cat was co-sponsored by Kellogg's and Bristol-Myers (Bufferin). The central character, Top Cat—called T.C. by close friends, "pro-vid-ing it's with dignity" as the lyrics of the theme song say—is the leader of a gang of Manhattan alley cats: Fancy Pants, Spook, Benny the Ball, Brain, and Choo Choo living in Hoagy's Alley.

Top Cat and his gang were inspired by characters from the popular situation comedy You'll Never Get Rich (later called The Phil Silvers Show). Maurice Gosfield, who played Private Duane Doberman on The Phil Silvers Show, also provided the voice for Benny the Ball in Top Cat (Benny's rotund appearance was based on Gosfield too). Even Arnold Stang's voicing of Top Cat strongly resembled Phil Silvers' voice. Another possible source material was Hokey Wolf, a segment on The Huckleberry Hound Show, which also had parallels to The Phil Silvers Show.[2][3]

A frequent plot-line revolved around the local beat policeman, Charles "Charlie" Dibble, NYPD and his ineffective attempts to evict the gang from the alley. The only reason that he wanted to be rid of them was that Top Cat and his gang were constantly attempting to earn a quick dollar—usually through an illegal scam. Dibble's appearance was modeled on Allen Jenkins, who did his voice. Dibble, previously only an implement for making holes for planting seeds, has acquired a second meaning in the vernacular as slang for police officers[citation needed].

Characters

Episode list

No.TitleAir date
1"Hawaii, Here We Come"September 27, 1961
Benny wins a trip to Hawaii on a ship. This leads to Top Cat and the rest of the gang joining him on his trip by stowing away. Things take a drastic turn as Officer Dibble also ends up aboard the ship and the discovery of a suitcase containing counterfeit money leads to Top Cat and the gang being thrown into the brig as suspect counterfeiters. However, with Top Cat's assistance, Officer Dibble is able to catch the actual counterfeiter and verify the gang's innocence. 
2"Maharajah of Pookajee"October 4, 1961
Top Cat impersonates the Maharajah of Pookajee and lives the good life at a swank hotel with his cronies until a pair of gangsters show up. 
3"All That Jazz"October 11, 1961
Jazz, the new cat in town (known as "A.T." - All That), takes over the pool hall, steals Top Cat's girlfriend, sways the gang, and cleans up the alley. This sparks a contest between the pair. However, when both Jazz and Top Cat are offered a part in a Hollywood film, they assume that it is another trick. The offer turns out to be legitimate, and Benny is cast in the starring role in The Thing from the Alley. He leaves for Hollywood in a limo, accompanied by Top Cat and the gang in the guise of Benny's manager, valet, vocal coach, tailor and chauffeur. After that, Officer Dibble catches Jazz using the police phone, now declaring that Jazz is just as bad as Top Cat. Jazz and his companion Beau are forced to keep the alley clean for 30 days. Hanna-Barbera greats Daws Butler and Don Messick provide the voices of Jazz and Beau. 
4"The $1,000,000 Derby"October 18, 1961
Benny gets a new pet, a devoted camera-loving nag. Top Cat tries everything to get rid of the horse, but changes his mind when he sees the horse's shock-induced superior racing abilities. 
5"The Violin Player"October 25, 1961
Mr. Gutenberg, the musical director of Carnegie Hall, mistakes a recording of violin virtuoso Laszlo Laszlo for the playing of Benny the Ball, who has just taken up the instrument. He approaches Benny with an offer to perform and Top Cat negotiates a deal for $50,000 for a Saturday night performance at the Hall—an offer that is withdrawn when Carnegie's Board of Directors really hear Benny play. When Gutenberg offers a $10,000 reward to find the true violinist, the gang discovers that it's their neighborhood street cleaner, Laszlo Laszlo. 
6"The Missing Heir"November 1, 1961
Benny is a double for the missing heir to a millionaire's fortune. Top Cat and the gang get Benny to the mansion in time to claim the money. But this is not good news to the scheming butler and dog (with a Muttley-like wheezing laugh) who hoped to claim the fortune themselves. Paul Frees does the voice of Chuttney the Butler and Don Messick voices Griswald the dog (who also appears in the later episode "Griswald") 
7"Top Cat Falls in Love"November 8, 1961
While visiting tonsillectomy patient Benny in the hospital, Top Cat falls for the pretty cat nurse, Miss LaRue. T.C. decides to attract her attention by pretending to come down with a rare illness—which will need a lot of nursing care. Jean Vander Pyl does the voice of Nurse LaRue, while Don Messick voices Doctor Dawson. 
8"A Visit from Mother"November 15, 1961
Benny has written to his mother that he is the Mayor of New York. Now Benny's mother is coming for a visit, and Top Cat and the gang must do everything they can to convince Mrs. Ball that her son really is the Mayor. Bea Benaderet does the voice of Benny's Mother. 
9"Naked Town"November 22, 1961
"Naked Town", a TV crime show, will be shooting a warehouse robbery scene in Top Cat's alley. Officer Dibble offers his cooperation, but is unaware that some crooks will be using the TV filming as a cover for a real robbery. 
10"Sergeant Top Cat"November 29, 1961
After overhearing Officer Dibble suggesting ways to improve conditions for the police force, Top Cat passes off Dibble's ideas to the Chief as T.C.'s own. This leads to Top Cat's being made an honorary police sergeant—and Dibble's boss in the alley. 
11"Choo-Choo's Romance"December 6, 1961
Choo-Choo has fallen in love with a beautiful French cat, Goldie. Top Cat and the gang help Choo-Choo to court her. But they have reckoned without Goldie's jealous boyfriend, Pierre. Jean Vander Pyl and John Stephenson voice Goldie and Pierre. 
12"The Unscratchables"December 13, 1961
When a missing diamond ends up in Benny the Ball's stomach, Top Cat and the gang have to find a way to get him back from gangsters who have kidnapped him, and are attempting to retrieve the diamond the hard way. Herschel Bernardi does the voices of Muggsy and Big Gus, Jean Vander Pyl does the voice of Fifi. while Herb Vigran does Muscles', the Patrolman Officer's and Dr. Riggormorton's voices, also John Stephenson doubles as the voices of Fancy-Fancy and Honest Otto. 
13"Rafeefleas"December 20, 1961
After Benny spends the night sleeping inside a museum, T.C. discovers a scarab attached to his back. The jewel is later found to be an expensive antique, and the gang attempts to return it. Once the scarab is returned, a jewel thief arrives and takes a number of jewels. Dibble arrives and mistakes T.C. as the thief, however the thief is caught when he runs into the rest of the gang. 
14"The Tycoon"December 27, 1961
A Tycoon decides to give away $1,000,000 to the most unfortunate person he finds, which ends up being Top Cat. He gives the check to Benny, who tries to show it to Top Cat (who ignores him), so he tries to cash it himself. A merchant overhears him and tells all his associates. Everybody gives things to Top Cat thinking he is a millionaire, and that he'll pay them back. Herb Vigran, Herschel Bernardi and Don Messick perform additional voices. 
15"The Long Hot Winter"January 3, 1962
During the cold winter in the alley, Top Cat and the gang scheme to find a way into Officer Dibble's house in an attempt to keep warm. Once inside the house, Dibble struggles to live with the gang. In the end, the gang stay for several months until Spring and the warmer weather arrives. 
16"The Case of the Absent Anteater"January 10, 1962
Benny gets a new pet; a hungry, brown giant anteater which followed him into the alley. Top Cat attempts to get rid of the animal until it is revealed that the anteater has escaped from the zoo and a large reward is on offer for its return. 
17"T.C. Minds the Baby"January 17, 1962
An abandoned baby is found by Top Cat and the gang who intend to look after it. However, they find parenthood much more difficult than they thought it would be. In the end, the mother is found and the baby is returned safely. Jean Vander Pyl (who later voiced Wilma Flintstone's daughter Pebbles) does baby voices for the Baby. 
18"Farewell, Mr. Dibble"January 24, 1962
Officer Dibble is replaced by a new recruit named Ernest Prowler. Prowler intends to be more forceful in his duty than Dibble and intends to stop the trouble that Top Cat and the gang cause. Due to the new regime, the gang hatch a plan to have Dibble return to his old beat in the alley. Don Messick does the voice of Ernest Prowler. 
19"The Grand Tour"January 31, 1962
Top Cat and the gang are struggling to make money. However T.C. comes up with a new get-rich-quick scheme which involves creating a fake "historical" tour of New York. Choo-Choo begins selling "phony" maps, however it is later found that the maps point to a real treasure in a dilapidated house. 
20"The Golden Fleecing"February 7, 1962
Benny receives an insurance payment of $2000 and Top Cat has some ideas about how the money should be spent. The first spend is made on visiting a local nightclub to visit Honeydew Mellon, a showgirl who also happens to be part of a gang of poker-playing con-artists. The con-artists will do everything they can to separate Benny and his money. 
21"Space Monkey"February 14, 1962
Officer Dibble takes a job at Cape Canaveral, and the gang discover about the luxurious treatment a chimpanzee receives while in the space program. The group decides to join up in attempt to access the same luxurious facilities, however wants out when they discover they will be going into space. It is not known, who did the voices of the Space Shuttle Doctor and his assistant Bernie. However, John Stephenson did the voice of Marvo the Chimp. 
22"The Late T.C."February 21, 1962
Top Cat is injured when hit in the head by a baseball. From the resulting injury, a misunderstanding means that Officer Dibble is led to believe that Top Cat only has a week left to live. T.C. and the gang take advantage of Dibble and his kindness during the week. 
23"Dibble's Birthday"February 28, 1962
Officer Dibble's birthday is coming up and he begins to feel he is getting too old. To help cheer him up, the gang decide to throw him a birthday party, with gifts from everybody in the neighborhood. 
24"Choo-Choo Goes Ga-Ga"March 7, 1962
Choo-Choo threatens to commit suicide unless he can get a date with a Hollywood movie star named Lola. Top Cat sees this as a challenge and intends to find a way to meet Lola, and get Choo-Choo a date. Jean Vander Pyl and Bea Benaderet did the voices of Lola Glamour and Fifi the Maid. 
25"King for a Day"March 14, 1962
After Top Cat upsets Officer Dibble one time too many, he and the gang decide to lie low for a while. After spending the night in a department store, the gang go on the "King for a Day" show which offers a number of prizes, after writing to the shows producer about the gang being a "poor family". Instead, Dibble wins the prizes and offers to take T.C. and the gang for a ride to show no hard feelings. 
26"The Con Men"March 21, 1962
A friendly hot dog vendor is swindled out of $1000 by con men who pretended to have an oil well in Nova Scotia. Top Cat disguises himself as a wealthy Texan in an attempt to get the money back, by convincing the crooks that the oil well really does exist. 
27"Dibble Breaks the Record"March 28, 1962
Dibble attempts to break a record as the longest serving police officer on the beat, which had been set years ago by his idol, policeman, "Iron Man" Muldoon. If he beats the record, he wins a holiday which allows him to escape the gang for a while. With this information, Top Cat does everything he can to help Dibble win and have the gang watch over him so he does not have an accident. Paul Frees does the voice of the Ghost of "Iron Man" Muldoon. 
28"Dibble Sings Again"April 4, 1962
Top Cat owes money to a loan shark named Big Gus, and after hearing Officer Dibble singing he convinces him that under his management, he could become a big singing star. Leo Delyon doubles as the voices of Brain and Big Gus' gorilla. 
29"Griswald"April 11, 1962
Dibble gets a new partner on the beat: a dog named Griswald. Top Cat and the gang attempt to outwit him, but the dog always seems to be one step ahead. T.C. manages to get the dog removed from duty after he bites the police commissioner. 
30"Dibble's Double"April 18, 1962
A thief named Al, disguised as Officer Dibble steals a fortune from an art gallery. Top Cat has also taken up painting, but discovers his own artwork has also been stolen. The gang, together with Dibble team up to catch the thief. Don Messick voices Al, while Leo DeLyon does the voice of his henchman. 

DVD release

In the USA, a box set with all 30 episodes was released in December 2004 (2004-12).

DVD NameEp #Release DateAdditional Information
Top Cat - The Complete Series30December 7, 2004 (2004-12-07)
  • 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, 5 single DVD volumes, each containing 6 episodes, were released. The covers were originally from the US edition, but was 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: Purple (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.

Cameos

Other characters appearing in Top Cat

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

Top Cat characters appearing in other shows

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.[4] In Mexico, La Coleccion Primavera featured Don Gato in 1968.

Books

Little Golden Books and Durabooks have both produced hardcover children's books starring Top Cat.

In the UK, BrownWatson published the 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 was released by Colpix Records in 1962, consisting of slightly edited versions of "The Unscratchables" and "Top Cat Falls In Love".

In 1965, Hanna-Barbera Records released an LP titled "Robin Hood Starring Top Cat". T.C. and the gang were pictured as merry men on the cover. 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 Top Cat theme song is the opening track on Ted Kooshian's 2008 jazz CD, Ted Kooshian's Standard Orbit Quartet.

Feature film

Official Mexican release poster for the movie.

Anima Studios of Mexico and Illusion Studios of Argentina have produced a feature film in 2D and 3D, entitled Don Gato y su Pandilla (the name used for the Spanish dub of the series). The film was initially released exclusively in Mexico and South American markets on September 13, 2011 by the Latin American branch of Warner Bros. Pictures (whose parent company, Time Warner owns Turner Entertainment, which acquired Hanna-Barbera in 1990). The film was released in cinemas as Top Cat: The Movie in the United Kingdom through Vertigo Films in June 1, 2012.[5] To date, there has been no word from Warner Bros. if the film will be released in any form in the United States or Canada. However, Rotten Tomatoes reported that this film may be released on DVD on March 26, 2013. It is also planned to have a limited theatrical release in the United States and a sequel that is in the works.[6]

The movie has become one of the most successful Mexican movies ever; in its 5th week it had earned 108 million pesos (about US$7,929,515).[citation needed] However, the English dub of the film received overwhelmingly negative reviews from UK critics criticizing the animation and voice acting.[7] It currently scores a 14% "Rotten" on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 14 reviews, with an average score of 2.8/10.[8] It was later released theatrically and direct-to-video in several other intercontinental countries, such as Israel, Russia, India, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Slovakia, and Czech Republic.

Broadcasting

International broadcasters

North America

United States
Canada
Mexico

Asia

Sri Lanka
India

Bangladesh

Southeast Asia
Pakistan
Japan

Europe

Denmark
France
Germany
Italy
Czech Republic
Macedonia
Poland
Hungary
Spain
Sweden
Netherlands
Norway
United Kingdom
  • BBC One, formerly renamed Boss Cat (see below)
  • Boomerang
  • Cartoon Network
  • Cartoon Network Too

Oceania

Australia
New Zealand

South America

Argentina

Brazil

Costa Rica

Chile

Uruguay

  • National Television Uruguay

Venezuela

Other countries

Canada

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

Latin 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. In Mexico the show is aired under the name Don Gato y su pandilla (literally Mr. Cat and his gang like mafia style, but stands for Mr. Top Cat or just Top Cat like in the United States) 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 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), 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

Boss Cat title card

Top Cat is the most enduringly popular of all Hanna-Barbera shows in the United Kingdom, having been rerun on network TV more than any other since its 1962 debut.

In the UK, the show was first aired on BBC television (now called BBC One) but renamed Boss Cat shortly after it premiered in 1962 because Top Cat was also the name of a then-popular British brand of cat food. 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 added 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).

Despite the presence of the 'Boss Cat' title card, the continued use of the Top Cat name (and the acronym 'T.C') throughout the UK-aired soundtrack meant that the character was always popularly referred to as 'Top Cat' by every generation of UK viewers. 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' food brand had long since discontinued (as had any concerns about mirroring such a brand name even if it did exist), allowing the original title to be used. This continues to be the case in contemporary showings on Boomerang and BBC Two.

As Welsh Conservative MP David Davies' name sounds the same as fellow Conservative MP David Davis, a candidate in the 2005 Conservative leadership contest, confusion could occur between the two in Westminster. Therefore, David Davies is referred to in the House of Commons in Westminster as David T.C. Davies. This has caused opposition MPs to refer to him in jest as Top Cat.[9]

"The Dibble" is a name sometimes used as a slang term for the Police (after Officer Dibble). The use of this phrase is more prevalent in the Greater Manchester area of the United Kingdom.

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

Sri Lanka

Top Cat (Sinhala: Pissu Poosa (පිස්සු පූසා)) was one of the most popular cartoon shows in Sri Lanka and it has been repeated several times on the same TV channel.

Name in different languages

Production credits

See also

References

External links