Top Cat is a Hanna-Barbera prime time animated television series which ran from September 27, 1961 to April 18, 1962 for a run of 30 episodes on the ABC network on Wednesdays.
History and treatment
The central character, Top Cat
— called T.C.
by close friends (providing it's with dignity) — is the leader of a gang of New York alley cats
: Fancy-Fancy, Spook, Benny the Ball, The Brain, and Choo Choo. Top Cat and his gang were inspired by characters from the popular situation comedy The Phil Silvers Show
. It has also been said that the Bowery Boys
influenced the 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). Arnold Stang
's voicing of Top Cat strongly resembled Phil Silvers
' voice as well.
A frequent plotline revolved around the local policeman, Officer Charlie Dibble, 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 modelled on Allen Jenkins who did his voice. The name Dibble has passed into the vernacular as slang for police officers.
Top Cat, a yellow cat with violet hat and vest, is the protagonist
of the series and leader of the gang of cats around which the series revolves. Top Cat is laid-back and persuasive, a leader who can also be a friend. Top Cat's leadership is sometimes challenged by the rest of the gang, particularly when he has done something particularly shameful. Resolution of the revolt usually comes as capitulation by Top Cat to the will of the gang. One such incident features in "Dibble's Birthday
" where Top Cat plans to give away all of Dibble's birthday gifts.
Benny the Ball
Benny is one of Top Cat's right-hand man. He is short, chubby, naive, and cute, an indigo-coloured cat with a white sweater that fastens with a single button at his neck. Benny may appear to be simple-minded, but he manages to ask the most logical questions during the gang's erratic endeavors. He is slow, not stupid. The gang relationship between Benny and Top Cat is based on a devoted friendship between them. An example of the lengths to which Top Cat will go to help Benny is illustrated by the episode "A visit from Mother" in which Top Cat arranges for Benny to appear to be the mayor of New York City. A number of episodes have focused on Benny, including "The Violin Player", "The Unscratchables" and "The Missing Heir". Benny the Ball is modeled after his voice actor Maurice Gosfield.
Choo-Choo is another of Top Cat's right-hand men, usually his 2nd in command, and is enthusiastic and devoted to Top Cat even when he’s clueless on what he’s doing. He is a pink cat with a white long-sleeve turtle-neck shirt, is the tallest of the alley gang cats, and often is depicted with the eyes of a Siamese cat
. He lives at the firehouse as the firehouse cat as seen in one episode. He had a couple of love crushes [“Choo-choo's romance”, “Choo-choo goes gaga-gaga”], however unlike Fancy-Fancy or Top Cat, Choo-Choo has no courage talking to girls.
Brain appears to be a common henchman to Top Cat. Brain is the dim-witted member of the alley gang, an orange cat with a purple shirt. Brain is notorious for being unable to keep a secret, and for his stuttering
Fancy-Fancy appears to be a common henchman to Top Cat. He is laid-back, sweet-talking and is regularly seen chatting up the ladies before leaving them when hearing the 'dustbin lid call', a dark orange cat with a white scarf. He resembles Spook
in appearance, and his voice and character were based on Cary Grant
Spook rarely speaks in the episodes, but when he does, a torrent of "like"'s are used. He is similar to Fancy-Fancy
in demeanor and appearance, a sweet talking cat whose vernacular is based on that of a beatnik. He is a pool shark with green fur and a black tie.
Officer Dibble is the policeman
whose walk the beat
includes the alley. Though he usually resents the gang's presence in the alley, there are times when he respects and loves them.
In one of the episodes T.C and his friends are reading comic books
. If you look at the right and look at the bottom you will see a Yogi Bear
and a Huckleberry Hound
- "Hawaii Here We Come" (Sep 27, 1961)
- "Maharajah of Pookajee" (Oct 4, 1961)
- "All That Jazz" (Oct 11, 1961)
- "The $1,000,000 Derby" (Oct 18, 1961)
- "The Violin Player" (Oct 25, 1961)
- "The Missing Heir" (Nov 1, 1961)
- "Top Cat Falls In Love" (Nov 8, 1961)
- "A Visit From Mother" (Nov 15, 1961)
- "Naked Town" (Nov 22, 1961)
- "Sergeant Top Cat" (Nov 29, 1961)
- "Choo-Choo's Romance" (Dec 6, 1961)
- "The Unscratchables" (Dec 13, 1961)
- "Rafeefleas" (Dec 20, 1961)
- "The Tycoon" (Dec 27, 1961)
- "The Long Hot Winter" (Jan 3, 1962)
- "The Case of the Absent Anteater" (Jan 10, 1962)
- "T.C. Minds the Baby" (Jan 17, 1962)
- "Farewell, Mr. Dibble" (Jan 24, 1962)
- "The Grand Tour" (Jan 31, 1962)
- "The Golden Fleecing" (Feb 7, 1962)
- "Space Monkey" (Feb 14, 1962)
- "The Late T.C." (Feb 21, 1962)
- "Dibble's Birthday" (Feb 28, 1962)
- "Choo-Choo Goes Ga-Ga" (Mar 7, 1962)
- "King for a Day" (Mar 14, 1962)
- "The Con Men" (Mar 21, 1962)
- "Dibble Breaks the Record" (Mar 28, 1962)
- "Dibble Sings Again" (Apr 4, 1962)
- "Griswald" (Apr 11, 1962)
- "Dibble's Double" (Apr 18, 1962)
In the USA, a boxset with all 30 episodes has been released.
||Additional Information |
| Top Cat- The Complete Series
|| December 7 2004
- 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
In the UK, the series has instead been divided into single DVD volumes, except for at HMV which stocks an exclusive complete boxset.
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
presumably because Arnold Stang wasn't available at the time.
In 1985, Top Cat appeared on Yogi's Treasure Hunt with all the other Hanna-Barbera characters; he was the one who assigned the treasure hunts. Officer Dibble made an appearance in the episode "Yogi's Beanstalk" voiced by John Stephenson.
Hanna-Barbera Studios created and produced a feature-length telefilm 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.
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.
In 1991, Top Cat became a teenage cat (but he still lived in a trash can) on NBC's Yo Yogi! voiced by Arte Johnson.
In the Duck Dodgers episode "K-9 Quarry," Top Cat was amongst the poached characters on the Alien Hunter's ship.
Top Cat and his gang appeared in the Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law episode "Mindless" with Top Cat and Choo Choo voiced by Tom Kenny, Benny the Ball voiced by Maurice LaMarche, and Fancy-Fancy voiced by Chris Edgerly. The Brain has no dialogue and Spook is nowhere to be seen. In that episode, Harvey Birdman takes Top Cat and his gang home.
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.
In Mexico, El Coleccion Primavera featured Don Gato in 1968.
Little Golden Books
and Durabooks have both produced hardcover children's books starring Top Cat.
T.C. and friends appeared on three View-Master
reels in 1962. These were titled "Medal for Meddling," "Zoo-Operation," and "No Cat Fishing."
The Original TV Soundtrack was released by Colpix Records
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.
was among the first programs aired on CTV
. The country's first private television network commenced broadcasts in October 1961.
Mexico and Latin America
The show was a massive hit in Mexico
, where it is known as Don Gato
(literally Mr. Cat and his gang
) and the main characters adopted accents from different regions of Mexico. Besides Top Cat, all the other characters from the show were very famous: Benny was renamed Benito B. Bodoque y B.
and given a more child-like voice than was the case in the original dubbing, Choo Choo was renamed Cucho
and spoke with a strong Yucatan
accent, Fancy-Fancy was Panza
(Tummy), 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
. Top Cat
is still rerun every few years.
In the United Kingdom, 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 brand of cat food
. The dialogue and theme tune still referred to the character by his original name but a small cut was made in the opening credits (resulting in a slight 'jump' in the film) and a title card added before the episode proper. The new name 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 disappeared, allowing the original title to be used. This continues to be the case in the showings on Boomerang and BBC Two.
Top cat was one of the early favorites on the Cartoon Network. It was aired in India in the 1990s.