Josie and the Pussycats (formatted as Josie and the Pussy Cats in the opening titles) is an American animated television series, based upon the Archie Comics comic book series of the same name created by Dan DeCarlo. The series was produced for Saturday morning television by Hanna-Barbera Productions, sixteen episodes of Josie and the Pussycats aired on CBS during the 1970–71 television season, and were rerun during the 1971–72 season. In 1972, a re-conceptualized Josie and the Pussycats series titled Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space premiered. Reruns of the original series alternated between CBS, ABC, and NBC from 1974 through 1976. This brought its national Saturday morning TV run on three networks to six years.
In the mid-1980s, both series, along with a number of other 1970s Hanna-Barbera cartoons, were on board USA Network's "Cartoon Express"; they would next appear on Cartoon Network in 1992, where all 32 episodes were run in the same timeslot. Both programs, as of 2012, are in the library of Boomerang (Time Warner's archive cartoon channel) but do not air on a regular basis. When it does air, it is typically as part of the channel's block of mystery-solving cartoons, "Those Meddling Kids!" or pops up in the two-hour tribute block of "Boomeroyalty".
Josie and the Pussycats featured an all-girl pop music band that toured the world with their entourage, getting mixed up in strange adventures, spy capers, and mysteries. On the small-screen, the group consisted of level-headed lead singer and guitarist Josie McCoy, intelligent tambourinist Valerie Brown, and air-headed blonde drummer Melody Valentine. Other characters included their cowardly manager Alexander Cabot III, his conniving sister Alexandra, her cat Sebastian, and muscular roadie Alan M.Mayberry
The show, more similar to Hanna-Barbera's successful Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! than the original Josie comic book, is famous for its music, the girls' leopard print leotards (replete with "long tails and ears for hats," as the theme song states), and for featuring Valerie as the first regularly appearing female black character in a Saturday morning cartoon show. Each episode featured a Josie and the Pussycats song played over a chase scene, which, in a similar fashion to The Monkees, featured the group running after and from a selection of haplessly villainous characters.
Every episode of the show would find the Pussycats and crew en route to perform a gig or record a song in some exotic location. Somehow, often due to something Alexandra did, they would accidentally find themselves mixed up in an adventure/mystery. The antagonist was always a diabolical mad scientist, spy, or criminal who wanted to take over the world using some hi-tech device. The Pussycats would usually find themselves in possession of the plans for an invention, an item of interest to the villains, a secret spy message, etc., and the villains would give chase. Eventually, the Pussycats would formulate a plan to destroy the villain's plans and bring them to justice, which result in a final chase sequence set to a Pussycats song.
The Pussycats would succeed in capturing the villain and get back to their gig/recording session/etc. The final gag always centered around one of Alexandra's attempts to interfere with/put an end to The Pussycats' performance and/or steal Alan away from Josie.
The show’s theme song, titled "Josie and the Pussycats", was written by Hoyt Curtin, William Hanna (under the pseudonym "Denby Williams"), and Joseph Barbera (under the pseudonym "Joseph Roland"). Patrice Holloway, the singing voice of Valerie, sings the lead vocal on the recording. The theme song was based on melodies from an incidental tune played on various Hanna-Barbera cartoons. A cover of "Josie and the Pussycats", performed by Juliana Hatfield and Tanya Donelly, is included on the 1995 tribute album Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits, produced by Ralph Sall for MCA Records.
In preparation for the upcoming cartoon series, Hanna-Barbera began working on putting together a real-life Josie and the Pussycats girl group, who would provide the singing voices of the girls in the cartoons and also record an album of songs to be used both as radio singles and in the TV series.
The Josie and the Pussycats recordings were produced by La La Productions, run by Danny Janssen and Bobby Young. They held a talent search to find three girls who would match the three girls in the comic book in both looks and singing ability; early plans, which did not come to fruition, called for a live-action Pussycats segment at the end of each episode. After interviewing over 500 finalists, settled upon casting Kathleen Dougherty (Cathy Dougher) as Josie, Cherie Moor (actress Cheryl Ladd) as Melody, and Patrice Holloway as Valerie.
Janssen presented the newly formed band to William Hanna and Joseph Barbera to finalize the production deal, but was in for a surprise. Hanna-Barbera wanted Janssen to recast Patrice Holloway, because they had decided to portray "Josie and the Pussycats" as an all-white trio and had altered Valerie, who had been conceived as African-American and was already appearing as such in Archie's revamped Josie and the Pussycats comic book, to make her white. Janssen refused to recast Holloway and threatened to walk away from the project. After a three-week-long stand-off between Janssen and Hanna-Barbera, Hanna-Barbera finally relented and allowed Janssen to keep Holloway, and changed Valerie back to being African-American.
The Valerie character was the first African-American female character on a regular Saturday morning cartoon series. The Hardy Boys drummer Pete Jones had been the first African-American male to appear on Saturday mornings a year earlier, and Hanna-Barbera also introduced a Harlem Globetrotters series, which featured an African-American drummer named Pete Jones (portrayed by real-life session drummer Bob Crowder in live segments), and it aired in 1969, a year before Josie and the Pussycats. However, Valerie was the very first female African-American cast member on a regular Saturday-morning cartoon.
Josie McCoy is the red-haired guitarist and leader of the band. Josie shares an attraction with Alan, the road manager.
Valerie Brown is an African American girl who plays the tambourines. The voice of reason in the group, Valerie is highly intelligent and a mechanical wizard.
Melody Valentine is the band's drummer. Melody is blonde and slightly airheaded, but what she lacks in intellect she makes up for in heart; wit, her perpetual sweetness and optimism.
Alan M. Mayberry
Alan Mayberry is the group's muscular roadie and Josie's love interest.
Alexandra Cabot is the ongoing antagonist of the series, identified by her long black pony-tailed hair with a white streak through the center of it, suggesting a pole-cat, or skunk. Selfish and bullying, Alexandra bills herself as "the real star of the band", though she does little more than stand around scowling with her arms folded, always jealous of the attention the others get, especially Josie. Her sole "talent" is her constant plotting to steal the spotlight and Alan's affections from Josie, only to have every scheme fail in humiliating fashion.
Alexander Cabot III
Alexander Cabot III is Alexandra's brother and the group's manager, highly identifiable by his colorful, wacky wardrobe including his green rimmed sunglasses, orange shirt collar, violet-red ascot, green shirt, purple pinstriped pants, yellow shoes, and green socks. Alexander is an admitted coward but, in sharp contrast to Alexandra, is good-hearted. Alexander and Valerie have a slight attraction to one another at times.
Sebastian is Alexandra's pet cat, whose black and white fur resembles Alexandra's hair. He enjoys being mean and sometimes appears to go to the enemy's side. Alexandra sometimes asks Sebastian to do things to Josie, but her tricks usually backfire.
- Janet Waldo - Josie McCoy
- Barbara Pariot - Valerie Brown
- Jackie Joseph - Melody Valentine
- Jerry Dexter - Alan M. Mayberry
- Casey Kasem - Alexander Cabot III
- Sherry Alberoni - Alexandra Cabot
- Don Messick - Sebastian the Cat
- Cathy Dougher - Josie McCoy
- Patrice Holloway - Valerie Brown
- Cheryl Ladd - Melody Valentine
1. "The Nemo's a No-No Affair"
2. "A Greenthumb Is Not a Goldfinger"
3. "The Secret Six Secret"
4. "Swap Plot Flop"
5. "Midas Mix-Up"
6. "X Marks the Spot"
7. "Chili Today and Hot Tamale"
8. "Never Mind a Master Mind"
9. "Plateau of the Apes Plot"
10. "Strangemoon Over Miami"
11. "All Wong in Hong Kong"
12. "Melody Memory Mix-Up"
13. "The Great Pussycat Chase"
14. "Spy School Spoof"
15. "The Jumpin' Jupiter Affair"
16. "Don't Count on a Countess"
- Josie and The Pussycats made a final appearance as animated characters in a guest shot on the September 22, 1973 episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies, "The Haunted Showboat."
- Early production art for Hanna-Barbera's 1977 "all-star" Battle of the Network Stars spoof Laff-A-Lympics featured Alexandra, Sebastian, Alexander, and Melody among other Hanna-Barbera characters as members of the "Scooby Doobies" team, but legal problems prevented their inclusion in the final program.
- In 1976, Rand McNally published a children's book based on the Josie TV show, Hanna-Barbera's Josie and The Pussycats: The Bag Factory Detour.
- Several episodes of Speed Buggy, a later Hanna-Barbera series, had similar plots to Josie and the Pussycats episodes, specifically "A Green thumb is Not a Goldfinger" ("Island of the Giant Plants"), "X Marks the Spot" ("Out of Sight"), and the Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space episode "Warrior Women of Amazonia" (called "The Hidden Valley of Amazonia" in Speed Buggy).
- In 2001, Cartoon Network began airing a Josie and the Pussycats short, called "Musical Evolution", featuring the Pussycats performing their theme song through the various eras of popular music, including pop, disco, punk, Kiss-like heavy metal, country, and techno dance. Different animation styles are used for each era. The same year, Josie and the Pussycats was adapted into a live action motion picture. The film, produced by Universal Pictures, featured a punk rock cover of the theme song during the end credits.
- The 2004-2007 Comedy Central animated TV series Drawn Together featured a character named Foxxy Love. An African-American mystery-solving musician, was a direct parody of the Josie and the Pussycats character Valerie Brown.
A Josie and the Pussycats: The Complete Series two-DVD box set was released on September 18, 2007. All sixteen episodes, minus the laugh tracks, were included, as well as a half-hour documentary on the life and career of Dan DeCarlo.