Top Cat

For the boat class, see Topcat. For the 2011 film, see Top Cat: The Movie. For the 2015 film, see Top Cat Begins.
Top Cat

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
Genre Animation
Created by William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Written by Kin Platt
Directed by William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Voices of Arnold Stang
Allen Jenkins
Maurice Gosfield
Leo DeLyon
Marvin Kaplan
John Stephenson
Theme music composer Hoyt Curtin
Opening theme "The Most Effectual Top Cat"
Ending theme "The Most Effectual Top Cat"
Composer(s) Hoyt Curtin
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 30 (list of episodes)
Producer(s) William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Running time Between 24 and 27 minutes
Production company(s) Hanna-Barbera Productions
Distributor Screen Gems (original)
Columbia Pictures Television (former)
Worldvision Enterprises (former)
The Program Exchange (former)
Turner Program Services (former)
Warner Bros. Television Distribution (current)
Original network ABC
Picture format Color (initially telecast in black and white)
Audio format Mono
Original release September 27, 1961 (1961-09-27) – April 18, 1962 (1962-04-18)

Top Cat is an animated television series made by the Hanna-Barbera studios that first ran from September 27, 1961 to April 18, 1962 for a run of 30 episodes on the ABC network.


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" according to the lyrics of the theme song) is the leader of a gang of Manhattan alley cats living in Hoagy's Alley: Fancy-Fancy, Spook, Benny the Ball, Brain, and Choo Choo.[1]

Top Cat and his gang were inspired by characters from a popular 1940s 'B' movie, "The East Side Kids", but their more immediate roots lay in The Phil Silvers Show, a late-1950s military comedy whose lead character (Sergeant Bilko, played by Silvers) was a crafty con-man. Maurice Gosfield, who played Private Duane Doberman on The Phil Silvers Show, provided the voice for Benny the Ball in Top Cat, and Benny's rotund appearance was based on Gosfield's. Additionally, Arnold Stang's vocal characterisation of the lead character, the eponymous Top Cat, was based on an impression of Phil Silvers' voice.

Other influences include the movie Guys and Dolls, where actor Stubby Kaye played a short, stout street-wise gambler: a virtual Benny the Ball prototype. Lastly, an unlikely contender (as it also came from Hanna Barbera) was the character Hokey Wolf on The Huckleberry Hound Show, whose segment also paralleled The Phil Silvers Show.[2][3]

A frequent plot-thread revolved around the local beat cop, Charles "Charlie" Dibble, and his ineffective attempts to evict the gang from the alley, due to their constantly attempting to earn a quick buck (usually by an illegal scam). Dibble's appearance was modeled on his voice actor, Allen Jenkins. The word dibble had previously meant only an implement for drilling holes in which to plant seeds, but now acquired a second meaning in the vernacular as slang for police officers.[4]


Animation historian Christopher P. Lehman says that the series can be seen as social commentary. The cats may represent disenfranchised people confined to living in a poor environment. Top Cat's get-rich-quick schemes are efforts to escape to a better life. The gang faces a human police officer who frustrates their efforts and keeps them trapped in the alley.[5] This enforcement of the social order by police ensures that the cats will not escape their current living conditions.[5]


Further information: List of Top Cat characters

Voice cast

Main voices:

Additional voices:

Home media releases

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

DVD Name Ep # Release Date Additional Information
Top Cat – The Complete Series 30 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 (US release only)

In the UK, the complete series box set was released in 2007, initially as a HMV exclusive until 2008. Alternatively, five single DVD volumes, each containing 6 episodes, were released. The covers were originally from the US edition but 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:

The DVDs have since been made available to buy in other retailers across the UK.

Top Cat's cameos

Other characters appearing in Top Cat

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

Top Cat's appearance in other shows

Top Cat's appearances in comic strips

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


Little Golden Books and Durabooks have both produced hardcover children's books starring Top Cat. In the UK, World Distributors published annuals during the 1960s sourced from the Dell comics strips. BrownWatson later published a 1978 annual entitled The Great Grape Ape and Boss 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 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.


In 2016 Halifax began using Top Cat to advertise their bank in the UK.

Feature films


Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats

This 1988 TV-movie is a remake of the original show's episode "The Missing Heir". The movie was produced by Hanna-Barbera and released on January 9, 1988.

Top Cat: The Movie

Further information: Top Cat: The Movie

A feature film based on the TV series was released on September 16, 2011 in 2D and 3D theaters. The film was produced by Mexico's Ánima Estudios and Argentina's Illusion Studios and was released by the Latin American branch of Warner Bros. (whose parent company, Time Warner owns Turner Entertainment, which acquired Hanna-Barbera in 1990). Entitled Don Gato y su Pandilla (the name used for the Spanish dub of the series),[8] the film was a major box-office success in Mexico and was one of the most successful releases from a Mexican production.[9]

The film later had a limited theatrical release in the United States on August 2, 2013, featuring the voices of Rob Schneider as Lou Strickland and Danny Trejo as Griswald.[10]

Top Cat Begins

Further information: Top Cat Begins

A CGI animated prequel to the series, Top Cat Begins was made by the same Mexican studio as the 2011 movie. It tells the story of how T.C. met Benny and how the gang came together. It was released in Mexico in October 2015, and later released in the UK in May 2016.

Box office

Title year box office
Top Cat the movie 1988 TV movie
Top Cat the movie 2011 $16.6 millon [11]
Top Cat Begins 2015 $4.5 millon[12]
Combined Total $21.1 million


United States

Latin America



Sri Lanka



Southeast Asia







Czech Republic



Hungary Dubbed:

Middle East & Africa:






United Kingdom


New Zealand



Costa Rica



  • National Television Uruguay



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


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) 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

It debuted on 16 May 1962, under its original name[13] but after only 4 weeks was renamed The Boss Cat on 13 June 1962.[14] This was shortened on 22 February 1967 to Boss Cat.[15] This rapid name change was made because Top Cat was also the name of a then-popular British brand of cat food, and the cartoon was aired on the BBC which does not carry advertising. 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 carrying the revised title inserted 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). The BBC run comprised only 26 of the original 30 episodes, with notable omissions including Choo-Choo Goes Ga-Ga, with its repeated scenes of Choo-Choo attempting suicide. This 26-episode selection was repeated on the BBC from 1962 to 1989.

Despite the Boss Cat title card, the continued use of the Top Cat name (and the initials 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 pet food brand had been discontinued in the UK, as had any concerns about mirroring such a brand name even if it did exist, allowing the original US title sequence to be used. This continues to be the case in contemporary showings on satellite station Boomerang and BBC Two.

"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 North West England.

In 2016, the cartoon characters from the show (all the cats and Officer Dibble) were used as part of a UK television advertisement campaign for the Halifax Bank.[16][17]


Top Cat (Turpi úrfi) was one of the first American cartoons premiered on Hungarian television channels in 1969. It also broadcast later with The Huckleberry Hound Show, Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes, The Flintstones and The Jetsons on Magyar Televízió from 1985 to 1990, and tv2 from 1997 to 1999 (together with Wacky Races, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! and Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo). From 2012 Boomerang broadcasts it in Hungarian.


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 until 2004.

Sri Lanka

Top Cat (Sinhala: Pissu Poosa (පිස්සු පූසා) literally Crazy Cat) 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


2004 DVD Version

See also



  1. "Top Cat – The Complete Series : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Retrieved 2013-08-24.
  2. "Voice of Top Cat dies – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". December 24, 2009. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
  3. "Arnold Stang, Milquetoast Actor, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  4. "dibble". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.).
  5. 1 2 Lehman (2007), p. 26
  6. "Heathcliff Comic Strip, March 10, 2016 on". 2016-03-10. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  7. "Don Markstein's Toonopedia: Top Cat". September 27, 1961. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
  8. Calderón, Lucero (14 September 2011). "Don Gato y su pandilla, más historia para México (in Spanish)". Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  9. Mexican Animated Film 'Top Cat' Breaks Record at Box Office The Hollywood Reporter. September 20, 2011. John Hecht
  11. "Top cat the movie (2013) – Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  12. Retrieved 6 September 2016. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. "Radio Times entry for Top Cat on 16 May 1962". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2015-05-24.
  14. "Radio Times entry for The Boss Cat on 13 June 1962". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2015-05-24.
  15. "Radio Times entry for Boss Cat on 22 February 1967". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2015-05-24.
  16. "Best ads of 2016: Coke and adam&eve's Top Cat for Halifax lead the way in April | MAA". 2016-05-03. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  17. Moore, Charlie (2016-04-27). "Halifax is mocked online for using homeless TopCat to advertise MORTGAGES". Retrieved 2016-07-28.
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