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
|Written by||Kin Platt|
|Theme music composer||Hoyt Curtin|
|Opening theme||"The Most Effectual Top Cat"|
|Ending theme||"The Most Effectual Top Cat"|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||30 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||Between 24 and 27 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Hanna-Barbera Productions|
Screen Gems (original)|
Columbia Pictures Television (former)
Worldvision Enterprises (former)
The Program Exchange (former)
Turner Program Services (former)
Warner Bros. Television Distribution (current)
|Picture format||Color (initially telecast in black and white)|
|Original release||September 27, 1961 – April 18, 1962|
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.
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.
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.
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. This enforcement of the social order by police ensures that the cats will not escape their current living conditions.
- Arnold Stang as Top Cat
- Maurice Gosfield as Benny the Ball
- Allen Jenkins as Officer Dibble
- Marvin Kaplan as Choo-Choo
- Leo De Lyon as Brain, Spook
- John Stephenson as Fancy-Fancy
- Bea Benaderet -
- Herschel Bernardi -
- Daws Butler -
- Paul Frees -
- Sally Jones -
- Don Messick -
- Ge Ge Pearson -
- Gigi Perreau -
- Jean Vander Pyl
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||
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:
- Volume 1: Primrose (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.
Top Cat's cameos
Other characters appearing in Top Cat
Other Hanna-Barbera characters make cameo appearances during the series.
- In the episode "King for a Day", Brain and Spook are reading comic books. Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound comics can be seen in the bottom right corner of the scene.
- In the episode "Rafeefleas", the gang is wandering through a museum at night when they come upon a group of statues labeled "Prehistoric Man". Choo-Choo insists that he's seen the figures before, maybe on T.V., but TC waves this off. The statues are modeled after Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble.
- In the episode "A Visit from Mother", "El Kabong" graffiti (Quick Draw McGraw's alter-ego) is seen on the wall in the background.
Top Cat's appearance in other shows
- In one episode of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., Gomer is seen in a restaurant reading a Top Cat comic book.
- Top Cat also made a cameo appearance in one of What-a-Cartoon shorts named "Buy One, Get One Free" in a party scene.
- Top Cat made a cameo appearance in a 2012 MetLife commercial enititled, "Everyone".
- Top Cat's theme is featured in The Flintstones episode "Surfin Fred" when Barney and Betty discover that Jimmy Darrock is in fact not a lifeguard.
- Officer Dibble makes a cameo appearance in The Flintstones episode "Time Machine", as a policeman in the future. Thus returning the favor done in episode "The Rafeefleas" when T.C and the gang found two statues of cave man (Fred and Barney) in an art museum, while searching for the jewelry display case.
- 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 while Benny the Ball was voiced by John Stephenson. It was presumed that Arnold Stang wasn't available at the time while Maurice Gosfield was already dead in 1964.
- In 1985, Top Cat appeared on Yogi's Treasure Hunt with Yogi Bear and other Hanna-Barbera toon stars as the treasure hunt assigner. Officer Dibble made an appearance in the end of the show's episode, "Yogi's Beanstalk" voiced by John Stephenson since Allen Jenkins had died in 1974.
- In 1987, Hanna-Barbera produced a feature-length television film 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. During that time, John Stephenson reprised Officer Dibble while Benny the Ball was voiced by Avery Schreiber.
- 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 Yo Yogi!, Top Cat was a teenage cat voiced by Arte Johnson. Even here, he still lives in a trash can.
- Top Cat was seen in a Cartoon Network Rap in 1995.
- In the Duck Dodgers episode "K-9 Quarry", Top Cat was amongst the poached characters on the Alien Hunter's ship.
- Top Cat, Benny and Brain made a cameo appearance at the end of The Powerpuff Girls episode "Catastrophe". They can be seen at the bottom left corner of the screen (although, instead of his hat, Top Cat has a splat of slime on his head).
- Top Cat was seen briefly driving a motorcycle in the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "Cheese a go-go."
- In the Futurama episode "That Darn Katz!", a picture of Top Cat is seen.
- An excerpt from the show appears in the 1982 film Cat People.
- Top Cat, Benny, and the rest of the gang make an appearance in a 2016 advert for British bank Halifax.
Top Cat's appearances in comic strips
- Top Cat and his gang (except for Brain) appeared in the March 10, 2016 strip of Heathcliff.
In other media
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, 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.
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
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), the film was a major box-office success in Mexico and was one of the most successful releases from a Mexican production.
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.
|Top Cat the movie||1988||TV movie|
|Top Cat the movie||2011||$16.6 millon|
|Top Cat Begins||2015||$4.5 millon|
|Combined Total||$21.1 million|
- ABC (September 27, 1961 – April 18, 1962)
- NBC (1965–1969)
- Television syndication (1970–1993)
- Cartoon Network (October 1, 1992 – March 31, 2004)
- Boomerang (April 1, 2000 – 2011; July 28, 2012 – September 1, 2013)
- Canal 5 (1970s)
Middle East & Africa:
- Boomerang (2013–2015)
- Boomerang (2002–2015)
- BBC One, formerly renamed Boss Cat (see below)
- Boomerang (2000–2015)
- Cartoon Network (1993-2001)
- Cartoon Network Too (2006–2007; 2010)
- Chilevision (1987–1989, 1991–1992; 1993–1994)
- Canal 13 (1975–1986; 1995–1998)
- Telecanal (2009)
- Liv TV (2009)
- National Television Uruguay
- NCtv Carabobo
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.
It debuted on 16 May 1962, under its original name but after only 4 weeks was renamed The Boss Cat on 13 June 1962. This was shortened on 22 February 1967 to Boss Cat. 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.
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.
Name in different languages
- Brazilian Portuguese: Manda-Chuva (voice by Lima Duarte)
- Bulgarian: Топ Кет (Top Ket)
- Canadian French: Top chatons
- Czech: Kočičí banda
- Danish: Top Kat
- Dutch: Top Kat
- Finnish: Topi-katti
- French: Le Chat
- German: Superkatt
- Hungarian: Turppi Yurfi (Mr.Meanace) in the series and Főmacska (Main Cat) in the special.
- Italian: Top Gattini
- Japanese: Doraneko Taishō (ドラ猫大将) (lit. 'Stray Cat Boss')
- Macedonian: Тошо Мачорот (Tosho Machorot)
- Norwegian: Top Katt
- Polish: Kocia Ferajna (lit. Catfellas) and earlier translation Kot Tip Top (lit. Tippy Cat), featuring vastly better translation of the original, reels with that version were lost or recorded over
- Portuguese: similar to Brazilian
- Romanian: Super pisik
- Russian: ГлавКот
- Serbian: Mika Mačor
- Sinhalese: Pissu Poosa (පිස්සු පූසා)
- Spanish: Don Gato y su pandilla (Mr. Cat and his gang)
- Swedish: Top Cat (voice by Per Sandborgh)
- Created, Produced and Directed by: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera
- Written By: Kin Platt
- Story Director: Paul Sommer
- Associate Producer: Alan Dinehart
- Musical Director: Hoyt Curtin
- Starring the Voice of: Arnold Stang, With: Allen Jenkins, Maurice Gosfield, Marvin Kaplan, Leo De Lyon, John Stephenson, Paul Frees
- Animation: Kenneth Muse, Jerry Hathcock
- Animation Direction: Charles A. Nichols
- Production Supervision: Howard Hanson
- Layout: Jack Huber
- Titles: Lawrence Goble
- Backgrounds: Montealegre
- Camera: Roy Wade, Norman Stainback, Frank Paiker, Charles Flekal
- Film Editing: Greg Watson, Warner Leighton
- Top Cat Copyright MCMLXI Hanna-Barbera Productions
- A Hanna-Barbera Production
- A Screen Gems Film Presentation
- Television Subsidiary: Columbia Pictures Corporation
2004 DVD Version
- Produced and Directed By: William Hanna and Joseph Barbera
- Written by Kin Platt, Joanna Lee, Michael Maltese, Barry Blitzer, Tony Benedict, Ray Allen, Larry Markes, Harvey Bullock, Harvey Marshall
- Story Direction: Alex Lovy, Lewis Marshall, Paul Sommer
- Associate Producer: Alan Dinehart
- Musical Direction: Hoyt Curtin
- Starring the Voice of: Arnold Stang With: Maurice Gosfield, Allen Jenkins, Marvin Kaplan, Leo De Lyon, John Stephenson
- Additional Voices: Bea Benaderet, Daws Butler, Herschel Bernardi, Walker Edmiston, Paul Frees, Sally Jones, Don Messick, Ge Ge Pearson, Hal Smith, Jean Vander Pyl, Herb Vigran
- Animation: Ed Aardal, George Goepper, Jerry Hathcock, Harry Holt, Ed Love, Tony Love, Dick Lundy, Kenneth Muse, Don Patterson, Irv Spence, Carlo Vinci, Don Williams
- Animation Direction: Charles A. Nichols
- Production Supervision: Howard Hanson
- Layout: Dick Bickenbach, Jack Huber, Walter Clinton, Dan Noonan
- Titles: Lawrence Goble
- Background: Art Lozzi, Montealegre, Robert Gentle, Neenah Maxwell, Anthony Rizzo, Richard H. Thomas
- Camera: Charles Flekal, Roy Wade, Norman Stainback, Frank Paiker
- Film Editing: Greg Watson, Warner Leighton, Zachary Zeiger, Kenneth Spears, Joseph Ruby, Donald A. Douglas
- A Hanna-Barbera Production
- List of works produced by Hanna-Barbera
- List of Hanna-Barbera characters
- Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats
- Yogi's Treasure Hunt
- Lehman, Christopher P. (2007), "The Cartoons of 1961–1962", American Animated Cartoons of the Vietnam Era: A Study of Social Commentary in Films and Television Programs, 1961–1973, McFarland & Company, ISBN 978-0786451425
- "Top Cat – The Complete Series : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Dvdtalk.com. Retrieved 2013-08-24.
- "Voice of Top Cat dies – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Abc.net.au. December 24, 2009. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
- "Arnold Stang, Milquetoast Actor, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
- "dibble". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.).
- Lehman (2007), p. 26
- "Heathcliff Comic Strip, March 10, 2016 on". Gocomics.com. 2016-03-10. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
- "Don Markstein's Toonopedia: Top Cat". Toonopedia.com. September 27, 1961. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
- Calderón, Lucero (14 September 2011). "Don Gato y su pandilla, más historia para México (in Spanish)". Retrieved 16 March 2014.
- Mexican Animated Film 'Top Cat' Breaks Record at Box Office The Hollywood Reporter. September 20, 2011. John Hecht
- ROB SCHNEIDER AND DANNY TREJO LENDING THEIR VOICES FOR TOP CAT: THE MOVIE | Alien Bee Entertainment News
- "Top cat the movie (2013) – Box Office Mojo". boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
- http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/intl/?page=&id=_fDONGATOELINICIOD01&sort=todateGross&order=ASC&p=.htm. Retrieved 6 September 2016. Missing or empty
- "Radio Times entry for Top Cat on 16 May 1962". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2015-05-24.
- "Radio Times entry for The Boss Cat on 13 June 1962". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2015-05-24.
- "Radio Times entry for Boss Cat on 22 February 1967". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2015-05-24.
- "Best ads of 2016: Coke and adam&eve's Top Cat for Halifax lead the way in April | MAA". Moreaboutadvertising.com. 2016-05-03. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
- Moore, Charlie (2016-04-27). "Halifax is mocked online for using homeless TopCat to advertise MORTGAGES". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
- Top Cat on Boomerang
- Top Cat Unofficial Site
- Top Cat at the Internet Movie Database
- Top Cat at TV.com
- Top Cat at Toonopedia
- Toon Tracker's lyrics to the Top Cat theme song
- The Cartoon Scrapbook – Profile on Top Cat.