8 facts about Josie and the Pussycats that will perk up your ears

The rocking cartoon is celebrating its 50th anniversary!

Image: The Everett Collection

Hanna-Barbera produced just 16 episodes of Josie and the Pussycats for the 1970–71 Saturday morning cartoon season, but in that era, influence could hardly be measured by episode count. On the heels of its comic-book relative The Archie Show and the bubblegum pop of The Archies — although not too related, as we shall see — Josie and the Pussycats became another teen sensation.

Just 16 episodes and yet that hooky refrain still rattles around in your brain: Josie and the Pussycats / Long tails and ears for hats!

A sequel series, the delightfully goofy Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space cartoon followed in 1972, though the characters reached new levels of fame thanks to Nineties nostalgia. The compilation tribute album Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits, a CD that seemed to be in every college dorm in 1995, featured indie darlings Juliana Hatfield and Tanya Donelly covering "Josie and the Pussycats." In 2001, Josie and the Pussycats made the leap to live-action with a reboot movie — and new cartoons on Cartoon Network.

Now, as the Hanna-Barbera classic turns 50, let's look back at this 1970 gem.

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1. Cheryl Ladd was the singing voice of Melody.

In May 1977, just as Charlie's Angels was concluding its successful first season, the hottest new show on television was dealt a blow. Farrah Fawcett, the blonde bombshell, turned in her resignation. What would Charlie's Angels be without Jill Monroe? Well, Aaron Spelling hardly skipped a step. The producer plugged in an actress to play Jill's sister, Kris Monroe — a relatively unknown star named Cheryl Ladd. Up to that point, television audiences had only seen the 26-year-old in bit roles — on crime shows such The Rookies, Harry O and Police Story, playing not-so-meaty characters like "Girl," "Teenage Girl" and "Buffy." But the South Dakota native did have one significant credit on her resume, one that remains largely overlooked. Seven years before Ladd was the blonde one on Charlie's Angels, she was the singing voice of the blonde one in the original Josie and the Pussycats, Melody. She went by the name Cherie Moor back then. You see her, and read her bio, on the Josie album released by Capitol Records.

Image: The Everett Collection / Warner Bros.

2. A memorable Mayberry citizen was the speaking voice of Melody.

You now know the singing voice of Melody, so let's get to the character's speaking voice. Avid fans of The Andy Griffith Show will recognize the face of Jackie Joseph. She played Ramona in "My Fair Ernest T. Bass," the charming woman who dances and flirts with the "tamed" Ernest. Oh, and Jackie Joseph also happened to be the wife of Ken Berry, star of Mayberry R.F.D.!

3. Valerie was the first major black female character on Saturday morning cartoons.

Pete Jones, the drummer in the rockin' 1969 cartoon The Hardy Boys, broke the barrier to become one of the first principal recurring Black characters in Saturday morning cartoons. However, he was voiced by Dallas McKennon, Cincinnatus from Daniel Boone and the voice of Archie. Pussycats bassist Valerie Brown became the first major Black female animated character on Saturday mornings. More importantly, she was brought to life by Barbara Pariot and Patrice Holloway, two Black women.

Image: The Everett Collection

4. A former Mouseketeer voiced a main character.

The trio of Pussycats were hardly the only characters in the series. With her skunk-striped hair (and matching cat), Alexandra Cabot, sister of band manager Alexander, traveled with the group. Sherry Alberoni voiced the bickering, bitter character. The name will ring a bell with Boomers — Sherry was formerly a Mouseketeer on The Mickey Mouse Club in the mid-Fifties. In the second season of that M-I-C-K-E-Y classic, Sherry, at age nine, was the youngest member of the team.

Image: The Everett Collection / Warner Bros.

5. While based on Archie Comics, it was a rival to 'The Archie Show.'

The characters of Josie and the Pussycats originated in the pages of Archie Comics. The Josie comic debuted in 1963, and the characters often interacted with the other kids of Riverdale. However, on television, The Archie Show and Josie were direct competition. Filmation had scored a huge hit with the Archies. The competing animation studio Hanna-Barbera wanted an Archies of its own. Hanna-Barbera's first instinct was to create a fictional rock band of its own, the Mysteries Five, which instead evolved into Scooby-Doo. Hanna-Barbera instead snatched up the rights to Josie and the Pussycats. That's why you won't find Veronica or Jughead alongside the Pussycats in the cartoon.

Image: The Everett Collection

6. Patrice Holloway was really the lead singer.

Back to Valerie for a moment. We mentioned that Patrica Holloway was one of the talents behind the bassist. Holloway, sister of Motown star Brenda Holloway, actually sang lead on the bulk of the Pussycats tracks — including the iconic theme song. Her prolific career included a solo career of her own (you can see her here on Soul Train), as well as singing in groups like the Four J's. She also can be heard providing backup on Joe Cocker's cover of the Beatles "With a Little Help from My Friends."

Image: Soul Train / Don Cornelius Productions

7. You know the songwriters "Denby Williams" and "Joseph Roland" by much more familiar names.

Check out the writing credits on the 45 single for the "Josie" theme. "Denby Williams" and "Joseph Roland" are listed as co-writers on the track. Well, those names are merely aliases for William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, respectively.

Image: Capitol Records / Warner Bros.

8. "Judy Waite" was credited as the voice of Josie instead of Janet Waldo.

Hanna-Barbera all star Janet Waldo provided the voice of Josie herself. Waldo was best known as the voice of Judy Jetson. However, some versions of Josie and the Pussycats credited "Judy Waite" in place of Janet Waldo. According to a 2011 episode of Stu's Show, Judy Waite was the original actress hired for the role, who was dismissed before the show hit air. However, some versions of the closing credits were not updated, as seen here.

Image: Warner Bros.

 
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CaptainFabulous 1 month ago
Nitpick trivia: Cheryl was credited as the singing voice of Melody, but in fact she and Patrice alternated in singing the lead on the all the songs, both in the series and the records. The third singing Pussycat credited as the voice of Josie was Cathy (or Catherine) Dougher, whose real name is Kathleen Dougherty. She was an operatic singer who only ever sang backup to Cheryl and Patrice. Cheryl is credited as Cherie Moor because her maiden name is Stoppelmoor, and this was before she married David Ladd, son of movie actor Alan Ladd.

Their combined talent not-withstanding, all three were chosen in part because they looked very much like the roles they were credited with, even if they aren't actually the roles they sang.
UTZAAKE 3 months ago
Josie McCoy is currently played by Ashleigh Murray on The CW's Katy Keene, a spinoff of the same network's Riverdale on which she first appeared.
Love the mention of Juliana Hatfield and Tanya Donelly (of Belly) who both happen to be New Englanders (Wiscasset, ME and Newport, RI respectively).
F5Twitster 3 months ago
“8 facts about Josie and the Pussycats that will perk up your ears.”

The correct phrase is to PRICK up one’s ears.
Reck69 3 months ago
Why did you take The Flintstones off at 6:00 p.m weeknights and at 10:00 p.m on Sunday nights? Please put it back on. I loved watching it every night
denny Reck69 3 months ago
It's still on @6pm each night.
denny 3 months ago
Hanna and Barbera seemed to always have a guy who wears a kerchief/scarf around his neck and look like Fred from Scooby-Doo.
lynngdance 3 months ago
Thank you MeTV SOOOOO much for mentioning that Joe Cockers version of “With a Little Help From My Friends” is a cover of the Beatles song! I’m very glad you realized that because most people don’t mention that. I know it seems like I’m making a big deal out of it but people have been totally disregarding the fact that the Beatles did it first (And John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote it!) for a long time and it makes me ( I’m a Beatles fan) very mad, especially considering Joe Cocker completely ruined the song, I mean come on, he changed the whole vibe of the song! He just screams through the whole thing! Is he even singing any of the notes from the original song? The only thing good about it is the backing vocals. Not that I’m saying his other songs are bad, I’m just saying that changing that song ( And he did it in 1969 just two years after the Beatle did, that’s kinda tacky) is not a good thing. And about people disregarding the fact that the Beatles did it first. Here’s a reason that shows people do that (it’s in the picture below, that’s from the Amazon music app. Can you believe his version pops up first? A cover song for Pete’s sake?!?!) oh yeah and they made Joe Cockers song the the theme of The Wonder Years.
thomasgene lynngdance 3 months ago
Lynn sorry you feel this way, Let's look at it this way as stated in Billboard "Paul McCartney has described the “mind-blowing” experience of hearing for the first time Joe Cocker’s performance of “With A Little Help From My Friends.”

The Beatles bass player has paid homage to the late artist and recounted how a life-long friendship launched at a listening session.

Joe Cocker, Interpreter of the Beatles, Bob Dylan & More: A History

'It’s really sad to hear about Joe’s passing. He was a lovely northern lad who I loved a lot and like many people I loved his singing,” McCartney says of Cocker, who has died at the age of 70 after a battle with lung cancer. “I was especially pleased when he decided to cover ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ and I remember him and Denny Cordell coming round to the studio in Saville Row and playing me what they’d recorded and it was just mind blowing, totally turned the song into a soul anthem and I was forever grateful for him for doing that."
from me to you!
lynngdance thomasgene 3 months ago
I’m glad Paul is okay with his version. But then again Paul is a very nice person Lol 😊
Barry22 lynngdance 3 months ago
How about John Belushi's version?
lynngdance Barry22 3 months ago
Don’t know about that one. Like I said it’s not so much that I hate that someone covered it, it’s that I’m aggravated at the fact that people make a bigger deal over it than the original.
Martin Barry22 3 months ago
I don't remember that. I do remember him joining Joe Cocker onstage once on SNL and singing "Feeling Alright" (originally recorded by Traffic) with him, and Joe trying to keep from laughing.
BobInBG78 3 months ago
I always wished they had a Sat morning cartoon based on "That Wilkin Boy" characters from the Archie Comics family
DarrylHeine BobInBG78 3 months ago
When Archie comics got the rights from Sega to do a Sonic the Hedgehog comic book starting in 1992, the characters that debuted in the comic book series - Princess Sally Acorn, Antoine D'Coolette, Rotor Walrus, and Bunnie Rabbot - went on a year later in 1993 for a 2 season Sonic the Hedgehog Sat AM cartoon series.
OldTVfanatic 3 months ago
Josie has a strong connection to both Star Trek and Space 1999: both were produced by Fred Freiberger, who also did Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space.
JoeSHill 3 months ago
You people left out another JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS fact- that during the debut of all the CBS Saturday Morning lineup of the 1970-71 season, you left out "IN THE KNOW" that the Josie characters hosted in between all the cartoon shows-CBS later changed the format to "IN THE NEWS" in Fall 1971
JoeSHill JoeSHill 3 months ago
Another JOSIE fact was that the actress who voiced "Alexandra Cabot III", Sherry Alberoni, would go on to voice "Wendy" on ABC's "SUPER FRIENDS" series that Hanna-Barbera produced in Fall 1973, and she voiced "Dena Carmicheal" in The ABC SATURDAY SUPERSTAR MOVIE second season opener, "Lost In Space" , on September 8, 1973.
SalIanni JoeSHill 3 months ago
Before that, Sherry Alberoni guest starred on many great 1960s sitcoms, most notably "My Three Sons" and "Family Affair".
Amalthea 3 months ago
As a small child, "Josie & the Pussycats" was my favorite cartoon. I still love it.
moax429 Amalthea 3 months ago
I do, too. I'm hoping to buy the DVDs of both series if the WB Shop ever has a sale again. I also have that 45 shown above, with "Every Beat of My Heart" on the flipside; I'm also hoping to put that one in my newly-restored 1976 Seeburg Sunstar jukebox eventually.

Unfortunately, if you were a youngster living in the Detroit area in 1970 like I was (I was 8 then), the local CBS affiliate, WJBK-TV, Channel 2, brainlessly blocked out "Josie" and filled in that time slot with old Terrytoons shorts under the unimaginative title of "Cartoon Carnival;" WKBK tape-delayed "Josie" and ran her the following Saturday morning at *7:30 A.M.!* When my family and I moved to Lansing, Michigan the following year, I was able to see what WJBK blithely denied us of since WJIM-TV (now WLNS), Channel 6, *did* run "Josie" when CBS aired it (the show was rerun for one more season on CBS' Saturday morning schedule before being exiled to Sunday mornings for one more season after that). Thus, I was able to catch up on the episodes of "Josie" I missed before the sequel series premiered in 1972.

Today, WJBK is a Fox owned-and-operated station. I often wonder why *CBS* didn't buy Channel 2 in Detroit back then, assuring everybody the network's shows *would* be seen when the network aired them!
JerryWithers 3 months ago
Pussycat Trivia #9: Patrice Holloway and her sister Brenda co-wrote "You've Made Me So Very Happy". The first big hit for Blood, Sweat & Tears!
GaryElginMoore 3 months ago
Alexandra was and is the real star of the show and comics.
stephaniestavropoulos 3 months ago
To those who have been wondering, the "Curtin," who co-wrote the Josie theme, is Hoyt Curtin, the same composer who penned the Flintstones & the Jetsons themes.
stephaniestavropoulos 3 months ago
Cheryl Ladd was also on the Partridge Family She played Johanna Houser the "miss everything" girl. {Laurie fixed Keith up with a girl from her class.} Keith wanted to date, but instead, she threw "America's Heartthrob" over for the star of the basketball team.
As some of you probably know, when Cheryl was doing all these guest shots, she didn't go by the name Ladd, she used her maiden name: Stopplemore, because she hadn't gotten married yet.
That's one of my favorite episodes! Cheryl Ladd was the third Angel to appear on the show. Farrah Fawcett and Jaclyn Smith guest starred during the first season. Me-Tv should pick up "The Partridge Family" from Antenna TV like they did with "The Monkees" and set up a Monkees/Partridge/Brady programming block for their daytime schedule which would be awesome to watch!
She was on Happy Days too. Played a movie star who was Ritchie's date at a dance.
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