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" as the lyrics of the theme song say — is the leader of a gang of New York City alley cats which includes Fancy-Fancy, Spook, Benny the Ball, Brain, and Choo-Choo.
Top Cat and his gang were inspired by characters from the popular situation comedy You'll Never Get Rich (later called 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).
Even Arnold Stang's voicing of Top Cat strongly resembled Phil Silvers' voice. Another possible source material was "Hokey Wolf", a segment on The Huckleberry Hound Show, which also had parallels to The Phil Silvers Show.
A frequent plot-line revolved around the local policeman, Officer Charles "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 modeled on Allen Jenkins, who did his voice. Dibble, previously only an implement for making holes for planting seeds, has acquired a second meaning in the vernacular as slang for police officers.
- Main article: Episodes
- Arnold Stang as Top Cat
- Maurice Gosfield as Benny the Ball
- Allen Jenkins as Officer Dibble
- Leo De Lyon as Brain, Spook
- Marvin Kaplan as Choo-Choo
- 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
In another episode, 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 "A Visit from Mother", graffiti of "El Kabong", Quick Draw McGraw’s alter-ego, is seen on the wall in the background.
- 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 voice by John Stephenson. It was presumed that Arnold Stang wasn't available at the time, while Maurice Gosfield died in 1964.
- In 1985, Top Cat appeared on Yogi's Treasure Hunt with Yogi Bear and other Hanna-Barbera toon stars; he was the one who assigned the treasure hunts. Officer Dibble made an appearance in the end of the show's episode, "Yogi's Beanstalk" voiced by John Stephenson.
- 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 1991, Top Cat was a teenage cat (but he still lived in a trash can) on NBC's Yo Yogi! voiced by Arte Johnson. Top Cat was seen in a Cartoon Network Rap in 1995.
- In one of the episodes of The Powerpuff Girls, Top Cat can be briefly seen in the background before the end shot.
Other cartoon shows
- 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. Top Cat gets sued for bookmaking and running an illegal gambling service out of Harvey's home. He is found guilty and is sentenced to probation.
- 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 (Note: 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."
- Top Cat and Benny appeared in the My Life as a Teenage Robot episode "Toying with Jenny" they can be seen at the checkout desk when Jenny is looking at the Jenny toys.
- In the Futurama episode "That Darn Katz!" a picture of Top Cat is seen.
- Top Cat made a cameo appearance in Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! episode "Wubbzy the hero."
- In the show, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., Gomer Pyle is seen in a restaurant reading a Top Cat comic book.
- Main article: Top Cat comics
The gang's adventures continued off-screen in comic books as Dell Comics and Gold Key Comics 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.
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. TC 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. The Top Cat theme song is the opening track on Ted Kooshian's 2008 jazz CD, Ted Kooshian's Standard Orbit Quartet. The theme for Top Cat is also used in the 2009–2010 ABRSM Grade three exam pieces. It is C:2
Anima Studios and Illusion Studios are currently working on a Top Cat animated film. It is planned for release in Mexico, titled Don Gato y su pandilla, from September 2011, and to be shown in 3D. No info on the film's plot has been announced.
Top Cat was among the first programs aired on CTV. The country's first private television network commenced broadcasts in October 1961.
In the USA, a boxset with all 30 episodes was released in December 2004 (2004-12).
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release Date||Additional Information|
|Top Cat- The Complete Series||30||December 7, 2004 (2004-12-07)||
In the UK, the complete series boxset has been released as a HMV exclusive 8 October 2007. Alternatively, five single DVD volumes, each containing six episodes, were released. The covers were originally from the US edition, but was 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 color-coding is:
- Volume 1: Purple (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.
Mexico and Latin America
In spite of the modest success of the show in the United States, the show was a massive hit in Mexico, 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, but stands for Mr. Top Cat or just Top Cat like in the United States) 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 child-like 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 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 Brasilia (the federal capital) in the Brazilian version.
United KingdomIn 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.
As Welsh Conservative MP David Davies' name sounds the same as fellow Conservative MP David Davis, a candidate in the 2005 Conservative leadership contest, confusion could occur between the two in Westminster. Therefore, David Davies is referred to in the House of Commons in Westminster as David T.C. Davies. This has caused opposition MPs to refer to him in jest as Top Cat.
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
Name in different languages
- Arabic: قط الحي (Qittal-hai) (lit. Neighborhood Cat)
- Brazilian Portuguese: Manda Chuva (voice by Lima Duarte)
- Bulgarian: Топ Кет (Top Ket)
- Canadian French: Pacha et les chats
- Czech: Kočičí banda
- Danish: Top Kat
- Finnish: Topi Katti
- French: Le Pacha
- German: Superkater
- Hungarian: Turpi Úrfi
- Italian: Top Cat
- Japanese: ドラ猫大将 (Doraneko Taishō) (lit. Stray Cat Boss)
- Macedonian: Тошо Мачорот (Tosho Machorot)
- Norwegian: Topp Katt
- Polish: Kocia Ferajna (lit. Catfellas) and earlier translation Kot Tip Top (lit. Tippytoe Cat), featuring vastly better translation of the original, reels with that version were lost or recorded over
- Portuguese: Top Cat
- Serbian: Mika Mačor
- Sinhala: පිස්සු පූසා (Pissu Pusa)
- Spanish: Don Gato y su pandilla (Top Cat and his gang)
- Swedish: Top Cat (voice by Per Sandborgh)
- Russian: Супер Кот