There’s no need to fear…Underdog is here!
Underdog debuted October 3, 1964, on the NBC network under the primary sponsorship of General Mills, and continued in syndication until 1973 (although production of new episodes ceased in 1967, for a run of 124 episodes.
Underdog’s secret identity was Shoeshine Boy. He was in love with Sweet Polly Purebred who was a news reporter. I would watch this cartoon before going to school in 1st and 2nd grade. Underdog would use his secret ring to conceal pills that he would take when he needed energy. NBC soon put an end to that…I loved the theme song.
The shows introduced such characters as King Leonardo, Tennessee Tuxedo, CommanderMc Bragg, Klondike Kat, and more. Underdog was voiced by Wally Cox.
Underdog always talked in rhyme and I’m a sucker for that.
Two of the villains were Simon Bar Sinister and Riff Raff.
For many years starting with NBC’s last run in the mid-1970s, all references to Underdog swallowing his super energy pill were censored, most likely out of fear that kids would see medication that looked like the Underdog pills (red with a white “U”) and swallow them. Two instances that did not actually show Underdog swallowing the pills remained in the show. In one, he drops pills into water supplies; in the other, his ring is damaged and he explains that it is where he keeps the pill—but the part where he actually swallows it was still deleted.
W. Watts Biggers teamed with Chet Stover, Treadwell D. Covington, and artist Joe Harris in the creation of television cartoon shows to sell breakfast cereals for General Mills. The shows introduced such characters as King Leonardo, Tennessee Tuxedo, and Underdog. Biggers and Stover contributed both scripts and songs to the series. When Underdog became a success, Biggers and his partners left Dancer Fitzgerald Sample to form their own company, Total Television, with animation produced at Gamma Studios in Mexico. In 1969, Total Television folded when General Mills dropped out as the primary sponsor (but continued to retain the rights to the series until 1995; however, they still own TV distribution rights.