Valerie Harper 1939-2019

Another part of childhood is gone today. Valerie Harper passed away at 80.  I always loved the show Rhoda and nothing screamed the seventies like that show did. Rhoda was a strong female lead character and Valerie Harper played her wonderfully.

Before the hype of the Dallas’s Who Shot Jr episode that aired in1974, was the  Rhoda getting married 2 part episode. Many people tuned in…That episode was the highest-rated television episode of the 1970s until Roots came along in 1977. More than 53 million Americans tuned in to watch.

An article about Valerie…



Speed Racer 1967

   “Here he comes, here he comes; Speed Racer. He’s a demon on wheels…” that will always stick with me. 

I first saw this in the 70s at some point and it was different. I had said that Jonny Quest was different and it was but this one…was completely different than anything I had seen. It was my first viewing of Japanese Anime.  Speed Racer was one of the first Japanese anime cartoons to make it stateside back in the 1960s. The show originally called Mach Go Go Go reached millions of kids around the world while in syndication. My first thought while watching it while I was older…this was NOT Hanna-Barbera. 

I discovered Speed Racer and Jonny Quest at the same time. I would watch it at my cousin’s house and was blown away by the different animation.

Speed Racer (Go Mifune) is the young driver of the Mach 5, an incredible supercar designed by his father “Pops” Racer (Daisuke Mifune). Speed would race dangerous routes against dangerous people and come out on top with his “girlfriend” Trixie (Michi Shimura) trailing him in a helicopter and his little brother Spritle (Kurio) and his pet chimp Chim-Chim (Sanpei) frequently stowing away in the trunk.

Through the years there have been remakes of the show in the 90s and a movie in 2008 which was not received well. It was a groundbreaking show in the US and opened the door for Japanese Anime afterward.

I still catch the show when I can.


Jonny Quest

Jonny Quest was different than many cartoons I watched…the artwork and stories were above the normal ones at the time.

Jonny Quest the series was about the globe-trotting adventures of an eleven-year-old boy (Jonny), his scientist father (Dr. Benton Quest), his adopted brother Hadji (from Calcutta, India), his government bodyguard (Race Bannon) and his bulldog (Bandit). A young future Animal House actor Tim Matheson voiced Jonny Quest.

When I was a kid I loved Jonny’s father Dr. Benton Quest’s hands-off approach in raising Jonny and Hadji. They would be scuba diving with sharks and off in the jungle with their dog Bandit without any parent around…The character Race would help them out and protect them when needed. It was exciting to see kids have the freedom to explore new places.

The series that premiered on September 18th, 1964 that is one of the most celebrated and influential animated series to come from Hanna-Barbera. The series premiered on September 18th, 1964 and is one of the best and most influential animated series to come from Hanna-Barbera. Jonny Quest only ran for one season with 26 episodes but the influence of that series is still being felt and it spawned a comic book, a remake in the 1980s, 1990s, and a couple of tv movies.

Doug Wildey was the artist and the show was going to be based on an old radio show called Jack Armstrong but Hanna-Barbera thought the rights were too expensive so they just made their own show. Wildey drew some influence from the James Bond movie Doctor No.

The artwork and the stories made Jonny Quest special.




Higgins (Benji)

Probably the most famous dog actor in the 60’s and 70’s. The two roles he is best known for were Benji and “The Dog” on Petticoat Junction.

In 1960, animal trainer Frank Inn found Higgins at the Burbank Animal Shelter as a puppy. A fluffy black-and-tan mixed-breed dog, he was marked like a Border Terrier, and Inn believed him to be a mix of Miniature Poodle, Cocker Spaniel, and Schnauzer. He took an immediate liking to Higgins and saw a real potential for acting in him. Higgins ended up being his biggest star.

Frank Inn, also trained Arnold Ziffel (the pig) and all of the other animals used on The Beverly HillbilliesPetticoat JunctionGreen Acres, and The Waltons TV series.

Higgins won a Patsy Award in 1967, and he was cover-featured on an issue of TV Guide magazine. He was really close to Edgar Buchanan who played Uncle Joe on Petticoat Junction. They were both in the movie Benji and it would be the last role for each actor.

From 1964-1970 he was in 174 episodes of Petticoat Junction. He also appeared in The Beverly Hillbillies, Village of the Giants, Green Acres, and in the early 1970s appeared in Lassie. In 1971, at the age of 14, Higgins starred in a TV movie with Vincent Price  called “Mooch Goes to Hollywood.” Frank Inn retired Higgins, but in 1974, he brought him out of retirement to star in his greatest role, the loveable dog “Benji.”

Higgins was born December 12, 1957 (per wiki), and sadly passed away November 11, 1975…he was 4 weeks shy of his 18th birthday. Frank Inn had Higgins cremated and wanted his ashes buried with him when he died. Frank died in 2002 but because of changes in the law…Higgins could not be buried with him.

After Higgins passed away his daughter played “Benji” in the next Benji movie in 1977.


History of the “The One Take Dog”



Spiderman 1967

This is my Spiderman. When I hear “Spiderman” this is what I think of…I loved the animation and its sixties background music. I watched it in syndication in the 70s and it still plays today. The budget wasn’t huge for the show and it did have repetition but it was a fun watch.

The first show to ever feature Spiderman premiered on September 9, 1967, on the ABC television network and ran for a total of three seasons, entering into syndication during its final season in 1970.

Grantray-Lawrence Animation was the original production company responsible for the series but was on the brink of bankruptcy by the time it premiered and had filed for it by year’s end, forcing them to hand over production duties to Krantz Films, Inc. Krantz Films cut the pre-existing budgets in half. The classic comic book villains were thrown out because of licensing costs, replaced by generic green-skinned alien King Mooks and their Mook henchmen, more often than not the product of Stock Footage recycled from episodes of Robin Hood…another of Krantz’s shows.

It remained quite popular in it’s day and also now with many fans. The theme song was written by  Paul Francis Webster and Robert “Bob” Harris. The original song was recorded at RCA Studios in Toronto (where the cartoon was also produced) featuring 12 CBC vocalists (members of the Billy Van Singers, and Laurie Bower Singers groups) who added to the musical backing track supplied by RCA Studios, New York. The singers were paid only for the session and have had no residuals from its use since then.


Spiderman, Spiderman!
Does whatever a spider he can.
Spins a web any size,
Catches thieves, just like flies.
Look out! Here comes the Spiderman!

Is he strong? Listen, Bud!
He’s got radioactive blood.
Can he swing from a thread?
Take a look overhead.
Hey there, there goes the Spiderman!

In the chill of night,
At the scene of the crime
Like a streak of light
He arrives just in time

Spiderman, Spiderman
Friendly neighborhood Spiderman
Wealth and fame he’s ignored
Action is his reward
To him, life is a great big bang-up
Wherever there’s a hang-up
You’ll find the Spiderman!


Hong Kong Phooey

If you were a kid in the mid-seventies…on Saturday morning you were happily blitzed by a morning of cartoons. When I did a post on Underdog last weekend I was asked about Hong Kong Phooey…he was voiced by the great Scatman Caruthers. It was produced by Hanna-Barbera in 1974 for ABC. Around this time Martial Arts were extremely popular and this cartoon played on that.

Hong Kong Phooey’s secret identity is that of Penrod “Penry” Pooch the Police janitor. Penry works with Sgt. Flint and police dispatcher Rosemary. Hong Kong Phooey thinks his martial arts skills catch the bad guys…but it’s usually always Spot the Cat.

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To my surprise…Hanna-Barbera only made 16 episodes and kept running them forever. I watched this in 1974 through 1976 as it was part of the magical seventies Saturday morning programming.


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. Image result for wally cox

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Underdog always talked in rhyme and I’m a sucker for that.

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Two of the villains were Simon Bar Sinister and Riff Raff.

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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.