Top Cat is a Hanna-Barbera Prime time animated television series which ran from September 27, 1961 to April 18, 1962 for a run of 30 episodes on the ABC network. Starting in 1992, reruns of the series aired on Cartoon Network until 2004. In 2000, Top Cat began airing on Cartoon Network's sister channel Boomerang.
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 his friends, is the leader of a gang of Manhattan alley cats living in Hoagy's Alley: Fancy Pants, Spook, Benny the Ball, Brain, and Choo Choo.
Top Cat and his gang were inspired by characters from the popular 1940s B movies, "The East-End Kids". Many suggest it derived from a later 1950s military comedy, You'll Never Get Rich (later called The Phil Silvers Show), whose lead was a crafty con-man. 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. Other possible sources cited have been "Guys and Dolls" where actor Stubby Kaye played a short, stout street-wise gambler and a vertual Benny the Ball prototype. Lastly, a likely contender (as it also came from Hanna Barbera) was the character 'Hokey Wolf, from a segment on The Huckleberry Hound Show, which also had parallels to The Phil Silvers Show.
A frequent plot-line revolved around the local beat policeman, Charles "Charlie" Dibble, NYPD 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 after Allen Jenkins, who did his voice.
Home ReleaseIn the U.S., a box set containing all 30 episodes was released on December 7, 2004.