Don Adams, who brought Maxwell Smart to life in Get Smart, would later give voice to a trenchcoat-wearing crime fighter named Inspector Gadget. But a decade earlier, there was another diminutive cartoon detective whose voice also bore an uncanny resemblance. Only this time, it wasn’t Adams, it was someone doing an impersonation of Maxwell Smart. Proving yet again that size isn’t everything, this little guy was known as Inch High Private Eye.
Produced by Hanna-Barbera, Inch High Private Eye debuted on Saturday mornings in 1973. Inch, for lack of a better term (since he was never given a name on the show) possessed a secret potion that allowed him to shrink down to 1/72 normal size. Once shrunk, he could explore the nooks and crannies of the world, which proved quite handy in the crime-solving business. When not traveling around upon a paper airplane, he utilized the hot-dog-shaped Hushmobile, which proved stealthy transportation. Of course, things unraveled quickly whenever the magic potion would wear off, increasing Inch’s size – usually at the most inopportune moments.
Inch worked for the Finkerton Detective agency run by Mr. and Mrs. Finkerton, and worked alongside his niece Laurie and her country bumkin boyfriend, Gator. Their canine companion, a St. Bernard named Braveheart, traveled along with a barrel around his neck that served as a storage area for all of the disguises and gadgets that Inch might need on the job. Although a bit cocky and boisterous, Inch never failed to get his man.
Rather than cast Don Adams in the role, the cartoon’s creators turned to another familiar voice in the world of children’s television, giving the role to Lennie Weinrib, who, a couple of years earlier, had lent his vocal cords to a big friendly dragon named H.R. Pufnstuf (and years later to Scrappy Doo.) Keen ears may also recognize the voice of Mrs. Finkerton, which was provided by Wilma Flintstone herself, Jean Vander Pyl and fellow Flintstones alumni Don Messick, who played Braveheart.
The initial run of Inch High Private Eye was short-lived (ahem,) lasting only a single season, but the cartoon resurfaced in the years that followed in numerous syndicated Hanna-Barbera cartoon packages.
Do you remember curling up to Inch High Private Eye on the Saturday mornings of your youth? If so, we’d love to hear your recollections of this 70s cartoon in our comments section.