Josie wasn’t always a pussycat. In the late 60’s, this future feline rocker was simply Josie, star of her own Archie comic book about the adventures of Josie and her best friend, Melody. But with the musical success of The Archies on the rise, it was determined by the creators that it might not be such a bad thing if Josie and Melody started up their own group. And so was born, Josie and the Pussycats.
For the Hanna-Barbera produced Saturday morning series, which debuted in 1970, Josie (singer/vocalist) and Melody (who played drums) were paired with a new girl named Valerie (tambourine). Josie took on the leadership role in the group, Valerie was the intellectual in the bunch and Melody provided comic relief. Alan performed dual duties, both as the band roadie and as Josie’s boyfriend. Alexander Cabot III was the band’s inept and cowardly manager and his sister Alexandra was the jealous, talentless tagger-on who schemed endlessly to steal both Alan and the band from under Josie’s control. But since she could never seem to get Alan’s attention, she was forced to find companionship in her mischievous little kitty, Sebastian. Together, the group traveled the globe, performing and solving mysteries wherever they happened to be.
Interestingly enough, when the concept of Josie and the Pussycats was in the early stages, it was determined that a real group should be put together that could perform the music, both in the cartoons, and on record releases. The role of Melody (her singing voice, at least) eventually went to Cherie Moor, who would later change her name to Cheryl Ladd and help solve mysteries as one of Charlie’s Angels. Josie and the Pussycats is also notable for the fact that it marks the first appearance of an African-American female character (Valerie) in a Saturday morning cartoon series.
After two seasons of singing songs and solving mysteries, the girl’s work on earth was apparently finished. In the following season, they were all shot into space to continue their adventurous ways in Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space. Unfortunately, their space adventures only lasted for 16 episodes. A live-action feature film was released in 2001 to mixed reviews, but it just couldn’t capture the same magic as the cartoon.
From hometown girl to mystery solving pop musician to intergalactic space traveler, one thing is for sure – should Josie and pals ever decide to record their memoirs, these kitty-like crooners will have a tale to tell that few can rival.
Did you grow up watching Josie and the Pussycats on Saturday mornings, or perhaps later in syndication? We welcome all your memories in our comments section as we pay tribute to these female pioneers of cartoon rock, here at Retroland.