In the real world, #50 was hitting the racks just as the series debuted on the C.B.S. network on Saturday, September 12, 1970 at 10 a.m. Once again, the Pussycats were on the endless road to another gig (this time, to a place called the ‘Pago Pago Island’) with their roadie (Alan M.), manager (Alex) and bellyacher (guess who?) in tow. At the same time, a mutated Capt. Nemo is about to sink the cargo ship the gang is riding on (let’s see if Tap can top this!!). To make the plot much shorter, Nemo (like almost all evil villains in the series) has plans to take over the world and it’s up the Pussycats....oops, make that “those meddling kids” to foil his plans. Even
Melody picked a special power thanks to H-B, her ears would wiggle whenever there’s danger afoot.
The voices for the show were veteran H-B actors. Janet Waldo played ‘Josie’ with Jackie Joseph and Barbara Partiot as ‘Melody’ and ‘Valerie’. Shelly Alberoni and Jerry Baxter played ‘Alexandra’ and ‘Alan M.’. Two more well-known names would round out the cast; Casey Kasem as ‘Alex’ and Don Messick as the snickering ‘Sebastian’. Both would also play various other characters and villains. Kasem was a popular radio personality on Los Angeles A.M. radio and would just start his successful run as host of ‘American Top 40’ radio show. Messick, next to Daws Butler, was the cornerstone voice of H-B Studios.
Another group of performers were needed for the singing parts, but this, too, would be a different approach from ‘The Archies’. This time, the singers would not hide behind their cartoon masks; they would even pose as themselves on the debut LP cover with biographies and more pictures on the back. Each singer would represent each of the Pussycats. This was quite unheard of in the land of ‘The Banana Splits’.
Cathy Douglas, who would sing the ‘Josie’ parts, sang the part of ‘Josie’ with gusto since she was originally trained in opera. ‘Valerie’ had a lot going for her as she was handled by the professional and experienced Patrice Holloway. Before she was hired, Patrice had a bubbling resume: she was signed to Capitol Records (the same label as the ‘Pussycats’) in her teens as a solo act and scored a regional hit with ‘Do The Del-Vikings’ and co-wrote many songs, including ‘You Made Me So Very Happy’ which would be a hit for her sister Belinda Holloway on Motown Records and, in 1969, for Blood, Sweat & Tears.
Even though ‘Melody’ didn’t sing lead much, she would make much louder noise later on, but not by singing. Her voice, Cheryl Stopplemore (later Cherie Moore), was known in Hurton South Dakota High School as a singer and a dancer. Cherie appeared in many local folk groups. Finally, while touring through Hollywood with ‘The Music Shoppe’, the group suddenly disbanded, leaving Cherie stranded. One
audition lead to another until she landed the ‘Melody’ part, at the age of 19!
Danny Janssen was hired as the producer of the ‘Josie’ recordings, as well as co-writer of many of the tunes. Helping Danny along were Bob Ingeman and Art Mongell as part of LaLa Productions. Though the production and arrangements are a bit sparse, the performance were a stand out, easily continuing the traditions set by The Crystals and The Ronettes.
While DeCarlo’s creation of an socially important character like Valerie for the new comic and show package was met without trouble nor fan-fare, Janssen’s describes Valerie and Holloways’ entry in the recording studio with a little more drama in his liner notes for the Rhino Handmade’s 2001 Josie & The Pussycats CD ‘Stop Look & Listen’…..with a side order of confusion.
Soon after picking the singers for the record project, Janssen visited the H-B animation studios and was told, according to him, “Danny, listen, our storyboards are done and everything, and there are three white girls on the show. We don’t want to change the storyboards.” A stalemate was reached and Danny quit. About three weeks later, H-B told Danny that they redid the storyboards to accommodate Patrice and Danny happily rejoined the show.
When Danny went back to the recording studio, he found an army of experienced studio freelance musicians. Even though he was flattered, Danny told them that he couldn’t afford them due to the small budget he had for ‘Josie’. The army told him that since he hired Patrice, they offered to do the recording for free out of appreciation for her.
No doubt, a wonderful story, but Jassen’s claim to Valerie runs against DeCarlo’s own description of his creation. Still, the notes provided by Janssen and songwriter Sue Sherdian offered a few more details about the record and the ‘Cats themselves, including plans for the gals to perform the songs live at the end of each episode.
ABOVE: The real live cats in person and in action, album covers included!!
The songs were played prominently during important plot points (like the obvious chase scene) and a few specially recorded singles were offered through Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. Sadly, the timing wasn’t there as the TV toon music record era was ending; radio stations that played ‘The Archies’ records had enough of the rest of the ‘toon music’. Adding to the downfall, according to Janssen and Sherdian, Capitol Records wasn’t behind the physical group and all plans for ANY promotion for the gals fell through.
Soon after record sales tanked, Capitol handed the ladies their pink slips. Cathy went off to obscurity, Patrice went on with her solo career, studio session work and became a cult figure with soul fans and collectors in England but it was Cherie who headed off to much bigger things. She continued her acting career, landing small rolls in various TV shows. She would later marry David Ladd (son of 40’s screen idol, Alan Ladd), becoming Cheryl Ladd. In late 1977, she replaced Farrah Fawcett-Majors in ‘Charlies’ Angels’ with much
brouhaha. From one female trio to another, from the frying pan into the fire. (4)