August 03, 2007

Underdog Cartoon Inspired from I Love Lucy

With the release of the movie, Underdog, based on the 1960 Cartoon of the same name, I thought it interesting to note that it's inspiration was from an episode of I Love Lucy.

Back in the early 1960s, Joe Harris (one of Underdog's original creators) worked at an ad agency. One of the agency's clients, General Mills, was trying to expand into sponsoring an animated children's TV show, a burgeoning field for the television industry. The idea for Underdog came after writer Chester "Chet" Stover saw an episode of I Love Lucy entitled "Lucy and Superman" in which Lucille Ball dressed as Superman and had a bumbling misadventure that left her stranded on a high ledge. The notion of a clumsy superhero stuck with Stover, and the next day he thought it was a great idea but the character should be a dog. From there he and Joe Harris created the cartoon character. They began working on the cartoon in 1963, and it first aired in 1964.

Underdog was actually Shoeshine Boy, a humble little pooch who transformed into a superheroic dog when trouble arose. He invariably did plenty of damage along the way. Almost a take-off from Superman's Clark Kent persona.

In the new film released today, Underdog is a beagle, but the creators originally avoided tying him down to any specific breed of dog. Jason Lee of "My Name is Earl" fame plays the voice of Underdog (which was orginally voiced by Wally Cox in the cartoon), Peter Dinklage plays Simon, with Patrick Warburton as his towering henchman Cad. Amy Adams (Junebug) provides the voice of Sweet Polly.

For more on this story, read Journal Now.

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