Dollars to donuts say that 1960s cartoon characters were, once upon a time, among your best friends.
Don’t believe me? Well, then, consider …
Remember all those great cartoons you watched growing up in the 1970s and 1980s?
Yeah, a lot of those cartoons — and cartoon characters — were reruns when you saw them, created in the 1950s or 1960s or before.
And I’m not just talking about the big boys like The Flintstones or The Jetsons, either.
So which ones am I talking about?
Glad you asked!
Here are ten great but underrated 1960s cartoon characters — that is, they saw new episodes at least sometime in the 60s — who made your 1970s and 1980s childhood sing.
Casper the Friendly Ghost
So, technically, Casper the Friendly Ghost made his debut waaaayyyy back when in 1939 children’s book. Then, in 1945, he took on a more, ahem, animated form in a Noveltoon from Paramount called, The Friendly Ghost.
But Casper is timeless, and he enjoyed a renaissance after Harvey bought his rights from Famous in 1959 and started showing the happy little dead guy on ABC.
Then, in 1963, The New Casper Cartoon Show hit the airwaves, and our spooky 1970s and 1980s fates were sealed.
I mean, how many times did you watch Casper try to buddy up to some human only to scare the holy sh## out of them?
Dude couldn’t catch a break, and he made you feel better about yourself. I mean, at least you were breathing when the other kids shunned you.
Wendy the Good Little Witch
Compared to Casper, Wendy was the whippersnapper of the Harvey cartoon stable, having debuted in pulps in May of 1954.
Like Casper, though, Wendy was misunderstood by virtue of her good heart wrapped in a frightening (to some) package. A good witch??!?!
Who ever heard of such an abomination?
Well, Harvey, for one. And Casper for another, as the ghost and good-deed-doing witch crossed over on a regular basis.
And, looking back, don’t you think that Wendy’s situation — and even her face — bear a resemblance to another 1960s franchise? (*cough* Bewitched *cough*)
If you’ve never seen Mr. Magoo … well, then, you might be Mr. Magoo.
The rest of us remember him as a bumbling old man with the worst eyesight we’d ever encountered …
A guy who regularly mistook his dog for his telephone … his car for his bathroom … his kitchen for his car.
Oh, yes, Magoo drove, and we imitated those hijinks on the playground — over and over.
Voiced by Jim Backus of Gilligan’s Island fame (Thurston Howell, III — aka, The Millionaire), Magoo debuted in 1949 but is still a part of our collective cartoon fabric even today.
Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks
You can have Tom and Jerry, with all their commercial success, merchandise, and overhyped antics … as long as you leave me Pixie and Dixie, and Mr. Jinks (natch).
Running from 1958 through 1961, this trio of Hanna-Barbera frenemies suffered from a lower budget that T & J but scored on big win over their MGM brethren — they could talk!
Thus, we got to hear the detailed plans of the two brother mice (Pixie and Dixie), as well as the seething frustration of their cat-foil (Mr. Jinks).
And that yielded one of the great cartoon catchphrases of all-time … Mr. Jinks’ plaintive, “I hates those meeces to pieces!”.
Let’s see Tom do that!
George of the Jungle almost made this list, and still might get tacked on at some point.
But George didn’t go it alone in his half-hour ABC time slot in 1967.
Nope, interspersed between George segments were shorts featuring all-world race card river Tom Slick, manning the helm of his Thunderbolt Grease-Slapper.
Tom was a free-wheeling racer who always fought against the evil Baron Otto Matic, absorbing all sorts of bodily injury to come back for more.
And the crowd “cheers” for Tom much as your co-workers cheer for you when you gloat about some insignificant milestone … they sit stone-faced in the stands and give up a collective, unenthusiastic, and monotone, “Yay.”
It’t the ultimate “you don’t really matter moment” and a good life lesson for us all.
Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy
What’s the best dog breed?
If you didn’t say “dachshund,” you either don’t realize that’s the technical term for weenie dogs, or you are just wrong.
Either way — or even if you did get that one right — you need to go back and watch some Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy.
This Hanna-Barbera creation doesn’t get the attention of biggies like Yogi Bear and The Flintstones, but it’s a classic. Trust me … and watch.
I mean, where else could you find the misadventures of a rowdy young dachshund (the best kind of dog, remember) and his proud/guiding dad.
The best of dogs … the best of father-son relationships … the best.
Given all that, it’s hard to believe these dudes were only in new development for three years (1959-62).
Did you know that Underdog was created to help shill General Mills cereal?
Well, he was skippy!
But Shoeshine Boy’s alter ego proved so successful, that his creators broke him off and formed a new company called Total Television to make Underdog a bona fide television star on NBC and CBS.
From 1964 through 1967, and with General Mills continuing as primary sponsor, Underdog rolled out 62 full episodes, plus 26 syndicated entries.
Modeled after Superman, Underdog was an even more unassuming superhero — who would expect a beagle-X to take care of business so handily, after all?
But TCB he did, speaking in rhyming couplets throughout his adventures and always taking extra care to make sure that Sweet Polly Purebred avoided harm’s way.
Wouldn’t you do the same, even if it meant spending your off-hours shining loafers?
Mighty Mouse almost doesn’t qualify for this list, with new episodes produced from 1942 into 1961 (just made it … phew!).
Like Underdog, Mighty Mouse could do Superman things — fly, be strong, see through things.
Unlike Underdog, Mighty Mouse was buff and hale.
But, c’mon — he’s a mouse. Mice are NOT supposed to be superheroes. They’re supposed to scurry along until we can trick them onto our little guillotine cheese dispensers.
So, yeah, Mighty Mouse was sorta inspiring, if chilling.
And who hasn’t launched off the jungle gym to save a damsel during recess, announcing your intentions with a rousing rendition of, “Here I come … to save the dayyyyyyyy!”?
Two characters from George of the Jungle?
Three superheroes, none of them from the Marvel or DC Universe?
You bet your sweet bippy! That’s just how underrated George and the gang was … and besides, Super Chicken was a psychedelic masterpiece.
I mean, Henry Cabot Henhouse III was just your average chicken until trouble raised its head and his lion sidekick Fred — yes, a freaking lion as a chicken’s sidekick — whipped up some of his super secret sauce.
Henry drank the brew, his had spun around and swam, stars and explosions rocked his head … and then he was Super Chicken.
Or not, depending on the day’s recipe.
So, basically, Super Chicken latched onto the hippy drug culture right from the very beginning.
Yeah, so … you can’t do one of these lists without someone from Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.
My personal favorite from that show is the “Fractured Fairy Tales” gig, but there’s not really a recurring character there.
Dudley Do-Right, on the other hand, recurred.
And when he did, he was ultra-reliable …
… always on his horse backwards.
… always good-looking but dim-witted.
… always succeeding by pure luck.
… always foiling the more clever Snidely Whiplash.
… always failing to win the affections of Nell Fenwick, thanks largely to her affection for Dudley’s steed, Horse.
You can find plenty of classic 1960s cartoon characters on DVD at Amazon …. check them out here (affiliate link).