Josie DeCarlo, the inspiration for singer-guitarist Josie McCoy of the 1970 Hanna-Barbera series Josie and the Pussycats and its successors, has died in her sleep, cartoon and comics historian Mark Evanier said Wednesday. Her age was not immediately available.
Josie was drawn to resemble her by her husband, comic book legend Dan DeCarlo, who died in 2001 at 82.
The character of Josie McCoy was voiced by Janet Waldo in the original Josie and the Pussycats series, as well as the 1972 H-B shows Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space and The New Scooby-Doo Movies. Waldo is still alive at 88.
Cathy Douglas provided her singing voice in Josie and the Pussycats and Josie and the Pussy Cats in Outer Space. Tara Strong voiced her character in the 2004 series Drawn Together.
In a New York Times interview shortly after her husband’s death, DeCarlo described how she became the inspiration for the leader of the Pussycats.
“We went on a Caribbean cruise, and I had a costume for the cruise, and that’s the way it started,” Josie DeCarlo said of her cat suit, described in the lyrics of the original cartoon series’ theme song: “Josie and the Pussycats/Long tails and ears for hats.”
“The hairdo came after,” Josie DeCarlo said. “One day, I came in with a new hairdo with a little bow in my hair, and he said, ‘That’s it!'”
Dan DeCarlo sketched her wife in that outfit, and he gave her first name to the “star” when he went shopping to several syndicates for a proposed newspaper strip, said Evanier.
According to Dan DeCarlo, he created the character on his own in the late 1950s to be featured in the strip Here’s Josie. “You know, I threw that letter away,” he said about a rejection message from one syndicate. “If I still had that letter, there wouldn’t have been any case. I would have been a shoo-in.”
With no syndicate accepting his offer, he showed the strip to Richard Goldwater at the Archie company, where he was already working. Goldwater accepted the proposal, and Here’s Josie — a comic book this time — began in 1963.
In the late 1960s, the publisher asked him to add a theme element to the comic book, riding on the coattails of the very popular “The Archies” recording group (a spin-off from Archie Comics). That’s how Josie led Josie and the Pussycats, a rock group dressed very similarly to how his wife had been decked out on the fateful cruise.
Born Josie Dumont, she was a French citizen. She met her husband in Belgium on a blind date shortly after the Battle of the Bulge; he spoke little French.
“We communicated with drawing, ” she said. “He would draw things for me to make me understand what he had in mind. He was really so amusing. Instead of just using words, he would use cartoons to express himself. Right away, we knew that we were meant for each other.”
Following her husband’s death, she continued promoting his name and work, and attended comic book conventions as long as her health allowed, said Evanier. “She was a lovely lady, and every one of Dan’s many friends and fans loved her just as much as they loved Dan,” he added.
Besides her husband, Josie DeCarlo is predeceased by their twin sons, Dan Jr. and Jim, who worked on their father’s comics as inkers. She is survived by two grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held Monday in Scarsdale, New York. For more information, e-mail Evanier at me(at)povonline.com.
[Via News From Me — www.newsfromme.com/2012/03/14/josie-decarlo-r-i-p/, New York Times — www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2001/12/24/MN330.DTL#ixzz1pELBIN1Z, Comic Book Resources — www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=37564, Greg Beda’s Chaotic Muse — http://ubots.com/gb/]