Hong Kong Phooey strikes an action pose.


Original Medium: Television animation
Produced by: Hanna-Barbera
First Appeared: 1974
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As popular as the martial arts were in 1970s American entertainment, it's only natural that they invaded the superhero world. Marvel Comics had …

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Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu; DC had Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter; and Hanna-Barbera had Hong Kong Phooey.

Hong Kong Phooey was in reality mild-mannered Penrod Pooch, janitor at the police station (which put him in a good position to know when his help was needed). Whenever he overheard a call to action, Penry would dive into a filing cabinet where he would change into his colorful karate outfit, then hop into his Phooeymobile (which, like the van driven by The Amazing Chan's progeny, could be transformed into whatever conveyance was needed), and, accompanied by his faithful cat Spot, sally forth to right whatever wrongs needed righting. He achieved his expertise through a correspondence course. During battle, he would frequently consult the textbook from it, The Hong Kong Book of Kung Fu.

The show premiered on ABC on September 7, 1974, and remained in production for a whopping 16 episodes, which were run and rerun over the next two years. He did, however, appear in a comic book, which Charlton published for nine issues, June 1975 through November 1976. He was back on TV in 1977, in Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics, and back again in 1980, as half of The Godzilla/Hong Kong Phooey Hour. Since then, he's been seen only in reruns.

The character's voice was done by Scatman Crothers, who, aside from his other well-known show biz credits, also played Crazy Legs in Don Bluth's Banjo the Woodpile Cat, Scat Cat in Disney's The AristoCats and Liquid Man in Super Globetrotters. Spot was Don Messick, who also played the dog on The Jetsons, the cat on Josie & the Pussycats and various other non-anthropomorphic animals. Messick was also the show's narrator. Rosemary, the police station phone operator who loved Hong Kong Phooey but scorned Penry, was voiced by Kathy Gori, who also played in Inch High, Private Eye and The New Tom & Jerry Show. Sgt. Flint, another of Penry's eavesdropping victims, was Joe E. Ross, mostly a face actor, but who also did voice work in Help! It's the Hair Bear Bunch.

A live-action movie version is alleged to be in production. But no cast has been announced, despite the fact that the feature is said to be scheduled for release in 2003.


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Text ©2003-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Hanna-Barbera.