Super President.


Medium: TV animation
Produced by: DePatie-Freleng
First Appeared: 1967
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Adventure was king in TV animation of the late 1960s, with an emphasis on superheroes. Popular shows of the time included …

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Space Ghost, Birdman, The Mighty Mightor and animated versions of various Marvel and DC heroes. Not-so-popular ones included Super President.

Maybe the reason it failed to catch on with viewers had to do with plunging public support for the Vietnam War, resulting in an approval-rating disaster for the real-life president, Lyndon B. Johnson. Or maybe it's just that the concept was seriously wonky, even by Saturday morning standards. The idea of a head of state functioning as a superhero had been used before (e.g., Aquaman, The Black Panther), but even very young children must have had trouble swallowing an incumbent U.S. president finding time to ditch his Secret Service guards, put on a costume, and sally forth to fight crime in the streets of Washington, DC.

Super President was James Norcross, whose term of office presumably came after Johnson's, but it wasn't clear how long after. The super-technology seen from time to time might have indicated a point decades hence, or it might have been there just because Saturday morning TV was full of that sort of stuff no matter when the series was set — even The Lone Ranger ran across it in his cartoon show.

Norcross's super powers came from a cosmic storm — another indication of a setting more than a couple of years in the future, unless of course the U.S. government has weapons systems it doesn't tell the voters about, and what are the chances of that, eh? The storm gave him the ability to alter his molecular composition just like Metamorpho the Element Man. However, his secret exit from the Oval Office, his cave headquarters underneath the White House, the Omnicar he drove around in, and the little jets on his belt that enabled him to fly, probably came at taxpayer expense. Only his most trusted advisor, Jerry Sayles, knew his many startling secrets — apparently, his superhero name wasn't as much of a clue that he was, like, a president, as one might think.

Super President debuted on NBC, on September 16, 1967. It was produced by DePatie-Freleng, the studio that was also responsible for The Pink Panther and The Ant & the Aardvark. Norcross's voice was provided by Paul Frees, also known for Ludwig von Drake, Dinky Duck and of course, Bullwinkle's Boris Badenov. Other voices heard in the series include Don Messick (Scooby-Doo, Papa Smurf) and Shepard Menken (Clyde Crashcup, several voices in The Phantom Tollbooth). There were three segments in the show, two about the title character and the middle one starring a secret agent called Spy Shadow (no relation), a spy who could break away from his shadow so they could go on separate missions.

The Super President show lasted exactly one season, and spun off no comic books, Little Golden Books or any of that stuff. Today, many adults who watched the show in their youth have trouble convincing their friends anything this off-the-wall actually existed.


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Text ©2003-09 Donald D. Markstein. Art © DePatie-Freleng.