UNDERCOVER ELEPHANTMedium: TV animation
Produced by: Hanna-Barbera
First Appeared: 1977
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The Hanna-Barbera cartoon factory wasn't entirely inexperienced with the private detective genre by the mid-1970s. Their Inch High (1973) had "private eye" right in the title of his show. But Inch, being only an inch high, at least when working on
a case, wasn't much for putting on a disguise and working under cover. Undercover Elephant, however, as implied by his name, was.
You'd think he'd have a hard time disguising himself, being, like, an elephant. It would be like Speed Centaur putting on a superhero suit, with mask. But no, it was always his partner whose loud mouth was responsible for spilling the beans. (The partner's name was Loudmouse.) The fact that his disguises were as easy for the kids to see through as Boris Badenov's or Crawford Crow's simply added to the fun.
Undy worked for a detective agency, and took orders from The Chief. The boss wasn't seen, but would give Undy his assignments via a tape-recorded message, just like in the old Mission: Impossible TV show, and another similarity to that old show was the tapes would self-destruct after being heard. Undy's first problem in each apisode was to avoid being caught in the self-destruction.
Undy starred in one of the back segments of Hanna-Barbera's C.B. Bears show, which debuted September 10, 1977. It was done like one of the very old cartoon shows, with three segments per half-hour only it was an hour-long show, so there were six segmernts. The other four were Blast Off Buzzard, Heyyy It's the King, Posse Impossible and Shake Rattle & Roll.
Undercover Elephant was voiced by the superstar of Hana-Barbera cartoons, Daws Butler, voice of Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw and many, many more. Loudmouse's voice was the somewhat less stellar Bob Hastings (Commissioner Gordon in Batman.) The Chief was Michael Bell (Lex Luthor). Both Hastings and Bell are better known for face than voice acting.
Thirteen hour-long episodes were made for the first season, which is all its six segments lasted. In syndicated reruns, it was treated like the old Secret Squirrel/Atom Ant hour, and divided into two half-hour shows one with Blast Off, the Posse and the Bears and the other with the King, Shake and Undercover Elephant. A few years later, Undy was occasionally seen with Snagglepuss, Augie Doggy and the rest, on Yogi's Treasure Hunt.
The day was long past when any Hanna-Barbera series automatically got a comic book from Gold Key, but the current licensor, Marvel Comics, did manage to put Undy in the back pages of a few anthology comic books.