One of the early superhero dogs was the great Underdog. The animated series Underdog ran from 1964 to 1967. Underdog was the cartoon dog who could hear a call for help and spring into action. Similar to Superman’s Clark Kent, Underdog had an alter ego called Shoeshine Boy. Shoeshine Boy must have lived in a bad part of town because he was always near some form of wrongdoing. Also similar to Superman, the humble and lovable Shoeshine Boy would duck into a phone booth and change into Underdog.
Usually the person doing the crying for help was Sweet Polly Purebred, the love interest of Shoeshine boy. She would invariably get into trouble of one sort or another with any number of nefarious bad guys, including Simon Bar Sinister or Riff Raff. These were some rough looking characters. Sweet Polly was the damsel in distress and would sing “Oh where oh where has my Underdog gone?” until she would eventually be rescued.
The two most famous things Underdog would say were “There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here!” and “When Polly’s in trouble, I am not slow, for it’s hip-hip-hip and away I go!” His voice, as well as that of Shoeshine Boy, was done by Wally Cox, whom you may recall from Hollywood Squares fame.
There were a few other notable cartoons that were part of the Underdog umbrella. Tennessee Tuxedo, Commander McBragg and Go Go Gophers. Don Adams of Get Smart fame was the voice of Tennessee Tuxedo, you may recall. His buddy, Chumley was about the dopiest sounding voice you could imagine. Go Go Gophers, the irreverent take on American Indians, would never make it with today’s political correctness.
Underdog had super powers but they would occasionally wear down and he would get very weak. He kept a super energy pill in his ring and once he got his pill, his powers would be restored and soon justice would prevail and Sweet Polly would be saved. What a guy! Underdog – a dog’s answer to Super Heroes!