Forgotten Females of Animation #1
: Wanda Kay Breckenridge
(first of an occasional series)
Over the years, animated cartoons have spawned female stars that rival their live-action counterparts in familiarity and popularity. Wilma and Betty of The Flintstones
, Jane and Judy (The Jetsons
), Velma and Daphne of Scooby Doo, Where Are You?
, to name just a few. And even some of the lesser-known women of animation, like Tara of The Herculoids
, still manage to accumulate a cult following.
But when a cartoon series slips into obscurity, its female leads suffer similarly. They are the "Forgotten Females of Animation", and I hope to draw attention to some of them through this series of occasional illustrations.
The first subject of the "FFA" series: Wanda Kay Breckenridge, of Filmation's 1969 animated series The Hardy Boys
"Whut? There was a Hardy Boys cartoon?" Exactly. Produced in the wake of the phenomenal success of The Archie Show
, and the hit single "Sugar Sugar" by The Archies, The Hardy Boys
was Filmation;s attempt to make lightning strike twice, by taking a property popular with youngsters of the time (the "Hardy Boys" series of detective novels published under the pseudonym "Franklin W. Dixon") and grafting onto the format the concept that the Hardy Boys, like The Archies, were a rock band in addition to being teen crime-solvers. Brothers Frank and Joe Hardy, and their friend Chet Morton (nicknamed "Chubby" in the cartoon) came over from the novels; to fill out the cast (and the band's lineup), two original characters were created: Pete Jones, who holds the distinction of being the first black character featured as a regular in an animated cartoon series (yes, even before Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids
), and the "obligatory" female, Wanda Kay Breckenridge.
So why Wanda Kay to start the "FFA"? She was, as I recall, my first crush on a cartoon babe. Yes, I've written often of my affection for Tara of The Herculoids
, but I came to that appreciation some years after the show left the air. At the time I wasn't all that infatuated with Tara, perhaps because a.) I was probably just a little young to be looking at girls "that way", or b.) I may have had the subconscious idea that Tara was "unavailable" (and not just because she lived on a far-away planet "somewhere out in space"): she was Zandor's wife, after all, and she was someone's mom as well.
But Wanda Kay? She was a little closer to my age, (well, closer than Tara, anyway); and even though she hung out with the four guys in their crime-solving adventures, she didn't seem to be involved with any of them, so she was "available". Wanda Kay was featured more prominently than Tara was in their respective shows, and Wanda Kay spend quite a bit of the screen time dancing (during the "music video" segments of the show wherein the band would "perform" the songs produced for the series). And… well, as I said, Wanda Kay was my first "cartoon babe" crush.
(And that's why I chose "Breckenridge" as Tetsuko's last name.)Here's a clip
- from a poor quality VCR tape, but it gives you an idea what was going on - of Wanda Kay (and the rest of the Hardy Boys) performing "One Time in a Million". WARNING: '60s-style psychedelia ahead! (And no, I have no idea why the announcer at the beginning of the clip introduces the Hardy Boys as "those country favorites"…)
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