On September 27, 1961 it was issued for the first time Don Gato and his gang (Top Cat), a cartoon series created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. As its name implies, this cartoon shows the adventures of a gang of cats that moves through the streets of Manhattan, which is led by Don Gato.
In addition to having the presence of this talkative and persuasive boss, the gang was made up of the naive Benito Bodoque, the infatuated Cucho, the carefree Demosthenes, the avant-garde Espanto and the flirtatious Panza.
The diverse group of stray cats sought to have luxuries and comforts in the easiest possible way and with minimal effort, regardless of whether they had to break the law a little to achieve their goals. That’s why the gang was in the crosshairs of Officer Hooch, the policeman in charge of the neighborhood who frequently tried to arrest these rambunctious cats.
Despite how interesting the premise seemed, the series only had 30 chapters. Unfortunately, the American public was not very interested in it, preferring to see more familiar content, such as The Flintstones (also from Hanna-Barbera).
Don Gato and his gang It addressed issues related to failed plans, scams, social classes and love relationships through certain characters. That is why it could be difficult to accept that some “kittens” were shown to have deceptive intentions, especially if we consider that animals were mainly associated with something cute in those years.
However, thanks to the success of previous Hanna-Barbera series: The Flintstones, Yogi Bear and The Huckleberry Hound Show, the following productions of this study were assured their distribution outside the United States.
That way, Don Gato and his Gang was well received in Spain and the United Kingdom, where it was renamed as Boss Cat, since there existed a brand of cat food called Top Cat. But where it was really successful and continues to be fondly remembered is in Latin America, especially in Mexico.
Now, what was it that caused this sudden fame in Spanish-speaking countries? The answer is simple: adapting the script in the dubbing process. This task was assigned to the Mexican actor, writer and director Rubén Arvizu, when the series arrived in Latin America in the 1970s.
Arvizu had a lot of creative freedom when doubling the contents, so he did not hesitate to dare to change the cultural context of the series and move it from a New York environment to a Mexican one. This was reflected in the names, dialogues, expressions and idioms of the characters.
That task was also accomplished thanks to the tremendous acting quality of the voice actors. Some of them were Julio Lucena, who was in charge of the voice Don Gato; Víctor Alcocer, who played Officer Matute; and, of course, Jorge “el Tata” Arvizu (Rubén’s brother), who gave voice to Benito Bodoque and Cucho.
“El Tata” Arvizu was one of the pioneers of dubbing in Mexico and lent his voice to a variety of characters from series and movies, such as Bugs Bunny, Popeye, Pedro Picapierdra and Maxwell Smart from Super agent 86.
He was characterized by improvising some of his lines while recording and, in the case of Don Gato and his GangIt was the one who came up with the idea of giving Cucho a Yucatecan accent and a tender and innocent voice for Benito Bodoque. The result was something totally opposite to the original American version, and in the end, it managed to win the little blue cat the affection of the Latin American audience.
This is how Rubén Arvizu and his select group of voice actors managed to make each character in Don Gato and his Gang had an identifiable personality and that viewers had some closeness to the cartoon they were watching.
Due to the success of the animated series (largely outside the United States), in the following years he released three films: Don Gato and his gang in Beverly Hills (1988), Don Gato and his gang (2011) and Don Gato: the beginning of the gang (2015), a prequel to the cartoon that shows how the group of cats met.
The second film featured the voice of Jorge Arvizu for the same characters he played in the series. However, the renowned dubbing figure passed away in 2014, so the voice of Cucho and Benito Bodoque had to be replaced in the 2015 film. This tape was dedicated to his memory.
Despite the fact that it was not valued in its native country and that its animation did not stand out before its competition – such as Disney or Warner productions – the charisma of the characters of Don Gato and his Gang in Spanish it was stronger and made this cartoon earn a place in the corner of the most beloved series in Latin America.