W. WATTS BIGGERS, CO-CREATOR OF THE 'UNDERDOG' CARTOON, DIES AT 85
February 20, 2013 | The Toy Industry Association (TIA) and its members join in mourning the passing of W. Watt Biggers, the co-creator of the 1960s “Underdog” cartoon and its theme song, who died February 10th, 2013 in Manomet, MA at the age of 85.
According to his obituary in the New York Times, William Watts Biggers’ career in animation spanned more than 50 years. Born in Georgia, where he attended military school and Emory Law School, Mr. Biggers moved to New York City when he was 20 with dreams of becoming a pianist and songwriter. His first job was in the mailroom of advertising agency Dancer Fitzgerald Sampler, where he ultimately became vice president. In 1959 he acquired General Mills as a client, for whom he created cartoon campaigns to keep kids interested in cereal ads.
Mr. Biggers left the agency to form his company, Total TeleVision (TTV), with animation produced at Gamma Studios in Mexico. TTV created and produced a variety of animated TV series, including "King Leonardo and his Short Subjects," "The Hunter," "Tooter Turtle,” "Tennessee Tuxedo and his Tales," "Go Go Gophers," "The World of Commander McBragg," "Klondike Kat" and "Underdog." For these series, Mr. Biggers co-wrote more than 500 scripts and composed all theme songs, words and music.
The highly successful “Underdog” cartoon and theme song, both created by Mr. Biggers, was telecast on NBC from 1964 to 1966, followed by a run on CBS (1966-68) and a return to NBC (1968-70 and 1972-73). The popular show is syndicated worldwide; a live action movie starring Jason Lee as the voice of Underdog was released in 2007.
Mr. Biggers went on to become Vice President of Promotion and Creative Services for NBC, heading a 90-person department for five years. He left NBC in 1984 to focus on writing.
Mr. Biggers’ wife, Grace, died in 1989 after 39 years of marriage. He is survived by his longtime companion, Nancy Purbeck; a daughter, Victoria; a son, W. Watts Jr.; a brother, Bascom III; and Ms. Purbeck’s two children and four grandchildren.