April 15, 2018


1960s: Looking forward and backward with Penelope Pitstop. It's interesting that a decade noted for its futuristic thinking and focus on the development of breakthrough technologies -even as expressed though consumer design and fashion- the public imagination also kept a steady eye fixed on the past. And where 1950s Britain and America saw a popularity in period-adventures shows (Robin Hood, Sir Lancelot, Ivanhoe, William Tell, and the hundreds of US westerns), the Sixties saw an interest in Edwardian times and the early days of flight and the motor car. Inspired by the success of Blake Edwards' 1965 film, The Great Race, Hanna-Barbera launched their Wacky Races cartoon in 1968. The series centered around a regular cast of drivers pitted against each other in an epic race. Among the characters was Penelope Pitstop, modeled after Natalie Wood's Maggie DuBois from the original film. As with Hanna-Barbera's 1969 film-inspired project, Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines (Based on Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines/1965), each of the characters was defined in part by their trademark vehicles. And Penelope's car, Compact Pussycat, was sadly conceived as a beauty party on wheels. Thank goodness kids in the UK were treated to a stronger role model in agent Lady Penelope and her Bond-inspired Rolls in Gerry Anderson's 1965 series, Thunderbirds. Penelope Pitstop returned in Hanna-Barbera's The Perils of Penelope Pitstop in 1970, this time as a cunning damsel-in-disress based on the Perils of Pauline films from the silent era. Wacky Races was rebooted in 2017. Incidentally, The Great Race's influence reached into further productions such as Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies in 1969. Cartoon Network celebrated many classic characters in 2001 with a series of short animations by contemporary artists and designers. I like this interpretation of Penelope Pitstop in the video clip below because the artists chose to empower her as a driver/adventurer -and they outfitted her car with cool gadgets ala James Bond and Speed Racer! I will explore the 1960s fascination with Edwardian times further in my upcoming book, Spy Vibe. Fans of Funko Pop toys can now a whole range of Hanna-Barbera characters, including Penelope Pitstop. Enjoy!

Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Spy Vibe Radio: Danger DiabolikDr. No 60thOy-Oy-SevenSpy Vibe Radio (UFO)Cold War Comic StripsThunderball EventMission to IndiaMort Walker Celebration,  Peter Wyngarde CelebrationBatman 66 ExhibitPrisoner Fifty EventIan Fleming Publications 2017-2018Interview: Ed Hulse PulpAvengers Audio DramaInterview: Callan At 50Interview: Playboys, Spies, Private EyesTWA ReturnsSpy Vibe Radio 8Interview: Ryan HeshkaMid-Century Modern SchulzAgent WerewolfMata Hair ExhibitJohnny Sokko 50thInterview: Trina RobbinsEddie IzzardThe Prisoner Capt Scarlet 50thHugh Hefner R.I.P.Jack Good R.I.P.Interview: Shaken Not StirredCallan 50thSpy Vibe Radio 7The Prisoner 50th EventSpy-Fi EventKaho Aso 007Two MillionBo DiddleyCarnaby PopLe Carre EventsBilly Bragg SkiffleElvis 68Jack Kirby The PrisonerCasino Royale ConcertReview: The Prisoner Vol 2Interview: The Prisoner Essential GuideMaud Russell MottisfontSpy Vibe Radio 4Batman GallantsAdam West R.I.P.Village TriangleRoger Moore R.I.P.Spy Vibe Radio 3Sgt Pepper 50thSatanik Kriminal OST60s OverdriveMake Love in LondonSpy Vibe Radio 2Spy Vibe Radio 1James Bond StripsPropaganda MabuseInterview: Police SurgeonXTC Avengers1966 Pep SpiesBatman Book InterviewExclusive Fleming InterviewAvengers Comic StripsRobert Vaughn RIPUNCLE FashionsThunderbirds Are Pop!, Interview: Spy Film GuideLost Avengers FoundThe Callan FileMission Impossible 50thGreen Hornet 50thStar Trek 50thPortmeirion Photography 1Filming the PrisonerGaiman McGinnins ProjectIan Fleming GraveRevolver at 50Karen Romanko InterviewMod Tales 2Umbrella Man: Patrick MacneeNew Beatles FilmThe Curious CameraEsterel Fashion 1966Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview007 Tribute CoversThe Phantom Avon novels returnIan Fleming FestivalArgoman DesignSylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama Review.

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