Josie DeCarlo, the inspiration behind a cartoon that millions of ’70s children grew up with, has passed away in her sleep.
Decarlo was the wife of cartoonist Dan DeCarlo, creator of Josie and the Pussycats, Hanna-Barbera’s cartoon series that featured an all-girl band that toured the world with their entourage, getting mixed up in strange adventures, spy capers, and mysteries.
Josie DeCarlo was the inspiration for red-haired singer-guitarist Josie McCoy. Her comic book legend husband died in 2001, aged 81. Shortly after his passing, Josie reflected on a catsuit she owned and her own hairdo had become his inspiration for the cartoon:
“We went on a Caribbean cruise, and I had a costume for the cruise, and that’s the way it started. The hairdo came after. One day, I came in with a new hairdo with a little bow in my hair, and he said, ‘That’s it!’”
Dan DeCarlo produced sketches of his wife while wearing the outfit, and instantly gave his new creation his wife’s name. Josie later reflected:
“We communicated with drawing. He would draw things for me to make me understand what he had in mind. He was really so amusing. Instead of just using words, he would use cartoons to express himself. Right away, we knew that we were meant for each other.”
The widowed Josie continued to promote her husband’s name and work after his death, regularly visiting comic book conventions for as long as she could manage. The pair had originally met via a blind date in Belgium, shortly after the Battle of the Bulge.
Funeral services will be held Monday in Scarsdale, New York. RIP, Josie – and I hope you’ll all be watching your Josie and the Pussycat DVD box sets in Josie’s honor.