Originally broadcast on Wednesdays [8:30-9pm Eastern], Top Cat was co-sponsored by Kellogg's and Bristol-Myers(Bufferin). The central character, Top Cat—called T.C. by close friends, "pro-vid-ing it's with dignity" as the lyrics of the theme song say—is the leader of a gang of Manhattan alley cats: Fancy-Fancy, Spook, Benny the Ball, Brain, and Choo Choo living in Hoagy's Alley.
Top Cat and his gang were inspired by characters from the popular 1940s B movies, “The East Side Kids“, but many suggest it derived from a later 1950s military comedy whose lead was a crafty con-man (The Phil Silvers Show). Maurice Gosfield, who played Private Duane Doberman on The Phil Silvers Show, also provided the voice for Benny the Ball in Top Cat (Benny’s rotund appearance was based on Gosfield too). Even Arnold Stang‘s voicing of Top Cat strongly resembled Phil Silvers‘ voice. Other possible sources cited have been “Guys and Dolls” where actor Stubby Kaye played a short, stout street-wise gambler and a virtual Benny the Ball prototype.
Lastly, an unlikely contender (as it also came from Hanna Barbera) was the character Hokey Wolf, from a segment on The Huckleberry Hound Show, which also had parallels toThe Phil Silvers Show. A frequent plot-line revolved around the local beat cop Charles “Charlie” Dibble, NYPD and his ineffective attempts to evict the gang from the alley. The only reason that he wanted to be rid of them was that Top Cat and his gang were constantly attempting to earn a quick dollar—usually through an illegal scam. Dibble’s appearance was modeled on Allen Jenkins, who did his voice. The word dibble, previously used only for an implement for making holes to plant seeds, acquired a second meaning in the vernacular as slang for police officers.