Originally published on 8/7/10 in my other blog, The Land of Whatever:
In the wake of Batman's runaway success, it seemed just about anyone could become a superhero in the mid-60's. DePatie-Freleng, after creating the comedy super-team The Super 6 a year earlier, went to another extreme with Super President in 1967.
In the real world, Lyndon B. Johnson was our President at that time, but no one could envision him in spandex for obvious reasons. Hence, our fictional President in this series was James Norcross, who, according to the narrative at the start of the show, was given super powers in a cosmic storm, enabling him to shift his molecular structure into steel, rubber, "or whatever the need requires". The prolific Paul Frees, the voice behind Boris Badenov (Rocky & His Friends) and numerous other characters, voiced Norcross, and also read the narrative. The stories were short, about 5-7 minutes each, which was normal back in those days.
And, as with most cartoons of the period, there was a back-up feature, Spy Shadow, in support of Super President. Shadow's protagonist, secret agent Richard Vance, was given the ability to summon his own shadow as a separate entity. Yeah, it sounds pretty lame now, but in 1967, logic didn't figure into a lot of television programs. It was all about letting your imagination run wild. Ted Cassidy (ex-The Addams Family), who, like Frees, was also doing voice work for Hanna-Barbera at the same time, voiced Vance and his Shadow, using his more natural speaking voice for Vance, the same voice that would later recite the opening narration to the live-action Incredible Hulk (1978-82).
Like Super 6, Super President was a ratings failure for NBC, and there are those that will claim that President is one of the worst cartoons ever because of its flimsy premise. Believe me, there have been worse to come down the pike in the 43 years since. Could it be redone today? Under the right circumstances, and with a creative team that has a better understanding of how to convey the story, maybe, but realistically it probably is well served remaining in the vaults, never to return. I pitched an idea on a message board on http://www.toonzone.net/ a while back that would solve the problem of a Presidential superhero in this day & age, but that's all it is right now, an idea. Which is how they all get started, for better or worse.
Updated, 2/6/11: Just for fun, here's the open, courtesy of WorstCartoonsEver: