W. Watts Biggers

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W. Watts Biggers
BornWilliam Watts Biggers
(1927-06-02)June 2, 1927
Avondale Estates, Georgia, U.S.
Died February 10, 2013(2013-02-10) (aged 85)
Manomet, Massachusetts, U.S. [1]
Occupation Novelist, television writer, composer

William Watts "Buck" Biggers (June 2, 1927 – February 10, 2013) was an American novelist and co-creator of the long-running animated television series Underdog .

<i>Underdog</i> (TV series) Animated television program

Underdog is an American animated television series that debuted October 3, 1964, on the NBC network under the primary sponsorship of General Mills, and continued in syndication until 1973, for a run of 124 episodes.


Early life

Born in Avondale Estates, Georgia, Biggers went to Avondale High where he was member of a debating team which won the state championship. Skipping his senior year of high school, he edited the school newspaper at North Georgia Military College and went on to Emory University Law School. At age 20, he headed for New York City where he struggled unsuccessfully as a pianist and vocalist, singing his own original songs. At the advertising agency Dancer Fitzgerald Sample, he began as a mailroom trainee and rose to the position of VP Account Supervisor on General Mills and Corn Products/Best Foods accounts, handling millions in billing.

Avondale Estates, Georgia City in Georgia, United States

Avondale Estates is a city in DeKalb County, Georgia, United States. The population was 2,960 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Atlanta metropolitan area and is near Decatur.

Georgia (U.S. state) State of the United States of America

Georgia is a state in the Southeastern United States. It began as a British colony in 1733, the last and southernmost of the original Thirteen Colonies to be established. Named after King George II of Great Britain, the Province of Georgia covered the area from South Carolina south to Spanish Florida and west to French Louisiana at the Mississippi River. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788. In 1802–1804, western Georgia was split to the Mississippi Territory, which later split to form Alabama with part of former West Florida in 1819. Georgia declared its secession from the Union on January 19, 1861, and was one of the original seven Confederate states. It was the last state to be restored to the Union, on July 15, 1870. Georgia is the 24th largest and the 8th most populous of the 50 United States. From 2007 to 2008, 14 of Georgia's counties ranked among the nation's 100 fastest-growing, second only to Texas. Georgia is known as the Peach State and the Empire State of the South. Atlanta, the state's capital and most populous city, has been named a global city. Atlanta's metropolitan area contains about 55% of the population of the entire state.

Emory University private research university in Druid Hills, Georgia, United States

Emory University is a private research university in Atlanta, in the U.S. state of Georgia. The university was founded as Emory College in 1836 in Oxford, Georgia, by the Methodist Episcopal Church and was named in honor of Methodist bishop John Emory. In 1915, Emory College moved to its present location in Druid Hills and was rechartered as Emory University. Emory maintained a presence in Oxford that eventually became Oxford College, a residential liberal arts college for the first two years of the Emory baccalaureate degree. The university is the second-oldest private institution of higher education in Georgia and among the fifty oldest private universities in the United States.


At Dancer Fitzgerald Sample in 1960, Biggers teamed with Chester Stover, Treadwell D. Covington and artist Joseph Harris to create TV animation in formats devised to sell General Mills breakfast cereals. Leaving Dancer Fitzgerald Sample, Biggers relocated to Cape Cod 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 The King and Odie (the studio's first program), [2] The Hunter, Tooter Turtle , Tennessee Tuxedo , Go Go Gophers , The World of Commander McBragg , Klondike Kat and Underdog. For these series, Biggers co-wrote more than 500 scripts and composed all theme songs, words and music. The highly successful Underdog originally 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). [3]

Cape Cod Cape in the northeastern United States

Cape Cod is a geographic cape extending into the Atlantic Ocean from the southeastern corner of mainland Massachusetts, in the northeastern United States. Its historic, maritime character and ample beaches attract heavy tourism during the summer months.

Total Television was founded in 1959 by Buck Biggers, Chester "Chet" Stover, Joe Harris, and Treadwell D. Covington. They were executives in the advertising agency Dancer Fitzgerald Sample who had the account for the General Mills food corporation. Total was formed to create cartoon characters encouraging children to buy General Mills breakfast cereals and other products.

Tooter Turtle is a cartoon about a turtle that first appeared on TV in 1960, as a segment, along with The Hunter a detective dog, as part of the King Leonardo and His Short Subjects program. "Tooter Turtle" debuted on NBC, on Saturday, October 15, 1960, and ran for 39 original episodes through July 22, 1961. These episodes were later rerun as backups on other cartoon shows, but no more original episodes were made.

Total TeleVision folded when General Mills dropped out as the sponsor in 1969. Biggers moved back to New York as VP Promotion and Creative Services for NBC, heading a 90-person department for five years. He returned to Cape Cod for a 12-year career as a freelance writer, contributing to TV Guide, Family Circle and Reader's Digest. Biggers and Stover collaborated on the television news column, TV Tinderbox, which ran in 200 newspapers, syndicated by the Chicago Tribune-New York Daily News and later by Dallas' Tel-Aire Syndicate and King Features Syndicate.
In 1995, Biggers, Stover, Covington and Harris sold their creations to Lorne Michaels, who sold the rights to Little Golden Books, which published Underdog and the Disappearing Ice Cream. For BearManor Media, Biggers co-authored How Underdog Was Born (2005). [3]

King Features Syndicate American print syndication company

King Features Syndicate, Inc. is a print syndication company owned by Hearst Communications that distributes about 150 comic strips, newspaper columns, editorial cartoons, puzzles, and games to nearly 5,000 newspapers worldwide. King Features Syndicate is a unit of Hearst Holdings, Inc., which combines the Hearst Corporation's cable-network partnerships, television programming and distribution activities, and syndication companies. King Features' affiliate syndicates are North America Syndicate and Cowles Syndicate. Each week, Reed Brennan Media Associates, a unit of Hearst, edits and distributes more than 200 features for King Features.

Lorne Michaels Canadian television producer

Lorne Michaels,, is a Canadian-American television producer, writer, actor and comedian best known for creating and producing Saturday Night Live and producing the Late Night series, The Kids in the Hall and The Tonight Show.

Little Golden Books

Little Golden Books is a popular series of children's books. The eighth book in the series, The Poky Little Puppy, is the top-selling children's book of all time. Many of the Little Golden Books have become bestsellers, including The Poky Little Puppy, Tootle, Scuffy the Tugboat, and The Little Red Hen. Several of the illustrators for the Little Golden Books later became key figures within the children's book industry, including Corinne Malvern, Tibor Gergely, Gustaf Tenggren, Feodor Rojankovsky, Richard Scarry, Eloise Wilkin, and Garth Williams.


In 1968, Ballantine Books published Biggers' The Man Inside as an original paperback. At the time, because of the author's name and the tale of a quest for higher consciousness, some readers believed the novel had been written under a pseudonym by Alan Watts. Along with a description of the characters, the story was only briefly described on the back cover as "Strange, hallucinatory, following its own inner logic down unexpected paths, The Man Inside is a novel of startling originality, a journey towards wisdomlike Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf that culminates in revelation." However, the opening page blurb elaborated:

Ballantine Books American book publisher

Ballantine Books is a major book publisher located in the United States, founded in 1952 by Ian Ballantine with his wife, Betty Ballantine. It was acquired by Random House in 1973, which in turn was acquired by Bertelsmann in 1998 and remains part of that company today. Ballantine's logo is a pair of mirrored letter Bs back to back. The firm's early editors were Stanley Kauffmann and Bernard Shir-Cliff.

The Man Inside (novel) book by W. Watts Biggers

The Man Inside is a dream-like allegorical novel by W. Watts Biggers, published in 1968 by Ballantine Books as a paperback original.

Higher consciousness is the consciousness of a higher Self, transcendental reality, or God. It is "the part of the human being that is capable of transcending animal instincts". The concept was significantly developed in German Idealism, and is a central notion in contemporary popular spirituality. However, it has ancient roots, dating back to the Bhagavad Gita and Indian Vedas.

The Man Inside is a novel of startling originality. It could be read as a parody of the Horatio Alger storythe orphan boy whose struggles lead him down and down until success comes at the bottom. Or a Kafkaesque pursuit of Purpose, the ceaseless quest for the meaning of lifealways baffled by the cruel traps of mankind. Or a journey toward wisdomin the manner of Hermann Hessethat culminates oddly: satori achieved inside a robot. But such suggestions can give only a faint indication of the strange and haunting powers of The Man Inside. The rest the reader must discover for himself.

In 1999, it was reissued by Bamberger Books as a hardcover. [4] It was optioned as a feature film by One Brick Films. His novel Hold Back the Tide concerns a lovelorn police chief who wants a hypnotist to eliminate his obsessions so he can continue solving crimes. It was published February, 2001, as a 1st Books Library ebook.

Victory over Violence

Biggers was vice-president and co-founder of the Boston-based Victory over Violence "dedicated to creating a positive force in the media to offset the cynicism and negativity, which create a climate of violence," and has used Underdog to promote the organization.

Biggers created a new episode of Underdog in 1999 as a half-hour radio show, narrated by Tom Ellis. In it, Simon Bar Sinister develops a Switchpitch baseball to turn positive people negative. His attempt to become king of Boston is foiled by Underdog and Sweet Polly Purebred. [5]


Biggers died of a heart attack at his home in Manomet, Massachusetts on February 10, 2013. [1]

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  1. 1 2 Slotnick, Daniel E., "W. Watts Biggers, Creator of ‘Underdog’ Cartoon, Dies at 85", New York Times , Feb. 18, 2013
  2. "Whatever Happened to Total TeleVision productions?," Hogan's Alley #15
  3. 1 2 Biggers, Buck and Chet Stover. How Underdog Was Born. Albany, Georgia: BearManor Media, 2006. The creators of Total TeleVision and Underdog tell how it all began. Archived 2007-06-09 at the Wayback Machine . ISBN   1-59393-025-9
  4. Biggers, W. Watts. The Man Inside. New York: Ballantine Books, 1968. Bamberger Books, March 1999. ISBN   0-917453-37-9
  5. Driscoll, Kathi Scrizzi. "There's no need to fear... Positivity is here," Cape Cod Times, October 25, 1999.