Animation Cel-ebration
August 4, 2023 posted by Michael Lyons

With “Sugar, Sugar” on Top: The 55th Anniversary of “The Archie Show”

In 1969, something astounding happened in pop music. “Sugar, Sugar” was the number-one single on Billboard’s Top 100 and the UK Singles Chart.

A song reaching these heights is not groundbreaking. What is groundbreaking is that “Sugar, Sugar” was “performed” by a musical group of animated TV characters.

The success of this song highlights just how popular The Archie Show (which gave us the now iconic earworm) was and still is.

The Archie Show celebrates its 55th anniversary this fall, but tales of Riverdale High School student Archie Andrews began in 1941 as a comic book from publisher John L. Goldwater and his publishing partners, Louis Silberkleit and Maurice Coyne. The Archie Comics, inspired by the hit box-office Andy Hardy films starring Mickey Rooney, were very popular. In 1943, Archie and the other characters from the comics inspired a long-running Archie Andrews radio series.

In the 1960s, the comics caught the attention of the Filmation animation studio, who sought a change from the shows of the time. In Joe Garner and Michael Ashley’s book, It’s Saturday Morning: Celebrating the Golden Era of Cartoons, Filmation Producer Lou Scheimer told the authors, “We did a ton of superhero shows, and by ’68 it was obvious there were just too many of those types of shows around. So, we got the rights to Archie Comics, and it was interesting because it was the first of the non-superhero comic books that we brought to television, and it was an extraordinarily successful show.”

The show combined music with the adventures of Archie and the gang. Wrapped around the stories were the segment “Dance of the Week,” and the “Song of the Week,” where Archie and friends, known as “The Archies,” would perform in a sequence that played like an early form of music videos.

This is where “Sugar, Sugar” (written by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim) was introduced by “The Archies”, who, in real life, was lead singer Ron Dante with Toni Wine on backup vocals.

On The Archie Show, the group was led by Archie with fellow cast members: narcissistic Reggie Mantle, and genial Jughead Jones, who lived for hamburgers, as well as Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge, providing audiences with pop culture’s greatest and most innocent love triangle, with Archie.

There was also the comic relief canine, Hot Dog, Mr. Weatherbee, the principal, Miss Grundy, the teacher, Big Moose, the school’s athlete, and “brainiac” Dilton Doily, just to name a few.

Debuting as part of the CBS Saturday morning line-up on September 14, 1968, The Archie Show was so popular that Filmation revamped it and expanded it to an hour in 1969 as The Archie Comedy Hour, bringing Sabrina the Teenage Witch into the show.

The Riverdale gang was “re-booted” in other formats, as well: in 1970, there was Archie’s Funhouse, followed by Archie’s TV Funnies, in 1971, where Archie and the gang introduced animated versions of newspaper comic strips, like Broom-Hilda, Dick Tracy and Moon Mullins. Then there was the patriotic-themed The U.S. of Archie in 1974 (just in time for the Bicentennial) and The New Archie and Sabrina Hour in 1977.

The characters would return to television animation in 1987 with The New Archies, produced by DIC television, which also launched the new Sabrina animated series, and Archie’s Weird Mysteries (which brought the series into a Scooby-Doo-like format).

Archie has played a continuous, long-running role in our pop culture, being passed down and rediscovered by different generations. Archie Comics continues to be published, and in 2017, the characters were re-imagined, with a darker tone, for the popular live-action CW series Riverdale.

But, for many devotees of Archie on television, nothing beats the original iteration, The Archie Show, and the oh-so-singable strains of “Sugar, Sugar.”


  • I remember hearing “Sugar, Sugar” for the first time when my family were on vacation in the summer of 1969. We went out for ice cream, and the jukebox in the ice cream parlour was playing “Sugar, Sugar” pretty much nonstop. My memories of the show are far less vivid — I must have been in the habit of watching whatever was on opposite it — but I loved the song.

    Did anyone else have the single that you could cut out from the back of a box of Post Super Sugar Crisp?

    Here in Australia we have The Veronicas, a pop duo consisting of the identical Origliasso twins, neither of whom is named Veronica. I initially assumed it was a takeoff on The Archies; but no, apparently the name was inspired by a line in the movie “Heathers”. Be that as it may, Archie Comics sued the girls and their label for trademark infringement but wound up settling out of court, and The Veronicas even got to appear in a couple of issues of the comic book. As far as I know, to date they have never covered “Sugar, Sugar”. Maybe that was a condition of the settlement.

    Gee, I wonder which one of the gang came up with the name “The Archies” for the band. I don’t think it was Reggie, and yet he’s supposed to be the vain one.

    • Paul, I remember having the at least one of the Archies’s singles that you could cut off the back of the Super Sugar Crisp cereal box. ( I don’t think we had “Sugar Sugar”-I think it was one or two of the other songs featured on the show. If I remember, there were four or five different songs that were available in the “cereal box format.”)
      I also remember, besides the Archies, Post cereals also at one point had Bobby Sherman singles, and the Jackson Five on the back of the cereal box.
      Recently, when I was visiting one of the local music resale shops, they had a couple of those cereal box singles for sale, displayed behind the counter. I had a good laugh about that with the owner, as I remember them very well-I couldn’t believe there were still actually some of those still out there!

  • Which is why it’s no surprise that “I’m Just Ken” is topping the charts now. I would be surprised if “The Simpsons” or “Family Guy” never used the song as a dubious-taste joke: played in the waiting room of a diabetes specialist’s office, say.

    Some of us remember 1969 as when it seemed you couldn’t turn on a radio without hearing either “Sugar, Sugar” or “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.”

    • “Sugar, Sugar” has been used multiple times in both “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy”, for example at the end of the Simpsons episode where the city of Springfield outlaws sugar, just after the ban is repealed.

  • I think the success of Sugar, Sugar was independent of the TV show — that is, the success of the song may have propelled the success of the TV show, but not the other way around. The song captured lots of people who had no idea about its origins, just that it was an insanely catchy, practically perfect pop music confection.

    IIRC, the story’s been told that The Archies were Don Kirshner’s solution to the revenge of The Monkees, i.e., the group he felt he created that decided they didn’t need him and wanted to make music as a real band.

    He figured that could never happen with a bunch of animated cartoons!

  • Sabrina became my Saturday morning babysitter and was a huge success in her own right.

    • At age 13, Sabrina was a cartoon crush for me. a sucker for platinum blondes with freckles, I guess.

  • People dunk on The Archie Show and the other Filmation shows all the time, but I think it’s charming. It’s no Quick Draw or Huck Hound, but it’s fun. Give me Jughead and Hot Dog over Shaggy and Scooby any day. Plus, Dante, Barry, and the rest are seriously talented.

  • My friend Dallas McKennon voiced Archie, his dog HotDog, Moose, Principal Weatherbee and when they added Dick Tracy to Archie’s Funnies, he voiced his sidekick Sam Ketchum.

    Gene Hamm

  • Ron Dante sang this catchy tune AND the theme song from the Cinema Insomnia TV show, so he is an all-time favorite, Favorite version of Sugar Sugar? Alex Chilton’s. . .

  • The Archie Show seems to be stuck in licensing limbo, as it isn’t currently streaming or available on DVD anywhere.

    • It was on Tubi just a year or two back. It’s more a testament to how Classic Media feels about its library.

    • Debbie Perry, fortunately The Archie Show episodes can be seen on YouTube, which is where I watch them.

  • I wasn’t into the TV show, or anything from Filmation for that matter. But “Sugar Sugar” definitely qualifies as one of my guilty pleasures.

  • I was 9 in May, 1969; “The Archie Show” was in reruns when Don Kirshner released the second album, “Everything’s Archie”, featuring “Sugar, Sugar”. That song was so good to me I spent the better part of that summer collecting pop bottles and turning them in for cash so I could buy that album. Meanwhile, you had the US landing on the Moon, Woodstock, Vietnam, inflation, the Manson family murders, heavy rumours of the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel breaking up, the Mets going to the World Series. And “Sugar, Sugar” steadily climbed the music charts. Years later, Bryan Adams sang about the “Summer of ’69”, but he got it wrong: the summer of ’69 was all about the conquest of The Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar”. And for a small moment in time, we were glad to be taken over.

  • Remember the Archie show being a semi-big deal, since the comic books were all over the place. One thing I remember was Veronica and her father acquiring Southern accents (or Texan? They put a cowboy hat on Mr. Lodge). Recall reading that while there was never an official live performing band, there were imposters working county fairs and such.

    I was just hitting high school, discovering just how much the comics lied. No malt shops, no vintage jalopies, no explosives in science class, no goofing off in the corridors all day, and no girls fighting over me. But there was acne, in contrast to Riverdale where a dermatologist would starve. Between the onslaught of puberty and the shift from Action-Adventure to Non-Violent Comedy, I began drifting from Saturday morning cartoons, usually just checking out some of the new shows each fall.

    • Girls did fight over Archie more in comics (my preferences generally over the show alongside RIVERDALE) though Betty and Veronica did occasionally fight over Archie, but HB in Josie DID make Alexandra more of a Veronica, (JOSIE was a Archie property that HB did..) BTW They did get Archie,Betty and Jughead right..Howard Morris had the best voice in thosel..

  • Ron Dante had a second song (“Tracy” by the Cuff Links) in the top 10 consecutively with “Sugar Sugar”. He wasn’t credited by name for either!

    • Ron Dante is one of the great studio vocalists whose name nobody knows, along with Joey Levine and Britain’s Tony Burrows.

  • I was in high school in 1969. The music of that year featured many popular groups that had achieved or would achieve ledgendary status in musical history. Among them were The Rolling Stones, Marvin Gaye, the 5th Dimension, CCR and the Doors. The fact that they all took a back seat for a short time to a song from an imaginary group of cartoon musicians was amazing at the time and probably even more so in retrospect. 🤷🏼‍♂️

  • Filmation also did a brief piece with Jughead for “Sesame Street” where he talked about the letter J (the studio had previous did some Batman and Superman segments and animation for the show’s first two seasons and pilot week). This was first shown in season two and ran well into the 1990’s. This was actually my first introduction of the Archie characters in animation:

  • I was 7 years old in ’69, and I was a faithful viewer of the Saturday morning Archie shows. To this day, “Sugar, Sugar” takes me back to that era like no other song. And yes, I did have the Super Sugar Crisp “Sugar, Sugar” record. One thing that struck me when I started watching DVDs of that show is Dallas McKennon’s voice work as Archie. I loved Dal as Cincinnatus on “Daniel Boone,” and he certainly was among the leading voice actors of his day. However, watching the show as an adult, I was surprised that he placed Archie’s voice at such a high pitch. No offense to all of Dal’s fans (and I do like his other work), but I found it a little difficult to listen to for that reason.

  • Does anyone know who the character is, standing between Archie and Betty in the black-and-white picture? I recognize all the others but not him. (Maybe he was added to the show in it’s later years?)

    • Per Wikipedia:
      Filmation added two new characters into [The New Archie and Sabrina Hour]: a Latino teenager named Carlos and a robot that Dilton Doiley got from a space center and rebuilt named Q. Carlos only made a few appearances in the comics, beginning in Life with Archie #179 (March 1977).

  • I think it’s safe to say that The Archies and Josie & The Pussycats inspired (and, in some sense, paved the way for) future virtual band Gorillaz. And even before The Archies became a sensation on the pop charts, there were other animated bands on the scene; there was a Hardy Boys band that accompanied the animated series to play a tune at the end of every episode; Hanna-Barbera had The Impossibles, a rock group doubling as superheroes; the same year “Sugar Sugar” was a hit, and the year before J&TP, H-B also had The Chattanooga Cats, a group of wayward feline musicians.

    Conversely, there are also the real-life rock stars who first came to fame or were further propelled to success through animation. Aside from The Beatles, The Jackson 5, and The Osmonds, there was the then-teenage Rick Springfield, who was already winning praise and teen hearts in his native Australia in the 70’s. After a performance on the Sonny And Cher Show, Filmation cast him in the starring voice role for their 1973 series “Mission: Magic”. But the fact that he didn’t last long in the spotlight soon after the series ended it’s run didn’t keep Springfield from gaining success later on in his career when, in 1981, he would get his first #1 hit with “Jessie’s Girl”. In the late 80’s, New Kids On the Block’s overnight success won them their own animated series. And in the early 00’s, Cartoon Network gave sensational J-Pop duo Puffy their own animated series.

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