“Hercules, hero of song and story,
Hercules, winner of ancient glory…”
In the 60’s, Steve Reeves made Hercules a popular matinee idol with a series of films that featured the hero and his mythic exploits. Shortly afterward, Joe Oriolo (the man behind the original Felix the Cat) brought Hercules to the small screen, placing Herc in many of the same situations as the movies, and adding a few of his Greek friends. Available to help the hero when his Herculean might just wasn’t enough were Helena of Calydon and Tewt the satyr. Another memorable character was Newton the centaur, who had the habit of repeating his lines twice in the same sentence.
The Mighty Hercules was unique because instead of updating the character like many cartoons did (i.e. Young Samson), Hercules still lived in ancient Greece and battled ancient villains, like the hooded Daedelus, the sea hag Wilamene and her vulture-like sidekick Elvira.
Also memorable was the theme song by Johnny Nash (of “I Can See Clearly Now” fame), which celebrated the strength of Hercules in graphic detail.
USA / Syndicated – Oriolo / x20 minute episode / Broadcast 1963
Jerry Bascombe as Hercules
Helene Nickerson as Helena
Jimmy Tapp as Newton, Tewt, Daedelus, Evil Wizard