Josie DeCarlo (died March 14, 2012) was a French-born model who became the inspiration and namesake for Josie McCoy of Josie and the Pussycats comics and the 1970 Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning cartoon series. She was the widow of the late cartoonist, Dan DeCarlo, who created Josie and the Pussycats and based the main character on his wife.
DeCarlo was born Josie Dumont in France. She met her future husband, Dan DeCarlo, on a blind date in Belgium in 1945, just a short time after the end of the Battle of the Bulge. At the time of their meeting, Dumont did not speak any English, while DeCarlo, a member of the U.S. Army during World War II, spoke very little French. Unable to have a conversation due to their language barrier, Dumont and DeCarlo communicated through his cartoons. In a later interview, Josie DeCarlo explained their early courtship, "We communicated with drawing...He would draw things for me to make me understand what he had in mind. He was really so amusing. Instead of just using words, he would use cartoons to express himself. Right away, we knew that we were meant for each other."
Decarlo and Dumont married. She became the inspiration for Josie and the Pussycats almost accidentally while the couple were taking a cruise. DeCarlo wore a cat suit costume during the cruise, which became the basis for the fictional Josie and the Pussycats trademark outfits. She explained to the New York Times in 2001 interview, "We went on a Caribbean cruise, and I had a costume for the cruise, and that’s the way it started." Later, when she got a new hairdo, Dan DeCarlo incorporated it into the Josie character as well, "The hairdo came after...One day, I came in with a new hairdo with a little bow in my hair, and he said, ‘That’s it!’" Dan DeCarlo drew his wife with the cat costume as Josie McCoy, initially giving her the name "star" before deciding on Josie. Josie first appeared in Archie Comics in 1962. While DeCarlo became the model for Josie, the character was voiced by actress Janet Waldo in the television series.
Dan DeCarlo died in 2001. However, Josie DeCarlo remained active in the comic and animation industries following his death. She promoted her late husband's work within the industry, particularly the Josie and the Pussycats brand during the 2000s.
Josie DeCarlo died in her sleep on March 14, 2012, at the age of 82. Her funeral was held in Scarsdale, New York. She was predeceased by her husband and their twin sons, Dan DeCarlo Jr. and Jim DeCarlo.
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- Nash, Eric. "Dan DeCarlo, Archie Artist and Creator Of Josie and the Pussycats, Is Dead at 82", The New York Times, December 23, 2001