|Wacky Races character|
|Created by||Iwao Takamoto|
|Portrayed by||Janet Waldo|
In Wacky Races, Penelope Pitstop drives the Compact Pussycat, a pink, stereotypically feminine car. Consistent with this theme, she wears a bright pink racing uniform with white gloves, maroon tights, and white go-go boots. She is described by the race announcer as the "Glamour Gal of the Gas Pedal". As Wacky Races is inspired by The Great Race, Penelope is inspired by the Maggie DuBois character (played by Natalie Wood in the film).
According to Iwao Takamoto, Penelope was an afterthought in the development of Wacky Races. Joseph Barbera requested that a woman be added among the racers, so Takamoto and Jerry Eisenberg designed Penelope and her car in about two hours.
The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, a spinoff from Wacky Races which features Penelope as the lead character, is set in the 1920s. Penelope is a traditional "damsel in distress" stock character as in the old serial The Perils of Pauline. Her catchphrase is "Help, help!" (spoken in an affected non-rhotic upper-class U.S. South accent, and pronounced "HAY-ULP"). She displays a curious combination of ingenuity and helplessness. She often figures out clever ways to get out of perils and is very athletic; if any sport happens to be mentioned, it is revealed that she was the women's champion in said sport in college. Nonetheless, when her nemesis the Hooded Claw, voiced by Paul Lynde (who, unknown to her, is her guardian Sylvester Sneekly) grabs her, she is somehow incapable of doing anything other than yelling for help. She will occasionally flee from his clutches, running in an unusual goose-stepping stride. Also in the background helping her out of her perils are the minuscule Ant Hill Mob and trusty old classic car Chuggaboom (which is actually based on another team from Wacky Races).
In the series, Penelope's car is called the Compact Pussycat. Bearing the numeral 5 on the sides, it is a pink racecar, with front bumpers that look like a pair of red lips with lipstick on them. It has an umbrella on the top and is equipped with an assortment of beauty supplies, making it essentially a beauty parlor on wheels.
Appearances in other productions
- Janet Waldo reprised her role in the Wacky Races video game.
- Penelope (in her Wacky Races version) had a cameo appearance in another Hanna-Barbera cartoon, Yogi's Treasure Hunt, in the episode "Snow White and the Seven Treasure Hunters", acting as Snow White (voiced by Marilyn Schreffler) and in the episode "Goodbye Mr Chump".
- Penelope has appeared in the web-based Shockwave cartoon Penelope Pitstop GT, though this variation of the character is far more capable of protecting herself.
- Penelope Pitstop, in the Compact Pussycat, is the user in a racing game in the episode "Firewall", in the CGI cartoon ReBoot. The user's line was Penelope's famous "Help! Help!"
- Penelope made a cameo in a MetLife commercial in 2012.
- In Scooby-Doo! Mask of the Blue Falcon, two girls cosplay as Penelope Pitstop at a Hanna-Barbera convention.
- Penelope Pitstop appears as one of the main characters in the 2016 Wacky Raceland comic book. In this version, it is revealed she is of Greek ancestry and that before the apocalyptic event that ravaged the Earth, she lived in the island of Aegina and that she agreed to race towards Earth's last known paradise Utopia, so she could have a chance of seeing her mother and her sister Alexandra who perished.
Penelope Pitstop in popular culture
- The character is mentioned in the Type O Negative song "How Could She?".
- Penelope rides again in the Dead Ringers' parody of Wacky Races.
- The character is mentioned in the Jurassic 5 song "The Influence".
- Penelope's nemesis - the Hooded Claw - is mentioned in the song "The Power of Love" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
- A range of Penelope Pitstop graphic shirts have been released in Singapore under Zara Kids.
- Big Daddy Kane mentions her name in his 1993 song "Niggaz Never Learn".
- "Penelope Pitstop" is the name of a Breakbot song.
- Penelope Pitstop is parodied in the South Park episode "Handicar" as part of its Wacky Races parody.
Penelope Pitstop in other languages
- Portuguese: similar to English in Portugal, Penélope Charmosa in Brazil
- French: Pénélope Jolicœur
- Polish: Penelopa Samwdzięk
- Spanish: Penélope Glamour
- Chinese: 小晶晶
- Dutch: Penelope Pitspoes
- Takamoto, Iwao (2004). Wacky Races (DVD). (Interview). Los Angeles: Warner Home Video.
- ^ Iwao Takamoto (interviewee) (2004). Wacky Races (DVD). Los Angeles: Warner Home Video.