TV Legends: Did James Lipton Really Write the Thundercats Theme Song?

TV URBAN LEGEND: James Lipton wrote the theme song for the animated TV series "Thundercats".

One of the most persistent stories about "Did you know that Person X actually did this surprising thing?" in the world of pop culture surrounds James Lipton, the famed dean emeritus of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University in New York City, through which he has hosted "Inside the Actors Studio" for over two decades. He became famous for his slow and smooth interview style on the show, as well as the seemingly overly serious way he would discuss topics with his interview subjects.

Therefore, for someone as serious as Lipton was perceived to be (an image Lipton gladly mocked on all sorts of shows, from "The Simpsons" to "Family Guy" to "Arrested Development"), it was fascinating to many that he apparently wrote the famous theme song to the hit mid-1980s animated television series, "Thundercats."

However, the whole story was basically predicated on someone adding the information to the "Trivia" section on the "Thundercats" Internet Movie Database page and that's it. No source. No nothing. Solely based on that, the information was passed like wildfire around the internet back in 2010. For the most part, people stopped writing new articles about this interesting "fact" after 2010, but the damage was pretty much done. The "fact" has entered into the public consciousness for the most part, whether true or not.

But is it true?

No, it is not. The composer of the "Thundercats" theme song was a man named Bernie Hoffer, who had already had an extensive career was a jingle writer before he did music for Rankin-Bass (the company that made the "Thundercats" cartoon) for a number of their cartoon series, including the theme song to "Silverhawks," a series that came out after "Thundercats."

The lyrics for the theme song were written by Jules Bass, the Bass of Rankin-Bass. When "Thundercats" was released on DVD, they did a whole bonus feature video on Hoffer's work, including quotes from Lee Dannacher, supervising producer on "Thundercats," about how they hired Hoffer to write the theme.

So on the one hand, you have the producer saying it was written by Hoffer and Bass, you have Hoffer saying he wrote it (along with all of the other music), you have the music all officially credited to Hoffer and on the other hand, you have a reader-submitted piece of trivia on IMDB.

I think that's enough for me to determine that this legend is...


Be sure to check out my archive of TV Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of TV . Click here for more legends specifically about animated shows.

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

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