Sport Billy is a 1980 animated television cartoon made by Filmation Associates, initially for broadcast in Germany. The series was a single 26 episode saga that premiered in Germany and other parts of Europe in 1980. It went on to be a global sensation.
In 1982, Filmation carried the show over to the United States for syndication, and as a summer replacement in NBC’s Saturday morning children’s programming. It was the last first-run series produced by Filmation Associates to air on NBC.
The story revolves around a young boy named Sport Billy who is from the planet Olympus (a twin of Earth on the opposite side of the Sun) which is populated by athletic god-like beings. Billy himself has a magic size-changing gym bag – the Omni-Sack – which produces various tools as he needs them. He travels to Earth on a mission to promote teamwork and sportsmanship. Described by the show’s theme song as a “hero from another planet”, Billy battles the evil Queen Vanda and her gnome-like henchman, Sipe. Vanda’s mission is to destroy all sports in the galaxy since fairness disgusts her.
Billy is assisted by two faithful companions, a girl named Lilly and a talking dog named Willy. The trio travel around in a time traveling spaceship, which resembles a giant wind-up clock, complete with a ringing bell, and mounted on two rocket engines. Each episode the trio travel through time to save a different Earth sport from Queen Vanda’s grasp.
Sport Billy was originally a European comic character and had already had presence in Europe and parts of Latin America. Sport Billy Productions, owners of the Sport Billy franchise, licensed the property to American studio Filmation to create a cartoon based on the character. As a European character, Sport Billy’s main sport was soccer, and this was reflected in the introductory sequence of the Filmation program.
Sport Billy was adopted by FIFA as the Fair Play Mascot for FIFA World Cups, and a trophy of the character was presented to the most sporting team at each World Cup. The character was used as a mascot in many sporting youth programs internationally, promoting sportsmanship and fair play .
Sport Billy was voiced by Lane Scheimer, son of producer Lou Scheimer. Lilly and Queen Vanda were voiced by Joyce Bulifant and Willy was voiced by Frank Welker.