American animator Joe Ruby, known for co-creating the highly admired animated series “Scooby-Doo” alongside his creative partner Ken Spears, died in California of natural causes on Wednesday. He was 87. Apart from Scooby-Doo, the Ruby-Spears duo is also known for other memorable creations such as Dynomutt, Dog Wonder and Jabberjaw.
In a statement, Warner Bros. Animation and Blue Ribbon Content president Sam Register said, “Joe Ruby made Saturday mornings special for so many children, including myself. He was one of the most prolific creators in our industry who gifted us some of animation’s most treasured characters and it was a thrill to host him at our studio. Scooby-Doo has been a beloved companion on screens for more than 50 years, leaving an enduring legacy that has inspired and entertained generations.”
Born in 1933, Ruby was an avid comic book fan since childhood, and served in the US Navy before turning to animation, working as a SONAR operator on a destroyer during the Korean War (1950-53).
Ruby started his career on television at Walt Disney Productions, subsequently taking up work at cartoon giant Hanna-Barbera. Here, Ruby met his long-term creative partner Ken Spears when both were employed as sound editors and later staff writers.
Together, they created the popular talking Great Dane “Scooby-Doo” character and his companions Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, Fred Jones, Daphne Blake & Velma Dinkley. “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?” was launched on the network CBS in 1969, a time when many lamented the portrayal of violence in several cartoon series. In an interview in 2016, Ruby and Spears said that they had modelled Scooby on the legendary British American stand-up comic and entertainer Bob Hope.
The duo wrote and story-edited four of the first 25 episodes of the series, which continued running until 1976. Since then, various spin-offs and follow-ups of the series, including two theatrical feature films produced by Warner Bros., have entertained audiences worldwide; all showing Scooby-Doo and his group of friends solving crimes amid paranormal mysteries.
📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@ieexplained) and stay updated with the latest
After Scooby-Doo’s success, the Ruby-Spears duo moved to CBS before launching their own studio, Ruby-Spears Productions, in 1977. Under their banner, the two produced Saturday morning shows around animation classics such as Thundarr the Barbarian, Superman and Alvin and the Chipmunks. Ruby-Spears Productions was acquired by Taft Entertainment– the parent company of Hanna-Barbera– in 1981.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ruby was nominated for the Daytime Emmy award on four occasions. Ruby is survived by his wife of 63 years, Carole, four children and grandchildren