'Scooby-Doo' Co-Creator Joe Ruby Dead at 87
With partner Ken Spears, Ruby also co-created 'Dynomutt, Dog Wonder,' 'Jabberjaw' and more
Published Aug 27, 2020Joe Ruby — an American animator, writer, editor and television producer known best as the co-creator of the Scooby-Doo franchise — has died. Per an obituary, Ruby passed away Wednesday (August 26) of natural causes, surrounded by family at his California home. He was 87.
Born in Los Angeles in 1933, Ruby grew up a fan of comic books and dreamed of a career as an artist. Upon graduating high school, he served in the the Korean War as a sonar operator ahead of beginning his industry career at Walt Disney Studios.
While working in Disney's animation department and as a music editor, Ruby began freelance work as a comic book artist and writer, and found his way to working for Hanna-Barbera Productions. It was here where he would meet Ken Spears, with whom he would go on to create the iconic Scooby-Doo characters.
At the behest of executive Fred Silverman, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera tasked Ruby and Spears with the creation of a new series in the vein of The Archie Show, centred on a teenage rock group that would solve mysteries in between shows.
Alongside character designer Iwao Takamoto, the pair tweaked and reworked this concept to eventually settle on classic characters Freddie, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy and the titular Great Dane. As Ruby would tell fansite Scooby Addicts, "We kicked around a lot of names, and just decided which ones seemed to fit their personalities best."
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! first aired on CBS in 1969. Ruby, Spears and Bill Lutz wrote all of the scripts for the show's 17 first-season episodes, while the pair would serve as story editors on the second season of its original run. The years that followed saw the characters adapted for myriad follow-up and spinoff animated series, television specials and made-for-TV movies, direct-to-video films and a pair of theatrical feature films.
The series' theme song has been covered by the likes of Third Eye Blind, Billy Ray Cyrus, the B-52's, MxPx and Matthew Sweet. Most recently, the 13th instalment Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? arrived last June through American streaming service Boomerang.
Ruby and Spears would also helm Dynomutt, Dog Wonder and Jabberjaw for Hanna-Barbera, choosing to leave that company in 1977 to found their their own animation studio, Ruby-Spears Productions. Here, they would produce animated series including Fangface, The Plastic Man Comedy-Adventure Hour, Thundarr the Barbarian, Saturday Supercade, Mister T, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Superman and more.
Ruby-Spears Productions was acquired by Hanna-Barbera's parent company, Taft Entertainment, in 1981, ahead of Turner Broadcasting's acquisition of the Hanna-Barbera library and studio in 1991.
Ruby is survived by his wife of 63 years, Carole, four children and 10 grandchildren.