Ken Spears, the co-creator of Scooby-Doo alongside his longtime creative partner, the late Joe Ruby, has died aged 82.
The writer and producer passed away on Friday (November 6) from complications related to Lewy body dementia, his son Kevin confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.
“Warner Bros. Animation is saddened to learn of the passing of Ken Spears and we send our warmest thoughts to his loved ones,” commented Sam Register, President of Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network Studios.
“He was a true innovator in the industry whose gifts of humor and storytelling continue to delight audiences. You cannot find a screen in the world that has not played a version of Scooby-Doo. We continue to be inspired by his work at Warner Bros. Animation and are honored to carry on the legacy of his beloved characters.”
The official Scooby-Doo Facebook page also shared a tribute to Spears, thanking him for his role in creating “a classic animated series that continues to impact generations”.
Thank you, Ken Spears, for co-creating a classic animated series that continues to impact generations.
Born in March 1938, Spears grew up in Los Angeles, going on to befriend the son of animation producer William Hanna. Hired as a sound editor at the producer’s Hanna-Barbera company in 1959, he met Joe Ruby, who he would go on to have a decades-long collaborative relationship with.
They created the first Scooby-Doo production for Hanna-Barbera, writing and editing many of its early episodes. Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? debuted on CBS in 1969, which went on to become the wildly successful franchise it is today. Other shows the duo created for Hanna-Barbera and CBS include Dynomutt and Jabberjaw.
In the early 1970s, the duo were hired by CBS’ president of children’s programming Fred Silverman to supervise the network’s Saturday morning cartoon lineup, taking a similar position in 1975 when Silverman moved to ABC.
In 1977, ABC gave Spears and Ruby their own Filmways subsidiary, Ruby-Spears Productions, where they oversaw production on animated series’ such as Fangface and Mister T along with reboots of Alvin and the Chipmunks and Superman.
News of Spears’ death arrives just three months after Ruby died of natural causes in August, aged 87.