Scooby-Doo co-creator Ken Spears dies at 82
TV writer and producer Ken Spears, known for co-creating the beloved animated series Scooby-Doo and co-founding Ruby-Spears Productions with the late Joe Ruby, died on Friday at 82.
His son Kevin Spears told Variety that Spears died from Lewy body dementia complications and said, “Ken will be remembered forever for his wit, his story-telling, his family loyalty, and his strong work ethic. Ken not only left a lasting impact on his family, but as co-creator of Scooby-Doo, he has touched the lives of many. Throughout his life, Ken has been a role model for us.”
Spears produced a litany of famous cartoons with Ruby, who died in August, including Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! Dog Wonder, Dynomutt, Jabberjaw. For the likes of Hanna-Barbera, DePatie-Freleng, and their namesake company, the duo produced animated material. Alvin and the Chipmunks, Mister T, Thundarr the Barbarian, and Superman were among the notable Ruby-Spears series.
Born on March 12, 1938, Charles Kenneth Spears grew up in the Los Angeles area. As a boy, he was friends with the son of animation producer William Hanna, setting him up for Hanna-future Barbera’s work. As a sound editor, Spears started his career there in 1959. He met Ruby there, where they had started their long creative partnership.
Fred Silverman, CBS’ president of children’s programming, hired the two in the early 1970s to oversee the cartoons of the Saturday morning network. They accompanied Silverman to ABC later on.
In 1981, Ruby-Spears Productions was acquired by Taft Entertainment, the parent company of Hanna-Barbera. Their entire catalogue was eventually sold in 1991 to Turner Broadcasting.
Ruby and Spears’ most enduring development remains Scooby-Doo and his friends, having created numerous animated spin-offs, comic books, feature films, and merchandise. This year’s CGI-animated Scoob was the most recent title under that banner!
Spears is survived by his two sons, Kevin and Chris; their wives; his five grandchildren; and his three great-grandchildren.