Joe Ruby, the animation writer and executive who co-created Scooby-Doo with Ken Spears, died on Wednesday in Westlake Village, California. He died from natural causes at 87. Ruby and Spears also created Dynomutt, Dog Wonder and Jabberjaw during their time with Hanna-Barbera Productions. Ruby's grandson, Benjamin Ruby, told Variety he "never stopped writing and creating, even as he aged."
Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Machine gang were introduced in Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! in September 1969. The series launched one of the most popular animation franchises of all time, spawning countless more shows after Where Are You! ended in October 1970. The franchise inspired two live-action films, dozens of direct-to-video movies, and the 2020 animated feature Scoob!. Last year, Cartoon Network launched the latest animated series, Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?.
"We loved all the ones we either wrote or were heavily involved in the writing. But we really liked 'Mystery Mask Mixup' and 'Nowhere to Hyde' probably best. They just came out real well overall," Ruby said in an interview with Scooby Addicts when asked about his favorite episode. Ruby and Spears said there was nothing about the characters they would go back and change. They also admitted that neither of them had a Scooby Snack themselves.
Ruby got his start as an inbetweener for Walt Disney Productions. The Navy veteran moved into television editing and met Spears at Hanna-Barbera. They left Hanna-Barbera to work as writers with Sid and Marty Krofft Television Productions and with Depaie-Freleng. Ruby and Spears established their own studio in 1977, producing Mister T, Superman, Thundarr the Barbarian, The Plastic Man Comedy-Adventure Hour, and Alvin and the Chipmunks. Coincidentally, Ruby-Spears productions are now owned by Turner Broadcasting, which also owns Hanna-Barbera properties.
Ruby was also a lifelong comic book fan. In 2010, Sears and Ruby joined forces with the Kroffts to revive unknown characters created by the legendary Jack Kirby, the New York Times reported at the time. They worked with Kirby in 1980, and Kirby helped design Thundarr. Spears and Ruby had hoped to develop shows based on unused Kirby designs.
Ruby's credits also include animated series adaptations of live-action movies and television shows. He was an executive producer on a Punky Brewster series that ran in 1985 and 1986. In 1986, he also served as an executive producer on an animated series based on Sylvester Stallone's R-rated movie Rambo. Ruby is survived by his wife Carole, four children and 10 grandchildren.