Ken Spears, the co-creator of Scooby-Doo, died Friday at age 82. Spears' death comes just a few months after his collaborator, Joe Ruby, died at 87. Spears and Ruby were the founders of Ruby-Spears Productions and created several beloved series for Hannah-Barbera Productions, including Scooby-Doo, Jabberjaw, and Dynomutt, Dog Wonder.
Spears' son, Kevin Spears, told Variety his father died from complications of Lewy body dementia. “Ken will forever be remembered for his wit, his story-telling, his loyalty to family, and his strong work ethic,” Kevin told the outlet Monday. “Ken has not only made a lasting impression on his family, but he has touched the lives of many as co-creator of Scooby-Doo. Ken has been a role model for us throughout his life and he will continue to live on in our hearts.”
Spears was born on March 12, 1938, and raised in Los Angeles. He was a friend of William Hanna's son and Hanna first hired him as a sound editor at Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1959. He met Ruby in the editing department and they became friends. They worked together on scripts for Hanna-Barbera and other animation studios.
While at Hanna-Barbera, Spears and Ruby created their most beloved characters. In 1969, the first Scooby series, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, introduced viewers to Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Machine gang. The series ran two seasons, but several follow-up shows and movies followed. The franchise is still alive today, with the latest series, Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?, premiering in 2019.
Spears And Ruby's other creations for Hanna-Barbera included Jabberjaw and Dynomutt, Dog Wonder. They also created The Barkleys and The Houndcats at DePatie-Freleng Enterprises. In the early 1970s, they worked at CBS to oversee the Saturday morning cartoon lineup for Fred Silverman. When Silverman moved to ABC, they took the same position there.
In 1977, Spears and Ruby founded Ruby-Spears Productions. There, they developed Thundarr the Barbarian, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Superman, Saturday Arcade, and many others. In 1981, Hanna-Barbera's parent company bought Ruby-Spears. Today, their shows are owned by Turner Broadcasting, which bought Hanna-Barbera's library in 1991. Spears' last week as a producer was on the 1995 horror film Rumpelstiltskin, which was co-written by Ruby.
Spears is survived by his two sons Kevin and Chris, their wives, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Ruby died on Aug. 26 from natural causes. Ruby "never stopped writing and creating, even as he aged," his grandson, Benjamin Ruby, told Variety in August.