The television writer and producer died on Friday

By Gabrielle Chung
November 09, 2020 06:18 PM
Ken Spears
| Credit: youtube

Ken Spears, who co-created the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! cartoons, has died at the age of 82.

The legendary television writer and producer died on Friday from complications related to Lewy body dementia, according to his son Kevin Spears.

"Ken will forever be remembered for his wit, his story-telling, his loyalty to family, and his strong work ethic," he told Variety in a statement. "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."

Born March 12, 1938, Spears grew up in the Los Angeles area, where he befriended animation producer William Hanna's son as a child.

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
| Credit: Hanna Barbera

"I used to spend weekends at his place," Spears recalled of Hanna during a WonderCon panel in 2012, as captured on ytshawzam's YouTube channel. "I had no idea what Bill did — none."

The friendship helped Spears kick off his career in animation in 1959, when he joined Hanna-Barbera Productions as a sound editor. There, he met Joe Ruby, who would become his longtime collaborator.

Alongside Ruby, who died of natural causes in August, Spears co-created Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, an animated series that followed teenage friends — brainiac Velma, jock Fred, fashionista Daphne, hippie Shaggy and his talking Great Dane Scooby-Doo — as they solved strange mysteries.

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! first premiered on CBS and aired until 1976. It saw several reboots, film adaptations and spinoffs.

While working for Hanna-Barbera, Spears and Ruby also created cartoons such as Jabberjaw, Dynomutt and Dog Wonder.

Spears and Ruby were hired by Fred Silverman, then-president of children's programming at CBS, to supervise the production of the network's Saturday morning cartoon lineup in the early 1970s. They assumed the same role when they followed Silverman to ABC.

In 1977, the pair founded Ruby-Spears Production, under which they produced animated series such as Alvin and the ChipmunksMister TSuperman, Fangface and Thundarr the Barbarian.

Ruby-Spears was bought by Hanna-Barbera's parent company, Taft Entertainment, in 1981. Its back catalog was sold to Turner Broadcasting in 1991.

Most recently, Spears received a special thanks mention in the credits of 2020's Scoob!.

Spears is survived by his two sons, Kevin and Chris; their wives, his five grandchildren and his three great-grandchildren.