Ken Spears, a Hanna-Barbera alum known best for co-creating the character of Scooby-Doo has died. According to his family, the veteran writer and producer passed away from complications related to Lewy body dementia. He was 82.
Ken Spears’ son, Kevin, confirmed the news of his father’s passing to Variety. In a statement, he honored his father, citing his loyalty and commitment to his family and making note of his impact on the Scooby-Doo franchise:
Unfortunately, Ken Spears’ passing isn’t the first loss the Scooby-Doo family has suffered this year. Just a few months ago, Spears’ Scooby-Doo collaborator, Joe Ruby, passed away at the age of 87.
Spears grew up in Los Angeles and eventually became friends with the son of animation icon William Hanna. It was this connection that landed him a job as a sound editor at Hanna-Barbera in 1959. During his time as an editor, he met and befriended Joe Ruby, and the two eventually forged a firm writing relationship. The two would go onto write various animated and live-action TV specials for Hanna-Barbera and other companies.
In 1969, Spears and Ruby would cement themselves in pop culture history when they created Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! The show would prove to be a hit for Hanna-Barbera and CBS and would lead the animation studio to take a similar teenage-centric approach with some of the shows that followed like Josie and the Pussycats, Speed Buggy and The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show.
During their years working together, Ken Spears and Joe Ruby would create other beloved characters like Dynomutt, Dog Wonder and Jabberjaw. The two would eventually set up their own studio – Ruby-Spears Productions – which would serve as a direct competitor to Hanna-Barbera. The company would produce notable shows, including Alvin and the Chipmunks, Fangface and Thundarr the Barbarian, all of which would fit perfectly into Saturday morning cartoon slots.
Of course, the Scooby-Doo franchise would become an entertainment empire that spans TV shows, movies, comic books and more. The most recent entry in the line of TV shows is Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?, while the series has consistently cranked out direct-to-video movies for over a decade. And just this year, the franchise saw another theatrical entry with Scoob. The characters have even shown up in some pretty unexpected TV shows.
Ken Spears is survived by sons, Kevin and Chris, their wives, his five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. As a lifelong fan of Scooby-Doo, I’m saddened to hear of the loss of Ken Spears but incredibly grateful for the work he’s contributed. I think I speak for many when I say that the work he and Joe Ruby did will live on for years to come.
We here at CinemaBlend extend our thoughts to the family and friends of Ken Spears during this time.
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Erik Swann is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He began working with the publication in 2020 when he was hired as Weekend Editor. Today, he continues to write, edit and handle social media responsibilities over the weekend. On weekdays, he also writes TV and movie-related news and helps out with editing and social media as needed. He graduated from the University of Maryland, where he received a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After shifting into multi-platform journalism, he started working as a freelance writer and editor before joining CB. Covers superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. He eats more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.