The co-creator of Scooby Doo has died at 87 - here's a look back at his life and career

(Images: Warner Bros.)(Images: Warner Bros.)
(Images: Warner Bros.)

The co-creator of long running cartoon series Scooby-Doo has died.

Joe Ruby, who created the famous ghost-hunting dog with creative partner Ken Spears, died of natural causes in California on Wednesday. He was 87.

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"He never stopped writing and creating, even as he aged," said his grandson Benjamin Ruby.

Here's everything you need to know.

Who was Joe Ruby?

Joe Ruby was born Joseph Clemens Ruby in 1933 in Los Angeles.

He studied art at Fairfax High School, an institution that has produced many notably creative alumni including Phil Spector, actress Mila Kunis and the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Anthony Kiedis.

Following his graduation, he joined the United States Navy, where he worked as a sonar operator on a destroyer during the Korean War.

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He started his career in animation at Walt Disney Productions, and he later worked for a short time in live-action television editing, before moving to Hanna-Barbera Productions.

It was here that Ruby met Ken Spears, and the two would team up to start a long-running professional relationship.

What cartoons did he create?

The pair began as writers for several animated and live-action television programmes.

During their time at Hanna-Barbera they would create shows and characters like Scooby-Doo, Dynomutt, Dog Wonder, and Jabberjaw.

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Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! began on 13 September 1969, premiering as part of CBS' Saturday morning cartoon schedule. It was so successful it led Hanna-Barbera to create more series with similar concepts.

It followed the escapades of teenagers Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy, who solve mysteries involving supposedly supernatural creatures with the help of their talking brown Great Dane, Scooby-Doo.

The show stayed with CBS until 1976, when it moved to ABC, which aired various versions of Scooby-Doo until cancelling it in 1985.

Sporadic spin-offs, reboots and films continue to appear to this day, including Scoob! which was released onto streaming platforms in April after its theatrical release was impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

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What else did he create?

After leaving Hanna-Barbera with aspirations to become associate producers, ABC (where the pair had been working on supervising production of the network's Saturday morning cartoon lineup) set the duo up with their own studio.

Ruby-Spears Productions created a number of successful cartoons including Alvin and the Chipmunks, as well as producing the animated Superman series.

The intention was to create competition for Hanna-Barbera, but eventually the studio was bought by Hanna-Barbera's parent company.

Its back catalogue was sold alongside the Hanna-Barbera library to Turner Broadcasting, which means current reissues of Ruby-Spears shows on DVD and digital platforms are copyrighted by Hanna-Barbera Productions.

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How have people reacted?

Sam Register - animation president at Warner Bros, the copyright holder for Hanna-Barbera's catalogue as of this year - Ruby "made Saturday mornings special for so many children, including myself".

"He was one of the most prolific creators in our industry who gifted us some of animation's most treasured characters and it was a thrill to host him at our studio.

"Scooby-Doo has been a beloved companion on screens for more than 50 years, leaving an enduring legacy that has inspired and entertained generations."