Ken Spears, the television writer and producer known for co-creating the beloved animated series Scooby-Doo and co-founding Ruby-Spears Productions with the late Joe Ruby, died Friday at 82.
His son Kevin Spears told Variety that Spears died from complications related to Lewy body dementia and said, "Ken will forever be remembered for his wit, his story-telling, his loyalty to family, and his strong work ethic. 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."
With Ruby, who died in August, Spears created a litany of popular cartoons, including Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, Dog Wonder, Dynomutt, and Jabberjaw. The duo produced animated content for the likes of Hanna-Barbera, DePatie–Freleng, and their namesake company. Notable Ruby-Spears series included Alvin and the Chipmunks, Mister T, Thundarr the Barbarian, and Superman.
Charles Kenneth Spears was born March 12, 1938, and he grew up in the Los Angeles area. As a child, he was friends with animation producer William Hanna's son, setting him up for a future job at Hanna-Barbera. Spears began his career there in 1959 as a sound editor. There he met Ruby, where they began their long creative partnership.
In the early 1970s, Fred Silverman, CBS' president of children's programming, hired the duo to supervise the network's Saturday morning cartoons. They later followed Silverman to ABC.
Taft Entertainment, the parent company of Hanna-Barbera, purchased Ruby-Spears Productions in 1981. Ultimately, their entire catalog was sold to Turner Broadcasting in 1991.
Scooby-Doo and his friends remain Ruby and Spears' most enduring creation, having spawned numerous animated spin-offs, comic books, feature films, and merchandise. The most recent title under that banner was this year's CGI-animated Scoob!
Spears is survived by his two sons, Kevin and Chris; their wives; his five grandchildren; and his three great-grandchildren.