Charles Kenneth Spears (March 12, 1938 – November 6, 2020) was an American television writer, producer and sound editor. With Joe Ruby, he created the Scooby-Doo franchise for Hanna-Barbera. In 1977, the two men co-founded television animation production company Ruby-Spears Productions.
Charles Kenneth Spears
March 12, 1938
|Died||November 6, 2020 (aged 82)|
Brea, California, U.S.
Early life and careerEdit
Spears was raised in New York City and the Los Angeles area. His mother, Edna Spears (née Graiver), died a month after he was born, while his father, Harry Spears, worked a radio host and producer before joining a real estate business. Ken Spears became a friend of the son of animation producer William Hanna while attending high school in California.
As an adult, shortly after leaving the Navy, Hanna hired Spears as a sound editor for Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1959. Spears met Ruby, also ex-Navy, in the editing department of the studio, and the two men began a writing partnership. Spears and Ruby wrote gags and scripts for several animated and live-action television programs, both freelance and as on-staff writers for Hanna-Barbera, Sid and Marty Krofft Television Productions and DePatie–Freleng Enterprises.
For Hanna-Barbera, Spears and Ruby created Scooby-Doo and the franchise's other main characters. Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! debuted in September 1969 on CBS. The original show only ran for two seasons, but its follow-ups continued for more than 50 years. The partners had come to the attention of Fred Silverman, then head of daytime programming at CBS, concluding after about 15 drafts that the Great Dane was the star of the project.
For H-B they also created, Dynomutt, Dog Wonder, Captain Caveman, and Jabberjaw, among other programs. At Depatie-Freleng, they created The Barkleys and The Houndcats. In the early 1970s, Silverman hired Spears and Ruby to supervise the production of CBS's Saturday morning cartoon lineup, a position they assumed at ABC when Silverman joined the rival network.
Wanting to create competition for Hanna-Barbera, ABC set Ruby and Spears up with their own studio in 1977, as a subsidiary of Filmways. Ruby-Spears Productions produced further animated series for Saturday morning, among them Fangface (a group of teenagers again, but including a werewolf), The Plastic Man Comedy-Adventure Hour, Thundarr the Barbarian, Saturday Supercade, Mister T, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Superman, among others. Ruby-Spears was bought by Hanna-Barbera's parent company, Taft Entertainment, in 1981, and its back catalog was sold along with the Hanna-Barbera library and studio in 1991 to Turner Broadcasting. Current reissues of Ruby-Spears shows on DVD and digital platforms are therefore copyrighted by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Spears died on November 6, 2020 due to complications from Lewy body dementia. Prior to his death, he had continued to work with Ruby on the production and development of animated series up until Ruby's death on August 26, 2020. Ruby had been in hospice care for two years prior to his death. It is unknown how often they had worked together in those two years.
- "Charles Kenneth Spears, Born 03/12/1938 in California | CaliforniaBirthIndex.org". www.californiabirthindex.org.
- Itzkoff, Dave (April 12, 2010). "Jack Kirby's Heroes in Waiting". The New York Times. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
- "Scooby-Doo co-creator Ken Spears dies aged 82". BBC News. November 10, 2020. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
- Green, Penelope (November 19, 2020). "Ken Spears, Partner in an Animation Powerhouse, Dies at 82". The New York Times. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
- Shostak, Stu (05-02-2012). "Interview with Joe Ruby and Ken Spears". Stu's Show. Retrieved 03-18-2013.
- "Scooby-Doo co-creator Ken Spears dies aged 82". BBC News. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
- Shostak, Stu (01-16-2013). "Interview with Joe Ruby and Ken Spears". Stu's Show. Retrieved 03-18-2013.
- Shafer, Ellise (November 9, 2020). "Ken Spears, Co-Creator of 'Scooby-Doo,' Dies at 82". Variety. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
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