It's not been a good few weeks for Scooby-Doo; first Joseph Barbera, co-creator of Scooby-Doo's Hanna-Barbera animation studios died and now Iwao Takamoto – the man who actually created the character of Scooby-Doo – has died as well.
Iwao Takamoto died of heart failure in Los Angeles yesterday at the age of 81. Although Iwao Takamoto was directly responsible for breathing life into some of the most memorable cartoon dogs ever – he was an animator on Lady And The Tramp and One Hundred And One Dalmatians, and created Muttley and Astro from The Jetsons – it will be Scooby-Doo for which Iwao Takamoto will be most fondly remembered. And, as such, we're planning to basically copy and paste most of Joseph Barbera's obituary and replace his name with Iwao Takamoto's. It's what he would have wanted.
OK, we're not going to do that. But last month when we called the recently-departed Joseph Barbera 'Mr Scooby-Doo' we were telling a lie. Joseph Barbera created The Flintstones, but the studio he founded created Scooby-Doo – and the man who personally invented Scooby-Doo was the influential but largely unsung Iwao Takamoto, who died yesterday at 81.
If somebody tried to explain to you that a ghost-hunting, deliberately deformed Great Dane with a speech impediment, a hippy best friend and a name stolen from a Frank Sinatra ad-lib would become one of history's most enduring animation icons, chances are you'd slap them in the neck and tell then to grow up. But that's exactly what Iwao Takamoto's Scooby-Doo was, as Iwao explained himself before his death, according to The Guardian:
Takamoto said he created Scooby-Doo after talking with a Great Dane breeder, and named him after Frank Sinatra's final phrase in "Strangers in the Night." The breeder "showed me some pictures and talked about the important points of a Great Dane, like a straight back, straight legs, small chin and such," Takamoto said in a recent talk at Cartoon Network Studios. "I decided to go the opposite and gave him a hump back, bowed legs, big chin and such. Even his color is wrong."
And it paid off, since Iwao Takamoto's creation went on to star in such hit TV shows as Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, The New Scooby-Doo Movies, The Scooby-Doo/ Dynomutt Hour, Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics, Scooby-Doo And Scrappy-Doo, The Richie Rich/Scooby-Doo Show, The Scooby-Doo/ Scrappy-Doo/ Puppy Hour, The All-New Scooby And Scrappy-Doo Show, The 13 Ghosts Of Scooby-Doo, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, What's New, Scooby-Doo? or Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get A Clue!
But what about Iwao Takamoto himself? Well, he was taught to paint by internees at the camp in the Californian desert that his family was sent to on arrival to America from Japan. From there he gained work as an apprentice at Disney, working on films like Peter Pan and Cinderella. Then in the early 1960s Iwao Takamoto moved to Hanna-Barbera where will be best remembered for his legendary character design work. Before he died, Iwao Takamoto was the Vice-President of Creative Design at Hanna-Barbera.
Actually, come to think of it, Iwao Takamoto might have had a hand in creating Scrappy-Doo. If he hadn't have designed so many other fantastic characters, that would have probably been enough to put us right off him.