Thursday, 27 August 2020

Joe Ruby

His first credits at Hanna-Barbera were as a film editor. You see one to the right from the “Elroy’s Mob” episode of The Jetsons. And if the screen credits still existed, you would see his name on the debut episodes of The Flintstones and Top Cat.

Joe Ruby has died at the age of 87.

A film editor is someone who splices sound effects and music into the soundtrack of a cartoon. That’s what Ruby was hired to do when he arrived at the studio around 1959, joining a team including Greg Watson, who was part of the Hanna-Barbera unit at MGM, and Warner Leighton. But he wanted to be a writer, so he was also entrusted with coming up with some of the ideas for the little cartoons that were between the cartoons on the Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear shows, along with another chap named Ken Spears.

I suspect anyone reading this knows that Ruby and Spears ran up a huge pile of credits at Hanna-Barbera and then at their own studio that they set up in 1977. Perhaps their lasting legacy was the creation of one of animation’s biggest franchises starring a cowardly Great Dane (originally named “Too Much,” according to Ruby) and some meddling teenagers solving mysteries. Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? debuted on CBS in 1969 and continues to appear in some way, shape or form more than 50 years later.

Spears once told writer John Culhane in 1969: “Joe and I have adapted. We can write adventure or go funny. We’ve just finished 17 ‘Penelope Pitstops.’ Actually, the traps in ‘Penelope’ are more violent than anything we had in Gulliver—but in comedy you can take it with a grain of salt. If it’s adventure, you accept it as real, even though it’s a cartoon.”

Ruby seems to have been interviewed only rarely. He faced reporters in 1986 while trying to explain his studio’s animated Rambo mini-series would not have anyone get hurt and John Rambo would actually help earthquake victims and children in need.

You can find a fine remembrance of Joe Ruby from someone who actually knew him, producer/artist Mark Evanier, on his web site.


  1. That Penelope quote is amazing. It reminds me how the monsters in Scooby-Doo always felt more menacing than the bad guys you would see in Super Friends.

  2. RIP, I saw this on the webste.

  3. RIP Joe and condolences to your family.

  4. RIP Joe. So sad.I suppose you can count on one hand all that are still with us out of this era.