Since 1969, Scooby-Doo has provided comedic fun, solved countless mysteries with his friends, and introduced us to a host of other canine pals. As one of Hanna-Barbera's most successful Saturday morning cartoons, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? set the foundation for an entire Scooby-inspired universe.
From the theme song that gets stuck in your head to some of the famous lines from the show (those meddling kids! and "Zoinks!"), Scooby-Doo has created throngs of enthusiastic fans - ones who adore the show and those who aren't shy about things they don't like. No matter what, that cowardly, clumsy dog still has a special place in hearts. Every time Fred, Velma, Daphne, and Shaggy pile into the Mystery Machine with Scooby-Doo, we know we're in for a fun ride.
There's a lot more to know about the show and all things Scooby, although the recipe for Scooby Snacks still seems to be a mystery.
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The Name 'Scooby-Doo' Was Inspired By A Frank Sinatra Song
Frank Sinatra's 1966 song "Strangers in the Night" closes with a somewhat bungled phrase, one that inspired the name of an equally klutzy dog. Sinatra riffs "scooby dooby doo," which inspired the moniker for the lovable mystery-solving canine.
According to television executive Fred Silverman, who had an idea for a show about teenage mystery solvers, he heard the music while on a plane and it made him think of making their dog a key character:
[A]nd as we’re landing... Frank Sinatra comes on, and I hear him say, "scooby-dooby-doo." That’s it, we’ll take the dog - we’ll call it Scooby-Doo.
Silverman made it happen and Scooby-Doo was born.
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The (Human) Characters On 'Scooby-Doo' Are Based On Ones From A 1950s Sitcom
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis was a sitcom that aired from 1959 to 1963. Dwayne Hackman played the titular role, one of many teenage characters presenting stories about their lives from their own points of view - rather than those of adults.
Other characters included Maynard G. Krebs (played by Bob Denver), Thalia Menniger (played by Tuesday Weld), and Zelda Gilroy (played by Sheila James Kuehl). Together, Dobie, Maynard, Thalia, and Zelda were prototypes for Fred, Shaggy, Daphne, and Velma, respectively.
As Scooby-Doo went through different stages of development, the would-be names of the characters came to fruition - as did the name of the show itself. At first, Scooby-Doo was called Mysteries Five and W-Who's S-S-Scared? but the latter was determined to be too frightening for a children's show. In the end, they decided to name the show after the dog they'd worked into the mystery-solving group, Scooby-Doo.
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'Scooby-Doo' Was Once The Longest-Running Animated Series
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? debuted on television in 1969 and has had many names and versions for decades. Through the years and in the many new and reshaped Scooby shows and movies, Shaggy and Scooby were the only characters present at every step.
Scooby-Doo's longevity once earned it the distinction of the longest-running animated series. In 2004, Scooby-Doo became the longest-running animated comedy, according to Guinness World Records.
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'Scooby-Doo' Was The First Saturday Morning Cartoon With A Laugh Track
To make sure television audiences laughed at the "right" moments and did so at proper levels and volumes, producers decided to substitute their own canned laughter. This developed through the 1950s in large part thanks to Charles Douglass, a sound engineer who created a laughing machine used throughout Hollywood. The Laff Box, as it was known, became a staple on prime-time TV, continuing into the 1980s, common even on animated shows like The Flinstones.
Hanna-Barbera then added a laugh track to Saturday morning cartoons in 1969.
The first to use artificial laughter was Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?
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Scooby Was Designed To Be The Opposite Of A Prize-Winning Dog
The idea to put a dog into the show about teenage mystery solvers came from Hanna-Barbera artists Ken Spears, Joe Ruby, and Iwao Takamoto. In the sketches they presented to Fred Silverman, they included a dog - whom Silverman immediately identified as "the star of the show!"
The name Scooby-Doo came from the mind of Fred Silverman, but he was simply replacing what had already been pitched. In the early stages of development, the dog was named "Too Much," a canine of an undetermined breed.
It was only after Takamoto ran with the idea to have a big clumsy dog in the show that he met with different breeders. As one Great Dane breeder described "the important points of a Great Dane - like a straight back, straight legs, small chin, and such," Takamoto "decided to... give him a hump back, bowed legs, big chin... Even his color is wrong."
In short, Takamoto "found out what made a prize-winning Great Dane and went in the opposite direction."
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The Same Actor Has Voiced Fred For Over 50 Years
Frank Welker is one of the most prolific voice actors in the history of animation, with as many as 850 credits to his name. Welker started voicing Fred on Scooby-Doo from the outset and, after the voice actor for the titular character (Don Messick) perished, took on voicing the big dog, too.
Welker was only 23 years old when he started voicing Fred Jones in 1969 and, although the show had some brief hiatuses from airing, has remained a constant as the man who drives the Mystery Machine. Welker takes joy in the fact that, over the decades, "Fred was the only one who had a license... As long as nobody took the van away from me, that gave me four-wheel power."
When Welker auditioned for Scooby-Doo, however, he wasn't trying for the role of Fred. Welker, rather, wanted to voice Shaggy - which ultimately went to Casey Kasem. Kasem actually auditioned for Fred but, when the voices were finally assigned, the two men had been swapped. Welker explained:
I really liked Shaggy, and tried to have fun with that, and I know Casey wanted to do Fred because he wasn't really comfortable doing that kind of goofy Shaggy part. But then Joe [Barbera] [switched us], and Casey came up with that crazy, wonderful voice for Shaggy.
Joe said that Fred was the all-American hero type and that I should just do my own voice. I was like, "I never saw myself as the hero type, but OK!"... I’m kind of a comedian goofball, so it was a little bit hard being restricted, but I was just happy to be a part of the [group].