What Is the Story of Scooby-Doo?
On the morning of September 13, 1969, children all around the United States were watching Saturday morning cartoons on TV. But this morning was special. This morning, the first episode of the cartoon Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
was shown on the CBS network.
The name of the episode was “What a Night for a Knight.” It featured a group of four teenagers—Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy—and a big goofy dog, Scooby-Doo. They followed clues to solve a spooky mystery. A knight’s armor was shipped from England to America for display in a museum. But the professor who sent the armor to the museum had disappeared—and the armor of the Black Knight was alive! The kids and their talking dog, Scooby-Doo, needed to avoid the Black Knight while figuring out what happened to the professor.
By the end of the episode, the teens had solved the mystery—and children around the country had fallen in love with the Great Dane named Scooby-Doo. The show quickly became one of the most popular cartoons ever. Children and adults tuned in for the mysteries. They sang the theme song. They liked the silly villains. Mostly, they loved the star of the show, Scooby-Doo.
Was Scooby a superhero? Certainly not! He was a scaredy-cat . . . well, a scaredy-dog! But he would always help his friends solve the mystery, no matter how spooky, in exchange for a Scooby Snack. This dog, who didn’t even realize how brave he was, stumbled into hundreds of mysteries, and into the hearts of viewers around the world. But Scooby is more than just a talking dog. He has conquered television, comics, movies, books, and more—in more than 160 countries.
Scooby-Doo is one of the most famous dogs of all time, and this is his story. Chapter 1: A Star Is Born
The original idea for Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
was much different from what viewers saw on that first Saturday morning in 1969. Cartoons were developed by teams of talented and creative people. As a new show was developed, there were many opinions about how it should look.
Fred Silverman came up with the original idea for Scooby-Doo in 1968. Fred was the head of daytime programming for CBS, a major television network. Fred wanted a show with teenagers and music and mystery. But Fred just had the idea—he didn’t know how to make the cartoon!
At the time, cartoons were very popular on Saturday morning television. Children around the country tuned in for their favorites: The Jetsons
, Casper the Friendly Ghost
, and many others.
An animation company called Hanna-Barbera Productions made some of the most popular cartoons. In fact, they had made the most popular cartoon of all time up until that point: The Flintstones
. So, Fred went to the producers William Hanna and Joseph Barbera with his idea, knowing that they might be able to turn it into a smash hit!
Hanna-Barbera’s team of writers, led by Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, thought up a show called Mysteries Five
about five teenagers and a shaggy dog named “Too Much.” During the day, the teenagers were musicians—Too Much played the bongos. They solved spooky mysteries at night. The stories were filled with ghosts and monsters.
Joe and Ken presented their first idea to Fred. But Fred didn’t think it was quite right. He liked the mystery and music, but wasn’t sure about the characters. He worked with Joe and Ken to change them. Five teenagers became four—Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy. The sheepdog became a Great Dane. Fred also changed the title of the show to Who’s S-S-Scared?
Satisfied with the new show idea, Fred presented it to his bosses at CBS. But they worried that the answer to Who’s S-S-Scared?
would be “little kids”! A parents’ group called Action for Children’s Television was protesting that television shows for children were too violent and scary—and CBS was listening. They didn’t want to produce a show that was too scary for kids. So CBS said no to Fred and Who’s S-S-Scared?
Fred was still determined to make his idea for Who’s S-S-Scared?
a reality. He worked with Joe and Ken at Hanna-Barbera Productions to change the idea once again. They came back with a new idea for Fred. Although the mysteries were still spooky, the monsters were not real. At the end of each story, they would turn out to be just bad guys in disguise. The rock band idea was dropped, and the characters became much funnier—especially the dog. The goofy Great Dane was now the star. Fred thought kids would be too busy laughing to be scared.
The executives at CBS agreed, and Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
Copyright © 2019 by Hanna-Barbera. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.