He'd have lived longer if it hadn't been for those meddling kids!
Scooby-Doo creator Iwao Takamoto died this week at the age of 81. After learning illustration from other inmates at a California internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II, Takamoto pursued a career in animation, working for Disney and Hanna-Barbera, and on The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Cinderella, and Charlotte's Web. But he is best-known for creating Scooby-Doo, which Chris Suellentrop called "the most enduringly popular cartoon in TV history" in a 2004 Slate assessment, reprinted below.
Here's the easiest way to comprehend the longevity of Scooby-Doo: Casey Kasem has been doing the voice of Shaggy (Norville Rogers, if you insist on his given name) for longer than he hosted his weekly Top 40 radio show. He started voicing Shaggy in 1969, the year before American Top 40 debuted, and he's still got the part, on television in the WB's Saturday-morning cartoon, What's New Scooby-Doo?, and in the direct-to-video movies the franchise keeps churning out.
Though it's hard to believe?and for animation purists, practically impossible to stomach?Scooby-Doo is the most enduringly popular cartoon in TV history. Starting with the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, the show, in various permutations, was produced for 17 years (and, with its latest incarnation, it's in production again), making it the longest-running network cartoon ever. Because of syndication, it's never been off the air since it debuted, and it probably never will be. Now it's expanding its empire: Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed opens today in theaters nationwide, the second of what promise to be many live-action Scooby movies. In 2002, the live-action Scooby-Doo raked in $54.2 million on its opening weekend, on its way to a $153-million box office.