Iwao Takamoto, the animator who created Scooby-Doo and directed the 1973 feature toon “Charlotte’s Web,” died Monday of heart failure in Los Angeles at the age of 81, reports Variety.
During his six-decade career, Takamoto assisted in the designs of some of the biggest animated features and television shows for Disney and Hanna-Barbera, including “Cinderella,” “Peter Pan,” “Lady and the Tramp,” “101 Dalmatians,” “The Jetsons” and “The Flintstones.”
Takamoto’s creation of the cowardly mutt Scooby-Doo has captivated and endured for many decades, and Takamoto told Variety that he came up with the character after talking with a Great Dane breeder–naming him by altering Frank Sinatra’s final phrase for “Strangers in the Night.” Takamoto also created other famous cartoon dogs such as Astro from “The Jetsons” and Muttley, the mixed breed who appeared in several Hanna-Barbera cartoons.
Born in Los Angeles to parents who had emigrated from Japan, Takamoto had graduated from high school just before World War II began. He and his family were sent to the Manzanar internment camp in the California desert, where he learned the art of illustration from fellow internees. Despite a lack of formal training, he landed an interview with Walt Disney Studios when he returned to Los Angeles and was hired as an apprentice.
Takamoto worked under the tutelage of Disney’s famous “nine old men,” the studio’s premier team of animators responsible for its major full-length films, before moving to Hanna-Barbera Studios in 1961. There he worked on cartoons for television, including “Josie and the Pussy Cats,” “The Great Grape Ape Show,” “Harlem Globe Trotters” and “The Secret Squirrel Show.”
Takamoto is survived by wife Barbara, a son and a stepdaughter.