8 things you never knew about Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
Without Frank Sinatra and Dobie Gillis, we might not know the Great Dane the same way.
The Flintstones turned Hanna-Barbera into a powerhouse. Sure, Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound had been popular with kids on Saturday morning in the late Fifties, but with The Flintstones, the animation studio proved it could appeal to adults in primetime.
That led William Hanna and Joseph Barbera to get a little more creative, a little bolder. Just as The Flintstones had copied the formula of The Honeymooners, their Top Cat soon emulated The Phil Silver Show. The Magilla Gorilla Show, Jonny Quest, Atom Ant, Space Ghost and more followed in the 1960s.
Hanna-Barbera mastered the art of adventure, talking animals, toon musical numbers. So what if they combined all of that — again taking influence from a popular live-action sitcom — and blended it all together?
Thus, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! was born in 1969. Well, there were some growing pains along the way. Let's take a look…
1. The original title was 'The Mysteries Five'
Talent borrows; genius steals. So they say. Hanna-Barbera was brilliant at taking established concepts and applying a cartoon gloss over the top. Rival studio Filmation had created a pop sensation with The Archie Show in 1968, turning a classic comic strip into a hip beat band with a No. 1 single. So, CBS asked Hanna-Barbera to come up with another version of "The Archies." Their answer was a musical group called "The Mysteries Five" — Geoff, Mike, Kelly, Linda and W.W. The kids would tour around in a van, solving supernatural mysteries along the way with the help of a dog. It was either going to be a large, cowardly dog or a tiny, gusty dog.
2. It was later called 'Who's S-S-Scared?' — and deemed too scary for children!
The animators then whittled the group down to a quartet of humans, fusing Geoff and Mike into one character named "Ronnie." The show was retitled Who's S-S-Scared? and an animated demo was prepared for the network. Well, to answer the question of the title, CBS was s-s-scared. The suits felt that the horror elements were too extreme; they feared the monsters would terrify children on Saturday morning. So CBS asked Hanna-Barbera to go back to the drawing board.
3. The characters were based on 'The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis'
Just as Fred and Barney had been based on Ralph and Ed from The Honeymooners, this band of teenage detectives found inspiration in another classic sitcom. The youthful sleuths of Mystery Inc. were copies of the core characters in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. This is most noticeable in Shaggy (or "W.W." as he was originally called) who is a dead ringer for the work-allergic beatnik Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver). "Velma" even sounded a good deal like the bookish Zelda (Sheila James). Fred was modeled on Dobie himself. Daphne mimicked Thalia Menninger (Tuesday Weld).
4. The dog's original name was Too Much
Let's get back to the dog. Obviously, the animators decided a big, frightened dog was comedy gold. However, the pooch was originally named Too Much. And he played the bongos. Somebody had to add percussion to the band. Once the musical-group angle was dropped, so went the bongos. But what to call the dog…?
5. You can thank either Frank Sinatra or Randy and the Rainbow's for the name Scooby-Doo
There is some debate as to which smash song of the Sixties inspired the name "Scooby-Doo." It is probably a combination of the two. Frank Sinatra's 1966 hit "Strangers in the Night" featured Ol' Blue Eyes scatting, "Doo-bee-doo-bee-doo." Scooby-Doo's catchphrase certainly echoes that refrain. But the 1963 teen doo-wop sensation "Denise" by Randy and the Rainbows likely played a big part, too. You have undoubtedly heard it at some point in a diner: "Oh Denise, shooby doo / I'm in love with you, Denise, shooby doo!"
6. There was a different theme song at the very beginning
Speaking of catchy tunes, every kids known that immortal theme song: "Scooby-Dooby-Doo, where are you? We got some work to do now." However, much like "Meet the Flintstones," the song did not debut at the start of the series. When Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! premiered in September 1969, it opened with an eerie instrumental. The song appeared in the second episode, too, "A Clue for Scooby Doo," but was scrapped quickly after.
7. Fred did not have a name in the first episode
Let's rewind to that premiere episode again, "What a Night for a Knight." Every character is mentioned by name in the episode except for Fred — and he was technically not yet Fred! The storyboards for the episode still referred to the blond boy as "Ronnie."
8. There was later an Andy Griffith Show spoof
The Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! cartoon evolved into The New Scooby-Doo Movies, which welcomed celebrity guest stars. In 1972, Knotts twice returned to cartoon form for a couple New Scooby-Doo Movies, "Guess Who's Knott Coming to Dinner?" and "The Spooky Fog." In the first, he dressed like Sherlock Holmes in a caped raincoat and deerstalker cap. But in "The Spooky Fog," the cartoon Knotts appeared in more familiar clothing. He was back in his familiar tan deputy's uniform. This deputy lived and worked in "Juneberry" for "Sheriff Dandy."
Image: Warner Bros.
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