Jinkies! The characters of 'Scooby-Doo' were based on 'The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis'
Dobie Gillis also inspired one of the biggest soul singers of the Sixties.
An all-American athletic boy with blonde hair. A beautiful popular girl. A lazy beatnik with a goatee who peppers his speech with "like" and "man." A brainy, petite brunette.
That sounds like a quite familiar quartet, right? Perhaps one that drives around in a green and blue van with a Great Dane?
Those descriptions apply to the core characters of The Many Lives of Dobie Gillis or Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! — and with good reason. The latter Hanna-Barbera cartoon, which premiered in 1969, was based on the former black & white teen sitcom from a decade earlier.
The development of Scooby-Doo was inspired by a couple popular teen sensations of the 1960s. Fred Silverman, CBS's head of daytime programming at the time, was looking to duplicate the success of the Archies. His rough pitch to animators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera was this: a teenage rock band that would solve mysteries. Hanna-Barbera assigned the task to writers Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, and artist Iwao Takamoto. Their first draft was a group dubbed the Mysteries Five, consisting of kids named Geoff, Mike, Kelly, Linda and W.W., along with a bongo-playing sheepdog called Too Much. These teen toons were rough analogues to Archies characters Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica and Hot Dog. (W.W. was an additional kid brother.)
Unimpressed, Silvermen sent Ruby, Spears and Takamoto back to the drawing board. This time, the creators simply mimicked Dobie Gillis.
Take a good look at the photo up top and it becomes pretty obvious. Fred is Dobie (Dwayne Hickman), Daphne is Thalia (Tuesday Weld), Shaggy is Maynard (Bob Denver) and Velma is Zelda (Sheila James). Heck, "Velma" even sounds like "Zelda."
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis showed its influence in other realms of pop culture, too. Dobie Gray, the pop-soul singer known for chart smashes like "The 'In' Crowd" and "Drift Away," was born Lawrence Darrow Brown. His record label suggested he use the name "Dobie" to ride off the popularity of the sitcom.
In a less evident example, Gerry Marshall admitted that his hit Happy Days was patterned after Dobie Gillis. Then again, just about every sitcom about teenagers can credit Dobie Gillis, down to Saved by the Bell. Dobie is a pioneer. This early gem was the first sitcom on a major network to focus on adolescent characters. He may have been a Boomer, but it feels like he hasn't aged a day.
Remind me to tell the story of how the Dobie Gillis reunion film lifted the plot of Durrenmatt's The Visit.