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.

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denny 30 months ago
I never knew this, if this is true then it is a very fascinating tidbit. If not, still the similarities are spot on.
VaughnBaskin 30 months ago
I Hope Scooby-Doo would come to MeTV this year!
ruswilinc 53 months ago
The house shown on the opening was also modeled on Collinwood Mansion on the Dark Shadows television show.
EricFuller 54 months ago
Didn't the Frank Sinatra song "Strangers In The Night" when he sings at the end "Doo-Be Doo-Be Doooo served as inspiration for the naming of the dog Scooby?
pookerella 54 months ago
Dobie Gillis was a junior in HS so considering that show began in 1959, that wouldn’t make him a Boomer. He would’ve had to be born in 1942 or 1943. They were what is called the war babies, 1935-1945, or what I call the “Hip Generation.” And they were the largest collection of very hip people, they were the folkies of the 1950s and the Beat Generation. Probably the coolest generation ever. Even though the “early“ boomers (1946-1950) were on board and running with the ball regarding clean air and clean planet, the women’s movement, anti-war, etc., the Hip Generation started it all, especially being leaders in the civil rights movement and they glady participated well into their 30s in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. The Hip Generation included the Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, Elvis Presley, Donald Sullivan, the Dalai Lama, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bob Denver, Peter Boyle, John Phillips, Jim Henson, Kris Kristofferson, Bill Wyman, Garrett Morris, Jane Fonda, George Carlin, Roberta Flack, Kenny Rogers, Christopher Lloyd, Judy Blume, Tina Turner, Marvin Gaye, Richard Pryor, John Lewis, Peter Fonda, Otis Redding, Jesse Jackson, Stephen Hawking, Jimi Hendrix, George Lucas, Lorne Michaels, Bob Marley, Henry Winkler, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, etc, etc. etc. Civil rights leaders, free thinkers, change-makers, poets, writers, musicians, scientists, etc. This generation is rarely given the credit they deserve.
AndyTeal 54 months ago
Is there an actual account from the team that they used Gillis as a pattern, or is this just supposition?
VBartilucci 54 months ago
You want to talk about a sitcom that owes a lot to Dobie Gillis, let's talk Kenan and Kel. His dad owned a grocery store, his best friend was a goofball - there's so much shared DNA, it's hilarious.

Remind me to tell the story of how the Dobie Gillis reunion film lifted the plot of Durrenmatt's The Visit.
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