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Ruby-Spears Productions, Inc.
Founded1977; 44 years ago (1977)
FoundersJoe Ruby
Ken Spears
Defunct1996; 25 years ago (1996)
Number of locations
2 branches
ProductsTelevision shows
Theatrical films
Television specials
Direct-to-video films
Television films
Television commercials
ParentFilmways (1977–1981)
Taft Broadcasting (1981–1987)
Great American Broadcasting (1987–1991)
RS Holdings (1991–1996)

Ruby-Spears Productions (also known as Ruby-Spears Enterprises) was a Burbank, California–based American entertainment production company that specialized in animation; with another branch in Rome, Italy. The firm was founded in 1977 by veteran writers and Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! creators Joe Ruby and Ken Spears.


Both Ruby and Spears started out as sound editors at Hanna-Barbera, and later branched out into writing stories for such programs as Space Ghost and The Herculoids. In 1969, they were assigned the task of developing a mystery-based cartoon series for Saturday mornings, the result of which was Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!. They left Hanna-Barbera shortly after because "they were having a hard time moving up" and wanted to be "associate producers".[1] They were also writers and producers for DePatie–Freleng Enterprises, particularly for The Barkleys and The Houndcats.[2]

Ruby-Spears Productions was founded in 1977 while Ruby and Spears were network executives at ABC supervising the Saturday morning programming. ABC Entertainment president Fred Silverman wanted to create competition for Hanna-Barbera, which then provided the bulk of the Saturday morning content for all three major networks. Silverman was concerned the studio was stretching their projects too thin, diluting the quality of their series, requiring competition.[3] The company's first breakout was The Puppy Who Wanted A Boy. The company's credits include the animated series Fangface, Goldie Gold and Action Jack, The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show, Thundarr the Barbarian, Rubik, the Amazing Cube, the 1983 version of the Alvin and the Chipmunks series, Mister T, Sectaurs, The Centurions, the 1988 Superman series, the Police Academy animated series and the American Mega Man cartoon series.

Joe Ruby's and Ken Spears' favorite Ruby-Spears-produced show is Thundarr the Barbarian.[4]

Only two pre-1991 series, Police Academy: The Animated Series and Piggsburg Pigs!, used Canadian rather than American voice talent like most of their other cartoon shows. Ruby-Spears was also responsible for the animated sequence in the 1988 film Child's Play and replaying the sequence as a fictional commercial in the 1991 sequel Child's Play 3.

The Ruby-Spears studio was founded in 1977 as a subsidiary of Filmways and was sold in late 1981 to Taft Broadcasting, becoming a sister company to Hanna-Barbera Productions. In 1991, Ruby-Spears was spun off into RS Holdings. Most of the pre-1991 Ruby-Spears Productions library was sold along with Hanna-Barbera to Turner Broadcasting System, which in turn merged with Time Warner (now WarnerMedia) in 1996. The Ruby-Spears studio closed in 1996 after 19 years of operation.[3] As of now, most of the original pre-1991 Ruby-Spears Enterprises library is now held by Warner Bros., through Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Bros. Family Entertainment.

As of 2019, it is unclear where Ruby-Spears' post-1991 library is held; two exceptions are the Mega Man series, which is at least partially owned by DHX Media (now WildBrain), and Skysurfer Strike Force, which is owned by Invincible Entertainment Group, along with most of the Bohbot Entertainment library.[5]

The two founders both died within three months of each other. Joe Ruby died on August 26, 2020 at the age of 87 and Ken Spears died on November 6 at age 82.

See also


  1. ^ "Ruby & Spears : WonderCon 2012". August 28, 2020.
  2. ^ Shostak, Stu (05-02-2012). "Program 276 (Legendary animation producers JOE RUBY and KEN SPEARS discuss their long association, which began at Hanna-Barbera in 1959 when they were film and sound editors and eventually led to the formation of their own company in 1977, and writer MARK EVANIER talks about the differences between working for H-B as opposed to R-S.)". Stu's Show. Retrieved 03-18-2013.
  3. ^ a b Shostak, Stu (01-16-2013). "Program 305 (TV animation producers JOE RUBY and KEN SPEARS return to discuss the formation of their own company and creating such series as "Fangface", "Rickety Rocket", "Goldie Gold" and many others. Also - animation writer MARK EVANIER talks about working on "Thundarr" and "Plastic Man" for the team.)". Stu's Show. Retrieved 03-18-2013.
  4. ^ "Ruby & Spears : WonderCon 2012". 10:21
  5. ^ Invinclible Entertainment TV holdings (including most of the Bohbot Entertainment catalog)