Ruby-Spears Productions, Inc.
Company typePrivate
IndustryEntertainment
GenreAnimation
Founded1977; 47 years ago (1977)
FoundersJoe Ruby
Ken Spears
Defunct1996; 28 years ago (1996)
FateClosed
SuccessorLibrary:
Warner Bros. Television Studios
(through Warner Bros. Animation)
(pre-1991, except Rambo: The Force of Freedom, It's Punky Brewster and Piggsburg Pigs!)
Headquarters
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 an American entertainment production company that specialized in animation based in Burbank, California, with another branch in Rome, Italy. The company was founded in 1977 by veteran writers and Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! creators Joe Ruby and Ken Spears.

History

Ruby and Spears started out as sound editors at Hanna-Barbera and later branched out into story-writing 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, Centurions, the 1988 Superman series, the Police Academy animated series and the American Mega Man cartoon series.

Among the unrealized projects at the studio were Roxie's Raiders, an Indiana Jones-style serial about a female adventurer and her allies; Golden Shield, about an ancient Mayan hero seeking to save earth in the apocalyptic year 2012; and The Gargoids, about scientists who gain superpowers after being infected by an alien virus.[4]

Joe Ruby's and Ken Spears' favorite Ruby-Spears-produced show was Thundarr the Barbarian.[5]

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 cartoons. 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 (later Orion Pictures) and sold in late 1981 to Taft Broadcasting, becoming a sister company to Hanna-Barbera. 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 Warner Bros. Discovery) in 1996. The Ruby-Spears studio closed in 1996 after 19 years of operation.[3] As of now, Ruby-Spears' pre-1991 library is owned by Warner Bros. through Warner Bros. Animation. The few pre-1991 Ruby-Spears shows not owned by Warner Bros. are Rambo: The Force of Freedom, which is owned and distributed by StudioCanal which also own and distribute the first three live-action Rambo films, It's Punky Brewster, which is co-owned by Universal Television and MGM Television, and Piggsburg Pigs!, which is owned by The Walt Disney Company through its acquisition of Fox Kids Worldwide (now ABC Family Worldwide) in 2001.

As of 2019, it is unclear where Ruby-Spears' post-1991 library is held; two exceptions are the Mega Man series, which is owned by Shochiku, and Skysurfer Strike Force, which is owned by Invincible Entertainment Group, along with most of the Bohbot Entertainment library.[6]

The founders both died in 2020 within three months of each other – Joe Ruby died of natural causes on August 26 at the age of 87 and Ken Spears died of complications from Lewy body dementia on November 6 at age 82.[7][8]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Ruby & Spears : WonderCon 2012". YouTube. 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.) Archived 2020-06-12 at the Wayback Machine". 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.) Archived 2020-09-18 at the Wayback Machine". Stu's Show. Retrieved 03-18-2013.
  4. ^ Jack Kirby's Heroes in Waiting - The New York Times
  5. ^ "Ruby & Spears : WonderCon 2012". YouTube. 10:21
  6. ^ "Invinclible Entertainment TV holdings (including most of the Bohbot Entertainment catalog)". Archived from the original on 2020-10-09. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  7. ^ Saperstein, Pat (August 27, 2020). "Scooby-Doo Co-Creator Joe Ruby Dies at 87". Variety. Retrieved October 21, 2022.
  8. ^ Shafer, Ellise (November 9, 2020). "Ken Spears, Co-Creator of 'Scooby-Doo,' Dies at 82". Variety. Retrieved October 21, 2022.