|Fate||Closed and consolidated into Hanna-Barbera|
Warner Bros. Animation (pre-1991, except Rambo: The Force of Freedom owned by StudioCanal and It's Punky Brewster owned by NBCUniversal)
Burbank, California, U.S.
Number of locations
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.
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". They were also writers and producers for DePatie–Freleng Enterprises, particularly for The Barkleys and The Houndcats.
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. 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.
Joe Ruby's and Ken Spears' favorite Ruby-Spears-produced show was Thundarr the Barbarian.
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—4 years later—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. As of now, most of the original pre-1991 Ruby-Spears Productions library is now held by Warner Bros., through Hanna-Barbera, Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Bros. Family Entertainment. The only pre-1991 Ruby-Spears Productions library not owned by Warner Bros. is Rambo: The Force of Freedom, which is owned and distributed by StudioCanal which also own and distribute the first three live-action Rambo films.
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.
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.