Scooby-Doo artist Iwao Takamoto dies

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Iwao Takamoto, the Japanese-American animator who created the looks of famed cartoon dog Scooby-Doo, died Monday in a Los Angeles hospital. The 81 year old was at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for a medical checkup when he suffered a massive coronary.

Takamoto was born in Los Angeles in 1925 and was sent to an internment camp during WWII. There, he learned how to draw from his fellow Japanese campmates. Upon his release, he became an apprentice illustrator at Disney. There, he assisted the productions of Cinderella and Peter Pan.

In 1961, Takamoto jumped to a new animation studio formed by ex-MGM animators Joseph Hanna and William Barbera. At Hanna-Barbera, Takamoto designed the entire cast of characters of the long-running animated series Scooby-Doo: Scooby, his hippie master Shaggy, and the Mystery Machine gang Velma, Daphne, and Fred. He also helped create the design for Josie and the Pussycats, The Great Grape Ape Show, Harlem Globe Trotters, and The Secret Squirrel Show.

Takamoto said he drew inspiration from the last line of the Frank Sinatra song "Strangers in the Night" for Scooby's name and came upon the dog's distinctive look by taking the typical Great Dane physique and turning it on its ear.

"I decided to go the opposite and gave him a hump back, bowed legs, big chin, and such," Takamoto said last year. "Even his color is wrong."

In addition to Scooby, Takamoto designed the characters Muttley the dog and Astro the pet on the Jetsons. The Flintstones' nemesis The Great Gazoo was also a Takamoto creation. He also directed the 1973 animated film Charlotte's Web.

Takamoto was a vice president at Warner Bros. Animation and had recently storyboarded a Tom and Jerry cartoon. He had also been involved in creating the characters for the new animated series Krypto the Superdog.

Hanna-Barbera co-founder Joseph Barbera died three weeks ago, on December 17, at the age of 95.

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