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Ruby-Spears cartoons

Discussion in 'Hanna-Barbera' started by artytoons, Aug 12, 2014.

  1. artytoons

    artytoons Administrator I SUPPORT BCDB! Forum Member New Member

    Nov 5, 2013
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    Technically, the Ruby-Spears studio was independent from Hanna-Barbera Productions but Time-Warner had released several Ruby-Spears series on DVD ("Dragon's Lair", "Thundarr the Barbarian", "Mr. T") as part of the "Hanna-Barbera" Classics Collection. Ruby-Spears was owned by Filmways from its 1978 start to 1980 and then they were sold to Taft Broadcasting in 1981, which also owned Hanna-Barbera Productions.

    Ruby-Spears and Hanna-Barbera participated in joint productions of three cartoon series...the animated adaptation of "Mork and Mindy" with Robin Williams and Pam Dawber , episodes of "Scooby Doo" and "Yabba Doo" from 1982-1983, and "Dink The Little Dinosaur" from 1989 to 1991. Some Hanna-Barbera and Ruby-Spears shows were combined in the same hour block on ABC such as H-B's "Scooby Doo"/R-S's Puppy's New Adventures" and H-B's "Pac-Man"/R-S's "Rubik the Amazing Cube." Ruby-Spears animated a solo "Superman" cartoon series in 1988, years after Hanna-Barbera's "Super Friends" ended its long run with Superman as part of the team. "Super Friends" narrator William Woodson performed the opening narration for Ruby-Spears' "Superman" series but Hanna-Barbera was not involved in the production.

    Ted Turner purchased the Hanna-Barbera program library in 1991 from Taft Broadcasting which included Ruby-Spears 'cartoons produced up to 1991. Time-Warner bought Turner Broadcasting in 1996 and is the current owner of the Ruby-Spears shows in the Turner acquisition. The Ruby-Spears shows produced after 1991 are not included in the Time-Warner assets.

    Joe Ruby and Ken Spears worked for Hanna-Barbera in the 1960s and 1970s as story writers and editors. They excelled in writing superhero and dramatic adventure cartoons such as "Space Ghost" and "The Herculoids." Ruby and Spears created "Scooby Doo", "Dynomutt", and "Jabberjaw" and developed "Josie and the Pussycats" for television for Hanna-Barbera. Ruby and Spears also wrote scripts for DePatie-Freleng and created "The Barkleys", "The Houndcats", and "Bailey's Comets" for that studio and wrote scripts for the live-action Sid and Marty Krofft series and creating "Wonderbug", "Electra Woman and Dyna-Girl", and "Bigfoot and Wild Boy". Ruby and Spears left Hanna-Barbera to start their own animation studio in 1978 with their first series being "Fangface".

    The studios used many of the same staffers , particularly animation director Charles A. Nichols and character designer Jerry Eisenberg, and their tv cartoons had the same animation style, sound effects, and voice acting talents. Dean Elliott usually composed the music for Ruby-Spears shows with Paul DeKorte splitting time between Hanna-Barbera and Ruby-Spears as music editor for various series.

    From Wikipedia:

    Television series
    Television films and specials
    The Puppy series for the ABC Weekend Specials
    • The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy (1978)
    • The Puppy's Great Adventure (1979)
    • The Puppy's Amazing Rescue (1980)
    • The Puppy Saves the Circus (1981)
    Miss Switch series for the ABC Weekend Specials
    Rose Petal Place series syndicated
    Other standalone specials[edit]
    Thoughts and memories and favorite shows you have?
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2015
  2. emeraldisle

    emeraldisle Moderator Staff Member I SUPPORT BCDB!

    Nov 3, 2013
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    Well, if you really want to know.....

    "ABC Weekend Specials." Each of the cartoons Ruby-Spears produced for this series was outstanding in its own little way.

    "Fangface." This show, which had four teenagers contending with villains and monsters wasn't just another Scooby clone. I mean, the episodes had a scientist capable of turning himself into a monster with a machine, a swami with mind control powers, and a villain who revived a dinosaur among other adversaries. Although Puggsy regarded Sherman/Fangface as just another dumb kid, he actually knew when he was in danger, and never, ever, mistook a bad guy for a friend. That was reason enough to like this series, and its spinoff, "Fangface And Fangpuss."

    "The Plastic Man Comedy Adventure Show." After his very brief guest spot on the first season of "Superfriends," Plas got his own show. He, Penny, and Hula Hula went after such unusual foes as Disco Mummy and The Clam. It did have its moments, but I considered Hula-Hula excess baggage. Plas and Penny would have done very well by themselves. A year later, this unlikely couple were married, and the parents of Baby Plas. I didn't get into that spinoff.

    "Rickety Rocket." I didn't see this until it went into syndication with other RS productions hosted by a live action Plastic Man. Even then, I didn't really care for it.

    "Mighty Man And Yukk." Another man and dog superhero team, but this was too much. At least I was spared the fate of seeing Yukk's hideous face.

    "Thundarr The Barbarian." At last, I thought, RS is finally producing something that isn't totally silly. And it wasn't. The adventures of Thundarr, Princess Ariel, and Ookla the Mok provided edge of your seat suspense that the previous shows lacked.

    "Heathcliff And Dingbat/Heathcliff And Marmaduke." Never saw either of these.

    "Goldie Gold And Action Jack." This had brilliantly animated and well-written episodes. Too bad it only lasted a year.

    "The Puppy's New Adventures/Further Adventures." I was glad to see Petey finally get his own animated series. Best of all, he and his friends were finally reunited with Tommy and his parents. And Glyder also made this series memorable, even if he wasn't in every episode.

    "Saturday Supercade." I was never a true video game junkie, aside from Pac-Man. So I only caught brief glimpses here and there.

    "Alvin And The Chipmunks." This was way better than the cartoons of the early '60's. Alvin, Simon, Theodore, plus the Chippettes, were now singing their own versions of classic '80's songs, and even a few oldies. These renditions were superb. Plus, the Chippettes back story was cool. Miss Grudge and Eva were very convincing villainesses, and the trio's ability to get their big break was not easily forgotten.

    "Mr. T." Ah, the pity-fooling big man himself. His gymnastics team always learned something, and the live action segments that opened and closed the episodes were enough to make kids sit up and take notice.

    "Turbo Teen." Ok, this one was way out of line. A teen combing with his car following a lab accident? And needing heat to become the car, and cold to revert to normal? I was not at all thrilled by it.

    "It's Punky Brewster." Amusing and entertaining.

    "Lazer Tag Academy." This was the last Ruby-Spears production I ever saw on Saturday mornings. But it was everything I ever wanted in a sci-fi/adventure cartoon.

    I never saw anything from this studio after 1987. "Wild West Cowboys Of Moo Mesa" doesn't count, since I only saw the Gunther-Wahl episodes.
  3. artytoons

    artytoons Administrator I SUPPORT BCDB! Forum Member New Member

    Nov 5, 2013
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    My favorite Ruby-Spears show was "Thundarr the Barbarian" with great action and memorable characters. Thundarr was a barbarian and prone to act impulsively as an instant but he was also a humanitarian in sparing the lives of some evil-doers and letting justice take its course. Ariel (voice of Nellie Bellflower) was great-looking and smart in educating Thundarr (Bob Ridgley) and Ookla (Henry Corden) on good behavior and the historical significance of the remnants of the now-destroyed landmarks and various mechanical objects across the world. Deserved a longer run than 21 episodes.

    The comic book "Plastic Man" had a bumbling friend/sidekick named Woozy Winks instead of Hula Hula but Woozy never appeared in the cartoons. Amusing. Reruns of "The Plastic Man Comedy-Adventure Show" plus episodes of "Heathcliff and Dingbat", and "Heathcliff and Marmaduke" were syndicated for weekday afternoon broadcasts in the mid 1980s with Taylor Marks playing a live-action Plastic Man introducing the cartoons in newly filmed wraparound segments.

    For Plastic Man's "Super Friends" cameo, Norman Alden (Aquaman's voice) played Plas.

    "Mighty Man and Yukk" followed the "Dynomutt" formula with Frank Welker using the same Dynomutt voice as Yukk, Mighty Man/Blue Falcon were millionaires in their alter ego life, and Yukk/Dynomutt messing things up to let the gimmicky costumed crooks get away in the middle of the story but regrouping and defeating the bad guys at the end.

    "Goldie Gold" was a play of words on Hanna-Barbera's popular "Richie Rich" cartoons with Goldie being the world's richest girl. Goldie (voiced by Judy Strangis) usually trekked around the world to get stories for her "Gold Street Journal" newspaper with ace reporter/boyfriend Action Jack (Sonny Melendrez).

    "Saturday Supercade" and "Dragon's Lair" (separate show from "Supercade") were fun in bringing video game characters to cartoon form in weekly comical stories...the stories were a lot better than "Pac-Man."
    Ruby-Spears used the model sheets from Don Bluth's fully-animated laserdisc video games "Dragon's Lair" and "Space Ace" to render the characters and stories faithful to the original video game plots. San Francisco-based stand-up comedian and radio commercial voice Bob Sarlatte played the voice of Frogger in Supercade's "Frogger" and Dirk the Daring in tv's "Dragon's Lair". "Dragon's Lair" pre-dated Kenny of "South Park" in have regular character Dirk the Daring "die" in every episode when the story narrator (Clive Revill) asked the viewer what would they do to get Dirk out of a dangerous situation...the wrong choices would be shown with Dirk, and occasionally Squire Timothy (Michael Mish, later the voice of "Turbo Teen") and Princess Daphne (Ellen Gerstell), hilariously getting killed off onscreen. Arthur Burghardt played the voices of the main villains in both "Dragon's Lair" and "Space Ace" as Singe the dragon and Borf the alien nemesis respectively. Nancy Cartwright played the voice of Kimberly, Jim Piper played Space Ace, and Sparky Marcus as the Infanto Ray-zapped Dexter in the "Space Ace" segments. Soupy Sales grunted as Donkey Kong's voice. Peter Cullen played Mario's voice in the "Supercade" series...Mario would later be animated by DIC for his own "Super Mario Brothers Super Show" and "Super Mario 3" series with wrestler Captain Lou Albano playing Mario in live action and voicing him in cartoon form.

    "Heathcliff/Dingbat/Marmaduke" had Mel Blanc playing Heathcliff, Spike, and various characters, June Foray as Sonya, Crazy Shirley, and Iggy, and Henry Corden playing various male characters. Mel Blanc would reprise Heathcliff's voice for DIC's 1984 weekday version paired with "The Catillac Cats" (Riff Raff, Cleo, Wordsworth, Hector, and Mungo).

    "Alvin and The Chipmunks" had a long NBC run and The Chipmunks and Chipettes performed many popular songs of the day. Ross Bagdasarian Jr (the son of the original creator and voice of the 1960s Chipmunks and Dave Seville) played the Chipmunks and Dave and Janice Karman (Ross Jr's wife) played the Chipettes. Ross Sr. died in 1975 at age 50. This version of Dave seemed too nice in his voice to get angry at Alvin, Simon and Theodore while the original 1960's Dave's temper really sounded convincing. Interesting and touching stories and songs...better than the live action movies, although the 1960s series seemed more funnier.

    "The Puppy's Further Adventures"...for an ongoing quest show (Petey the pup and his stray canine pals Dash, Duke, Lucky, and Dolly searching all over the world for Petey's master, Tommy) finally reaching a wrap-up during the run of the show (Petey being reunited with Tommy and Tommy's family adopting the other dogs) should earn some kind of accolade. Adventuresome and heart-rending at times.

    "Mr. T"...totally performing with conviction in cartoon form as in live-action. Phil Lamarr played Woody in the series...he later was the voice of Green Lantern/John Stewart in the "Justice League"" series, and Wilt in "Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends". In live action, Lamarr played the ill-fated Marvin in the film "Pulp Fiction".

    "Turbo Teen" had 3-D segments within the stories...a symbol flashing on screen would tell the viewers to put on 3-d glasses during some action scenes or to take off the glasses when the action is over. Strange premise but the later 1990s era "Ranma 1/2" anime would copy the premise with cold and hot water transforming various characters into animal forms or in Ranma Saotome's case, switching genders, for a long 170-plus episode tv and original video run.

    The "Rambo" weekday series re-used the Sylvester Stallone "First Blood/Rambo" movie soundtrack music composed by Jerry Goldsmith and had Neil Ross playing the voice of Rambo and Alan Oppenheimer playing the voice of Colonel Trautman. James Avery, later starring in "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" , played the voice of mechanical expert Turbo. Michael Ansara played regular bad guy General Warhawk. Lots of automatic weapons' bullets being fired on most episodes but Rambo's "Force of Freedom" team and General Warhawk's "S.A.V.A.G.E." bad guys never seemed to seriously injure each other. Sort of a lower-level "GI Joe" concept clone.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2015
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  4. MattPriceTime

    MattPriceTime Intern Forum Member New Member

    Jun 11, 2014
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    Been awhile since i added more posts here, but in the opening it might be helpful to include that in that purchasing the Ruby Spears library was also legally merged into the Hanna Barbera library. They have seemingly stopped giving them the "Hanna Barbera Classics Collection" packaging but a look on the back of the Centurions and Heathcliff DVDs lists Hanna Barbera as their owner.

    Also there's a cool cell from the 80s with characters from both side by side. And while i've never seen any others, I heard there are possibly others? Anyone got any more on that or is that a wishful bluff?

    I'll comment on their individual shows later, and mostly if asked I consider them Hanna Barbera's adopted or god children. Since after the Turner buyout it's practically like they go adopted into the library, and since most of their style and talent brewing coming from the already established at their previous workplace, they fit well.

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