I have soft spot for Great Danes (like Scooby Doo and Astro).  My family has had many, many Danes over the years; they’re wonderful animals.   This story made me sad.

from CNN.com

LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) — Iwao Takamoto, the animator who created the cartoon canine Scooby-Doo as well as characters on such shows as “The Flintstones” and “The Jetsons,” died Monday after suffering a massive coronary, a spokesman said. He was 81.

Takamoto died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he wasscooby.jpg being treated for respiratory problems, said Gary Miereanu, a spokesman for Warner Bros. Animation.

Takamoto designed Scooby-Doo, his equally famished and cowardly master Shaggy, and their pals Velma, Daphne and Fred in the late 1960s while working at the Hanna-Barbera animation studio.

The Great Dane’s name was inspired by an improvised line at the end of Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night.”

He also designed the snickering dog Muttley, who was featured in a number of productions, and Astro, the family dog on “The Jetsons.” For “The Flintstones,” he created the Great Gazoo, a green alien.

muttley.jpgTakamoto’s death comes exactly three weeks after that of Hanna-Barbera co-founder Joseph Barbera, who was 95; his business partner William Hanna died in 2001.

Takamoto, who was born in Los Angeles in 1925, spent part of World War II in an internment camp, where he received some informal illustration training from fellow Japanese-Americans.

astro.gifAfter the war he got a job as an apprentice at Disney Studios, where he worked on such features as “Cinderella” and “Peter Pan.” In 1961, he moved to Hanna-Barbera, now a unit of Time Warner Inc. (CNN is also a unit of Time Warner.)

At the time of his death, Takamoto was a vice president at Warner Bros. Animation. He storyboarded the 2005 Tom and Jerry animation short “The Karateguard,” and helped design many of the characters in the current series “Krypto the Superdog.” He is survived by his wife, Barbara, and two children.