Iwao Takamoto

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Iwao Takamoto
Born April 29, 1925
Los Angeles, California, US..
Died January 8, 2007 (aged 81)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Heart attack
Occupation Animator, television producer, film director
Spouse(s) Jane M. (née Shattuck) Baer 1957–1959
Barbara (née Farber) Takamoto 1964–2007 (his death)
Children Michael Takamoto, Leslie Stern

Iwao Takamoto (April 29, 1925 – January 8, 2007) was an American animator, television producer, and film director. He began his career as a production and character designer for Walt Disney Productions films such as Sleeping Beauty, Lady and the Tramp and Cinderella. Later he moved to Hanna-Barbera Productions where he designed a great majority of the characters, including Scooby-Doo and Astro and eventually became a director and producer.

Early life[edit]

Takamoto was Japanese American. His father emigrated from Hiroshima[1] to the United States for his health, and returned to Japan only once, to marry his wife. At 15 years of age, Takamoto graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School[1] in Los Angeles.[2]

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Takamoto's family, like many Japanese Americans, was forced to move to an internment camp. They spent the rest of World War II in the Manzanar internment camp. It was there that Takamoto received basic illustration training from two co-internees.


Takamoto first entered the cartoon world after the end of the war. Without the benefit of a formal portfolio of his work, he created a sketchbook of, by his own admission, "everything I saw".[3] It was based on this sketchbook that he applied to work at the Disney studios.


He was hired as an assistant animator by Walt Disney Studios in 1945. Takamoto eventually became an assistant to Milt Kahl. He worked as an animator and character designer on such titles as Cinderella, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, and One Hundred and One Dalmatians.[4]


Takamoto left Disney in 1961 and joined Hanna-Barbera Productions.[1] He worked in several positions there, but is arguably best known as a character designer. He was responsible for the original character design of such characters as Scooby-Doo, The Jetsons' dog Astro, and Penelope Pitstop. He worked as a producer at Hanna-Barbera, supervising shows such as The Addams Family, Hong Kong Phooey, and Jabberjaw. He directed several feature length animated films, including Charlotte's Web (1973) and Jetsons: The Movie (1990). The inspiration for Scooby-Doo's creation as a Great Dane came from an employee of the Hanna-Barbera company, who bred this dog.[3]

Bill Hanna, Takamoto, a studio employee, and Joe Barbera, July 14, 1996

Takamoto was Vice-President of Creative Design at Hanna-Barbera[1] and was responsible for overseeing H-B's many merchandising lines as well as design work for their Animation Art Dept. In 1996 he received the Winsor McCay Award for lifetime achievement and contributions in the animation field. In 2005 he received the Golden Award from the Animation Guild, to honor his more than 50 years of service in the animation field.

After Time-Warner merged with (then owner of Hanna-Barbera Studios) Turner Broadcasting in 1996, Takamoto became Vice President of Special Projects for Warner Brothers Animation.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Iwao Takamoto married Jane M. (née Shattuck) Baer in 1957. They met at Disney while working on the animated feature Sleeping Beauty and were married for almost seven years. They had one son together, Michael. In 1963 he met Barbara Farber who was the Assistant to the Public Relations Director at Hanna-Barbera, Arnie Carr. Part of her job was studio tours, which was how they met. Takamoto married Barbara 1964 and remained married to her for 44 years, until his death in 2007. Barbara had a daughter from a former marriage, Leslie.[3]


He died on January 8, 2007 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles from a heart attack at age 81. Throughout the week following his death, Adult Swim put up a bumper reading "Iwao Takamoto [1925-2007]". He is buried at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles in Gardens of Blessing, Section 3, Lot 1390, Space 3.[5][6] There was a memorial added to the end of the Scooby-Doo film, Chill Out, Scooby-Doo!.

Awards and legacy[edit]

Takamoto received the Winsor McCay Award, the lifetime achievement award from the International Animated Film Association (ASIFA) Hollywood.[1] He received an honorary citation from the Japanese American National Museum.[1] In 2005, he was given a golden award from the Animation Guild.[1]

Takamoto's memoirs were published posthumously in 2009 by University Press of Mississippi as Iwao Takamoto: My Life with a Thousand Characters by Iwao Takamoto and Michael Mallory. An intimate memoir, Living With A Legend, was published posthumously in 2012 by TotalRecall Press by his stepdaughter, Leslie E. Stern.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Wells, Paul (January 28, 2007). "Iwao Takamoto: Brilliant animator who eased the medium's transition from film to television". The Guardian. Retrieved April 21, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Iwao Takamoto: Biography". IMDb.com. Retrieved 18 April 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d Stewart, Susan (January 10, 2007). "Iwao Takamoto, 81, the Animation Artist Who Created Scooby-Doo, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 April 2013. 
  4. ^ "Iwao Takamoto - Animation Department credits". IMDb.com. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved April 21, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Scooby-Doo designer dies in L.A.". Reuters. 2007-01-09. Retrieved 2007-01-10. 
  6. ^ "Scooby-Doo's creator dies aged 81". BBC News. 2007-01-08. Retrieved 2007-01-10. 

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