Iwao Takamoto (April 29, 1925 â€" January 8, 2007) was a Japanese American animator, television producer, and film director. He was most famous as being a production and character designer for Walt Disney Productions films such as Sleeping Beauty, and later at Hanna-Barbera Productions, where he designed the characters for shows such as Scooby-Doo and eventually became a director and producer.

Early life

Iwao Takamoto

Takamoto's father emigrated from Hiroshima 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 in Los Angeles.

Incarceration in Manzanar

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.


Iwao Takamoto

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". 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, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, and The Fox and the Hound.

Leaving Disney (1961)

Takamoto left Disney in 1961 and joined Hanna-Barbera Productions shortly there after. 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.[1]

Tenure at Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros.

Takamoto was Vice-President of Creative Design at Hanna-Barbera, 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.

Personal life

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 forty-four years, until his death in 2007. Barbara had a daughter from a former marriage, Leslie.


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. There was a memorial added to the end of a Scooby-Doo film: 'Chill Out, Scooby-Doo!'.

Takamoto's memoirs were published posthumously in 2009 by University Press of Mississippi under the title Iwao Takamoto: My Life with a Thousand Characters by Iwao Takamoto and Michael Mallory.

An intimate memoir was published posthumously in 2012 by TotalRecall Press under the title Living With A Legend by his stepdaughter, Leslie E. Stern.

See also

Iwao Takamoto
  • Scooby-Doo - television series
  • William Hanna
  • Joseph Barbera


Further reading

  • Takamoto, Iwao. 2009. Iwao Takamoto: My life with a Thousand Characters Jackson. University Press of Mississippi.
  • Stern, Leslie. 2012. Living With A Legend. [2]

External links

Iwao Takamoto
  • Iwao Takamoto at the Internet Movie Database
  • January 1999 interview in ANIMATION BLAST {no longer available}
  • Obituary, The Guardian, 29 January 2007.
  • Iwao Takamoto's Gravesite at Find A Grave

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