How Frank Sinatra’s Comeback Hit Inspired ‘Scooby-Doo’

Frank Sinatra had plenty of influence on music — as well as cartoons about talking dogs. Sinatra’s popularity may have waned somewhat in the 1960s but he had a major comeback hit in 1966. That song helped inspire Scooby-Doo and changed the history of television cartoons forever.

Frank Sinatra wearing a hat
Frank Sinatra | GAB Archive/Redferns

The story behind Frank Sinatra’s comeback hit

First, a little background on Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night.” Sinatra was a traditional pop singer and the advent of rock ‘n’ roll made his music look old-fashioned – to some. Because of this, the 1966 ballad “Strangers in the Night” was a huge triumph for Sinatra. According to the encyclopedia The Italian American Experience, “Strangers in the Night” became his first hit single in 11 years. In a similar vein, the book Frank Sinatra: An Extraordinary Life says the song’s parent album — Strangers in the Night – – was Sinatra’s first No. 1 album in six years.

However, the book Music, Movies, Meanings, and Markets: Cinemajazzamatazz says Sinatra was not a fan of “Strangers in the Night.” During a 1984 live performance, he told the audience he despised the song and he despised it from the moment he heard it. He felt it was one of the worst songs in his catalog. Considering how many albums Sinatra released over his decades-long musical career, that was quite the insult! Regardless of his feelings about “Strangers in the Night,” it remains one of his most popular and enduring ballads.

“Strangers in the Night’ by Frank Sinatra

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How old movies and ‘Strangers in the Night’ inspired ‘Scooby-Doo’

According to American Toons In, Scooby-Doo was not originally going to be the star character of the cartoon that became Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? Fred Silverman, a television executive, envisioned the show as an amalgamation of various sources. Firstly, the show was inspired by old horror-comedies like I Love a Mystery and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

In addition, the show’s lead characters were based on a show called The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Then, Silverman wanted the show to feature a canine secondary character. In America Toons In, David Perlmutter theorizes Silverman wanted the show to have a dog character because the character would be easy to merchandise.

Someone in a Scooby-Doo costume
Scooby-Doo | David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

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Silverman’s idea for the show changed somewhat while he was listening to music during a flight. He heard Frank Sinatra’s hit “Strangers in the Night.” Near the end of the song, Sinatra sings the nonsense phrase “dooby dooby doo.” Silverman misheard the phrase as “scooby dooby doo.” After that, he decided to name the show Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? and centered the show around its canine character.

A Scooby-Doo movie pays homage to Frank Sinatra

There’s a brief homage to the origin of Scooby-Doo’s name in the film Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. In the film, Scooby-Doo and Shaggy briefly perform a duet of “Strangers in the Night.” Their singing certainly isn’t as good as Sinatra’s, but the call-back to the franchises’ beginning is clever.

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