WASHINGTON _ When Scott Innes told his elementary school teachers that one day he would be the voice of Scooby Doo, he wasn't kidding.
“They thought I was totally crazy,” Innes said.
But for the last two years, Innes – now a 33-year-old disk jockey at WYNK in Baton Rouge, La. – has howled the voice of the well-known cartoon pooch on television, in movies and in talking Scooby toys. He does the voices of both Scooby-Doo and his side-kick, Shaggy, in a new Scooby-Doo movie this fall. Oh, and his six-room house is a virtual shrine to Scooby.
“My life,” said Innes, “revolves around this character.”
So why is this grown man obsessed with a cartoon hero who has charmed children for four decades?
Partly, says Innes, it's the result of a childhood fascination with cartoon voices. Partly, it's the thrill of solving mysteries, as Scooby and his gang do. And partly, adds Innes, it's a love of Scooby's greatest fans, the children themselves.
Innes' fixation on Scooby-Doo began in the early 1970s as he was growing up in Poplar Bluff, Mo. On Saturday mornings, like so many other four-year-olds, he would sit in front of the television with a big bowl of cereal watching his favorite cartoon, he recalled. Lying in bed at night, Innes would practice the voices from that day's show.
He was captured, said Innes, by Scooby's all-too-familiar vulnerability – a reluctant hero who overcame his own fears. “Scooby,” said Innes, “represents the coward in all of us.”
The show captivates fans – both young and old – “with a certain timelessness,” Robert Thompson, director for the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University. Scooby-Doo, he says, has well-told stories and a memorable theme song.
For baby boomers especially, said Thompson, “Scooby-Doo has become the national anthem of their childhood.”
For Innes, his life-long fascination with Scooby eventually led him into friendship with Don Messick, who gave Scooby-Doo his voice for 28 years. In a fluke of timing in 1997, Innes was trying to pitch to cartoon-makers Hanna-Barbera a parody of a popular country song based on Scooby. Messick, he discovered, was retiring. Hanna-Barbera needed someone to fill his shoes – Innes tried out and got the job.
His debut as Scooby's voice was a major success in a feature-length Scooby Doo film, “Scooby Doo on Zombie Island.” The movie became the No. 1 children's video in the country.
His second feature-length Scooby Doo movie, “Scooby-Doo and the Witches Ghost,” is scheduled for release on video Oct. 5. The video, by Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. Family Entertainment, marks the show's 30th anniversary.
The movie is “classic Scooby with a 1990s theme,” said Innes. He and Warner Bros. were reluctant to reveal the plot. But Warner Bros. executives say the brainy Velma gets “a love interest.”
Scooby's already played a key role in Innes' love life. When he and his wife Jodie married, they exchanged vows wearing Scooby-Doo T-shirts.
Innes's home also is jammed with jammed with what he describes as the world's largest collection of Scooby-Doo memorabilia: Original lunch pail boxes from the 1970s. Scooby Doo board games. Drinking glasses with scenes from the show. Scooby-Doo Happy Meal toys. Talking cardboard cutouts of Scooby-Doo characters. Scooby-Doo and Shaggy Beanie Babies. Scooby posters and pictures.
“My whole house is decorated in Scooby Doo,” Innes said, “everything from the shower curtain down to the floor mats.”
Maybe, admitted Innes, some of that's a bit much. But he relishes fulfilling his childhood career prediction to be Scooby's voice. “It's been,” he said, “a dream come ‘doo.'”