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If you grew up in the '70s or '80s, it's likely that you used to watch the Saturday morning cartoon, Scooby-Doo. But, have you ever wondered where the cast of characters came from? In case you haven't heard, rumors have been swirling around the cartoon hit since its inception. In fact, it is commonly reported that characters of Scooby-Doo were created in homage to five Massachusetts area colleges. The Five College Consortium in question is comprised of four liberal arts colleges and one university.
The Scooby-Doo Characters
According to the legend, each Scooby-Doo character was originally based on a stereotypical student from each of the schools in the consortium. Daphne, who always wore designer clothing and projected the image of an upper-class social climber, was reportedly meant to embody the students of Mount Holyoke. Velma, who portrayed a homely feminist, is thought to represent Smith College due to her superior intelligence and independence.
Fred, who plays the stereotypical jock, is a dead ringer for an Amherst student due to his preppy appearance and straight-laced demeanor, and Shaggy is the perfect Hampshire scholar due to his exceedingly liberal persona. That only leaves Scooby-Doo himself, who is said to line up perfectly with the University of Massachusetts Amherst's reputation for possessing a party atmosphere.
Is the Legend Real?
It is true that the characters from Scooby-Doo do embody some of the stereotypical characteristics of students from the five college consortium. However, any similarities are only by chance. Despite frequent speculation, it's been proven that that the rumors are merely fiction. Iwao Takamoto, the designer of the Scooby-Doo characters dispelled the myth in an interview. "While I hate to affect the regional pride of these Bostonians, I have to say that there is no truth to it," said Takamoto. "What the proud people of Beantown seem to recognize is a deliberate plan to give each kid a kind of archetypal universality."
Another fact disproving the rumors is that Amherst College didn't actually open until 1970. Since Scooby-Doo first aired in 1969, it would be impossible for one of the characters to be based on a student that didn't yet exist.
What is the Five College Consortium?
Although Scooby-Doo's characters weren't actually based on students from Massachusetts area schools, the five college consortium does actually exist. The five colleges, which are located in the same geographic region, operate independently but choose to pool their resources when it is mutually beneficial. They also founded the Five College Radio Astronomy Observatory and operate WFCR, which is commonly referred to as Five College Radio. Students are also encouraged to take classes at the other schools in the consortium, and the schools often combine students for their academic programs.
Five College Consortium, "Five College Consortium," 2012, https://www.fivecolleges.edu/
Yahoo Voices, "Scooby-Doo and the Mystery of the Five College Character Archetypes," February 25, 2011, Alix Dufresne, http://voices.yahoo.com/scooby-doo-mystery-five-college-character-7877962.html?cat=7
Snopes, "Scooby-Doo, What is You?" May 22, 2006, http://www.snopes.com/radiotv/tv/scoobydoo.asp
The Learning Channel, "Ultimate Guide to Scooby-Doo," Michael Mallory, http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/how-scooby-works4.htm