HANNA, WILLIAM, AND JOSEPH BARBERA

U.S. Television Animators

The joint efforts of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera have had a powerful and lasting impact on television animation. Since the late 1950s, Hanna-Barbera programs have been a staple of television entertainment. Furthermore, a great many of the characters originally created by Hanna and Barbera for the small screen have crossed the boundaries into film, books, toys, and all manner of other media, becoming virtually ubiquitous as cultural icons.

The careers of comedy writer Bill Hanna and cartoonist Joe Barbera merged in 1940, when both were working in the Cartoon Department at MGM Studios. Their first joint effort was a Tom and Jerry cartoon entitled, Puss Gets the Boot (1940). Dozens of Tom and Jerry episodes were to follow. When the studio closed its cartoon unit, nearly two decades after Hanna and Barbera began working at MGM, the two decided to try their collaborative hand at creating material for television. In 1957, already having gained a solid reputation as animators working in film, the pair successfully approached Columbia's Screen Gems television studio with a storyboard for Ruff and Reddy, a cartoon tale about two pals--a dog and a cat.

The ensuing success of Ruff and Reddy as wrap-around segments for recycled movie cartoons (including Tom and Jerry) proved to be the beginning of a lengthy career in television animation. In late 1958, Hanna and Barbera launched Huckleberry Hound, the first cartoon series to receive an Emmy award. This half-hour syndicated program featured, in addition to the title character, such cartoon favorites as Yogi Bear, Pixie and Dixie, Augie Doggie, and Quick Draw McGraw. This latter character, like numerous others who began their "careers" in one Hanna-Barbera creation, went on to an enormously successful series of his own.

In 1960, when a survey revealed that more than half of Huckleberry Hound's audience was comprised of adults, Hanna and Barbera turned their efforts toward creating a cartoon for prime time. The result was The Flintstones, a series that drew on and parodied conventions of popular live-action domestic sitcoms--most specifically in this case Jackie Gleason's The Honeymooners. The comical premise of a "typical" suburban family living in a cartoon "Stone Age," with home appliances represented as talking animals and frequent celebrity guest stars (authentic voices with caricatured bodies) enabled The Flintstones to attract both child and adult audiences during its initial run on ABC (1960-66). The Jetsons, a "space-age" counterpart to The Flintstones, joined its predecessor in prime time in 1962.

Unlike The Flintstones, The Jetsons would last only one season in ABC's evening schedule. However, in the late 1960s both programs became extremely popular in Saturday morning cartoon line-ups and subsequently in syndication. The programs were so successful as reruns that in the 1980s, 51 new episodes of The Jetsons were produced, as were TV specials and movies based on both The Flintstones and The Jetsons. Flintstones spin-off series for children--including Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm (1971-72 and 1975-76), The Flintstones Comedy Hour (1972-74), and The Flintstones Kids (1986-90)--also have appeared since the original series ceased production.

Other popular Hanna-Barbera series have included children's cartoons such as Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? (1969, plus a number of subsequent Scooby-Doo series), The Smurfs--a concept based on a Belgian cartoon series and first brought to Hanna-Barbera by network executive Fred Silverman (1981), Pac-Man (1982), Pound Puppies (1986), and Captain Planet (1994). As of the 1990s, Hanna-Barbera Productions, now a subsidiary of Turner Broadcasting System, boasts a library of several thousand cartoon episodes. Hanna-Barbera fare accounts for the bulk of the programming on Turner's Cartoon Network cable service. Since the 1970s Hanna-Barbera has produced, in addition to the cartoons, a number of films and specials for television including The Gathering (1977), The Stone Fox (1987), and Going Bananas (1984), as well as live-action feature films including The Jetsons: The Movie (1990), The Pagemaster (1994) and The Flintstones (1994).

The long and productive partnership between William Hanna and Joseph Barbera has yielded some of television's most successful and enduring programs. Cartoon series such as The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and Huckleberry Hound are as popular with audiences today as they were when first shown. While this is evidence of the timeless entertainment value of animated programming, it also reflects the astute business sense of Hanna and Barbera and their ability to recognize trends in the entertainment industry.

After decades of exposure to audiences worldwide, many individual Hanna-Barbera animated characters have become so familiar to audiences that they have transcended their original program contexts to some extent. An obvious example is the Flintstones characters--which have achieved international recognition through television series, specials, theatrical film, and their display on every imaginable consumer product (most licensed by Hanna-Barbera).

-Megan Mullen

WILLIAM DENBY HANNA. Born in Melrose, New Mexico, U.S.A, 14 July 1910. Studied journalism and engineering. Married: Violet Wogatzke, 1936; children: David William and Bonnie Jean. Engineer, California, 1931; story editor and assistant to Harman-Ising unit, Warner Brothers, 1933-37; director and story editor (Joseph Barbera was hired a few weeks later), MGM Studios, 1937; director, first animated film Blue Monday, 1938; began collaborating with Barbera as directors of animated shorts for Warners, making primarily Tom and Jerry shorts, 1940; co-head, with Barbera, Animation Department, 1955-57; co-founded Hanna-Barbera Productions, 1957, which, in 1960, produced the first-ever animated prime-time show, with half-hour storyline, The Flintstones, which aired from 1960-66; executive producer, Once Upon a Forest, a 20th Century Fox release, 1993; directed the ABC specials I Yabba Dabba Do and Hollyrock-A-Bye Baby; executive producer, The Flintstones movie, 1994; director (his first solo directorial effort since 1941), Cartoon Network's World Premiere Toons project of the original cartoon short Hard Luck Duck, 1995. Charter member, Boy Scouts of America. Recipient: seven Oscars; eight Emmy Awards; Governor's Award, Television Arts and Sciences; Hollywood Walk of Fame Star, 1976; Golden IKE Award, Pacific Pioneers in Broadcasting, 1983; Pioneer Award, BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.), 1987; Iris Award-NATPE Men of the Year, 1988; Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association Award for Lifetime Achievement, 1988; Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Governors Award, 1988; Jackie Coogan Award for Outstanding Contribution to Youth through Entertainment Youth in Film, 1988; Frederic W. Ziv Award for Outstanding Achievement in Telecommunications, Broadcasting Division, College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, 1989; Elected to Television Academy Hall of Fame, 1991.Address: Hanna-Barbera, Inc., 3400 Cahuenga Boulevard, Hollywood, California, 90068-1376, U.S.A.

JOSEPH BARBERA. Born in New York City, New York, U.S.A., 1911. Attended American Institute of Banking. Children from first marriage: Jayne, Neal, and Lynn; married: Sheila. Banker, Irving Trust, New York City; changed career path after he sold drawing to Collier's magazine to earn extra money; sketch artist and storyboard writer, Van Buren Studio; animator, Terrytoons; moved from New York to Hollywood, 1937, and worked in animation department, MGM Studios, where he met William Hanna; started working with Hanna on their first collaboration, the cartoon Puss Gets the Boot, which led to the Tom and Jerry shorts; continued collaborating with Hanna as directors of animated shorts for Warners; co-head, MGM cartoon department, 1955-57; co-founded Hanna-Barbera Productions, 1957, which began to make cartoons directly for the small screen, launched its first production, Ruff and Reddy, 1957, and produced the first-ever animated prime-time family sitcom show, with half-hour storyline, The Flintstones, which aired from 1960-66; creative consultant for animated feature film Tom and Jerry-The Movie; producer and executive producer for the syndicated Hanna-Barbera/Fox Children's Network show Tom and Jerry Kids; directed the Flintstones snorkassaurus Dino in two shorts, Stay Out and The Great Egg-Scape, for the World Premier Toons project (48 seven-minute cartoon shorts), which began airing on Cartoon Network in 1995. Recipient:seven Oscars; eight Emmy Awards; Hollywood Walk of Fame Star, 1976; Golden IKE Award, Pacific Pioneers in Broadcasting, 1983; Pioneer Award, BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.), 1987; Iris Award-NATPE Men of the Year, 1988; Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association Award for Lifetime Achievement, 1988; Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Governors Award, 1988; Jackie Coogan Award for Outstanding Contribution to Youth through Entertainment Youth in Film, 1988; Frederic W. Ziv Award for Outstanding Achievement in Telecommunications, Broadcasting Division, College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, 1989; elected to Television Academy Hall of Fame, 1991. Address: Hanna-Barbera, Inc., 3400 Cahuenga Boulevard, Hollywood, California, 90068-1376, U.S.A.

TELEVISION SERIES (selection)

1957-60 Ruff and Reddy
1958-62 Huckleberry Hound
1959-62 Quick Draw McGraw
1960-66 The Flintstones
1960-62 Snagglepuss
1961-63 The Yogi Bear Show
1961-72 Top Cat
1962-63 The Jetsons
1964-65 Jonny Quest
1967-70 Fantastic Four
1969-93 Scooby Doo
1971-72; 75-76 Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm
1972-74 The Flintstones Comedy Hour
1973-75 Yogi's Gang
1973-86 Superfriends
1978-79 The New Fantastic Four
1981-90 The Smurfs (co-production with Sepp Int.) 1982-84 Pac-Man
1985     The Jetsons
1985     Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera
1986     Foofur
1986     Pound Puppies
1986-90 The Flintstone Kids
1986      Wildfire
1987      Snorks
1987      Sky Commanders
1987      Popeye and Son
1993      Captain Planet
1994      The New Adventures of Captain Planet

MADE-FOR-TELEVISION MOVIES

1977 The Gathering
1979 The Gathering, Part II
1984 Going Bananas
1987 The Stone Fox

TELEVISION ANIMATED SPECIALS (selection)

1966 Alice in Wonderland
1967 Jack and the Beanstalk
1972 The Last of the Curlews
1974 The Runaways
1974 Cyrano
1979 Caspar's First Christmas
1979 The Popeye Valentine Special: Sweethearts at         Sea
1982 My Smurfy Valentine
1982 Yogi Bear's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper 1985 Smurfily-Ever-After
1986 The Flintstones' 25th Anniversary Celebration 1989 Hagar the Horrible
1993 I Yabba-Dabba Do!

TELEVISION SPECIALS

1974 The Crazy Comedy Concert
1975 Yabaa Dabba Doo! The Happy World of         Hanna- Barbera (documentary, with Marshall         Flaum)
1979 Yabba Dabba Doo! (documentary, with Robert Guenette

FILMS

Blue Monday, 1938; Anchors Aweigh, 1945; Holiday in Mexico, 1946; Neptune's Daughter, 1949; Dangerous When Wet, 1952; Invitation to Dance, 1956; Hey There, It's Yogi Bear, 1964; A Man Called Flintstone, 1966; Project X, 1967; Charlotte's Web, 1973; Heidi's Song, 1982; Gobots: Battle of the Rock Lords, 1986; Jetsons: The Movie, 1990; The Pagemaster, 1994; The Flintstones, 1994.

FURTHER READING

Barbera, Joseph. My Life in "Toons": From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century. Atlanta, Georgia: Turner Publishing, 1994.

Cawley, John, and Jim Korkis. Cartoon Superstars. Las Vegas, Nevada: Pioneer, 1990.

Erickson, Hal. Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949-1993. Jefferson City, North Carolina: McFarland, 1995.

Gelman, Morrie. "Hanna & Barbera: After 50 Years, Opposites Still Attract." Variety (Los Angeles), 12 July 1989.

Hanna, William, and Joseph Barbera, with Ted Sennett. The Art of Hanna-Barbera: Fifty Years of Creativity. New York: Viking Studio Books, 1989.

Maltin, Leonard. Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons. New York: New American Library, 1987.

 

See also Cartoons; Children and Television; Flintstones; Honeymooners