Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Master Animator, Joseph Barbera Dies

Joseph Barbera, who, with longtime partner William "Bill'' Hanna, created such beloved cartoon characters as Tom and Jerry, the Flintstones, the Jetsons, Yogi Bear, Scooby-Doo, Huckleberry Hound, Quickdraw McGraw and Jonny Quest, died of natural causes on Monday at his Los Angeles home. He was 95. During the 1940s, Barbera and Hanna were MGM's blue-ribbon cartoon directors, winning seven Oscars for the Tom and Jerry shorts. After MGM closed its animation unit in 1957, they moved to television, where they created a series of prime-time hits in the 1960s, beginning with ``The Flintstones,'' the first animated series in prime time.

In 20th-century animation the names of Joseph Barbera and William Hanna ranked second only to that of Walt Disney in terms of public recognition.
The son of a barber, Joseph Roland Barbera was born in Manhattan in 1911 and grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn. After high school he spent six “dreadful” years as a bank clerk, while drawing cartoons for magazines and studying art in his spare time. He applied for a job with Disney, but did not get an interview. After spells with other studios, including Terrytoons, he joined MGM in 1937 and struck up a partnership with Hanna, who had been with the studio for several years. Barbera published his autobiography, My Life in ’Toons: From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century in 1994. The title was an allusion to the town in which the Flintstones lived.

Despite the alleged creative and technical shortcomings, several generations grew up on Hanna-Barbera cartoons and retained fond memories of them. In more recent times The Flintstones and Scooby-Doo have been turned into big budget, live-action feature films, on which Barbera and Hanna served as executive producers.

Hanna died in 2001. Barbera is survived by his second wife, Sheila Holden, whom he married in 1963, and by their son and two daughters.

A legend just passed away, a huge loss to the industry for sure but the life he led and the immense success, love and adulation he received is a lesson and encouragement in itself. Joe Barbera will always be missed. But the Hanna-Barbera cartoons will continue to entertain us forever.


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Sarah Claus said...

He was truly talent and definitely creative. RIP. He will be deeply missed by many. His work of art lives on.

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