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Joseph Barbera

Joseph Barbera

Internationally renowned cartoon legend Joseph Barbera has created a famed collection of animated characters unrivaled in the world of television animation. Along with former partner William Hanna, who recently passed, Barbera has created some of the world's most recognizable and beloved characters including Tom and Jerry (for MGM), Huckleberry Hound, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Scooby Doo, Yogi Bear and Jonny Quest among many others.

Interestingly, neither man started out in the field of animation- Hanna was an engineer and Barbera was a banker- but when the two collaborated, the result was nothing short of magical. In 1937, Joe Barbera was hired by MGM as a director and an animator and writer, where Hanna was working as a story editor. Hanna's precise comedic timing and ability to manage top creative talent were the ideal complement to Barbera's strong animation skills and storytelling instincts.

Hanna and Barbera's first collaboration at MGM was Puss Gets The Boot, which introduced audiences to the inimitable Tom and Jerry. The animation team received tremendous acclaim in the 1940's, when their cartoon cat, Tom, and mouse, Jerry, danced alongside Gene Kelly in the motion pictures Anchors Aweigh and Invitation to Dance and alongside Gene Kelly in Dangerous When Wet. Over the years, Tom and Jerry went on to win an incredible seven Academy Awards for the team of Hanna and Barbera during their years at MGM.

Concerned by the advent of television in the mid-50's, MGM eliminated the studio's animation department and, suddenly unemployed, Hanna and Barbera decided to make cartoons directly for the small screen. Instead of viewing television as animation's demise, the team saw it as a window of opportunity for new, original animation and new cartoon starts. In 1957, twenty years after the birth of Tom and Jerry, Hanna-Barbera Productions opened its doors as one of the first independent animation studios to produce series television. Many credit Hanna and Barbera with developing the process (now referred to as limited animation) of producing quality animation in a timely, cost-efficient manner that is still utilized in the field of television animation today.

The fledgling studio's first production was Ruff and Reddy followed by The Huckleberry Hound Show in 1958. The lovable blue canine became an immediate hit and won Hanna-Barbera its first Emmy Award and marked the first time an animated television series had been honored with an Emmy. The studio's next series, Quick Draw McGraw, premiered in 1959 and showcased the lanky, Stetson-wearing horse on two legs, ol' Quick Draw McGraw himself, and introduced America to Jellystone Park's most famous bears, Yogi and Boo Boo, and the mischievous mice, Pixie and Dixie.

Hanna-Barbera made more television history with a cowardly Great Dane named Scooby Doo, a goofy and lovable dog with a unique scratchy voice and foolhardy laugh. Scooby Doo, Where Are You? debuted in 1969 as a Saturday morning cartoon and to this day continues to be one of television's longest-running animated series.

In 1981, Hanna-Barbera developed the phenomenally successful The Smurfs, which won Daytime Emmy Awards in 1982 and 1983 for Outstanding Children's Entertainment Series and a Humanitas Prize (given to projects that best affirm the dignity of the human person) in 1987.

Over the years, the studio has produced many other award-winning programs including: The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible, The Flintstone Kids, Dreamer of Oz, The Last Halloween, The Addams Family and The Halloween Tree.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2004.

Joseph Barbera Facts

Birth NameJoseph Roland Barbera
OccupationAnimator, Creator, Producer
BirthdayMarch 24, 1911
BirthplaceNew York, New York, USA
Date of deathDecember 18, 2006 (age 95)

Selected Filmography

Not available.