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Monday, December 18, 2006

Joe Barbera dies at 95

Another piece of my childhood has just vanished, along with an amazingly talented man. Joe Barbera has died at the age of 95. Barbera was an animator, cartoon artist, storyboard artist, director, producer and co-founder of Hanna-Barbera. That studio produced cartoon favorites such as Tom and Jerry, The Huckleberry Hound Show, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo and the musical film, Charlotte's Web.

Barbera (originally spelled "Barberá" and pronounced barBERA by colleagues in the "special features" section of the Warner Video Tom and Jerry CD collection) was born in Italy. He started his career as a tailor's delivery boy. During the Great Depression he tried unsuccessfully to become a magazine cartoonist for a magazine called The NY Hits Magazine. In 1932 he joined the Van Beuren Studio as an animator and scriptwriter. He worked on cartoons such as Cubby Bear, and Rainbow Parades and also co produced Tom and Jerry. When Van Beuren closed down, Barbera moved over to the MGM studios.

Lured by a substantive salary increase, Barbera left Terrytoons and New York for the new MGM cartoon unit and California in 1937. The following year he teamed up with William Hanna on Puss Gets the Boot (1940), the first Tom and Jerry film, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best (Cartoon) Short Subject.

Hanna and Barbera's 17-year partnership on the Tom & Jerry series resulted in 7 Academy Awards for Best (Cartoon) Short Subject, and 14 total nominations, more than any other character-based theatrical animated series. Hanna and Barbera were placed in charge of MGM's animation division in late 1955; however this was short-lived as MGM closed the division in 1957. Following this they teamed up to produce the series The Ruff & Reddy Show, under the company name H-B Enterprises, soon changed to Hanna-Barbera Productions.

By the late 1960's, Hanna-Barbera Productions had became the most successful television animation studio in the business, producing hit programs such as The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Jonny Quest, and Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! by the end of the decade.

Hanna-Barbera had been a subsidiary of Taft Broadcasting (later Great American Communications) since 1967. The studio thrived until 1991, when it was sold to Turner Broadcasting. Hanna and Barbera stayed on as advisors and periodically worked on new Hanna-Barbera shows, including the What-a-Cartoon! series.

After Hanna's death in 2001, Barbera had remained active as an executive producer for Warner Bros. Animation on television series such as What's New, Scooby-Doo? and Tom and Jerry Tales. He also wrote, co-storyboarded, co-directed and co-produced the theatrical Tom and Jerry short The Karateguard in 2005, thus returning to his and Hanna's first successful cartoon format. Barbera died of natural causes at home today with his wife at his side.

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Blogger Sewmouse said...

This man brought such joy to my childhood.

Sleep peacefully, Joe. And thank you.

title="comment permalink">December 19, 2006 6:56 AM  
Blogger John Good said...

He left us a lifetime of memories to enjoy over and over again...

title="comment permalink">December 19, 2006 7:32 PM  

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