William "Bill" Hanna and Joseph "Joe" Barbera have often been called the fathers of TV animation for their prolific work in the medium and their influence on the generations of animators who came after them. Cartoon classics such as "The Flintstones," "Jonny Quest," "Magilla Gorilla," "Scooby-Doo" and "The Huckleberry Hound Show" — about 300 series for network and syndicated TV — sprang from their imaginative minds during their six-decade partnership.
The two met at MGM in the late '30s, producing animated shorts for the big screen, including "Puss Gets the Boot," an Oscar nominee that was the forerunner of "Tom and Jerry," about a chubby mouse and his hapless feline pursuer. ("Tom and Jerry" eventually won seven Academy Awards and the frenemy cat-and-mouse pair starred alongside Gene Kelly in "Anchors Aweigh" and Esther Williams in "Dangerous When Wet.")
Hanna-Barbera's prehistoric spoof of "The Honeymooners," first called "The Flagstones" and later renamed "The Flintstones," was the first animated show to air during prime time. It became one of only two animated programs to ever be nominated for an Emmy Award for best comedy series.
The duo founded Hanna-Barbera Productions in the '50s specifically to create shows for television. They were groundbreakers in the now-much-copied style dubbed "limited animation," which was quicker and cheaper to produce for the fast-moving new medium. It allowed them to become one of the most prolific TV animation studios, turning out such fare as "Augie Doggie," "Yogi Bear," "Josie and the Pussycats," "The Jetsons" and "Quick Draw McGraw." They also adapted comic books and live-action series and made theatrical features, direct-to-video releases and TV specials.
When the two won the Governors Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in 1988, Barbera explained how they divvied up the labor during their 60-year partnership: "I work on creating the ideas for projects and trying to sell those ideas in the various markets," he said. "Bill oversees the actual production in studios all over the world, which I would hate doing."
And of their friendly rivalry: "When Bill's out of town," he said, joking, "I turn the light out behind his name on the studio sign, but he does the same thing to me when I'm gone, so we stay even."
The partners were an early force in Saturday morning cartoons, creating "The Smurfs," "Space Ghost" and "Scooby-Doo," and saw an entire cable channel, Cartoon Network's Boomerang, devoted to their library. They sold their company in 1967 for $12 million to Taft Entertainment but remained involved in its management. Media mogul Ted Turner later bought the studio, which eventually became part of the Time Warner empire.
In addition to their Oscars, Hanna and Barbera won seven Emmy awards and numerous other TV accolades. There's a 1,200-pound bronze wall sculpture honoring them at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in North Hollywood.
|1955||Best Short Subject - Cartoon||Good Will to Men||Nomination*|
|1957||Best Short Subject - Cartoon||One Droopy Knight||Nomination|