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|Also Known As:||William Denby Hanna, Bill Hanna||Died:||March 22, 2001|
|Born:||July 14, 1910||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Melrose, New Mexico, USA||Profession:||producer, director, executive, animator, composer, lyricist, story editor, screenwriter, structural engineer|
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na-Barbera continued to reign as the dominant producers of TV cartoons in the 1970s. A combination of shows featuring new characters like "Hong Kong Phooey" (ABC, 1974) and "Josie and the Pussycats" (CBS, 1970-72) with established characters from their catalog like "The New Scooby-Doo Movies" (CBS, 1972-74) and new programs featuring characters from the past like "The Tom and Jerry/Grape Ape/Mumbly Show" (ABC, 1975-76), helped to secure their position within the industry. One of their greatest successes of the decade was "Super Friends," which showcased DC Comicsâ¿¿ iconic stable of superheroes, including Superman and Batman.Hanna-Barbera also experimented with theatrical and made-for-TV features during this period, earning hits with the feature-length adaptation of "Charlotteâ¿¿s Web" (1973) and the Emmy-winning ABC drama "The Gathering" (1977). But their grip on the market weakened in the 1980s, due in part to the success of Filmationâ¿¿s "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" (syndicated, 1983-85) and financial difficulties on the part of their parent company, Taft Broadcasting, which had purchased them in 1966. As a result, Hanna-Barbera was forced to outsource much of their animation, which...
na-Barbera continued to reign as the dominant producers of TV cartoons in the 1970s. A combination of shows featuring new characters like "Hong Kong Phooey" (ABC, 1974) and "Josie and the Pussycats" (CBS, 1970-72) with established characters from their catalog like "The New Scooby-Doo Movies" (CBS, 1972-74) and new programs featuring characters from the past like "The Tom and Jerry/Grape Ape/Mumbly Show" (ABC, 1975-76), helped to secure their position within the industry. One of their greatest successes of the decade was "Super Friends," which showcased DC Comicsâ¿¿ iconic stable of superheroes, including Superman and Batman.
Hanna-Barbera also experimented with theatrical and made-for-TV features during this period, earning hits with the feature-length adaptation of "Charlotteâ¿¿s Web" (1973) and the Emmy-winning ABC drama "The Gathering" (1977). But their grip on the market weakened in the 1980s, due in part to the success of Filmationâ¿¿s "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" (syndicated, 1983-85) and financial difficulties on the part of their parent company, Taft Broadcasting, which had purchased them in 1966. As a result, Hanna-Barbera was forced to outsource much of their animation, which affected the quality of their product. They enjoyed some success during this period, most notably with the Emmy-winning "Smurfs," a joint effort with Belgian companies Dupuis Audiovisual and SEPP International S.A. But the end of the decade found the company on the auction block as a result of the debts incurred by Great American Broadcasting, which had purchased Taft Broadcasting in 1987. Most of Hanna-Barberaâ¿¿s animation staff moved to Warner Bros. during this period, leaving the company as a shell of its former self.
In 1991, Turner Broadcasting and the Apollo Investment Fund purchased Hanna-Barbera in a joint venture for $320 million. Former MTV executive Fred Seibert was put in charge of Hanna-Barbera, which soon changed its name to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, with Hanna and Barbera remaining as co-chairmen. Seibert hired a host of up-and-coming animation talent, including Craig McCracken, Seth McFarlane and Genndy Tartakovsky, to produce a slate of new programming, while re-launching established brands like Tom and Jerry and "The Flintstones" in new series. Feature-length versions of "Tom and Jerry" (1993) and a trio of animated films, including "The Pagemaster" (1993) and "Cats Donâ¿¿t Dance" (1993), were box-office failures, but Hanna-Barberaâ¿¿s product received a sparkling new showcase with The Cartoon Network, which launched in 1992. The companyâ¿¿s vast library of animated work was introduced to a whole new audience, while new programming, including "The Powerpuff Girls," "Dexterâ¿¿s Laboratory" (Cartoon Network, 1995-2004) and "Johnny Bravo" (Cartoon Network, 1997-2004) established Hanna-Barbera as a viable production house in the 21st century. New direct-to-video movies featuring Scooby-Doo and revived series for "Jonny Quest" and Tom and Jerry, as well as live-action versions of "The Flintstones (1994) and "Scooby-Doo" (2004) also continued to reach viewers.
In 1996, Hanna-Barbera became part of Time Warner as a result of the merger between the company and Turner Broadcasting. Two years later, their lot on Cahuenga Boulevard in Studio City was closed, and operations were moved to the Warner Bros. Television Animation division in nearby Sherman Oaks. Hanna and Barbera continued to supervise Warner Bros. animated projects until Hannaâ¿¿s death from throat cancer on March 22, 2001. Barbera would remain a fixture of the company until his own death in 2008. At the close of their careers, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera were among the most honored animation producers in Hollywood, with seven Oscars and eight Emmys to their name, as well as a 1960 Golden Globe, the 1988 Governorâ¿¿s Award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and several Annie Awards, among countless other tributes. In 2005, a wall sculpture at the Television Academyâ¿¿s Hall of Fame Plaza was dedicated to Hanna and Barbera.
By Paul Gaitaoâ¿¿s decision to close the department in 1957. MGM had been steadily losing revenue to television, and found that licensing their old material was more cost effective that creating new cartoons. Hanna and Barbera quickly launched their own short-lived company, Shield Productions, with animator Jay Ward, creator of Rocky & Bullwinkle. After this entity folded, Hanna and Barbera launched their own production company, initially called H-B Enterprises, which was soon redubbed Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Hannaâ¿¿s talent for story construction and connections to top artists was key in the creation of their first series, "The Ruff & Reddy Show" (NBC, 1957), which concerned a cat and dog voiced by Daws Butler and Don Messick, who would go on to provide the voices for nearly all of Hanna-Barberaâ¿¿s programs. Though only a modest success, "Ruff & Reddy" proved that Hanna-Barbera could produce quality animation for television on a small budget, and soon led to their first substantial hits, "The Huckleberry Hound Show," which also featured a segment devoted to a scheming bear named Yogi, who starred on his own syndicated series from 1961 to 1962. The program became the first animated series to win an Emmy for Best Childrenâ¿¿s Program in 1959, and was quickly followed by "The Quick Draw McGraw Show" (syndicated, 1959-1961). When Hanna and Barbera discovered that nearly half of the viewing audience for "Huckleberry" was comprised of adults who were drawn to the show by its wry humor, they decided to expand their efforts to a primetime animated series.
The result was "The Flintstones," a parody of "The Honeymooners" (CBS, 1955-56) that concerned the comic adventures of a Stone Age family. A Top 30 hit during its first three seasons on air, it was followed by a futuristic variation on the same premise called "The Jetsons." Both programs proved extremely popular in syndication, while "The Flintstones" would enjoy three decades of spin-offs and theatrical features while reaping considerable financial rewards through numerous product tie-ins and licensing efforts. By the end of the decade, Hanna-Barbera was unquestionably the most prolific and successful television animation studio in the business, with such series as "Top Cat" (ABC, 1961-62), "Wally Gator" (ABC, 1962-63), "Jonny Quest," "Space Ghost" (CBS, 1966-68) and the live-action "Banana Splits Adventure Hour" (NBC, 1968-1970) populating the airwaves. One of their most enduring characters, the mystery-solving Great Dane Scooby-Doo, would premiere during this period with "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!" (CBS, 1969-1972), and like "The Flintstones," would be revived in various iterations over the next three decades.
These and other Hanna-Barbera series followed a basic story formula that revolved around a close partnership between two or more friends, often with divergent personalities, as seen in the relationships between Yogi Bear and Boo Boo, Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, Scooby-Doo and Shaggy and countless others. The friendship (or friendly competition) between the characters was seen as reflective of Hannaâ¿¿s own relationship with Barbera, which remained close and unchanged for nearly six decades. Part of the reason for their successful collaboration was due to the fact that both men rarely socialized with each other outside of their work; Hanna preferred the company of other animators and loved the outdoors, while Barbera could be frequently seen with other celebrities at fine restaurants or upscale locations. Regardless of their different interests, both men worked together in harmony, complementing each otherâ¿¿s strengths while balancing their respective weaknesses. Their compatibility was often seen as the key to the longevity of their business. Despite stiff competition from other television animation companies like Filmation, Rankin-Bass and Ruby-Spears, Han
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About his relationship with Joseph Barbera: "One thing that has probably kept us together is that, while we work very closely here at the studio, his outside interests are entirely different from mine, and we never see each other socially. We have had strictly a business relationship all along.
"When Joe and I did the Tom and Jerry cartoons at MGM, Joe did all the drawing, and I did all the timing and directing. We'd sit across a big desk and together we'd develop all the material ... My talent, I believe, has been in organization. I'm still directing pictures, but I'm also directing the work of other people. And I also spend a lot of time with the writers. My own efforts have always been in writing: I have written the main titles and lyrics for over one hundred series." --William Hanna, in "Cartoons Today"
"As it is now, we're turning out eight half-hour shows a week. One person works on more footage per day than all of us combined used to. Back in the Tom and Jerry days, I personally did a minute and a half of film a week; now I do as much as thirty-five minutes a week. So you can see the quantity produced is much greater today. The economics has a lot to do with it, of course. The economics of TV dictates the quality. I think we do a fair job on character design and we do a good job on voice casting and in backgrounds, but we fall short in actual animation. It is unfortunate that more money cannot be spent on animation. The cost per foot of Tom and Jerry-type animation would be prohibitive, even for theatrical shorts. I think that to achieve the same standards today, a six-minute Tom and Jerry would cost in the area of $100,000. They only cost $30,000 to make in the forties." --Wiliam Hanna, in "Cartoons Today"
"In the early days, I had bar sheets. Did you ever see those? I had [music] bar sheets and I would set established tempos--2/10 frame beats to the bar, 2/12, 2/14. Whatever the click was ... The reason ours [characters] worked so well with the music is because we had bar sheets there and would establish a tempo that would suit a chase, or a spooky scene, or whatever it was and you'd establish that tempo and record it to that ... For me it was a godsend. The music that I had studied." --Hanna quoted in THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER 1994 ANIMATION SPECIAL ISSUE
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