Joseph Barbera


Animator, Executive
Joseph Barbera

About

Also Known As
Joseph Roland Barbera, Joe Barbera
Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
Born
March 24, 1911
Died
December 18, 2006
Cause of Death
Natural Causes

Biography

One half of the most celebrated animation-producing duos in history, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera's company, Hanna-Barbera Productions, created some of the best-loved animated television programming of the 20th century and beyond, including "The Huckleberry Hound Show" (syndicated, 1958-1961), "The Yogi Bear Show" (syndicated, 1961-62), "The Flintstones" (ABC, 1960-66), "The Jetsons"...

Family & Companions

Dorothy Earl
Wife
Divorced in 1964.
Sheila Barbera
Wife

Notes

Hanna and Barbera have created such animated programming series as "Ruff and Ready" (1957-60), "Huckleberry Hound" (1958-62), "Pixie and Dixie" (1958-62), "Quick Draw McGraw" (1959-62), "Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy" (1959-62), "Yogi Bear" (1960-62), "Snagglepuss" (1960-62), "The Flintstones" (1960-66), "Top Cat" (1961-62), "The Jetsons" (1962-63, 65-67, 69-76), "Jonny Quest" (1964-65, 67-72), "The Fantastic Four" (1967-70), "Scooby-Doo" (1969-86), "The Superfriends" (1973-83), "Richie Rich" (1980-83), "The Smurfs" (1981-). Beside the "Yogi Bear" and "Flintstones" films mentioned above, the duo's feature-length animated films have also included "Charlotte's Web" (1973) and "Heidi's Song" (1982).

Biography

One half of the most celebrated animation-producing duos in history, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera's company, Hanna-Barbera Productions, created some of the best-loved animated television programming of the 20th century and beyond, including "The Huckleberry Hound Show" (syndicated, 1958-1961), "The Yogi Bear Show" (syndicated, 1961-62), "The Flintstones" (ABC, 1960-66), "The Jetsons" (ABC, 1962-63), "Jonny Quest" (ABC, 1964-65), "Super Friends" (ABC, 1973-1986) and "The Smurfs" (NBC, 1981-89). With Hanna, Barbera began his career with the Oscar-winning Tom and Jerry animated shorts for MGM. When the company shuttered its animation division, the duo launched their own company, striking pay dirt almost immediately with "Huckleberry Hound" and "The Flintstones," their first primetime series. Hanna-Barbera's cartoons, driven largely by bright, simple artwork, clever writing, and memorable characters, led the television animation field until the 1980s, when financial difficulties resulted in their sale to a variety of companies. They rebounded in the 1990s as part of Turner Broadcasting's Cartoon Network, for which they oversaw such cutting-edge cartoons as "The Powerpuff Girls" (1998-2005) before Hanna's death in 2001. Joseph Barbera's vast output of animated fare over the course of his six-decade career contained so many beloved characters and shows that his position as one of the dominant forces in American animation was assured for eternity.

Born Joseph Roland Barbera on March 24, 1911 in New York City, he was the eldest of three sons by barbershop owner Vincent Barbera and his wife, Francesca. His father's gambling habit left the family in dire financial straits, and he abandoned the family during Barbera's teen years. Though he developed a talent for boxing in his teen years, his chief interest was drawing. He began selling cartoons to magazines in the 1930s before taking a job in the ink and paint department of Fleischer Studios. Positions at Van Beuren Studios, where he worked on a cartoon series about a pair of vagrants named "Tom and Jerry, which preceded his tenure at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's cartoon department in 1937. There, he met and forged a close relationship with artist William Hanna, with whom he worked alongside the legendary animation director Tex Avery. In 1940, they jointed directed "Puss Gets the Boot" (1940), which concerned the pursuit of a clever mouse by an energetic if easily foiled cat. The project was nominated for a Best (Cartoon) Short Oscar, which marked the beginning of the long-running and wildly successful Tom and Jerry series.

For the next 17 years, Hanna and Barbera worked almost exclusively on the beloved series, which netted 14 Academy Award nominations and won seven between 1943 and 1952. The characters' popularity also translated into appearances in some of MGM's live-action films, most notably "Anchors Aweigh" (1945) and "Invitation to the Dance" (1955), both with Gene Kelly. Though Hanna and Barbera were the series' creators and chief architects, the shorts were credited to their supervisor, Fred Quimby, who accepted each of its Oscars without inviting the animation pair to the stage. Eventually, Hanna and Barbera would replace Quimby as heads of MGM's animation division. Unfortunately, their ascent preceded the studio'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.

Hanna'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-Barbera'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 Children'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 Barbera's own relationship with Hanna, 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 other'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, Hanna-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 Comics' 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 "Charlotte'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 Filmation'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-Barbera'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 Don't Dance" (1993), were box-office failures, but Hanna-Barbera's product received a sparkling new showcase with The Cartoon Network, which launched in 1992. The company's vast library of animated work was introduced to a whole new audience, while new programming, including "The Powerpuff Girls," "Dexter'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 Hanna's death from throat cancer on March 22, 2001. Barbera would remain a fixture of the company, co-directing and producing the Tom and Jerry short "The Karate Guard" (2005) and penning the story for the feature-length "Tom and Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale" (2007), which marked his final work on the venerable franchise. On Dec. 18, 2006, Barbera died of natural causes at the age of 95. 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 Governor'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 Academy's Hall of Fame Plaza was dedicated to Hanna and Barbera.

By Paul Gaita

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Jetsons: The Movie (1990)
Director
Wild Goes Cuckoo (1989)
Creator
Escape From Grumble Gulch (1983)
Director
The Count of Monte Cristo (1973)
Director
The Man Called Flintstone (1966)
Director
Hey There, It's Yogi Bear (1964)
Director
Good Will to Men (1955)
Director
Baby Butch (1954)
Director
Cruise Cat (Do Not Air) (1951)
Director
Casanova Cat (Do Not Air) (1951)
Director
War Dogs (1943)
Director
The Bowling Alley-Cat (1942)
Director
Officer Pooch (1941)
Director
The Goose Goes South (1941)
Director
Gallopin' Gals (1940)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000)
Voice (Special Appearance)
The Flintstones (1994)
I Yabba Dabba Do (1993)
Voice
MGM: When the Lion Roars (1992)
Tom & Jerry's 50th Birthday Bash (1990)
Himself

Writer (Feature Film)

Jetsons: The Movie (1990)
Characters As Source Material
C.H.O.M.P.S. (1979)
Screenwriter
C.H.O.M.P.S. (1979)
From Story
The Man Called Flintstone (1966)
Addl story material
Hey There, It's Yogi Bear (1964)
Screenwriter
Just a Wolf at Heart (1962)
Characters As Source Material
Life With Loopy (1960)
Characters As Source Material
One Droopy Knight (1957)
Characters As Source Material
Good Will to Men (1955)
Characters As Source Material

Producer (Feature Film)

Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)
Executive Producer
Scooby-Doo (2002)
Executive Producer
The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000)
Executive Producer
Jonny Quest vs. the Cyber Insects (1995)
Executive Producer
The Flintstones (1994)
Executive Producer
A Flintstones Christmas Carol (1994)
Executive Producer
I Yabba Dabba Do (1993)
Executive Producer
Jonny's Golden Quest (1993)
Executive Producer
Jetsons: The Movie (1990)
Producer
Rockin' with Judy Jetson (1988)
Executive Producer
Stone Fox (1987)
Executive Producer
Gobots: Battle of the Rock Lords (1986)
Executive Producer
Heidi's Song (1982)
Producer
Belle Starr (1980)
Executive Producer
Attack of the Phantoms (1980)
Executive Producer
C.H.O.M.P.S. (1979)
Producer
The Gathering, Part II (1979)
Executive Producer
The Beasts Are On The Streets (1978)
Executive Producer
KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978)
Executive Producer
The Gathering (1977)
Executive Producer
Mother, Jugs & Speed (1976)
Executive Producer
Charlotte's Web (1973)
Producer
Shootout In A One Dog Town (1973)
Executive Producer
Hardcase (1972)
Executive Producer
Project X (1968)
Prod of special sequence
Jack and the Beanstalk (1967)
Executive Producer
The Man Called Flintstone (1966)
Producer
Hey There, It's Yogi Bear (1964)
Producer
Just a Wolf at Heart (1962)
Producer
Life With Loopy (1960)
Producer
One Droopy Knight (1957)
Producer
Good Will to Men (1955)
Producer

Music (Feature Film)

Curse of La Llorona (2019)
Song
The Incredibles 2 (2018)
Song
Smurfs: The Lost Village (2017)
Song
Pixels (2015)
Song
The Smurfs 2 (2013)
Song
Dark Shadows (2012)
Song
The Smurfs (2011)
Song
Speed Racer (2008)
Song
Zodiac (2007)
Song
Firewall (2006)
Theme Song
Son of the Mask (2005)
Song
The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000)
Songs ("(Meet) The Flintstones" "Rise And Shine")
The Flintstones (1994)
Song
Crooklyn (1994)
Song
I Yabba Dabba Do (1993)
Theme Music
Jonny's Golden Quest (1993)
Song
Jetsons: The Movie (1990)
Song
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
Song
Bring on the Night (1985)
Song
St. Elmo's Fire (1985)
Song

Visual Effects (Feature Film)

Invitation to the Dance (1956)
Cartoon seq

Animation (Feature Film)

Just a Wolf at Heart (1962)
Animator
Life With Loopy (1960)
Animator
One Droopy Knight (1957)
Animator
Good Will to Men (1955)
Animator
Dangerous When Wet (1953)
<I>Tom and Jerry</I> cartoon seq by

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Jonny Quest vs. the Cyber Insects (1995)
Other
Tom & Jerry: The Movie (1993)
Creative Consultant
Jetsons: The Movie (1990)
Other

Cast (Special)

The 10th Annual Television Academy Hall of Fame (1994)
Hanna-Barbera 50th Anniversary Special (1989)
The 40th Annual Emmy Awards (1988)
Performer

Producer (Special)

Hanna-Barbera 50th Anniversary Special (1989)
Executive Producer
The Great Gilly Hopkins (1981)
Executive Producer
The B.B. Beegle Show (1980)
Executive Producer
The Gymnast (1980)
Executive Producer
The Hanna-Barbera Hall of Fame: Yabba Dabba Doo! II (1979)
Executive Producer
Sergeant T.K. Yu (1979)
Executive Producer
The Funny World of Fred & Bunni (1978)
Executive Producer
It Isn't Easy Being a Teenage Millionaire (1978)
Executive Producer
Crazy Comedy Concert (1974)
Executive Producer

Director (TV Mini-Series)

The Three Musketeers (1973)
Director
The Man Called Flintstone (Do Not Use) (1966)
Director

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

The Flintstones 25th Anniversary Celebration (1986)
Flintstones 25th Anniversary Special (1986)

Writer (TV Mini-Series)

Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders (2000)
Characters As Source Material
Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost (1999)
Characters As Source Material
Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998)
Characters As Source Material

Producer (TV Mini-Series)

Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders (2000)
Executive Producer
Arabian Nights (Do Not Use) (1994)
Executive Producer
Scooby-Doo's Arabian Nights (1994)
Executive Producer
Hagar the Horrible (1990)
Executive Producer
Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf (1989)
Producer
Flintstone Kids: Just Say No (1988)
Executive Producer
'Tis the Season to Be Smurfy (1987)
Executive Producer
The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones (1987)
Executive Producer
Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers (1987)
Executive Producer
Yogi's Great Escape (1987)
Executive Producer
Flintstones 25th Anniversary Special (1986)
Executive Producer
The Flintstones 25th Anniversary Celebration (1986)
Executive Producer
Smurfily Ever After (1985)
Executive Producer
The Secret World of Og (1983)
Executive Producer
The Smurfs Christmas Special (1982)
Executive Producer
Christmas Comes to Pacland (1982)
Executive Producer
Daniel Boone (1981)
Executive Producer
The Popeye Valentine Special: Sweethearts at Sea (1979)
Executive Producer
Casper's First Christmas (1979)
Executive Producer
Yogi's Space Race (1978)
Executive Producer
Cyrano (1974)
Executive Producer
Lost in Space (1973)
Executive Producer
The Three Musketeers (1973)
Producer
Gidget Makes the Wrong Connection (1973)
Executive Producer
Last of the Curlews (1972)
Producer
The Man Called Flintstone (Do Not Use) (1966)
Producer

Music (TV Mini-Series)

Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School (1988)
Song
The Three Musketeers (1973)
Music

Life Events

1937

Signed with MGM as writer; teamed with William Hanna

1940

First venture with Hanna, "Puss Gets the Boot"; nominated for an Academy Award for Best (Cartoon) Short Subject

1955

With Hanna succeeded Fred Quimby as head of MGM cartoon department; MGM closed the division in 1957

1957

Teamed up with William Hanna to produce the series "The Ruff & Reddy Show," under the company name H-B Enterprises, soon changed to Hanna-Barbera Productions

1968

Produced live action feature film, "Project X"

1968

Hanna and Barbera continued to operate studio under agreement with Taft Co.

1988

Taft and the Hanna-Barbera Studio sold to Great American Broadcasting, with Barbera appointed president

1991

Ted Turner announced the signing of definitive agreements for Turner Broadcasting Systems Inc to buy Hanna-Barbera Productions Inc. (and its library of more than 3,000 half-hours of animated programming and more than 350 different series, telefilms and theatrical relases) for $320 million from Great American Communications Co. in November

1994

Inducted into the TV Hall of Fame by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences

2005

Wrote, co-storyboarded, co-directed and co-produced the theatrical Tom and Jerry short "The Karateguard"

Photo Collections

Invitation to the Dance - Lobby Card
Here is a Lobby Card from Invitation to the Dance (1956), starring Gene Kelly. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Family

Vicente Barbera
Father
Barber.
Frances Barbera
Mother
Lynne Meredith Barbera
Daughter
Mother, Dorothy Earl.
Jayne Earl Barbera
Daughter
Mother, Dorothy Earl.
Neal Francis Barbera
Son
Mother, Dorothy Earl.

Companions

Dorothy Earl
Wife
Divorced in 1964.
Sheila Barbera
Wife

Bibliography

Notes

Hanna and Barbera have created such animated programming series as "Ruff and Ready" (1957-60), "Huckleberry Hound" (1958-62), "Pixie and Dixie" (1958-62), "Quick Draw McGraw" (1959-62), "Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy" (1959-62), "Yogi Bear" (1960-62), "Snagglepuss" (1960-62), "The Flintstones" (1960-66), "Top Cat" (1961-62), "The Jetsons" (1962-63, 65-67, 69-76), "Jonny Quest" (1964-65, 67-72), "The Fantastic Four" (1967-70), "Scooby-Doo" (1969-86), "The Superfriends" (1973-83), "Richie Rich" (1980-83), "The Smurfs" (1981-). Beside the "Yogi Bear" and "Flintstones" films mentioned above, the duo's feature-length animated films have also included "Charlotte's Web" (1973) and "Heidi's Song" (1982).