A lot of the drawings and photos come from Tony’s web site. They’re fabulous. If you haven’t been to Tony’s site, go HERE.
I’ll stand corrected, but I believe Tony got the first Hanna-Barbera writing credit that didn’t belong to Mike Maltese or Warren Foster (Charlie Shows credited was for dialogue).
I was hoping Tony would consent to an interview I could post here about his time at Hanna-Barbera, but he’s saving material for a book. However, he did an interview a couple of years ago with Tee Bosustow (whose father Steve was born in Victoria, B.C., also the one-time home of Verna Felton). Tony started at Disney in August, 1956, moved to UPA at age 21 in 1959 and then on to Hanna-Barbera. He relates how he worked up something with Phil Babbitt, who was also writing at UPA:
He and I submitted a script to Hanna-Barbera, which was just starting on The Flintstones. So, we sold that one. And then they hired me because I could also draw.
So I went to work at Hanna-Barbera with Mike Maltese and Warren Foster. And we were the only writers there for, like, three years. And that was great fun too, because, again, there was no oversight...they wanted to get these pictures out and on the air as quickly as possible. And the networks were not paying a great deal of attention to it, because animation was no big deal, you know, back in 1959 or ‘60. But they were apparently inexpensive compared to their other shows. So we would crank ‘em out as quickly as we can and they pretty much arrived on the air the way we wrote them.
But then, things, of course, changed, and the shows were doing so well, and advertisers got more interested and then, of course, they had a lot of other great ideas to help the shows along. It began to change and then after six years at Hanna-Barbera working on writing, storyboarding, Flintstones, Jetsons, and I would do bridges for some of the other shows—Yogi Bear and Huck—and I also did a lot of scripts for their shorts.
Astro in The Jetsons. Now there was a char[acter]. Now I wrote the first Astro, you know, so I feel in a way that character belongs to me, although I know so many people have claimed credit to creating it, but in the sense that as far as design goes, I’m sure that’s so, but the first story and the character itself...that Astro character looks a lot like Ed Benedict’s style...but Gene Hazelton was involved, and many people had their finger in it, it’s hard to say.
And, no, Tony’s not related to Ed.
‘The Coming of Astro’ was the fourth cartoon in the series and, as Tony mentions, the premiere of my favourite Jetsons character (though Uniblab is a close second). Tony also wrote ‘Millionaire Astro’ where the world learns that the dog’s real name is Tralfaz (Yeccchh). You can read about the likely origin of the word by clicking on THIS blog post.
Tony seems to have been given the thankless job, on his arrival at Hanna-Barbera, of doing something with my least-favourite early Hanna-Barbera character, the woe-is-me, I-don’t-have-a-mamma Yakky Doodle. He’s credited on several of them, including ‘Shrunken Headache’ (“I don’t recognise a face, but the sneer is unforgettable,” the great Fibber Fox says to Chopper). A pretty stellar group of veterans worked on that one, as Carlo and Dick Thomas go back to the ‘30s and Artie Davis to the 1920s (I know nothing about the mysterious Lawrence Goble). Working with that kind of group must have been a bit intimidating to someone in his early 20s. And, of course, guys in the writers room like Foster, Maltese and Lovy had been around animation for a long time, too.
Unfortunately, the Huck shows after season one are not on DVD and television copies of most of the other seasons are absent of any credits, so Tony’s name can’t be found on them.
If you’ve got the right version of Flash player, you can hear the full interview HERE.