Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Jerry Hathcock

Hanna-Barbera kept adding to its animation staff in waves as it added more and more series to the television schedule. A bunch of the new artists had spent some time at Disney and one of them was Jerry Hathcock.

This blog exists to give some deserved attention to the fun, early Hanna-Barbera half-hour shows of the ‘50s. As far as I can tell, Jerry didn’t work on any of them. But I found a clipping about him and any time I can pass on biographical information about the old-time animators that have some connection with the studio, I’ll do it. And Jerry is close enough. Several places on the internet indicate he came over from the UPA TV factory (you’ll see his name on the regrettable Dick Tracy series) in time to work on the second season of The Flintstones. Word is you can see his work in ‘Latin Lover.’ He went on to work on many different H-B shows.

This clipping is from The Courier of Prescott, Arizona, dated August 29, 1982. Hathcock drew Fred to accompany the photo.


Once Worked For Disney
Flintstones’ animator graduates to western painting
By CRAIG HOWSON
Courier Feature Editor
He doesn’t talk funny or dress in animal skins, but Jerry Hathcock used to be very close to Fred Flintstone.
Hathcock worked for some five years as art director for The Flintstones television series in the early and mid 1960s while employed by Hanna-Barbera, one of Hollywood’s largest cartoon producers. He is currently visiting Prescott for a showing of his Western style art at the Gold Rush Gallery on Cortez Street.
“I got started with the Willy Whopper series when I first went to work,” he explained. “In 1940 I worked on the first Porky Pig cartoons for Warner Brothers and then I went to work for Disney and I worked for Disney for about 17 years.
“I got credits on about 30 Pluto cartoons, and some Donald Ducks and the movies Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp and I worked on Sleeping Beauty, but they finished that after I left.”
Disney’s studios and Hanna-Barbera were two different environments. While his Disney work centered on movies that took two or three years to produce, an entire season of Flintstones had to be produced each year.
“Hanna-Barbera were production people ... they took when was available, television cartoons,” Hathcock explained. “They built their staff around the television series and were planned animators as opposed to full animators.”
The television series had only about 2 to 3 drawings on every foot of film, while the movies produced by the Disney studios had a drawing every frame, or 16 drawings on every foot of film, he said.
“Disney had this thing about motion and for every movement one way there had to be something in the other direction,” Hathcock laughed. “If a character doffs his hat, then you had him making a gesture, at the same time, in the other direction.”
In the early days of the Flintstones series there were only two animators, Hathcock and another fellow. As time went on and production demands grew, the animation staff grew to six or eight.
“We had to create 30 half-hour shows each year for the Flintstones,” he said. “While we were spending about $50,000 for each episode, Disney was spending $5 or $6 million for a movie.”
Walt Disney, Hathcock remembers, was a man “who knew what the public wanted.”
“He knew what he wanted and he was a terrific story man,” he said. “Disney was willing to back his ideas with everything he had. When I went to work there practically everything was owned by the bank.
“I admired his drive and ability to get from people exactly what he wanted and risking all he had,” Hathcock said. “He stuck to his guns and it paid off.”
He also remembers when Disney’s dream, Disneyland, opened.
“It opened in 1955 and everyone on the staff was there with their families,” he said. “It has really changed since then.”
After the Flintstones, Hathcock worked on other Hanna-Barbera series like Space Ghost before retiring in 1976. He spent the next year working on commercials like Tony the Tiger for Kelloggs and Charley Tuna and the toucan on the Fruit Loops’ spots.
He finally turned his back on animation in 1977 and devoted his full-time efforts to retirement and painting. He lives in Van Nuys, Calif.
“The animation helped me to realize how things move, and that benefits my painting,” he explained. “I do mostly contemporary cowboys and those from the ‘30s ... some Indians and mountain men.
“I try to keep to one period so I can keep the characters in the right costume,” he added.
One holdover from his animation days is the way Hathcock gets started on a painting.
“I’ll usually do a small sketch, about 4 by 6 inches, and then project that onto my big canvas and trace it in,” he said. “That small size helps me keep my proportions straight.”
Hathcock now spends most of his time either in front of his easel or behind the wheel of his car traveling to art shows around the West.
Fred Flintstone, however, is never far away. He said much of his time at art shows is taken up drawing a quick sketch of Fred or one of the other Flintstone characters for curious children ... or equally curious reporters.

Robert Gerald Hathcock was born on April 3, 1911. The Animation Guild web site reveals:

From 1934 until his retirement in 1977, he worked as an animator, director and producer at Iwerks, Disney, Harman, UPA, Hanna-Barbera, Filmfair and Quartet.
Hathcock was a charter member of Local 839 -- one of the signers of the original petition that led to the founding of Local 839 in 1952.


However, Hathcock said he also worked at Warner Bros. and ended up there somewhat unexpectedly. Bob Clampett had directed a couple of Warners cartoons at Iwerks’ studio in Beverly Hills. When Iwerks closed, he got his own unit at Warners and brought Hathcock, Lu Guarnier, John Carey and Bill Hammer with him, according to Larry Tremblay’s blog. Larry has done a breakdown of the animators in the 1937 cartoon ‘Rover’s Rival’ and reveals several scenes were done by Hathcock. While this wasn’t the first Porky cartoon, it was the first to use ‘The Merry Go Round Broke Down’ as a theme.

Hathcock was also active in the San Fernando Art Club and was its president in 1968.

But Hathcock also drew a newspaper strip for the Redwood Press-Journal-Dispatch in 1950. At least, I’ve never found it in any other paper. What’s even more interesting is the other comics appear to have been drawn as sidework by animators. Gil Turner (Warners, Lantz, UPA) had a strip. So did Gus Jekel, a Disney artist who later worked for Ray Patin and then opened FilmFair with Rudy Zamora. Tom Ray (Warners, Sutherland, MGM) and Dick Shaw (Disney, UPA) had single panels. And there’s a strip by a ‘Bob Dalton’ with squirrel character designs that look like they’re from a late ‘30s Warners cartoon by, um, Cal Dalton. Here are a few of Hathcock’s strips.


‘Aardal’ must be named after Ed Aardal, who worked with Hathcock at Disney and Hanna-Barbera.

Hathcock was another of the many talented veteran animators attracted by Hanna-Barbera with a career which lasted over 40 years. He died in Van Nuys on March 8, 1997.

28 comments:

  1. Jerry Hathcock rocks my world. He has a very impressive carreer!

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  2. Jerry Hathcock always was one of my favorite H-B animators. He always made the characters look attractive and imbued them with vivid facial expressions. It seems that he was paired with Ken Muse (who always seemed to make his characters look 'ugly', especially when speaking) for many episodes of THE FLINSTONES, THE JETSONS, TOP CAT, DASTARDLY & MUTTLEY, and the SQUIRREL/ANT franchise. The contrast in styles is extremely evident.

    In the FLINTSTONE episode "Monster Fred", Hathcock animates Wilma (who's been transformed by Dr. Len Frankenstone into Fred's voice and personality) to beautiful effect, perfectly incorporating the latter's boisterous, wide-mouthed laugh.

    Thank you for this look at a long-overlooked staple of animation.

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  3. It's amazing how many prominent animators got their starts as uncredited assistants at WB, a fact we would never have known just from official credit lists. Your screen grab of Rover does contain elements of Hathcock's later work- especially the wide eyes and large mouth.

    Hatchcock seems to arrived at H-B from UPA (where his work at both of their TV series is quite apparent) in time for the fall 1961 production season. His first FLINTSTONE episode was "Fred Flintstone Woos Again" (one of the six in which Daws Butler filled in for injured Mel Blanc as Barney). Hathcock worked on many episodes of TOP CAT, which originally aired in prime time that same year.

    It looks to me that Hathcock also animated the late (i.e. Curtin-scored) Meeces short "Mouse Trapped", but fellow Disney cohort Ken O'Brien was credited.

    His Sleepy Holler comic strips seem to evoke Hathcock's trademark facial features- especially on the male characters in the final panels of the first and second strips. I've seem similar angry looks on Fred, Dibble, Spacely, Peevely, and other characters numerous times.

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  4. "In the early days of the Flintstones series there were only two animators, Hathcock and another fellow. As time went on and production demands grew, the animation staff grew to six or eight."

    Wow, that's a whopper. But always nice to read about the animators.

    I always enjoyed Hathcock's work. And Howard, just about everyone compares favorably to Ken Muse. Yuk.

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  5. David: Ken Muse animated action scenes very, very well. But, as previously stated, his character animation is very ugly: the protruding upper teeth, the curved lines under the eyes, double chins, the tendency to close eyes and bob the head during speeches, the overly vivid expressions of pain and angst complete with large, open pear-shaped mouth. These traits were toned down somewhat after 1965 or so when the studio lightened the lines drawn around characters.

    Hatchcock and Ed Love always make their characters look rather cute, but not overbearingly so. Carlo Vinci makes his female characters very pretty (all the way back to his earliest Terrytoons), but his male characters are less appealing. Don Patterson tends to give his characters crossed eyes, large slack jaws and pronounced overbite- but the result is more amusingly quirky than 'ugly'.

    And NOBODY draws early H-B women any more adorably than George Nicholas.

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  6. David, I read the comment and I think the newspaper columnist probably misunderstood what Hathcock was getting at.
    When Hathcock arrived at HB, there were generally only two animators working on each Flintstones compared to more than two in the final season. And Hathcock was paired off with someone. I suspect the writer thought that meant Hathcock and someone were the only animators at the outset.

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  7. Yowp, that occurred to me too, I should have given him the benefit of the doubt.

    Howard, what action scenes did Ken Muse animate very, very well? Aside from 'Tom and Jerry' some 15 years earlier, I can't think of any.

    I agree his character animation is very ugly, and who wants to watch an ugly cartoon?

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  8. Hard to think of specifics, but long shots of Muse-animated characters running, falling, slipping on ice, or engaging in any kind of physical activity that involves movement of body parts, are usually done well. F'rinstance, in HONG KONG PHOOEY's first episode the titular character gets his robe belt tangled up in a clothestree and careens around the room. Done by Muse, and quite well.

    Seven-minute shorts in which Muse in the sole animator are easier to watch- especially if written by Warren or Maltese- than full half-hour episodes, or any cartoon Muse co-animates. His segments stand in extremely stark contrast, especially if Hathcock or Dick Lundy are the others.

    It's interesting how certain animators were repeatedly teamed in H-B half-hours and post-1963 shorts: Muse/Hathcock; Vinci/Frasier; Keil/Nicholas; Bob Carr/Hicks Lokey.

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  9. Howard, you're not asking me to sit thru a minute of 'Hong Kong Phooey', are you? That's too much to ask.

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  10. Here's the Loopy De Loop cartoon that was done by Kenny and Jerry:
    http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=xfelJS4kNtg
    Jerry takes over for Ken right by the 4 minute mark, and it is noticebly more appealing. But is that really so much of a surprise? Kenny was lush, on the job. His dog beating probably factors into it too somehow.

    Nick and Bill have a simmilar appeal, so their work meshes together well enough; Ken with Jerry doesn't make that much sense.

    Ken's action scenes are okay, but I don't think he's bested a Jack Ozark jump cycle.

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  11. Gil Turner also Worked for Hanna Barbera Too, Albeit a Very Short Stay, You Can See His Name On Remember your Lions, a Snagglepuss cartoon.

    P.S If You Want To See The Abolosute Ugliest Character animation in a HB short that's about 10 times worse than ken muse, Here's Your Answer: http://www.123video.nl/playvideos.asp?MovieID=347499. Apparently, Don Williams is Responisble for the Most Shoody Animation in the HB Cartoons, But I Can Think Of Others too: Jack Ozark, Hicks Lokey, Bob Carr and the List Goes On And On, Can Anybody think of Other Worst Animators in the HB output, I'd Like to Hear Other's Opinions.

    Asim

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  12. Zartok, I'm not a Loopy fan to begin with. And everything's borrowed in this one. Nancy Wible borrows Cindy Bear's voice from Julie Bennett. Mel Blanc borrows the Spacely voice from himself. Hoyt Curtin borrows the Jetsons music. The Charles Boyer joke is borrowed from some old pre-war Warners cartoon. And what's with the blue trees?
    The direction's horrible. The takes don't stand out because they're the same pace as the rest of the cartoon. I'll take the early Hucks and Yogis any day.

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  13. Yowp, I saw a close relative of yours--Woofer--in a Loopy cartoon called "Drum Sticked". Even he couldn't save it.

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  14. There are whole series of H-B cartoons in the '70s and '80s where you can look at the credits, then think the same thing.
    The Loopy cartoon's a mess. Is Doug Young's turkey supposed to be imitating Joe Besser or Fibber Fox?
    I think Jack Ozark must have been bored. There's the scene where the turkey swings an imaginary axe like a baseball bat, but then his tail feathers sproing back for no particular reason. It looks like he did it for the hell of it.
    This cartoon has the same problem as the others. It's full of realisation gags (and some are pretty clever) but no takes. Nothing stands out.
    Not only did Maltese borrow the Yowp premise from 'Bear Face Bear,' Don Messick borrowed his own voice he used in the sheriff in that one. And I just about fell over when I heard 'Clementine.'
    What I don't get is why the Loopys didn't have bigger budgets. They weren't restricted by television costs.

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  15. Maybe theatrical cartoons just meant a bigger profit for Bill and Joe.

    Just watched my final (final as in ,'I give up') Loopy cartoon: "Chicken Hearted Wolf". At least Don Patterson tries harder than Ozark, but he can't make it funny.

    The basic premise for the series is so unfunny; how can a good cartoon result?

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  16. Yowp: for some reason, score recycling never bothered me. JETSON underscore goes well on most post-Jetson series, and it's rather intriguing to hear it in the later Loopy cartoons considering it was the only H-B series of shorts to run more than three years. As for production values, 1960s-era theatrical cartoons from Lantz and Famous/Paramount could pass as TV product as well.

    Given the limited comedic potential of Loopy, the writers naturally had to give the guest and recurring characters all the funny stuff to do. Baxter Bear (who IMO is a Yosemite Sam retread, not Spacely) is amusing enough, but could never carry his own series.

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  17. I'd always confused Jack Ozark's animation with that of Hugh Fraser's. In both cases, the characters tend to be very tall and move from the top of their bodies to rather unattractive effect. Ozark didn't seem to work on THE FLINTSTONES, but seemed to animate the taller animals- Snagglepuss, Loopy, Wally Gator- a lot.

    As for other 'ugly' H-B animators, Don Williams tends to shrink all his characters' facial features- especially the eyes- and smoosh them together. This is very evident in a few Season 4 FLINTSTONES he did. Hicks Lokey makes his facial features much too BIG, especially when a character laughs. Bob Carr is OK in small doses, but his overly round eyes and the way the lower half of faces just out gets irritating after awhile. Bill Keil tends to make everyone fat. And Lew Marshall andRalph Somerville are just plain shoddy.

    Aside from the aforementioned Hathcock, Love and Nicholas, H-B characters generally are attractive and 'talk' well when animated by Aardal, Goepper, Lundy (very solid; he makes even homely characters look handsome) and Allen Wilzbach.

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  18. The most wonderful man that ever walked on this planet, my granddad, Jerry Hathcock. He was kind, hard working and a true gentleman. And fortunately for my own children he was here until 1997. Teresa Ross

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    1. Do you know if your granddad ever did oil paintings of western landscapes? I found a piece in a consignment shop and have wondered about the artist and if his family wishes they had the piece.

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  19. hi to everybody that new mr hathcoch.I met mr. hathcock 23 years ago while my brother.went into a gasoline station i stayed in the car .while in the car i look to my left and there was to old folks with a flat tire.then i went over to them and offered to help. but mr hathcock refused so then i said its ok you don't have to pay me.then he said ok so i did .then mrs.hathcock said do you now who the flinstone are i said o yes i grew up with the flinstones so she said mi husband is the cartoonist and we would like to send you something.i said ok thinking that they were just afraid .well thanks for there picture frame.yours truly miguel martinez.

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  20. Jerry must have been a good guy if he was friends with Ed Aardal. Ed was my grandfather and one of the best all-around people I have ever known. I bet he thought being in the comic strip was hilarious!

    Holly Aardal Patton

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  21. My great Uncle Jerry Hathcock made me feel ever so ambitious as a child. Though I never met him in life, my father always let him know that I thought the world of him. He will be sorely missed in a world of all this high tech imagery, as you just can't beat a classic drawn Flinstones cartoon. Love ya Uncle Jerry.

    Mike Markham
    England

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    1. Karen Smith, Ventura, CA15 April 2012 at 13:15

      I have 8 of Jerry Hathcock's original oil paintings that he did after his retirement in 1977. They are cowboy art, as I like to cal them and beautiful. He painted these for my father-in-law, who is also diseased. We are putting them up for sale. Please contact me if you are interested.

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  22. 3 generations of Hathcocks have worked for Disney Animation. 2 worked for H&B but it's close to 3 as I was at WB while they owned H&B and when they later took over the H&B properties. All 3 of us have worked on Scooby Doo projects in different eras and mediums. None of us ever planned Animation as our ultimate career.

    Jerry was truly a wonderful guy and I miss him very much.

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  23. It's so nice to read remembrances of family and friends who personally knew these great old-time animators. Thanks for commenting.

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  24. I met Jerry in 1979-very nice person. My Grandad was friends with him and he talked to my sister and I about the Flintstones. He even drew me a picture of Dino (which I still have to this day). I was very impressed by how fast he drew the picture.
    Meeting him was a real honor.

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  25. I am selling the signed drawing of dino that he drew for me. I am going to list it on ebay-just search his name and Flintstones. I want it to go to a serious collector who will preserve it. I am using the money to buy an engraving machine to carve hobo nickels.

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  26. His wife was my first grade teacher at Toluca Lake Elementary. She was always bringing in cells for us to look at. They were really nice folks.

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