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.