Hanna-Barbera cartoons have fans around the world; a check of the location of the people who visit this blog can attest to that.
We’ve reprinted a number of newspaper articles about the studio from the time before it became a Saturday morning powerhouse. Just about all are from the United States. But the cartoons were popular elsewhere and written about elsewhere.
Here’s a feature story from The Australian Women’s Weekly of March 25, 1964. It’s, more or less, the “authorised” version of the studio’s history to date so most of it will probably be pretty familiar. It glosses over a few things—like the contributions of anyone not named “Bill” or “Joe.” And you have to laugh a bit at the opinion (parroted from either Bill, Joe or PR flack Arnie Carr) that the only “important consideration” about a cartoon is doing the best job. It seems to me the footage quota was deemed fairly important by at least one of the two producers.
The pictures in this post accompanied the unbylined article.
The men behind the Flintstones
You wouldn't know it to look at them, but the two men – sitting in the middle of the floor in their plush, carpeted modern office on Hollywood's Cahuenga Boulevarde - are fast becoming millionaires.
THEY wave their arms madly, grab for their pad and pencils with delighted outcries, and do everything but stand on their heads when they come up with a new idea. That's right! in the middle of the floor. And they couldn't care less if it is four o'clock in the morning.
The two men are William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, creators and producers of the popular cartoon series "The Flintstones," now in its third year on the Nine Network.
And they are busy creating new situations and dialogue for a bunch of "wacky" but lovable characters who are providing them with all of their riches.
The hours kept by Hanna and Barbera and staff, and their methods for getting the job done, are considered unorthodox, to say the least, by Hollywood standards.
There are no time clocks or memos. If an animator or an artist feels he does his best work by coming in at night and working till dawn, that's fine with Hanna and Barbera. The only important consideration is that the "best" job is done.
While Disney has concentrated on feature-length motion pictures and diversification in various off-shoot enterprises, "H-B" has now stepped in to capture the cartoon film field.
Their particular accent and the door that opened their way to riches was television. Today the modern studio of Hanna-Barbera, world leader in the field of animated cartooning, occupies a two-acre site in the entertainment capital, housing the ultimate in animation and production facilities. It is now staffed by more than 250 artists, animators, writers, and directors. In short, it is big business, without a doubt.
In addition to turning out “The Flintstones” and such television shows as the Emmy Award winning "Huckleberry Hound," "Yogi Bear, “Quick Draw McGraw,” and “Touche Turtle” as well “The Jetsons” and “Top Cat”—the studio produces industrial films and commercials combining animated and live action.
Their popular black-and-white and color cartoon favorites are now syndicated and shown in more than 42 foreign countries, in addition to the prestige position they have attained in the United States.
"H-B" is at present working on its first full-length feature starring Yogi Bear.
Although neither Hanna nor Barbera originally planned such a career, the partners have worked together harmoniously for 26 years.
They now participate in every phase of their creative enterprises, from drawing and scripting to musical scoring.
Joe Barbera, an inveterate doodler and dreamer, gave up a career as an accountant in a New York bank when his first cartoon was sold to "Collier's" magazine.
Hanna was hired by M.G.M. as a director and story man in 1937, after he had earlier been schooled in engineering and journalism. Here he met Barbera, then an animator and writer at the same studio. Creative sparks flew from their very first meeting.
In the spring of 1957 Hanna and Barbera had just racked up their 20th year making "Tom and Jerry" cartoons for M.G.M. It was their first original creation. Their animated efforts had earned millions of dollars for the company, in addition to seven Academy Awards.
Then the phone rang.
"We were told to discontinue production and lay off the entire staff," recalls Hanna. "Twenty years of work suddenly ended with a single phone call.
"But it was the greatest break of our lives."
Out of necessity, the enterprising artists began thinking in terms of cartoon shows for television. The greatest part of animated entertainment then on TV consisted of old theatrical cartoons.
About 2000 of them were currently being distributed, almost half produced in the silent film era.
From their experience, Hanna and Barbera worked out some amazing new techniques called "planned animation," which forgoes some of the steps used in conventional cartooning without sacrificing quality. It cut down the usual preparation time almost by half.
"Then," says Hanna, "we were really in business."
The result? In July, 1957, "H-B" Productions was born, with the first venture "Ruff and Reddy," a show featuring the antics of a quick-thinking cat and his pal, a dim-witted, lovable dog.
It proved a three-year success. Then followed the now famous "Huckleberry Hound" and "Quick Draw McGraw," the slowest horse in the West.
In 1960, after one year of "casting" voices and drawings, "H-B" unveiled its greatest money-maker, "The Flintstones," which after its debut became one of their hottest "properties" or rated shows of the season.
"Yogi Bear" a character of the "Hound" series came into the picture early in 1961 as an independent film personality.
Above the desks of Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera there hangs a picture of "Huckleberry Hound" shaking hands with his two creators. The inscription of the picture reads, "Thank you, Huck," and it is signed by the two successful producers.
"It may sound nuts to be grateful to a mythical blue dog," smiled one of the rich executives sitting on the carpet, "but, believe me, we are."
The newspaper had a few Hanna-Barbera articles scattered over the years. One that’s amusingly inaccurate is this part of a column in the issue of March 4, 1959. Still, it’s nice to know the writer (Nan Musgrove) was a fan of the Huck show and liked ‘Tom Terrific,’ which was one of the best things to come out of Terrytoons, certainly when it comes to kids.
THE early days of TV, when many cartoons dating back to the bad old jerky days of animation were shown, cured me of an addiction to cartoons, but Channel 9 has reintroduced me to their joys with two new ones, "Tom Terrific" and "Huckleberry Hound."
They are both specially made for TV and, although they come on the end of the Mickey Mouse Club, they're not kid stuff.
"Tom Terrific" (every night Monday to Friday at 6.25) is made by the Terry Toon Company and "Huckleberry Hound" by M.G.M., the originators of the Tom and Jerry cartoons.
You'll recognise some old friends in "Huckleberry Hound" (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 6.30).
Most fascinating is Yogi Bear, whose voice is actually that of Art Carney, of The Honeymooners" (Channel 9, Thursdays, 7.30 p.m.)
I don't know who is the voice of the cat Mr. Jenks, but it's a splendid imitation of that great lover Marlon Brando.