Hanna-Barbera was once the largest producer of TV animation. Thanks originally to the popularity of Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear and Mr Jinks (and the meeces), the studio grew gradually and steadily as it added more and more cartoons to its assembly line.
In some ways, it’s difficult to determine who actually started with the studio when Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera helped incorporate H-B Enterprises in July 1957. There are no credits on any of the Ruff and Reddy cartoons that began airing the following December. Dick Bickenbach told historian Mike Barrier than he was working on R & R the final week he was at the MGM studio, and we know Charlie Shows wrote them.
However, after “The Huckleberry Hound Show” began airing in September 1958, and as the studio began developing more productions, Variety has some short squibs about additions to the studio staff. Some of the names are a little surprising as they never appeared on the credits of any cartoons at the time.
As well, Variety announced a number of H-B projects that didn’t come to fruition. Let’s pass on what we’ve been able to uncover. Some stories are incomplete due to a full access of Variety’s archives. I’m somewhat disappointed none have those rhyming headlines the paper was known for, like “Stix Get Fix of Pix.” The closest we get is a reference to the King of Rhyming Cartoon Dialogue, Charlie Shows. So don’t frown, clown. (Hmm. Charlie’s becoming infectious).
January 20, 1958
George Sidney's Cartoonery Making Blurbs for MGM-TV
H&B Productions, cartoon outfit formed less than eight months ago by George Sidney in partnership with William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, who previously produced "Tom and Jerry" animated series for Metro, already is expanding its operations, Sidney reported over weekend.
Sidney, who prexies company which now has a staff of 25, drawn from Metro cartoonery when Culver lot shuttered its cartoon activities, said that he will use a cartoon sequence in his Columbia re-lease, "Pepe," starring Cantinflas, along lines animated action was used some years ago in Metro's "Anchors Aweigh," which he directed.
'Ruff' Series for SG
Company, Sidney disclosed, is already is doing tv commercials for Metro, as well as program of cartoons for Screen Gems, "The Ruff and Reddy Show," now on NBC-TV Saturday mornings, under sponsorship of General Foods. Total of 52 segments have been completed for SG.
While H-B deal with SG includes these 52 subjects only, talks already have started with the Columbia tv subsid for another series. Outfit last week launched production of 78 segments for a new program.
The "Ruff and Reddy" series was made in color, according to Sidney, with a view to linking a number of segments together for theatrical release in Europe later as a cartoon feature. Feature cartoon production already is being actively planned by the three partners, who are weighing the possibilities of three different properties. It's expected company will have this initial feature ready for release in early 1960. Industrial and medical cartoon films likewise are planned, Sidney stated. [remainder of the story involves Pepé]
January 22, 1958
Sidney-Hanna-Barbera Cartoon Operation Now Employs 25, Expanding
After less than eight months of operation, H& B Productions, cartoonery formed by George Sidney in partnership with William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, is expanding is operations. Hanna and Barbera formerly produced the Tom and Jerry Animated cartoons for Metro. H& B Productions staff now numbers 25, drawn from the Metro cartoonery when the Culver lot ended animation.
Sidney, who is prexy of the firm, reported that he will use a cartoon sequence in "Pepe," his upcoming Columbia film starring Cantinflas. Sequence will be inserted along lines of animated action used in Metro's "Anchors Aweigh," which Sidney directed. H& B now is doing commercials for Metro, as well as for Schlitz, S & H Green Stamps, Junket and others. In addition, it is doing a program of cartoons for Screen Gems, "The Ruff and Reddy Show," which started televising five weeks ago over NBC-TV every Saturday morning, 9-9:30 a. m., under sponsorship of General Foods.
Total of 52 segments have been completed for SG.
While H-B deals with SG includes these 52 subjects only, talks already have started with Columbia subsid for a further series. Outfit last week launched production on 78 segments for a new program. The "Ruff and Ready" series was made in color, according to Sidney, with a view to linking [story in Weekly Variety carries on as Daily Variety story above].
October 22, 1958
Sidney Mulls Mex Cartoonery for TV
George Sidney, prexy of H&B Productions Cartoonery, is considering opening a cartoon studio in Mexico City for production of cartoon programs made exclusively for Latin American television market. Producer leaves for Mexico soon to discuss project and has skedded meetings with co-producers William Hanna and Joseph Barbara on future plans of company, which currently is filming "Ruff and Reddy" and "Huckleberry Hound" in association with Screen Gems.
December 4, 1958
Maltese Story Head of Hanna-Barbera Prod'ns
Mike Maltese has been named to head Hanna and Barbara Productions' new story department. The company produces the animated "Ruff and Reddy" and "Huckleberry Hound" tv series. Maltese was with Warner Bros.' cartoon production department for past 22 years.
December 11, 1958
Vidfilms Using Live Action, Cartoon Technique
Milt Rosen will write half-hour pilot teleplay of a projected adult-level cartoon-and-live action series for Hanna and Barbara Productions. H-B currently produces "Ruff and Reddy" and "Huckleberry Hound" for Screen Gems. Producers say the new series would have a novel format, and decline to discuss how it will be put together.
December 24, 1958
Announced expansion of Hanna and Barbera Productions is being activated with lease of the first floor of the Cinema Research Bldg. for the cartoon studio's camera department. Frank Paiker is in charge of the new setup. Other departments remain at Kling.
February 3, 1959
Barbera Talking Jap Cartoon Co-Prod'n
Deal is in negotiations for co-production pact between Hanna and Barbera Productions and Interlingual International, of Tokyo, for filming of cartoons for Japanese market. Project would [remainder of story unavailable]
February 16, 1959
Hanna, Barbera Sign Lipscott, Bob Fisher
Alan Lipscott and Bob Fisher will develop and write a new half-hour animated cartoon series for Hanna and Barbera Productions, to be distributed by Screen Gems. Signing of the writers is part of H & B Company's plans to expand its story department to have established writers working with animators on cartoon series for tv.
March 18, 1959
Robert Carr, previously with Walt Disney, joined Hanna and Barbera Productions' animation dept.
March 24, 1959
Alex Lovy Joins H-B
Alex Lovy, formerly with Walter Lantz cartoonery, where he was director on the Woody Woodpecker series, has joined Hanna and Barbara Productions as a director of cartoons.
April 8, 1959
Animators Dick Lundy and Gerard Baldwin have joined Hanna and Barbera Productions as animators on "Huckleberry Hound" and "Ruff and Reddy." Lundy moves over from La Brea Productions, and Baldwin from Sutherland Studios.
April 15, 1959
Three new additions to the staff of Hanna and Barbera's cartoonery were announced yesterday. They are Warren Foster to the story department, and Paul Fennel as assistant cartoon director, and George Nicholas as animator.
H-B Adds Animators
Don Patterson, Bob Bentley and Chick Otterstrom have joined Hanna & Barbera cartoonery as animators as part of the outfit's continued expansion.
May 29, 1959
H-B Cartoons May Get Col Release
It’s likely that Hanna & Barbera’s tv cartoonery will take over UPA’s former chore of making theatrical cartoons for Columbia release. Bill Hanna said the animation outfit has “no definite commitment with anyone” but admitted that H-B is planning a series of animated theatrical shorts to start later this year.
Columbia’s the logical outlet for the cartoon series since H-B prexy George Sidney has a picture pact with the studio and the cartoonery’s “Ruff and Reddy” and “Huckleberry Hound” are made in association with Col’s vidsubsid, Screen Gems. The expanding H-B organization has some of its offices at Columbia.
UPA and Col recently dissolved their production-distribution deal on short subjects and UPA’s doing its own distributing—although Columbia will distribute UPA’s feature, “1001 Arabian Nights.”
July 28, 1959
Harmon Names Fennell A.P. For Vid Cartoons
Paul J. Fennell has been signed as associate producer on Larry Harmon's "Bozo, the Clown" and "Tintin" telecartoon series now in production at California Studios. For the past four months, he has been a director on Hanna and Barbera's several animated series being produced for Screen Gems. Within the Harmon org, he will function in conjunction with Charles Shows, associate producer who heads the writing department on "Bozo" and "Tintin."
November 9, 1959
Honolulu H-B Office
Hanna and Barbera Productions are opening a branch office in Honolulu. Joseph Barbera, veepee of the company, recently returned from a two-week trek to the islands and revealed that arrangements are underway for the space by William Hanna, partner to Barbera, now in Honolulu.
December 9, 1959
Hanna & Barbera Near Closing Cartoonery Deal With Columbia Pics
Hanna & Barbera will be the exclusive theatrical "cartoon producers for Columbia under a contract now nearing the signing stage, according to company officials Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. H-B thus takes over the spot held by UPA Pictures, whose option Col did not renew earlier this year.
The company, formed under the presidency of director George Sidney out of the inactivation of Metro's cartoon department, is now grossing an estimated $ 2,000,000 per year and has nearly tripled its staff (35 or 40 at Metro) since its formation in July, 1957.
Hanna and Barbera pointed out that the theatrical cartoon chore - the first they've undertaken since becoming an indie will not cause a staff increase since the 10 "Loopy de Loop" (a French wolf) cartoons for Col will be made during the slack season of their tv operation (Oct.-Dec). H-B now makes three weekly half-hour television cartoon series distributed via Screen Gems, Col vidsubsid.
Under the theatrical pact, Col will have exclusive call on H-B's theatrical product and will retain annual options for five years;- so the deal's to be mutually exclusive. On the boards is still another half-hour weekly cartoon teleseries, a situation comedy for adults.
"We've actually turned out in one year more footage than we did at Metro in 20 years," said Bill Hanna. "We used to make eight 'Tom & Jerry's' (about 7 mins. each) a year. Last year we averaged five cartoons a week." Speedup's explained in large part, of course, by the elimination of "inbetweening," i. e., detail. H-B calls it "planned animation."
Hanna and Barbera said they have for the time being abandoned any plans to have any of their work done overseas. The final cost, they said, is apt to be higher than doing it here. They had recently sought a co-production deal with Interlingual International of Tokyo.
December 30, 1959
Animated Situation Comedy To ABC-TV
ABC-TV has bought "The Flagstones," first half-hour situation comedy to be produced in animation, as a night time program next fall. Series created by Hanna-Barbera Productions for Screen Gems deals with modern civilization against a pre-historic background.
August 10, 1960
H-B Promotes Lovy
Alex Lovy, for the past two years story director on various Hanna-Barbera shows, has been promoted to associate producer on all H-B product. Lovy will function in this capacity on "Huckleberry Hound," "Quick Draw McGraw," and and "The Flintstones."
Prior to joining Hanna-Barbera, Lovy was with Walter Lantz, Cascade Pictures, and Screen Gems.
If you thought Mike Maltese and Warren Foster left Warners Bros. and arrived at Hanna-Barbera at the same time, it’s not true. Variety reported on November 14, 1957 that Foster had signed a contract with the John Sutherland studio. Maltese didn’t leave Warners for another 12 months.
How long the team of Lipscott and Fisher were at H-B is unknown. The same year the two signed a deal to write 12 episodes of “Bachelor Father” and four of the Dennis O’Keefe show, developed a pilot called “Hong Kong Collect” while Lipscott, who wrote for Milton Berle on radio in the ‘30s, tried to get someone to buy his “Mishmash in Never-Never Land” concept.
Milt Rosen was a radio and TV writer who also penned a bunch of books. I imagine if Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera were serious about a live action/animation series, the cost would have put it out of the question. Of course, they later accomplished it in the latter part of the 1960s with the Gene Kelly “Jack and the Beanstalk” special (1967) and “The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (1968).
Chic Otterstrom and Paul Fennell likely never appeared on the credits at the studio that year. Otterstrom had spent the 1940s animating at the Screen Gems studio (the name was appropriated for Columbia’s TV endeavours after getting out of the animation business). Fennell went back to the early ‘30s (Chuck Jones was his assistant animator) and directed for Cartoon Films in the ‘40s before opening his own company. Apparently, anecdotes abound about his time working for Filmation many years later.
A number of names are missing (Ed Love’s, for example), so Variety didn’t report on every arrival. La Verne Harding’s name appeared on a number of cartoons in the 1959-60 season. The trade paper mentions on June 18th she would be animating “Hickory, Dickory and Doc” at Walter Lantz. And it seems animators bounced around a lot. An August 19, 1960 Variety piece lists new staffers hired by Animation Associates (who made “Q.T. Hush”) and includes John Freeman, Clarke Mallory, Don Williams, Ed Aardal and Virgil Ross, all of whom made shorts for H-B around that time (the company was co-owned by John Boersma, who also ended up at Hanna-Barbera).
The studio got extremely busy. The publicised numbers—197 cartoons were scheduled for the 1959-60 season (Variety, January 28, 1959) and 39 hours of animation a year (Variety, August 13, 1959). And with “The Flintstones” soon to air, it got even busier.
One other note before we leave Variety behind.
December 18, 1958
‘Hound’ Comic Book
Harry Eisenberg will illustrate and write copy for Dell Publications’ comic book based on Hanna-Barbera’s “Huckleberry Hound” teleseries.
Too bad the great Harvey Eisenberg got miscredited.