When the Hanna-Barbera studio first opened in 1957, Joe Barbera oversaw all the voice sessions. He was still doing it when the Jetsons were in production in 1962 but, by then, had hired Alan Dinehart to handle some of the workload.
But maybe the best-known and respected of the studio’s voice directors was Gordon Hunt, who was first given screen credit in the 1974-75 season on the Waltons animated knock-off These Are the Days. Mr. Hunt’s time at Hanna-Barbera is after the period of the studio’s life this blog deals with, but we feel it’s appropriate to mention his death this past weekend.
Hunt and Joe Barbera had a connection that pre-dated the cartoon studio. Joe fancied himself a playwright and penned a comedy called “The Maid and the Martian.” Barbera had aspirations of taking it to Broadway and, indeed, rights were optioned to do that. However, it made its bow at the Gallery Stage in Los Angeles on October 15, 1952. It was hastily mounted after the scheduled revue was cancelled four days earlier—at the suggestion of preview audiences! The director of Barbera’s play was one Gordon Hunt.
“The Maid and the Martian” somehow morphed—without Barbera’s name attached—into a screenplay by Hunt and Al Burton that was snapped up by American-International Pictures in 1961 and turned into the beach film Pajama Party (1964).
Hunt had a number of writing jobs around this time, some with actor Darryl Hickman, and Variety listed his occupation as a writer in its blurb about his marriage to Jane Morrison in Las Vegas on January 29, 1961. The marriage resulted in a daughter named Helen Hunt.
He also did some voice acting as well; I’m sure you can find a list of his credits on-line.
Maybe the funniest story about Gordon Hunt I’ve read is in Shirley Jones’ autobiography. She was married for a number of years to Marty Ingels, a comedy actor who decided to get into the star management business. One day, Marty was yammering on the phone about the wonders of a client (Robert Culp) when he was accidentally disconnected. He tried calling back but got a wrong number. He got Hunt. Out of nowhere, “We’ve got the rights to Pac-Man!” was the first thing Hunt said to him and before long, offered the job voicing the character to Ingels.
Hunt wrote a book about auditioning; one of the contributors was Joe Barbera.